A People's Man

CP Gurnani's formula is to break down complex issues and tackle the parts one by one.

CP Gurnani, MD & CEO, Tech Mahindra (Photograph by Reuben Singh) CP Gurnani, MD & CEO, Tech Mahindra (Photograph by Reuben Singh)

The Satyam scam which surfaced in 2009 was an unheard of corporate fiasco for the Indian IT industry until then. When Tech Mahindra won the bid to acquire the beleaguered software company, which was the fourth largest software exporter back then, Chander Prakash Gurnani's career was about to take a giant leap.

The then Managing Director Vineet Nayyar and Mahindra group Chairman Anand Mahindra turned to Gurnani and appointed him as the CEO of Mahindra Satyam to steer the merger and acquisition, as well as minimise the collateral damage. Gurnani took the proverbial bull by its horns, breaking down complex issues and tackling them one by one. Decisions were taken based on data, insights and the 'right thing to do'. "It was about breaking the problem into manageable parts and getting the right guys to deliver," says Gurnani. Perhaps that is why Mahindra Satyam did not lose any client.

After the merger of Mahindra Satyam and Tech Mahindra, he took over as the CEO and Managing Director of the new entity. From an annual revenue (standalone) of just over Rs  6,001 crore in March 2013 to over Rs  23,660 crore in March 2018, Gurnani has led the company to a prime position in the Mahindra group.

Gurnani's early corporate stints with JK Synthetics and other companies was a self-discovery phase. "I finally discovered what I liked: Instead of dealing with machines alone, I liked dealing with people and machines, and instead of being thrown into a situation with a manual, I liked to get into the problem and solve it," recalls Gurnani. Even now he continues to do what he loves the most: "dealing with people" and "taking challenges head-on". Today, Tech Mahindra is counted among the top five IT companies in India with a market cap of over Rs  65,000 crore.

Tech Mahindra continues to transform. "Tech M will be digital inside and digital outside," says Gurnani. The company's digital business now contributes 33 per cent to the overall revenues. In the third quarter of FY19, digital revenues grew 10 per cent on a quarter on quarter basis. In the past two years, the company has been making strategic acquisitions and partnerships in the area of artificial intelligence, Blockchain and other digital technologies.

For instance, it plans to spend over Rs  500 crore in the next five years to set up an artificial intelligence centre in Canada. It has collaborated with Gao Feng Advisory Company to set up a joint artificial intelligence lab in Shanghai and is launching India's first Blockchain district in Telangana. The digital push has also resulted in significant acquisitions such as design company Pininfrarina in 2015, The BIO Agency in 2016, Inter- Informatics in 2018, DynaCommerce in 2019 and a partnership with Toshiba to build a smart factory.