Neelam Dhawan, draped in a brown saree, paced herself onto the stage as soon as Whistle Baja, the film Heropanti's hit tune, died down. She welcomed tech professionals at HP's World Tour event in Mumbai earlier this year, and proceeded to deliver a well-structured speech. Dhawan spoke of India's changing demographics, the impatience of the young and the need for companies to keep pace with their expectations. "The future of India is not going to waste time standing in lines," she said. She then cut to what she described as the new business opportunity - smart cities. "Smart cities will be the biggest transformation that will impact business," she said.
FULL COVERAGE:India's Most Powerful Businesswomen 2015If US rival IBM can go hammer and tongs at smart cities, can HP be far away? Dhawan does not want to cede any ground - she hasn't in the last year, going by trade magazine Dataquest's mathematics. It ranks HP as India's fifth-largest IT company by revenue in 2014/15 after TCS, Cognizant, Infosys, and Wipro. The company's revenues during the year grew 4 per cent to Rs 37, 985 crore. That also makes HP India's largest IT multinational, above IBM India (revenues Rs 20,442 crore).
While smart cities are opportunities of the future, a lot must have gone right at the company in 2014/15. Dhawan did not speak to BT since the company was in a silent period. However, Naveen Mishra, Research Director at advisory firm Gartner, sheds light. "In 2015, we have seen HP going through a big change, as part of a global shift. HP India has strengthened its presence in the infrastructure market, especially storage and networking areas where they gained share," he said.
Dhawan, of course, will have a tough time ahead as HP, globally, splits into two on November 1 - Hewlett Packard Enterprise will provide IT solutions and infrastructure while HP Inc. will make and sell its personal systems and printing businesses. But then Dhawan is as seasoned as it gets. Before HP, she was the MD of Microsoft India. She is best described by a former colleague who says she is "remarkably successful", "one of the finest sales leaders" and one who "likes winning".