The overall demand environment continues to be robust despite uncertainty and macro-economic challenges, Roshni Nadar Malhotra, chairperson of India's third-largest software firm HCL Technologies said, in a rare media interaction in Mumbai.
Nadar-Malhotra, the first woman chairperson of a top Indian IT firm, has usually stayed away from the press and operations, preferring to drive philanthropic initiatives. She broke the pattern on May 12, chairing a press conference with CEO C Vijayakumar.
“The last couple years have been unpredictable due to COVID-19, but we still witness robust demand,” she said. Vijayakumar said that while factors such as inflation are a worry, clients haven’t spoken about reducing spends, just yet.
Talking about the company's growth potential, Nadar-Malhotra said their utmost priority has been to accelerate digital transformation programmes with efficiency. On acquisitions, she said that while the focus has been on organic growth, they would look into tuck-in and specialised acquisitions that give the company domain expertise and strength in newer business lines.
In its recent earnings report last month, HCL Tech posted revenues that beat estimates but a 110 basis point (bps) sequential fall in margin had disappointed the street. While it has given a FY23 growth guidance of 12-14 percent, it expects to grow margins by 18-20 percent.
“Since Vijay (CEO CVK) said that we can keep growing at double-digits, I guess we can keep growing at double-digits, no pressure,” she quipped.
“Five years from now, I think as a set goal we will continue growing in many more geographies. We probably will get many more customers. Our business lines will grow faster as well,” she said, laying down a five-year vision for the firm, at a time when outsourcing demand has gone up as more companies migrate to the cloud and digitise operations.
In addition, the company has invested in expanding to newer geographies such as Central America, Eastern Europe, and Canada, among others. Nadar-Malhotra said, “A lot of our choices on these new frontier countries for delivery are based on talent availability, driven by customer demand, and the markets where we are more strategically focused.”
In 2020, Roshni Nadar Malhotra became the first woman chairperson to head a top Indian IT company when she took charge on July 17. She took over the role from her father Shiv Nadar, who co-founded the parent company, HCL, back in 1976.
While new to the role of chair, Nadar-Malhotra is definitely not new to the company. She said, “I have been on the board since 2012 and the CEO of the holding company since 2009. So, I’m not new to the block.”
However, she only started playing an active role in the management of the firm in 2020, as per industry watchers. Earlier, she was the CEO and Executive Director of HCL Corporation and also Vice-Chairperson on the Board since 2018.
Nadar-Malhotra grew up in Delhi and graduated with an MBA from Kellogg. She has been focused on the philanthropy side, where apart from serving as a trustee on the Shiv Nadar Foundation, she is also chairperson of VidyaGyan Leadership Academy, which provides education to underprivileged children.
Last year, C Vijayakumar, CEO, was given additional charge as Managing Director of the company. According to him, HCL Tech has touched the highest revenue on a five-year basis and maintained attrition at 7 percent in the top 500 management level.
He said, “We are confident of continuing to deliver industry-leading growth. HCL has a broad range of digital capabilities, and going forward, it is looking at the highest percentage spend on cloud and digital operations of about 51 percent by FY25.”Vijayakumar also added that HCL has been leading among competitors with the highest total shareholder return.