GHAURI â€“ 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.
Pakistan tech-pioneer NetSol celebrates 20th Anniversary with an event in Lahoreby: NETSOL / February 17, 2016
One of the premier software houses in Pakistan, NetSol is celebrating its 20th year of Anniversary today with a lavishly arranged event in the heart of Lahore at the company’s Pakistan headquarter. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the company has arranged a mega-event today in its only office in Pakistan; the NetSol Technologies Pakistan Headquarters. The invite-only event is already underway and is in full swing right now, and you can follow it on social media using the hashtag #NetSol20th- while the ones attending the event can also upload their best pictures for a chance at free gifts from the company. A global provider of IT and Enterprise Software Systems, NetSol has clients from all over the globe and offices in USA, Pakistan, England, Thailand, China, Australia, and Japan. The company was co-founded by the Ghauri brothers, including Salim Ghauri, Naeem Ghauri and Najeeb Ghauri exactly two decades ago and today, it stands as one of the biggest IT services company present in Pakistan. Last year, it also hit the news for being featured in Forbes’ list of top 500 best software companies to work for with an 84% employee-recommendation rate. A few months later, it accomplished another huge feat by signing a contract worth $100 million for its NFS Ascent services. But NetSol is much bigger than being just a software services company; it has its own incubator program for Pakistani startups, called NSpire. Launched last year, it is a 5-month incubation program for startups, giving them space at NetSol’s own purpose-built facility and allowing them access to NetSol’s vast network and venture capitalists.
$100 million deal will have a multiplier effect on the entire industry – Salim Ghauriby: Salim Ghauri / January 21, 2016
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 RecorderAchievements Salim Ghauri
He bootstrapped his company all the way to IPOby: ACHIEVEMENTS / January 19, 2016
Salim Ghauri is a ubiquitous name in Pakistan’s tech circles. Founder and CEO of Netsol, the entrepreneur has a decades-long association with the local IT industry. His company, founded in 1995, is regarded as one of the most successful software development firms emanating from the nation. Listed at both NASDAQ and the Pakistan Stock Exchange, it’s certainly been a memorable ride for the entrepreneur. But this isn’t a story of overnight success. Salim has had to survive some pretty testing times and operate on very lean methodologies to make it work. His ascension to the upper echelons of the tech ecosystem is a result of several years of painstaking efforts. Netsol was founded after Salim returned to his country of birth after a stint as an IT consultant in Australia. His startup began small – the initial team comprised of just four people working out of a tiny office in Lahore – but Salim had grand ambitions. “I’m a software guy who builds software and the idea was to mold this passion into a company the world would notice,” Salim tells Tech in Asia. “Infosys was doing very well and there was a belief that we could also do it,” he says, name-checking India’s IT outsourcing titan. Smooth operator In the mid-1990s, the internet was still an almost unheard-of phenomenon in Pakistan. But it was starting out. Signing clients was a challenge, but one Salim embraced whole-heartedly. He didn’t have a sales team for the first five years of operations and relied on “personal charm” to make an impression. Breathing space came after a German luxury car manufacturer signed a contract with Netsol in 1996 for enterprise solutions for its finance wing. “It’s never about companies, it’s always about people. If you develop a relationship, when you come with ideas and enthusiasm, people trust you to deliver,” says Salim. Snaring the first deal proved to be a watershed moment for the fledgling company. The contract allowed it to understand customer psyche and focus on building solutions relevant to client needs. In 2000, Netsol had an even bigger break when the same firm signed a US$2 million contract to meet a larger suite of requirements. “As work with blue chip companies expanded, it helped us strengthen our position in global markets. They were all very impressed by our processes and ability to deliver,” says Salim. But the dotcom crash of 2001, coupled with the fallout from the 9/11 attacks, brought immense pressure on Salim. Clients were skeptical of dealing with a company operating from a region considered to be the epicentre of terrorism. Salim says he was urged to move his firm to another country, possibly the Philippines or somewhere else in Southeast Asia. However, he resisted these calls and remained steadfast in his desire to build a world-class company from Pakistan. It’s never about companies, it’s always about people “It was scary. We didn’t know what would happen tomorrow, how we would live the next day,” says Salim. “But it never came to my mind to quit. No doubt there were periods of frustration, but we kept the faith.” Capturing a niche In the mid-2000s Netsol made a strategic decision to concentrate solely on products. Up until then the firm had provided a range of services, including business process outsourcing, call centers, and software. However, to create a strong brand and provide value-addition, the founder came to the conclusion that it needed to market and license its own products. In the meantime, the team had been working steadily to obtain global certification for quality standards. It was able to gain the capability maturity model integration (CMMI) certificate, catapulting it to an elite class. CMMI is a process improvement appraisal program certified by Carnegie Mellon University and aims to determine how well the internal functions of a company operate and how optimized it is to respond to business needs. CMMI Level 5, the highest a company can reach, was obtained by Netsol in 2006, putting it at par with giants like Infosys. Fewer than 150 companies globally have managed to reach this level, the firm claims. “When you sell your own software, you are able to charge the best rates […] When we realized that, we decided to stick with this model rather than accept outsourcing,” explains Salim. Multiple IPOs Netsol was now flexing its muscles on the global stage. It was listed on both NASDAQ as well as the Karachi Stock Exchange (now Pakistan Stock Exchange) by the mid-2000s. It also had a vast roster of clients, including significant presence in China, Japan, Croatia, Thailand, and Australia. Many large automobile manufacturing firms have been loyal clients for decades. When you do a deal like this, you are considered to be a part of the big leagues The company’s core expertise lies in its enterprise products Ascent and Mobility. Without getting into technical jargon, they’re mainly aimed at the financial services and leasing sectors, helping companies in these verticals make empowered business decisions. Just last month, Netsol signed a gargantuan US$100 million contract with an unnamed firm. Salim declined to reveal the name of the company, but did say that it’s an existing client, a multinational firm that will be upgrading its systems in 12 different countries. A contract of this magnitude is certainly unprecedented in Pakistan’s tech industry and has the potential to be a game-changer. “When you do a deal like this you are considered to be a part of the big leagues. Large banks and financial institutions will choose to do business with you,” asserts Salim. Prior to this new contract, the largest deal Netsol had signed was a US$20 million agreement with a company in Thailand. Credit goes to www.techinasia.comNetSol Salim Ghauri
5 Software Houses in Lahore you should know aboutby: Salim Ghauri / December 04, 2015
Growing up in Lahore, we were always told that our city was hailed for its abundance of great food. People from all over the country used to (and still do) come to Lahore for their foodie fix, whether it was desi food they craved, Chinese or fast food. Now, with the advent of the modern age, I hope that the new tech-savvy generations growing up in Lahore will be urged to feel the same pride when they learn about the hundreds of people who leave their own cities to come work in one of Lahore’s famed software houses. Not only does Lahore have some of the largest software houses of the country, it is also home to some of the most innovative software houses in Pakistan. These are companies that have withstood the test of time and succeeded by harnessing the vast array of local talent available to them. Each success story in this article will convince you that with enough determination and enough faith in your fellow countrymen, you can accomplish great feats. Here is a list of 5 software houses in Lahore, in no particular order that you should definitely be aware of: 1. Techlogix: One of the leading names in the local software industry, Techlogix has been around since 1996 and was founded by 3 MIT graduates: Salman Akhtar, Kewan Qadre Khawaja and Khurram Afridi. It is primarily a global consulting, eBusiness services and IT services company that employs more than 300 employees. Their main office is located in Lahore but they also have branches in Karachi and Islamabad. Techlogix has marketing/support offices and branches in Dubai, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur and Boston along with a software development centre in Beijing. Although it is primarily an IT services company that mostly deals in software product engineering, business intelligence, enterprise applications and financial services, Techlogix has also released two independent products in the past; 1) MAESTrO, which is a software tool that is used in the automotive industry and is being used by 20 automotive companies, including BMW, Honda, Ford and Renault, for the creation of electrical systems for fuel-efficient vehicles. MAESTrO was made solely by one of the founders, Khurram K. Afridi and released under the license of Techlogix. 2) Jazba, which is a web-based design tool/publishing software that allows creation of catalogues and other publications. It enables users to incorporate graphic templates, layouts and Web pages directly from the camera. Some of Techlogix’s core projects include the development of a mobile wallet service called Omni (similar to Easypaisa) for United Bank Limited, the implementation of PeopleSoft Campus Solution for LUMS as their primary campus automation software and the assembly of an enterprise architecture solution for Ufone. Interested in working here? They’re hiring! 2. NetSol Technologies: NetSol Technologies is among the top software houses in terms of infrastructure. It was a small setup that was started back in December of 1995 by Salim Ghauri (who incorporated his brothers, Najeeb, Naeem and Shahab Ghauri, into the company later on) and has since grown to a behemoth of a company that employs 1500+ people in Los Angeles, London, Lahore, Riyadh, Beijing, Adelaide and Bangkok. It is a large, internationally-renowned IT consultancy and software developer company that has global experience in allocating enterprise solutions to the leasing/lending and finance industry. NetSol also provides banking, healthcare, system integration and IT services to their clients. Salim Ghauri had the vision of establishing a globally recognized corporation. He certainly managed to make this dream a reality when NetSol became the first and only company with operations in Pakistan to get listed on the NASDAQ , the world’s second largest global, electronic marketplace. It did not take the company less than 5 years to make its mark, not only on the Pakistani IT industry’s map but on the international map as well. With a small initial team of 200+ employees in 2000, NetSol became the first Pakistani software house to receive the ISO-9000 certification. All of these achievements are overshadowed by the one, distinctive accomplishment of NetSol. In 2006, the company obtained the title of the first CMMI Level 5 certified company in Pakistan which is the highest level of sophistication a company can receive. To this date, NetSol Technologies and NCR Pakistan are the only companies to have attained CMMI Level 5 certification in Pakistan. Due to their international quality certifications and solid infrastructure NetSol Technologies has landed deals with quite a number of blue chip companies such as BMW, Nissan, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Yamaha, Fiat and Volkswagen. Interested in working here? They’re hiring! 3. Arbisoft: Founded in the year 2007 by Yasser Bashir, Arbisoft was initially named DeepPixels and handled only post-processing of 3D medical images but the software-oriented team soon grew weary and started experimenting with software development services which bore more profitable results. Consequently, Arbisoft grew into the prominent company that it is today. They have dabbled and specialized in a wide variety of disciplines that include 3D modelling, game development, cloud enterprise applications, automated data scraping and search analytics, mobile app development and IT solutions. They do not have any offices overseas, however they do operate in four continents and have signed deals with major brand names like Kayak, Stanford University, Indeed, edX and TripScanner. One of their most innovative technologies is the ViewDDD iOS application in which a user can view, explore and visualize 3D models. The first fully-owned product they’ve released is Intellistats, an app which analyses your phone usage, locates patterns and uses that information to tell you what carrier and plan is adequate for your daily usage. This venture was made possible because Arbisoft aims to establish themselves as an enabling platform for their own people, readily encouraging independent projects so that their employees may have the opportunity to grow by taking advantage of Arbisoft’s extensive resources. Interested in working here? They’re hiring! 4. Conrad Labs: Conrad Labs was founded in March 15, 2009 by Abbas Yousafzai, who maintains his position as CEO. He describes the company as a specialized firm consisting of experienced software engineers who work with early-stage startups as their partial engineering team, or at times, the said startup’s only engineering team. Conrad Labs is following a startup studio model. Their entire team consists of 25+ people so far. Conrad Labs started out as the research and development wing for Conformity, a web-based SSO startup from Austin, Texas. The connection between them is evident when one notices that the current name of the company is a play on the words; Conformity Research And Development. Although their team is relatively small, Conrad Labs has an experienced group of individuals working for them. Their team has extensive SaaS (software-as-a-service) and cloud knowledge and the technologies they work with include Java, MySQL, Python, jQuery and PHP which they apply for application development and purpose-built software services. The most unique feature of Conrad Labs is their uncommon cash-and-equity business model. In simple terms, they have unparalleled flexibility when it comes to reimbursement because their setup focuses on both equity and cash. In order to grant more services at a lower rate to startups that are in their initial stages, they provide a year-long R&D agreement where they provide full services and put their hopes into a successful product or profitable acquisition (and this has even led to them giving up cash payment completely in some cases). Their contract also entails an agreement that their employees will be treated as full-time employees of the company they are working with. In fact, they have turned down various projects simply because the company in question turned down said agreement. Conrad Labs has worked with more than half-a-dozen startups like Gemalto, Wisegate, Provio and Boomerang Commerce, but two of their clients are particularly interesting; 1) StoredIQ, which analyzes and processes petabytes of unstructured and irregular business data without shifting the large volume of data to a repository or special program. StoredIQ was later acquired by IBM. 2) Axcient, replaces traditional methods of corporate data backup, business continuity and disaster recovery with a sole, connected platform that mirrors a business’s entire data in the cloud. Interested in working here? They’re hiring! Email Conrad Labs. 5. Mindstorm Studios: Mindstorm Studios was formed by Babar Ahmed along with his brother Faraz Ahmed in 2006 after the former left a career as an electrical engineer in Austin, Texas. Babar made headlines when his company rose to fame and was hailed as one of the leading entrepreneurs of that time. Mindstorm Studios employs 40+ people with substantial experience in cross-platform game development, animation, character design, architectural visualization and graphic design. The primary focus of the game development studio is the creation and publishing of first-party titles. Initially, they started out with PC games and gained fame for developing the official game for the 2011 Cricket World Cup. They soon realized that there were bigger fish to fry when the advent of smartphones changed the gaming landscape forever and an ever-increasing number of people started playing games extensively on their smartphones. Mindstorm Studios realized this shift in the dynamics and eased mobile game development into their workflow. Since then, they have made a number of games for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone devices that have hit top spots in their respective app stores. One of their recent releases, Alliance Wars: Global Invasion has installs ranging from 10,000-50,000+ and some of its players spend up to 5000 USD per month on in-app purchases. Although, Mindstorm Studios is more along the lines of a game development company rather than a software house, it has every right to be on this list due to the permanent mark they’ve left on the face of Pakistani game development market and is an example for future entrepreneurs and companies alike. Credit goes to http://www.techjuice.pkAchievements
Leadership Behaviour SALIM GHAURIby: Salim Ghauri / July 29, 2015
How do you define the word “LEADER”? A leader is one who has the ability to achieve his/her goals with the help of his/her team. A good leader doesn’t achieve anything on his own. He always depends, believes and relies on the team. If you are doing any task independently, you are not a leader, you are an independent person. If you are a self-achiever and a smart person, then you are not a good leader. Being a leader means leading a group of people. Most people in our environment would like to control everything themselves, though they have a group of people with them. But they would not like to take the value out of the people. They will take all decisions themselves. That’s what leadership is all about. What sort of risks a leader should take and what parameters should be kept in mind while taking risks? A ship is always safe at the shore – but that is NOT what it is built for. There is no reward for you if you don’t take a risk. There is always something in our lives that could go wrong. The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks. But a leader should take calculated risks. If you demand that I jump from the sixth floor of the building, I will not jump. But I may jump from first floor. We do each and everything in life after planning and judging the pros and cons of that matter. Still something happens that is not under our control. So there is always a risk. You can minimize your risk by doing your homework, assessing, looking around and checking all the factors. That’s called a calculated risk. But if you have no other choice except jumping from the sixth floor of building, then do it. Because that’s what leadership is all about. Leaders are not afraid. They take tough decisions because they have no choice. Can you name a person who had tremendous effect on you as a leader? I always talk about Steve Jobs but he was an innovator. As a leader, I will go for Jack Welch. If you read his history, when he took over GE in 1981 and became the youngest CEO in GE’s history, the legendary leader made a resolution to transform GE into the world’s most competitive enterprise. Welch is a strategic thinker, business teacher, corporate icon and management theorist. If leadership is an art, then surely Welch has proved himself a master painter. With his unique leadership style and character, Welch made history during his 2-decade journey at GE. While most leaders talk a good game on leadership, he lived it. In this article, we feature Welch’s 12 lessons and how they contributed to the largest corporate makeover in history. What will you do in a situation in which you encounter a situation in which you have to select one of the two candidates of equal qualities for one job? I will hire both of them. Good leadership is about picking up good people. Whenever a leader sees good talent around him, he hires that for the company. But you have asked me to select one. Well, people can have same technical skills but personalities are very important. As far as I am concerned, I will first go through their technical abilities and professional experience. After that I will go for their personality test, their confidence level, their energy, how they came out to me and their eyes- how shining they are and their handshake how hard it was and how firm it was. So a lot of things tell me that this person will be more competent. So personality matters a lot. Can an incompetent manager provide a good working environment to his/her followers? No, an incompetent manager can’t provide a good working environment to his/her employees. I have always said that I can accept mistakes but I will not accept incompetence. Incompetent people never take right decisions and they never encourage others to do well. So we must avoid them and stay away from them. I would fire that manager immediately. If you keep such individual for long periods of time then you and your organization will be in trouble. Being the CEO of the leading software industry in Pakistan, what is the most important thing for you, MISSION, VISSION OR THE CORE VALUES? All three of them are important. They are very interlinked. Core values are your internal behavior. How you behave in life. They are the standards of conduct through which one’s actions are judged as right or wrong. For any organization to succeed, your core values will play a major role. You should have a vision to achieve your mission. Don’t just think about making money. Try to become a genius. Don’t follow money. Follow your core values, vision and mission. In return, money will follow you. Core values are the center of your achievement. High core values will result in the success of an organization. In books we have read that “Honesty is the best policy”. But in real life, we see that dishonest people are more successful and honest ones. What is your point of view regarding this matter? Dishonest people are richer. But they are not successful. They make lot of money but they don’t contribute to the society. Success comes from what you contribute to the society. Money has no relation with success. So many people have so much money but the society never recognizes their contribution. Take this example. You are interviewing a person who is not as rich as many of the great industrialists. You might have not heard of those industrialists. I think this example clarifies that money doesn’t make you a successful person. You passion makes you successful. So never ever degrade yourself. When you will be successful, money will automatically come to you. In your view, what is the biggest characteristic every leader should have? In my view, integrity is the most important thing every leader should have. Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one. Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. To know your employees, you have to act like them. What your viewpoint about that? The biggest challenge for me was to gather enough people to follow me. Good leaders get more out of their people. For example if I am paying 100 dollars salary to a person and I have not motivated him, then he will do the job of 100 dollars. But if I am the person to motivate him, he will do the job of 150 or may be 200 dollars. Even your teachers are your leaders. If you don’t support the way they teach you, you will not gain maximum out of their teaching. Some teachers will leave a mark in your mind that you will never forget because they were very passionate to you. They taught you with passion. What is your advice for the young leaders? My advice is that as you come in your professional life; please don’t aim to make money. Making money is also important but that should not be your aim. Whatever you are and what your position is, always go for something that would be helpful for others. Don’t plan that I have to earn so much money. You will not be happy after making money. Happiness will come to you if you become a person responsible for the welfare of your society. Interview Credits: campusdiaries.comAchievements Salim Ghauri
Leading IT Entrepreneurs, Harbinger of Developmentby: ACHIEVEMENTS / July 28, 2015
Profile: Salim Ghauri, Founder & CEO, NetSol Technologies is one of the best known figures from the Pakistani IT industry. He has been cited as the ‘Bill Gates of Pakistan’, a reference to his incredible achievements as an IT entrepreneur. Founded by him in 1996, NetSol Technologies developed rapidly to become the leading software company of Pakistan and is today, the only CMMI Level 5 organization in the country. It has been the country’s leading software exporter for many years and now caters to a truly impressive list of global blue chip customers, including some of the biggest names in the global IT industry. “It’s all about successful self-management. Never taking my business problems home is my secret of keeping a great work-life balance. One should leave the tensions of her/his professional life at work while going home in the evening. People keep on worrying about the end result of their efforts twenty-four hours a day. This way they make both their personal and professional lives a living hell. No doubt, there is nothing easy in life.” SALIM GHAURI IS ONE OF THE COUNTRY’S LEADING IT ENTREPRENEURS AND THE HARBINGER OF DEVELOPMENT IN PAKISTAN’S IT INDUSTRY. UNDER HIS LEADERSHIP, NETSOL HAS GAINED WORLDWIDE RECOGNITION AND EXPONENTIAL GROWTH, TOPPING THE LIST OF IT COMPANIES IN PAKISTAN AND SERVING BLUE-CHIP CLIENTS ALL OVER THE WORLD. Manager Today: What is NetSol Technologies Ltd’s business philosophy? Salim Ghauri: To become the world’s leading lease and finance software-provider. We established a niche in the enterprise financial application area, and we like to be a leader in the world. Would you like to share with us NetSol Technologies Ltd’s brief history? And how it all started? NetSol was established as an information technology (IT) services company in 1996 in Lahore. In 1999, we became the first company with operation in Pakistan to trade on NASDAQ. Over the last 17 years the company has become a product company. We are now the leading lease and finance software-provider. Our customers are some of the best names in the world. NetSol is the only CMMI-Level company in Pakistan. I have been in the IT industry since 1979, when I got my first job with Citibank’s Computer Department. Since then, I have designed and developed systems. Before founding NetSol, I was in Australia and worked there as an IT consultant in multiple companies. With the country sliding back into a serious economic crisis with a high rate of unemployment, what would you suggest to fix the economy? I don’t think that the country is sliding into a serious economic crisis. All steps taken by the present government are creating hardships for the people at the lowest level, but there are short-term measures which could revive economy better and stronger. I am a firm believer that we will see a turnaround by next year. New job opportunities will be created by new businesses. We are not poor in resources but in governance. Do you believe good governance can help us deal with this dilemma? What is your take on good governance? We have seen some very poor governance in the previous government. Fortunately, the present government has better governance record. We see results in terms of institutions performing better. With the commercialisation of educational institutions, are you happy with the quality of business graduates? And what would you suggest to bridge the gap between industry and academia? The public sector can never create enough schools to cater for the growing population. Globally speaking, commercial schools fill the gap. Pakistan is very lucky to have produced some very good schools. Some of the private schools are producing top class resources. I hope to see more investment coming into the education sector. What are the challenges and business/investment opportunities in your industry/sector? The IT industry is in the growth mode. All companies are in the hiring mode. New hiring has created a resource crunch in the market. It is good for employees but a challenge for companies. Industry is now matured and the success rate is better than other countries. We see a trend in new investment in Pakistan – a very good sign for Pakistan. What are the three key challenges for CEOs/business leaders in Pakistan? A CEO faces more than three challenges. First, the biggest challenge is to build a management structure which supports his vision. Secondly, the challenge is to pick up the best people for his management. Thirdly, it is to make sure that the management works as a team. Most companies suffer due to lack of trust among the senior management. What are the four core competencies of CEOs that you want to see in our new CEOs? The most important competency is to delegate. It is very difficult for a CEO to let go of his decision-making power and his junior takes some important decisions. A CEO needs to be a good leader where his staff follows his vision. It is important for a CEO to keep abreast of the changing business scenarios. Last but not the least, a CEO needs to have the ability to accept responsibility for failures. How do you define corporate culture at NetSol Technologies Ltd? How do you make sure that people live, act and breathe your organization’s vision, mission and core values? We believe that we are creating an institution and not a company. Institutions are built on strong corporate cultures. A company is well delegated to the lowest level. Decision-making is at all levels. A company’s vision is shared at all levels. Our core value is simple; every single person in the company is critical as regards the company’s success. Do you have a winning team? How do you motivate your team? Assess their performance and make them accountable for results? We have been on the growth path for the last five years. No success comes without a winning team. The present teams have been built over the last few years. Each member of the team has his or her KPIs and targets. The performance evaluation is done regularly and appreciation is done openly. Are you happy with the performance appraisals and employee engagement programmes in your company? I will never be happy, but I am satisfied with the progress we have made with performance appraisals. In our business, HR is the main area of the ongoing improvement. We have a lot more work to do before I become really happy. Retention of key people is one of the biggest challenges? How do you develop and retain the top talent or the key people who keep the company running? In the IT companies, HR is the main ingredient for production. The IT companies invest millions in training their resources. Investment is not only financial, but time invested in training is also costly. The loss of losing a resource is very high. We have made a mission to create an environment which is better than all other IT companies. Our HR Department has a challenge to keep assessing the satisfaction level of all our employees. Is training, coaching and mentoring a high priority for you? How much time/budget do you devote to this? What is the RoI (Return on Investment) of training programmes? We develop technology that actually does not matter as to how good a school is. Our resources do require specialized training. Our in-house training cost is high, but we are satisfied with the results we are getting. What measures should be taken to empower women? Does NetSol Technologies Ltd have an anti-harassment policy? Fortunately, in our industry, women are equal to men. We do create special environments for them to feel equal to men. Our policies are very clear so that women do not face harassment at all. Do you have any plans of expansion? Where do you see NetSol Technologies Ltd five years down the road? We have the opportunity to sell our product and services to customers around the world. So far we have captured only a small share of the market in only a few countries. We are looking forward to expanding to more countries in the next five years. Does NetSol Technologies Ltd envision being global or Pakistani multinational? We are a global Pakistani multinational company. What are the top three benchmarks for high-performing CEOs who have created long-term value for their companies? Build up a reliable and competent team, develop a strong process and enforce implementation, build customer-confidence by assuring quality. Harvard Business Review’s research enlightens us that E.Q. rather I.Q is highly essential competency for business leaders? Why is Emotional Intelligence important for CEOs especially in tough times? If a company only needs an intelligent CEO without emotions, then you better get a robot to run the company. Emotional Intelligence is the key to retaining and getting the best out of your team. People get along better with an emotional person than a robot manager. Business speaks the language of digits. To what extent should a CEO be finance-savvy? What are the three most important numbers in a firm’s financial statements? A CEO has to take care of numbers and keep the company financially viable. A CEO does not need to be a financial wizard. Who is your living role-model and inspiration and why? My father! He was the most positive person I have ever met. He built a business out of nothing. Never gave up in hard times. He taught us to be good with people working for you. What is leadership to you? What’s your style of leadership? How do you want to improve as a leader? A good leader leads from the front. He takes the responsibility of failures and credits success to his team. I engage people at all levels. I make myself accessible. I am always happy to listen to good advice. I always have smarter people than myself and avoid who always admire me. What is your idea of happiness/excellence? Getting a smiling good morning from the cleaner when I enter my office. You strive for excellence every day. You are never satisfied and constantly want to improve your environment. Any message of hope to the young generation of CEOs, managers, entrepreneurs and business leaders? Have a dream and then go after your dream with a robust passion. Never give up. While building and developing your company, be flexible to change. How many employees are on your payroll? Lahore has over 1200 employees and, globally, the NetSol employees are around 1400. Please share with us your company’s last three years’ average revenue growth? NetSol has been growing over 30 per cent during the last three years. Any remarkable recognition or achievements so far made? Over the last 17 years, NetSol has emerged as Pakistan’s distinguished IT industry. NetSol has captured 90 per cent of the Chinese multinational finance market, creating the best IT standards in Pakistan. NetSol has won the highest IT export awards by Taradata for seven years.NetSol Achievements Salim Ghauri
The Founding Spirit Behind NetSol Technologiesby: SALIM GHAURI / July 18, 2015
Mr. Salim Ghauri emerged as an IT entrepreneur in 1995 and swept the market off its feet as a smart tycoon. Today, we know him as an IT business icon or the “Bill Gates of Pakistan”. He has been among the most influential Pakistanis who have left the mark on the entire society. Thinking out of the box, he founded and chaired the top branded IT Company, NetSol Technologies. His success spoke for his vision, passion, dedication and hard work. In fact, through his company, he introduced Pakistan IT to the international market and proved it, receiving loads of success and fame. In spite of his huge success, he is very friendly, sensitive and caring towards people around him. Even his diverse engagements don’t hinder in replying the queries approaching him through internet. Many interviews of him about IT and his company are available online. So, we decided to take an unconventional interview of him on this blog. Thank you Salim for being on the interview despite a very busy schedule of yours! Q: Tell us about your family background, teenage inspirations and success story. Salim Ghauri: Born in Bahawalpur to an entrepreneurial father. My father has worked very hard all his life to give a good life to his family. He has been my inspiration to do more. He has led his life as an example for me. Today, even at the age of 86 he is up very early in the morning to offer his prayer and goes to play golf five days a week. From a very young age, I wanted to be a businessman. That came from my father as I watched him managing his business. Travelling, meeting people from around the world, I used to dream of meeting people from different countries and signing million dollars deals. Q: What inspired you to choose an unconventional path of being an IT entrepreneur in Pakistan? What was your vision when you started? Salim Ghauri: I have been in IT industry for over 34 years. My career started with my first job in computer department in Citibank, Riyadh, in 1980. Having worked as a computer programmer and network designer, I had had seventeen years of experience by 1996, when I decided to set up NetSol Technologies. Before coming back to Lahore and establishing NetSol Technologies, I had been working in Australia for eight years. I had a very successful consultancy in Sydney. I left a good life in Australia and returned to Pakistan to establish my own IT Company. I had this desire to build a globally recognized corporation. Q: What services does your company, NetSol Technologies, offer? What is your biggest achievement that makes you really proud of yourself? Salim Ghauri: NetSol Technologies is a product company. We have developed a Lease & Finance application. We sell license of our application and provide service to our customers on our product. We are one of the largest company in the world in this domain. We have the understanding how this business works. We provide expert consultancy to our customers to run their businesses more efficiently and profitably. Our biggest achievement is to have developed a globally recognized product from Pakistan. We have captured 90% of Chinese market in Lease & Finance business. Q: What was the darkest time of your journey? Did you think of closing down at that point? Salim Ghauri: In 2001, the IT market got crashed down. We lost most of our clients. There was a time I thought we would not be able to pay our salaries even. But we did not give up and continued running the business by selling our personal assets to pay the bills. Q: Which factors and decision of yours have made your company grow so rapidly? Did you find Pakistani market supportive of you? Salim Ghauri: We were never dependent on Pakistani market. Since beginning we focused on international market. Fortunately, for us, our focus was on Asian market. When things were bad in North America and Europe, Asia was doing well. Our decision to have the quality standards in our company was our best decision. Q: What is your advice to youngsters who dream to be entrepreneurs but hesitate to dare? Salim Ghauri: There is no success without risk. Success rate in business building is low. But people who have abilities to innovate and have creative ideas must try their luck as entrepreneurs. Rewards are high when you are willing to take risks. Q: When did you first discover the dynamic leader inside you? How did you manage to play such diverse roles simultaneously as the CEO & Chairman of NetSol Technologies, Chairperson Federal ICT Task Force, Australian Honorary Consul to Punjab, Pak, Charter Member TiE, Lahore Chapter, and, Senior Vice President American Business forum? Salim Ghauri: We learn about our potential gradually. Our ability to deal with people and success in getting the best out of people is the key to being a successful leader. Slowly you get confidence in yourself to deal with bigger problems and handle more people. A good leader delegates to the best people around. With delegation there is more time to do more than one job. All of the above responsibilities are managed by competent people. I just guide them to the right direction. Q: What is your way of being organized? Do you plan your days, weeks, months and years in advance? Salim Ghauri: We plan for three years. With a strategy in place and all people behind agreed plan, every single day is well organized in advance. No ad hoc decisions are appreciated. Even in case of crises, processes have been defined. Every one works through a plan. I spend my time in reviews and guiding the teams to make sure we all are on the same page. Q: How do you balance your work, family and social life? Salim Ghauri: Early in my life I worked very hard and long hours. I don’t remember how my children grew up so fast. Missed their birthdays and school events, but not anymore. I make sure I balance my time between my family and work. Love to spend evenings with my friends. Q: Do you think that man-woman relationship is changing in our society due to more access of education and work opportunities for girls? How would you comment on it? Salim Ghauri: Women play a very important role in our society. Female education is positive for the community. An educated female is a good wife; she will be able to look after the household and finances better. An educated woman has proven to be a better mother than a less educated mom. Fortunately, the new generation of Pakistani female is more educated and ambitious. We have experienced that some of the best team leads are females. Even as workers, they are more reliable than male workers. Going forward, women in Pakistan will play their role in the development of the country Q: What are your best lessons in your personal and professional lives? Salim Ghauri: Many lessons learned over the 34 years of professional life. Treat people with respect; without receiving respect, they will not respect you back. Leadership is about hiring the best people and then letting them do their work. Q: Do you think IT has influenced the overall attitudes of Pakistani society? If yes, how? Salim Ghauri: We are good at adopting technology. Biggest change has come through smart phones. Next most important change will come once we will have 3G/4G service in Pakistan. More people will now rely on smart phones to access net and exchange information. Q: These days, the trend of online education is being introduced in our country. Can we educate our poor masses on national level using IT? Can such plans be made despite the entire energy crisis in Pakistan? Salim Ghauri: IT is now education and will play a bigger role in educating masses. The more our decision makers appreciate how economical e-learning is, the more benefit they will get out of it. And, as a result, we will see a positive change in our society. In other words, this is the best change which will benefit masses. Future is in e-learning. More and more institutions will offer e-learning, handling larger number of students. Soon, we will have paperless education. Our course material will all be e-based, where we will not need printed text books. Q: Can we design IT-oriented certificate courses that can make our undergraduate ladies skilled enough to be on their own feet? Alongside, can we provide them with a less competitive freelance market where they can earn according to their potential? Salim Ghauri: IT education is the easiest medium of teaching and learning. Small IT courses can change life. Freelancing has created new opportunities. Now, we see that a larger number of youth is earning their livings through freelancing. Q: As Chairman of PASHA, please tell us what PASHA is doing to build a positive image of Pakistan in the field of technology? Also, like India where government is giving subsidy to IT firms, can you convince the Pakistani government to take a step like this? Salim Ghauri: PASHA is doing its job in highlighting the achievements of Pakistani IT companies. It’s a slow process but I believe we will be more visible to the world. Our industry is now mature and now more companies are working for global customer base. IT industry can be best served by leaving it alone. Entrepreneurship grows when there is no interference. Q: Do you like any IT-related movies? If yes, what are their names? Salim Ghauri: I do watch and enjoy movies. Best IT movie was Matrix. Watched it again and again. Interestingly, more and more movies are made through special effects or are computer generated. Q: What is your concept and way of giving back to your country? Salim Ghauri: Best way is to reply to questionnaires like this one. This way I share my experiences with others. On the other side, I have opened myself to people. I accept all the invitations to visit schools and Universities to speak to the students. I believe by sharing my failures and successes with young people, I would help them take the right decisions. Interview credits: kausarbilal.comAchievements SG Book