GHAURI – THE BOOK
It is strange that the successful businessmen in Pakistan avoid sharing their success stories with the young generation. They do not take the burden of compiling their life struggle.
$100 million deal will have a multiplier effect on the entire industry – Salim Ghauri
NetSol Technologies is a leader in providing innovative IT solutions to the global asset finance and leasing industry.
Since its inception, NetSol has helped numerous businesses find their competitive edge and streamline their operations. Their end-to-end product solutions have been powering leasing, lending and wholesale asset management operations for more than 200 partners world-wide. With local support and delivery centers located in seven cities across the globe, NetSol’s staff of 1500+ experts help ensure that its clients benefit from extensive knowledge base and keen industry insight into the key trends that are affecting today’s asset finance and leasing industry. NetSol has become the first company with operations in Pakistan to get listed on NASDAQ, the first and the only company in Pakistan to achieve CMMI Level 5 certification, and the biggest Pakistani IT company in terms of revenues and infrastructure.
BR Research recently met with Mr. Salim Ghauri, CEO NetSol Technologies, and Mr. Ali Aurangzeb, Head of Marketing Asia Pacific, to get a scoop on the recently signed $100 million contract. Following is the edited transcript of the conversation.
BR Research: Tell us more about the 100 million contract signed by your company?
Salim Ghauri: This contract is actually 20 years of hard work; a lot of work had to be done in the last many years for us to reach to this level. It wasn’t unexpected for us; we have been building towards it, and today customers see us delivering complex and multi-country solutions. The $100 million deal includes license, maintenance, services and expected customisation, with an established customer to implement NFS Ascent. It is the first time such a big assignment has been given to one vendor to be implemented in 12 countries in one go. This epic deal will usher NetSol into a new phase and solidify our position as leaders in our area of business of finance and leasing.
BRR: How do you see this contract panning out for the country?
SG: The key point in getting this contract has been our ability to convince our long-standing customer the ability to deliver, and we believe that this assignment will be a game changer not only for NetSol Technologies but also Pakistan’s IT industry. In 2016, we will be delivering some of the projects under the contract, and the news will be welcomed by the IT sector. Already, this $100 million deal has created a buzz around the world and across the country. It’s a long way before the fruits of the deal are enjoyed; but more than the value of the contract, this opportunity will create a queue of new customers for us that will be the trigger for the change I am talking about. And this will have a multiplier effect on the entire industry as we set the stage. There will be a spill over in other companies and even sectors in the country.
BRR: Last year when BR Research met you, you mentioned your target of making NetSol a billion-dollar company. How close are you to your dream with this contract?
SG: This deal was waiting to happen. We took time to mature, and today we have a better ability to deliver. The timing is perfect. A billion dollar is just a number, there is a huge market out there waiting for us. From the market perspective, lending is in every country of the world, and so our software can be used anywhere. Where we have been lagging behind has been the delivering capacity, which we have been working on strenuously. Now as we are moving forward with this assignment, 2016 will be a year of exponential growth for us.
BRR: While talking about growth, will it be NetSol’s own progress or a combination with other factors like NetSol’s leading position in the sector, and the changing perception of its country of origin ie Pakistan?
SG: Country’s security situation impacted us negatively over the last 15 years, so our progress has been solely our hard work. The changing perception has not affected us yet, but it will kick in a bit later I believe. Customers want to touch and feel the company but no one wanted to come to Pakistan because of the security situation.
The positive changes in the perception will definitely impact us, and we have started working towards it; we are renovating and expanding our flagship office because we know new customers are visiting us from across the globe. There is a queue of big names who will visit us in 2016, and we want to be a new and improved face for the next 20 years.
BRR: What markets are you catering, and what markets are you targeting now?
SG: China is our biggest market, and it’s growing; 90 percent of Chinese multinationals are lending money on NetSol’s software. We are a key solution provider in Asia, Australia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and India. We have seven to eight centres around the world, making it easy to deliver in any market. We will now be aiming to expand our reach to other regions.
BRR: Do you plan to move out of your core business?
SG: Why would I do anything else when I know that we are really good at what we do; it’s a mega business with huge opportunities. On the other end, we are coming as venture capitalist and investors in other businesses. We also launched our own incubator by the name of NSPIRE in our premises last year. It’s a start-up accelerator program, which aims to make Pakistani start-ups geared up for global success as against local praise only.
BRR: How apt are your prospective and current employees for this new period of growth?
SG: You would have noticed more people coming to Pakistan, working here with competitive salaries in dollars. And this is especially true with NetSol. Not only true for foreigners but Pakistanis abroad are willing to come back and work here. This is great news which has not been significantly highlighted. Professional and qualified Pakistanis are now willing to come back and work for some of the great companies of the country. It’s more like we are now experiencing the reverse brain drain!
BRR: Do you see other players in the country becoming future NetSol of Pakistan?
SG: NetSol obviously had more patience, and we took longer. Other companies need to do the hard work too. However, Pakistan went through difficult years but things will be easier for newcomers to make it to this level; maybe 10 years instead of NetSol’s 20 years. I believe they can do it. There are very smart people out there. I believe that Pakistan’s IT sector will be the real backbone of the economy in the next 10 years.
BRR: Any message for Pakistani businesses and entrepreneurs?
SG: Come out and invest or you’ll be left behind! Now is the time to invest in the country; those who wait, will regret. CPEC will make a big change in the country, it is lucrative market and, it’s a lucrative time.
BRR: What are your views on this $100 million deal?
Ali Aurangzeb: A 100 million dollars’ worth of a deal for a Pakistani IT company in today’s time is next to impossible and NetSol has achieved that. This contract is primarily the next generation system that we have been working on for the past four years. Our software basically automates finance and leasing, meaning that everything right from the point of origination of a contract of a lease or a loan all the way to its maturity is managed through our software. Our software is also a de facto solution in many markets; for example, in China people do not opt for any other software.
We are very excited about this deal, but a lot of work needs to be done; signing is one thing and delivering is another.
Our key task right now is plan how to deliver this assignment. Right now, we are in a phase to consolidate by converting our old Asia-pack customers to the newer solution as that’s the major chunk of our revenue. And then we are also working towards expanding our business in new regions. You will see more similar-sized deals in future as far as NetSol is concerned.
Interview credits: Business Recorder