S. Ramachandran – CEO, Changepond Technologies

Mr S.Ramachandran is an alumnus of the 1975 batch of our Annamalai University and is a Chemical engineer. He hails from a small village near Thiruvarur. His father was a very simple man, an agriculturist looking after his lands and his mother, a strong intelligent personality administered the smooth operations of running of the house. With his parents and sister Ramachandran lived in a harmonious environment. Ramachandran studied in the village school up to 2'nd standard and moved to Mayavaram to live with his grand father who was then looking after the administration and legal matters pertaining to Vaitheeswaran Koil. It was his grandfather who shaped Ramachandran's mind and it was he who encouraged him to study well, taught him values made him read a lot of books apart from the regular academic books. Actions reveal the Virtues and Ramachandran was able to see his grandfather live such a life and learn from him about living a disciplined and principled life. Although he said he was not very disciplined in the early years but always managed to get good marks the discipline and the Values he had seen in his grandfather had crept into his subconscious mind which came in very handy while at work and till now. With all the encouragement given Ramachandran stood First in the 11'th standard.

The entire family, particularly his father wanted Ramachandran to do Medicine but because someone else told him he took Group 1 (Maths, Physics and Chemistry) instead of Group 2 (Natural Science, Physics and Chemistry) he got very good marks and joined Annamalai University in the year 1970. Ramachandran wanted to do Mechanical engineering but again since someone else told that Chemical engineering was in good demand he revised his opinion and joined Chemical engineering. After passing out of Annamalai University in the year 1975 with distinction Ramachandran did not know whether to pursue education or join a profession and so he went to Calcutta where his 2 very well settled uncles lived. When i asked Mr Ramachandran about his lack of clarity with respect to his educational goals he replied that there was no one in a proper position to guide him and did not trust his instincts for he said he lacked the foresight to take proper decisions and so he always took it from his peers. His most profound statement citing my question was that "Vision is the retrospective rectification of Success !!" With a philosophical bent of mind he added that that God upsets your plans most of the times so that he could execute his plans for you through some one and his plans are always Right !! Life in Calcutta was good and Ramachandran happily spent his time without a job !!

In 1976 Mr Ramachandran went to IIT Kharagpur as someone else told him to do M.Tech in Industrial Engineering and Energy Management, he got admission in IIT Madras and finished the course in 1978 and emerged as a Silver medalist in Energy Management.

Immediately after passing out of IIT Madras in 1978 he got placement in National Productivity Council (NPC). National Productivity Council is an Organisation to promote productivity culture in India. It comes under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India and it provides training and consultancy and undertaking research in the field of productivity and productivity culture. Mr Ramachandran claims that he was extremely lucky to have had very good bosses in particularly Mr P.R. Srinivasan and Mr Raghunathan during his tenure of about 7 years, ( 3 years in Chennai and about 4 years in New Delhi). He was among the pioneering group at National level on prompting energy conservation and use alternative energy sources. He was responsible for devising many government policies in the area of energy management and conservation. He worked on several high profile and national important initiatives, at the unit and industry level in various industries. He was also involved at macro level planning and policy initiatives for various government agencies like Planning Commission, DGTD, Petroleum Conservation Research Group etc... The exposure he got since he was visiting various industries on behalf of of his higher ups who had delegated quite a few responsibilities to Ramachandran made him work eagerly and in the process learned a lot about the habits of people, work culture and the human dynamics which enhanced productivity. Mr Ramachandran says that this world is full of opportunities which comes to us in various ways and forms and it is up to us to identify the right ones and make use of them. By working for many hours and visiting many people and many industries his accumulated experience at that age was far beyond his chronological age. He said, " No one dies because of hard work !! " His advise to youngsters is to take work seriously and keep continuously at it, anyone can reach the top with sustained effort. "That on which you invest time grows" is a quote from Infinithoughts and if one dedicates sufficient time to work he would move up the professional ladder sooner. By working with great bosses and interacting with various industries Ramachandran's perspective got better and better and he was able to view the industrial scenario at a macro level. He was by then a highly respected good performer. In the year 1985 he was told by many industrialists that people like him should go to the private industry and work and that included Mr K.L. Chugh who was the then Chairman of Bhadrachalam paper boards and who went on to become the Chairman of ITC. This idea got planted into Ramachandran's mind and just like any idea when planted into the subconscious mind with faith would ultimately be turned to realty turned out to be one.

With a wealth of such high level knowledge & experience behind him, Ramachandran joined Wipro in 1985.The first three years of his term at Wipro saw him to establish and consolidate Wipro's hardware and software business in the Energy Sector covering petroleum, power coal industry. Later, as the Regional Manager of Wipro he substantially increased Wipro's market share in the western region. He went on to become the head of Wipro's microcomputer and commercial systems business before leaving them in 1993. He worked with Wipro for 7 years and his different approach, different thinking and different perspective earned the recognition of all at Wipro as a good performer. He considers his role as Regional Manager Bombay region as having provided the greatest experience in his professional career. Here too he had great bosses and earned the appreciation of all including Mr Azim Premji, Chairman of Wipro Ltd who had a great opinion about Ramachandran both as a professional and as a good human being who would hold on to good values and business ethics.

In the year 1993 Mr Ramachandran joined Ramco Systems Chennai an I.T company a leading player in enterprise networking and security solutions market as the founding CEO since its inception in 1993. As Ramco's principal architect he pioneered the creation and building of the global software organization of 1400 people. He says it was the single largest group having the fecility under one roof. Ramachandran was personally responsible to acquire many visible global customers for Ramco ERP (Enterprise resource planning) a world class product under his leadership. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is business management software that allows an organization to use a system of integrated applications to manage the business. ERP software integrates all facets of an operation, including product planning, development, manufacturing processes, sales and marketing. SWATCH group Switzerland etc.. are among the hundred or so customers who embraced the Indian ERP product. He also successfully completed the private placement of US $ 40 million equity (market capitalization of U.S $ 800 M) in the year 2000. The new version of the ERP suite Ramco e application named Marshall was inaugurated by Bill Gates at Mumbai and Mr Ramachandran is very proud of this. Ramachandran traveled extensively for 6 to 9 months in a year to U.S, Europe and other far east countries. This international experience and the 7 years of long hours of work he says would be equivalent to 14 years of real time work. Mr Ramachandran took the company "Public" in the year 2000 and by then they had branches all over the world. Indian leaders admired Ramachandran for the type of large product created out of India.

After working with great people like Mr Ramasubramania Raja, Azim Premji and many others over the last 15 years who were very fine people, Mr Ramachandran left Ramco Systems in the year 2000 and wanted to start some traditional business.He was not convinced about starting a traditional business and in July 2000 Mr Ramachandran started his own company called Changepond which provided internet software solutions. He operated out of a small office. In those years it was the trend for people in their twenties to start their own IT companies, but Ramachandran was 48 then !! As the number of IT companies were growing so were the not so successful young entrepreneurs. More people like Ramachandran were at that point exchanging stable and prestigious careers for the adventure of opening a new company. The older entrepreneurs had one disadvantage and that was their energy levels and family commitments; their strength was their knowledge, competency and experience. The older entrepreneurs knew how to run the business which was an important factor.

Under Mr Ramachandran's leadership Changepond continued to expand its customer base and established a unique position for itself as a trusted technology partner to work with in delivering complex projects. Changepond interestingly exploits its accumulated experience in business process, project management insight and business wisdom and able to strike a good balance between growth potential and business process, project management and technology suaveness in delivering customer solutions. In his work, Ramachandran strongly practices what he preaches viz. Trust, and commitment with hard work. Being a true motivator, he has built some of the industry’s most enviable teams and continues to drive many a successful carriers with Changepond. His philosophy of 'think big' combined with his leadership style of courage & conviction has helped very much the organizations he was associated with. A passionate promoter of the Indian IT Industry, he strongly believes that Technology Innovation and value added IT will only create true sustenance. He has the distinction of successfully competing with global giants such as SAP, Baan and Oracle. He has strong international thinking and mindset and believes in doing things which are world class. Ramachandran believes in challenges, travels extensively and love to face new situations and people.

Mr Ramachandran at 60 today brings over 35 years of vast and successful experience and is a well known and a highly respected personality in the Indian I.T industry. Changepond Technologies is a Technology consulting and software services company that has a cumulative man hour experience of 4500 man years. It has a 1,00,00 sq.ft offshore development centre at Sirusseri, Chennai. The company has a global presence with development centre in Chennai and sales centres at U.S.A, U.K, Switzerland, South Africa and Malaysia. Some of their achievements are 1. They are the first Indian software services firm to provide end-to-end managed web services for sports and FIFA is their client. 2. Exclusive software services for provider for managing Utility services for B.T. 3. Implemented one of the largest B.I solutions for Hospital support services 150 hospitals, 50,000 beds for the Ministry of Health, Malaysia. 4. Enabling the Media Distribution platform for Switzerland. 5. Providing Technology Consulting and Enterprise Solutions for Fortune 500 companies like Roche, Rockwell Automation, Johnson and Johnson. 6. Enabling Business Intelligence for smart metering solutions. Their clients also include KPMG, WILLIAM BLYTHE, BONFIGLIOLI, KETERA, FIFA, SWISS POST, MINISTRY OF MALAYSIA, ROCKWELL AUTOMATION and many others. His company is a professionally managed company and he says that the ownership and business operations are 2 different things and his role is at the macro level.

All great leaders would have read a lot right from village politics to global economy, says Mr Ramachandran and he himself is an avid reader of books. He has read the biographies of many from Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, M.K. Gandhi to A.P.J.Kalam to Dhirubhai Ambani. He is interested to read books on history, astrology, astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, medicare, organic farming etc... He is also a subscriber of the magazine Harvard Business Review and The Economist,U.K. His passion is reading and reads for at least 1 to 11/2 hours every day. Reading books helps understand about life, materials, success, thought processes, problem solving, vocabulary and communication. He advocates the youngsters to read a lot and keep abreast of all the happenings and read anything and everything that is good. He also added that by reading history books one gets to know the history of the world and also there are such patterns set by history which often repeats as a sense of convergence or a Déjà Vu,understand and know from the patterns, learn from them.

His son Mr Siddarth is a Mechanical engineer from Anna University has been inducted to manage the affairs of the company. His wife used to work for a Bank is a home maker. When I asked Mr Ramachandran about his retirement he said that although he has always been philosophical yet one has to keep the economic wheel rotating and so would continue to work and contribute to growth. His Greatest pride (Atma tirupti) is that he has created so many successful Managers and professionals who till date have a great reverence for Mr Ramachandran. Most of such achievements can never ever be measured in money.

At the end of the interview i thanked Mr Ramachandran for his valuable time. Here is a complete Professional and a complete man who thinks big, commits and delivers, helps many people get what they want in their life. His values, business ethics, discipline, focus and clarity of thoughts, commitment, hard work, humility, simplicity and above all the Trust and Integrity which is the basis of all human relationships makes him a truly great man.