INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Learning Under the Shadow of a Great Entrepreneur
Nikhil Kothari, Executive Director at Intertec Systems tells us how the regional IT services specialist serves the government, banking and large enterprises across the Middle East and India.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Nikhil Kothari: We are doing great, thanks. As the inoculation rates in UAE have been high, we are confidently sending our kids back to school so they are happier.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Intertec.
Nikhil Kothari: I spent the early part of my career between India and the UK working in various roles, including management consulting, sales, and software development. In 2007, I joined Intertec after deciding I didn’t want to pursue a career in strategy consulting as I missed being a part of the implementation. It took 5 role discussions from my father, who is the founder of Intertec, to finally make up my mind to come back to Dubai and join his company.
How does Intertec innovate?
Nikhil Kothari: I believe my father, our founder, is a pillar to innovation at Intertec. Even today, he can multi-task better than any professional I had the pleasure to work alongside. He takes calculated risks and has a passion for trying new things. I am cultivated with this passion for creating differentiation, and so are many of our leaders as a culture. We challenge each other in our planning sessions for leaders and teams to develop innovation and differentiation in their propositions. We also don’t shy away from product development to complement our partners by vertical or use cases or as standalone products to take to market.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Nikhil Kothari: Last year was difficult as many projects got postponed or cancelled. However, we managed to stay green thanks to strong financial planning for such days. Also, it taught us many lessons to get more productive, agile, and decisive.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Nikhil Kothari: We decided not to lay off heads yet again, repeating our actions during the financial crisis of 2008. Our Board strongly believes our employees’ families are attached to what they accomplish at Intertec. So, it is our responsibility to take care of our employees and face difficult times together. This ensures passion for the company and thereby our customers. We faced this difficult situation by trying many new things to reduce costs and got great cooperation from our employees to contribute to this challenge.
A lesson learnt is that such times teach you the character of people. There were many that voluntarily came forward to recommend how to reduce costs, including their own salaries, despite not being high earners. This was really touching to see how emotionally attached people are to see Intertec succeed.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Nikhil Kothari: Working from home helped in some cases and especially in our reviews. In this period, we increased the adoption of our CRM and Analytics to be efficient. Also, we had to discuss many more ways internally to connect with customers as face to face meetings were very limited. Relationships are hard to develop remotely. This meant our team had to think harder on how we will create value for our customers.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Nikhil Kothari: No, we are fortunate to be blessed with strong corporate governance and financial prudence. We are very conservative as a company in these matters.
Your final thoughts?
Nikhil Kothari: While the IT industry has high growth prospects, it is important to stay grounded and consider your options wisely on projects and investments. We have seen companies grow leaps and bounds and fall due to delivery capabilities, financial prudence and signing on to high risks. Chew what you can eat, and make lasting relationships with strong credibility.
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