Arjun Rao in a Face to Face with NASSCOM

Arjun Rao was interviewed for the Face-to-Face section in http://www.nasscom.in/

We are present in the US with sales offices in San Francisco, California and New Jersey. We also have incorporated a company, ValueLabs (UK) Ltd., in London. We have plans to start additional sales offices in Europe and the Middle East.

Q: Who are your major clients? What is your relationship model? What steps do you take to attract and retain them?

A: Out of a current client base of 50+ companies, 12 clients consider us to be strategic partners, rather than just vendors. The average tenure of these 12 relationships with us is 5+ years and the average team size of these accounts is 70. Our clients range from start ups to large multinational companies.

We’ve worked on the remote execution model right from inception and have perfected the process of multi-shore interactions over the past ten years. Our unique engagement model (Extended Team Model – ETM) with a strong customer focus helps us attract and retain clients.

Our relationship with our clients is symbiotic. The work our ‘extended teams’ do, impacts our clients’ businesses and improves their standing in their vertical. As our clients do better in their vertical, they pass on more business to us. Our clients help us define our culture, manage attrition, mature processes and increase our knowledge base. They are our staunchest ambassadors and the strongest component of our sales activities.

  • We inculcate our culture in every associate of ValueLabs that helps us attract and retain clients. Our unique culture can be understood by these aspects:
  • We are passionate about what we do and believe in enjoying what we do.
  • We have a positive ‘can do’ attitude. We believe that we are one of the best delivery houses in the world. We have never let down a client, and we intend to maintain that track record.
  • We are innovative and creative. We encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in each project. Each team reports to the client and is free to do whatever it takes to succeed.
  • We walk the extra mile. We want to see our clients succeed, and reach the top in their space. We want to be one of the competitive advantages that our client has. We will do whatever it takes to reach this state.
  • We retain the human touch. We want to make the company a fun place to be at for all stake holders. We do not believe in external pressures and targets.
  • We believe that the desire to excel should come from within. We go out of our way to help associates with their personal lives too.
  • There is minimal hierarchy and total accessibility.
  • It is a very young organization. We have matured by taking large responsibilities early on, but still retain the enthusiasm of youth.

Q: ValueLabs facility at Hyderabad seems to be popular for its architectural excellence. Could you explain the inspiration and the planning that has gone into this?

A: Our facility is absolutely state-of-the-art. But much more than the physical infrastructure, it is the manner in which our facility embodies our philosophy that makes us proud. Our facility represents and implements our desire to do the best for our two key stakeholders: our clients and our associates.

The facility has a central spinal cord (the stairs) with organs (Quadrants) branching out in all directions. Our associates are an integral part of the client when they are in their workspace, but outside the quadrants they are part of the larger ValueLabs family. This (coupled with our Extended Team Model) gives our clients the best of both a captive center as well as a pure outsourced relationship.

The facility also helps our associates achieve fulfillment at a professional and a personal level. In fact, many of the features were driven by our associates. Some of these are: no Associate is more than a seat away from daylight and there are over a 100 meeting / conference rooms. An entire floor of the facility (1/5th the floor space, close to 35,000 square feet) is dedicated to our associates. The facility, philosophy and atmosphere have a tremendous impact on all visitors and inhabitants.

Q: Can you briefly discuss your growth plans?

A: We have charted out a three-pronged expansion strategy.
Geography Expansion: In terms of geography, we plan to expand our presence outside US. By the Q1 2008, we would have presence in Middle East. In addition, we plan to double our onsite sales team in the next 12 months.
Domain Capability: In terms of domain strategy, given our proven competence we plan to create SBUs for telecom and healthcare by the end of 2008. Other key domain areas we plan to focus on are travel and retail industries.
Technology / Service Area: In terms of technology and services areas, we plan to add to our strength in eCommerce, Interactive TV and mobile applications. We are also aware of the growing demand for KPO services and have readied plans to augment our presence in that service.

Q: Your company is recognized by NASSCOM as among the top 15 exciting emerging companies to work for. What are your comments?

A: We are proud and honoured to be among the top 15 exciting emerging companies to work for, from among 1100 IT-BPO companies in the SME sector in India. This award motivates us to continue doing everything that we have been doing with respect to our associates. We attribute this distinction to our unique culture and associate-focused HR policies.

We believe that our strength and ability to achieve such distinctions lies in our people. At ValueLabs, freedom inspires ideas and the working environment nurtures excellence. The knowledge of one becomes the knowledge of all, shared on a common platform. In addition to having a host of associate-friendly policies, we drive people to take responsibilities and challenges at an early age thus offering our associates an accelerated career path. We create an ambience that motivates our associates to contribute to the organizational development.

Our ability to attract and retain talent has been a key success factor for us. An apt example would be a ‘referral based walk-in interview’ that was organized at ValueLabs in the recent past. No ads were released; information was passed out purely by word-of-mouth. The walk-in interviews were for people with experience of up to 1 year. We were expecting a few hundreds, but over 8,000 people turned up! Police and private security was called in to manage the crowd. No one had ever seen such a response before. This speaks extremely well for ValueLabs’ image in the city of Hyderabad.

Q: What are your CSR activities? Could you elaborate on the principles that guide you as an organization and the initiatives that you have undertaken?

A: We realize our responsibility towards society. We are actively involved in several social welfare initiatives. We support causes like poverty alleviation, education for the underprivileged, blood donation and many more.

We work closely with the Ramakrishna Math, part-financing the social schemes that they are running in different parts of the country. We are participants in one of their schemes to provide drinking water solutions in more than 100 villages. Besides the drinking water initiative, we are also helping with free medical care at a hospital managed by the Math and food for orphans, poor, aged and disabled people.

We have also been closely associated with Rural Development Foundation (RDF). Over the last 10 years, RDF has done some good work in the rural education space. We regularly make contributions to RDF.

We also make regular donations to charitable organizations, associate with numerous NGOs that support different causes, and sponsor deserving students in colleges.