Jerre Stead, Chairman & CEO of IHS Markit, a leader in providing critical information, analytics and business solutions to stakeholders in the global economy, tells SHAILENDRA TYAGI about his decision to expand operations in India.
Q: Why do think that expanding your operations in India makes business sense?
A: Today, we have about 3,700 full- and part-time people working for us here in India and the results have been wonderful. The Indian population is full of highly talented, young and well educated people. Our Indian researchers, as well as our software scientists, are as good as people anywhere else in the world. They are innovating ideas. They have in them the ability to move things forward. India offers us not the low-cost, but the best-cost destination. And that is why we are here.
Q: So the “grass-cutter” tag that has typically defined the workforce in developing economies seems to be thinning out?
A: I for sure have never looked at India that way. When I say that our Indian employees are innovating ideas and have the ability to make things move, shows that we are already using Indian brains. If we were to start our companies today as entrepreneurs with all we know about India, we would better start them here. And I believe that it is same with any great place in the world. So if India offers us the cost advantage then why do the grass-cutting only and why not build the whole house here? Building at best cost gives one a competitive advantage and the best cost can go full stack, i.e., from top to bottom. What we need to make sure is that people are passionate and are empowered to do that. I would also expect the Indian government to encourage product innovations here in India. Besides the skill-sets, the prospects of Indian economy have also inspired us. Our forecast is that India would grow by about 7.6% (compounded) each year between now and 2021 much faster than China. And we believe that.
Q: How convinced you are with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s handling of the Indian economy especially when everything is decelerating elsewhere?
A: I sincerely believe that he is doing a great job. The efforts made by his government to take the GST Bill to its logical conclusion are very well received by all stakeholders, because all would benefit with accelerated growth which GST would bring in the longer term. It is efforts like these that make India a strong bright spot. We expect him to continue with that.
(Jerre allows Lance Uggla, president IHS Markit, to chip in to add that “Modi is developing a tremendous reputation abroad, which is making western corporates confident about investing in India. Many heads of governments across the globe feels that Modi is one of the few great leaders today. He is seen as a global change agent. When Modi goes abroad, the headlines that he leaves behind are indeed inspiring. And that is the reason we are here.)
Q: Which sectors in India excite you the most?
A: We believe that India would soon be the fourth largest producer of automobiles in the world. As we do business with every automotive company in the world, we think that our predictive analytics can be of great use to Indian automotive companies. Energy has been our domain for years. The entire banking sector is also on our radar. We are eager to partner with Indian and global banks operating in India. Today we are doing business with the defence department in India and would continue to do that. And of course the maritime business.
Q: What concerns you the most in terms of doing business in India?
A: I have been coming to India since 1977 and I have seen many positive changes happening in India but the overwhelming bureaucracy still makes everyone nervous. So less of regulation and more of facilitation is what foreign investors are looking for in India. India needs to develop its basic infrastructure. India needs a lot of investment for building roads, stability of power and fuel supplies, etc. More investment in infrastructure would encourage more growth, benefiting all in the process.