The Upside Down Company
When Vineet Nayar, the 48-year-old chief executive of HCL Technologies Limited, took the stage at the company’s fifth annual global conference in April in Orlando, Fla., he signaled for some heavy Bollywood disco music and began to shimmy and shake across the stage with his best Elaine Benes dance moves. The 1,000 HCL employees and customers roared and egged him on as the evening’s festive party turned into a raucous Bollywood extravaganza, replete with actresses, dancers and a faux wedding. The $2.6 billion global information technology services firm based in Noida, India, had reason to celebrate, having emerged from the recession with stunning growth and newfound global recognition. Since 2005, when Nayar took over as CEO, revenue and operating income more than tripled, the number of HCL customers grew fivefold, attrition among the 58,000 employees in 26 countries dropped by 50 percent, and HCL was named “Best Employer” in India and Asia by Hewitt Associates.
Nayar, with a decidedly unconventional leadership style, has gained star status in the business press and academic circles for his atypical views on how to run a company. His new book, “Employees First, Customers Second,” was published in June by Harvard Business Publishing, and Nayar is suddenly in demand. His methods would be considered unusual anywhere, but for a giant Indian information technology services firm, he was well out on the fringe.
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