Manish Tandon took charge at mid-tier software services company CSS Corp’s corner office in August 2016 after the PE investor The Partners Group pressed for change at the top. From an earlier position of an IPO in 2016-17, the company has now pushed that event by another three years. In conversation with TOI, Tandon, says first phase of restructuring at CSS Corp was over and the company was back on growth mode.
What were the key triggers for The Partners group to eject the earlier CEO? You had said performance numbers were not satisfactory. Can you elaborate?
This question would be best answered by The Partners Group of investors. Given the changes in the industry I suspect that they perhaps just wanted some fresh thinking.
You said last two quarters CSS Corp has achieved sequential growth on both topline and bottom line. What is the growth looking like? Can you share some numbers? Is the return to growth a new phenomenon or the growth was slower earlier?
We have been observing 3% sequential growth quarter on quarter since the past two quarters and with this pace we are targeting 15% growth year on year. Bottom line has always been healthy with steady double digit margins. The performance of the organization in the last 10 months has picked up and we expect to maintain the momentum going forward.
Your $150 million revenues for March 2017 is expected to grow. Can you share what would these numbers look like in 1, 2 and 3 years from now?
Numbers will be in line with the growth projections as already.
You had said the idea was to create more value to shareholders, before you look at IPO or other exit process for existing investors. Can you elaborate?
The measures we have taken will enable us to emerge as a new age services provider with a truly differentiated value proposition. That will help us drive top line and bottom line growth, with better IP creation and client acquisition which should ultimately reflect in better value creation. However, IPO or a strategic sale at this point is speculative. It would be premature for us to talk about an exit for at least 3 to 5 years.
What were the changes you effected after you took over as CEO? Can you explain some tangible steps, including HR changes or other policy changes that were effected to get growth back? What are the differentiated set of offerings you have brought in?
We have been focusing on the underinvested areas of the company. Areas like sales and marketing have been strengthened with increased presence closer to our customers i.e. the US market. We are investing heavily on building our innovation and research capabilities through the CSS Corp Innovation Labs as we believe in solution led differentiation. The lab has been able to churn out new age technology solutions in AI, automation, analytics and this is helping us get better traction in the market. Most of CSS Corp’s advanced solutions have been incubated in our labs.
On the HR front, CSS Corp’s Digital Career Progression Framework has been specifically built to fast-track employee re-skilling initiatives within the organization, in niche digital technologies including AI, analytics, automation, cloud, DevOps and IoT. Additionally, the framework enables collaborative learning and greater personalization through Virtual University, MOOCs, online portals and learning communities. The framework has created more career and growth opportunities, while resulting in an overall drop in attrition.
We have also amplified our service lines. One of our fastest growing services is Digital through which we are building innovative solutions to help our clients engage better with their end-customers while driving better customer experience and revenue conversion.
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