Steel beneath softness

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Amiable, convivial and genial are some of the adjectives used to describe Krishnakumar Natarajan, or KK, the easygoing CEO of Mindtree. In January 2011, though, nothing was going easy for the Bangalore-based IT and outsourcing company, which was co-founded by KK, Ashok Soota, one of Indian IT’s grand old man, among others, in 1999. Soota, who was then the Executive Chairman, decided to part ways with Mindtree (KK was the CEO), and there were questions on whether the company would survive, let alone thrive.

Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst and CEO at Greyhound Research, says while KK has done a good job of holding the company together and steering it onto a path of high growth, more needs to be done. “It [Mindtree] may compete with a Virtusa (another IT firm of similar size) and win a contract, but the IT outsourcing and offshoring story is fundamentally shifting, and Mindtree needs to invest in emerging areas quickly if it wants to sustain growth and margins. It has to seriously explore larger inorganic growth strategies.”

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