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October - 2012 - issue > Entrepreneur of the Month
Entrepreneurial-Success-lies-on-'The-Road-Not-Taken'-Sajan-Pillai
Rachita Sharma
Monday, October 1, 2012
The famous poet Robert Frost in his celebrated creation ‘The road not taken’ writes: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

A strong believer in Frost’s suggested philosophy; Sajan Pillai is breaking several norms in the business world. The CEO of UST Global, Sajan, has all the reasons to stand by his convictions. Today, UST Global, a premier provider of Consulting, Outsourcing and end-to-end IT services is growing at an admirable rate. Having experienced success in North America and Western Europe, the company is now set to launch a 10,000 people strong center in Mexico.

The 1998 founded company has successfully attained some of the biggest companies of the world as their clients and has created a unique motto for themselves, ‘fewer clients, more attention’. Sajan believes that in this age of cut throat competition when companies are in a race to gain more clients, he wants to work with a few, but the biggest names in the industry. He is redefining customer relationships and asserts, “Our entire organization is designed in a customer centric manner.”

In order to serve its customers better, the company has set up a unique three point client intimacy model that ensures that the business runs smoothly and that customers do not get an opportunity to complain.

However, UST Global, like many other IT based companies, has learnt hard lessons from the bad times of the late 90s and the early 2000s dotcom burst. Several e-commerce companies collapsed and went bankrupt, causing hardship to several service providers, like UST Global. But a gifted entrepreneur knows how to transform adversities into opportunities. Sajan steered the focus of the company overnight to larger and bigger companies. If not for his agile shift, the company would have faced financially difficult situations. “We had the ability to realize that our strategies were not right. It was a tough situation but I turned it to our advantage.” says Sajan.

The recession and the current economic situation in Europe also tested the resolve of this astute businessman as the company had to put several aggressive plans on hold. He realized that growth would slow down, and a lot of the company’s investments would not pan out. “I had to react to it and redirect and reapply myself to build the same performance in new centers like Latin America”, adds Sajan.

UST Global’s clients and centers are multinational. The company focuses on large global clients in the sectors of healthcare, retail, banking, financial services, media and entertainment. Their growth in these sectors has been astounding. Sajan attributes this growth to his understanding that the requirements of a global world are different. “I believe that entrepreneurs need to have a global view and should focus on business in all parts of the world.”

With global leadership gaining momentum, global leaders also have to remember that each area has its own specific culture and work environment. Sajan comments like a chiseled global leader, “One model does not work for every location. We must keep in mind that while you think global you should act local. You must adapt to the local environment, in terms of business policy, team, and your commercial structure to make your business work.”

Scripting a successful company like UST Global is no ordinary task, and it comes with its share of difficulties. As an entrepreneur he believes that success will come to those who have the ‘pioneering spirit’. While choosing locations for UST Global’s India offices, Sajan decided on smaller cities like Kochi and Trivandrum, instead of conventional places like Mumbai or Gurgaon because smaller cities had lesser social displacement. “By doing things that already have been done, entrepreneurs shrink their chances to succeed considerably.” He also sounds a note of caution to entrepreneurs. “An entrepreneur must also draw a fine line between playing a gamble and being safe. Only a certain number of efforts will be successful, so you must possess the capability to anticipate success and failure.”

Small incidents sometimes force one to see the bigger picture. A great leader draws inspiration from others around him. He faced a tough time after the tragic demise of his mentor and the founder Chairman, G.A. Menon. Nevertheless, that tough situation made him realize that as an entrepreneur he has the good fortune of meeting and collaborating with extraordinary people every day. “You also receive the support of your customers and political leaders, who supported you because it is good for the country. I met people with likeminded spirit whose purpose in life was to bring commercial success along with social success,” explains Sajan.

A company which functions with such values is bound to take care of its clients and employees alike. “I believe that we are extremely connected to the clients, not only to client technology but also to their welfare. We provide them with strategic advice and develop a strong business relationship with them. We also look for opportunities for social responsibility for not only our clients, but also our employees. UST Global provides its employees the opportunity to not just be successful in the technology world but to also become well rounded professionals,” adds Sajan.

Overcoming these hardships and transforming them into opportunities is the sign of a motivated leader. Sajan envisions making UST Global a truly unique organization by imbibing rare values in it. The company is very active on the CSR front and always works towards giving back to the society, where health and education are of primary focus.

An individual who possesses the capabilities and the courage to chalk such a unique and inspired path for his organization is meant for greatness. He is not simply a commercial entrepreneur but also a social one. Sajan Pillai is an inspiration, and his efforts to enrich the lives of his clients, employees and the society must be lauded if not replicated.
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