“Perseverance and determination and a good deal of adaptation are the keys to success in India.” – Iván Vázquez
We wanted to start this round of interviews with Iván Vázquez, head of the India subsidiary of the Galician company NETEX, who has already been three years in Pune. Ivan has shared with us their experiences, learning and impressions of his Indian experience.
1. What are you doing in India and how long have you been?
I am Director of the Indian subsidiary of NETEX Knowledge Factory, a Spanish company dedicated to IT and e-learning. Here we have a software production team and the people working on business development for the Indian market. I arrived to India in May 2008, so I have been here for three and a half years already.
2. Why did you come to India? Which were the main reasons and prospects that brought you here?
I came to India looking for a change, both personally and professionally. And I did find it! I was looking for a promotion inside of my company to get a higher responsibility position (I was in charge of services area) and at the same time, I was searching for a change in my life, a new place to live… a bit of fresh air, I guess.
3. Which were your main concerns?
The truth is that I never had too many concerns. I came here to start from scratch, my company had put its new venture on my hands, putting all their confidence on me. I suppose that shows a leadership attitude from NETEX’s directors who trusted me and my capabilities. On a personal level, starting from zero in a new country was just what I was looking for, so not without effort, I enjoyed a lot of my start up in India. Of course, all the great friends and good people that I have met along the way have helped without any doubt. We are quite a few expats in Pune and the close collaboration of “veterans” on a personal level, it shows! Now it is my turn to be the veteran helping out the new “freshers”.
4. Is the experience as you had expected so far?
Sure it is. Of course I have had tough moments where I felt I was better off at home, but in general, I would not doubt to repeat the experience again I and would recommend anyone to do it.
5. Which is the most positive aspect?
The professional development and the good friends that I found on the way.
6. And the main difficulties? Which are the negative aspects?
Well, it is not your culture, nor your country. Sometimes, as a good Galician (a North western region of Spain), I have nostalgia of my people, the food, the way we have fun in Spain during our free time, but most of all, I miss Galicia’s sea. It is the first time that I am not a stone’s throw away the sea. Even when I spent almost 7 years living in Bilbao, I did not hesitate to escape to the cost whenever I could.
7. Taking into account what you know now, what would you change if you started over again?
I think I would have adapted my company to the international production and development of foreign markets much faster. Getting adapted to this international expansion has not been easy. The unconditional support of the parent company and its ability to adapt to the new is essential. It is also necessary to change the mindset from a local company to an international company. The problems are not always derived from the subsidiary. Sometimes it is the parent company who blocks the process of internationalization due to the lack of that change in mindset. For example, something as simple as writing any documentation of general interest in English is not always easy to achieve. That’s what I mean by getting adapted faster.
Therefore, I think that a more agile decision making would be a major issue in case of starting again. In my personal life would not change anything.
8. Have you come with your family? How is it being for them?
Yes, I live with my girlfriend. I must admit that it is not an easy task. She left a good life to follow me to India and the job opportunities once you are in India, are hardly equal to what you can get in Spain. And of course, trying to combine a good professional and personal life is essential for any young person nowadays.
9. Any plans for the future?
Well, there’s nothing defined out of my current status. My idea is to definitively establish NETEX as a sound, competitive company in the Indian market while also improving the production process globally.
10. How’s the project doing?
Not without teething problems, I think now we are all very satisfied with the current development, both in Spain and in India. I’m proud that everyone is able to see with good eyes the good results we are getting.
11. What potential do you think that e-learning industry has in India? Do you see opportunities for other Spanish companies?
We could say that 3 years ago, the sector of e-learning in India based its production on the North American market needs. Today it is a boom in all sectors. The possibilities in a market as vast as India is immense, but also ensures a good number of local competitors.
12. In your opinion which are the keys to success in India
A friend would say “perseverance and determination” and a good deal of adaptation. India is another culture, another country. We can not expect everything to work like “at home”. You must have great patience when dealing with agencies, while adapting to the way of life of local people. Their customs, their way of working, their personality … it’s something to be worked out between all the manager and employees to become a good tandem.
13. What would you say / advise to a businessman who just landed in India with the idea of establishing a business.
Do your homework before you arrive. Clearly define your goals and examine in depth the markets and culture, better if accompanied by an expert in the area. Make sure your company is ready to change if they do not have a clear international experience; if it is hard on other markets, possibly more so in the Indian one. Above all, do not underestimate the potential of India neither as a market nor as production factory.
14. Any book or website that you recommend in particular?
I’m a real fan of Tom Peters, even though I admit that it becomes a bit sensationalist at times. Another book that has inspired me was “Critical Chain” by Eliyahu Goldratt, recommended to me by Mario Gil.