Guest post by Mark Kobayashi Hillary on globalisation & India

Yesterday I wrote a story for Reuters that talked about the challenges ahead for new British Prime Minister David Cameron. Not the public sector cuts he is going to have to make, but some of the changes British people can expect in future in the world around them.


Living within our means is going to be a massive challenge. Middle-class Britain has spent decades analysing their house price increases and judging their personal wealth using this yardstick, it’s hard to imagine people here thinking of a house as just a place to live.

And a bigger challenge will be integrating into the world around. The globalisation focus at this election was actually on immigration and how the general public fears it. Yet ninety per cent of British immigration involves the citizens of other EU states – not countries like India at all. Fringe parties, such as the BNP and UKIP, claimed they could ban even this intra-EU labour movement without considering that most of our exports go into the EU. Stepping away from the community and believing in self-sufficiency is cloud-cuckoo policy making – and the electorate kicked them into touch.

I heard the economist Philippe Legrain speaking at the launch of his new book ‘Aftershock’ on Monday reminding the audience that there are more British people living overseas than foreign-born people living in Britain. I wonder what would happen to their resident visas if the fringe parties had been able to boot out the foreigners?

And yet why am I asking these questions on a blog primarily focused on India? Well, one of the big adjustments we need to make in the UK is to stop considering fast-developing nations such as India, China, and Brazil as threats. Our media is consumed with the fear of jobs vanishing to India and China, yet the British jobs of the future are selling to India and China. That needs investment in deep relationships now to ensure we are locked together for mutual future success.

My one fear is that some in India have not even appreciated their own good fortune. I was at the Nasscom (India’s hi-tech trade association) annual conference in Mumbai last February and I overheard delegates from the Brazilian government inviting senior Nasscom officials to Brazil – asking the Indians to come and see what’s going on in South America so they can work closer together in future.

What was the Indian response? It’s a long way to go. Things are growing again here now so we don’t need to really be exploring these ideas halfway across the world…

Hi-tech services, clean technology, and innovation are all areas where India has a remarkable head start on the rest of the world through the evolution of offshore outsourcing in the technology sector, but will it be Indian hubris that causes this opportunity to be lost?

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is the author of ‘Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field’ and ‘Who Moved My Job’ and is a regular blogger focused on globalisation. He is a visiting lecturer at London South Bank University.

Thank you

As long as I remember, I’ve always been a fan of books. Over time, the range of books that I’ve bought has expanded to include all types of subjects and genres, resulting in an eclectic mix being crammed on my book-shelf at home. I’ve impulsively bought books in markets; in airports on my business travels; and on the net when I’ve managed to write a list of things to order on-line.

So, when I turned 30, I wrote a list of things that I wanted to achieve, but, as with new year’s resolutions, never imagined that I would actually make any headway on any of these.

My list included jumping out of a plane (a skydive), earning my first million, solving third world debt, flying to the moon, and writing a book. So, achieving two of the above with five years to go before I make another list – on my 40th, is – at least in my view, not bad going.

The launch event, last Thursday, was a major milestone in my life. On a personal level, it feels great to have my name on a book, and look forward to seeing it in places that I normally shop. It kinda felt strange to be at the launch event – professionally my firm organises these for others, so it was weird to be the centre of attention at my own! On a professional basis, it’s gratifying to be able to contribute to such an important subject and feel that the book will lead to bigger and better things for me and my firm.

At the event, it seemed that everyone kept on asking me the same two questions – ‘what gave you the idea?’ and ‘what does it feel like?’, and my wife laughingly told me that lots of people kept on approaching her to ask whether ‘she was proud of me’.
My reason for writing the book was quite simply that I believed that with all the talk of India’s emergence on the world stage, a wider audience needed to become familiar with the trailblazers that were making it happen. Yes, it would’ve been great to have the obvious names like Ratan Tata and the Ambani brothers, but it would be doing the subject a disservice to ride on their shoulders as many others have.

From the outset, I was quite clear that mine wasn’t going to be an investigative book, it was meant to be an introduction to a set of role models emanating out of India that will one day, be referred to – along with, some of the biggest entrepreneurial icons that the West seems to love. I’ve always been puzzled as to how a guy like Narayana Murthy, who founded Infosys by borrowing Rs 10,000 from his wife, has gone on to build a firm that employs people all around the globe and earns over 50% of its revenues from the US, but is still largely unknown.

Or a Baba Kalyani, whose firm manufactures components for every single vehicle in the US & Europe. Or take Subhash Chandra, who apart from Zee TV, owns a firm called Essel who manufactures over 30% of the world’s toothpaste tubes! Despite their global reach and success, how comes no one, apart from hard-nosed business journalists & professional India watchers, know anything about them?

With formalities being conducted by Stephen Pound MP, who as everyone expected, was on absolute form that evening, delivered his trademark, side-splitting, remarks, to the annoyance of the next speaker, who would inevitably find it hard to follow such a performance.

So, for this reason, I was totally taken aback with the expert commentary provided by Dixit Joshi, MD of Asian & European Equities at Barclays Capital, who explained that the world needs to understand the thinking taking place in India’s boardrooms in order to address some of the world’s biggest challenges.

Having taken the temperature of the room, I decided to put the speech that I’d crafted to one side and speak ex-tempore on my reasons for undertaking the mammoth task of writing a business book, in an age when the rules were being re-written as a result of the global recession and credit crisis. Importantly, I remembered to thank a few people who’d made the event happen. I took the opportunity to thank my wife, as without her support and love, I wouldn’t have been able to see this project to completion.

I had a great night. I felt humbled by the massive turnout. I was touched with the words that were spoken about me, the book, my firm, and my family.

At the end of the night, I struggled to articulate my emotions, and hence have take a few days to write this post, but the over-arching message remains the same – ‘thanks’.

You can read a write-up of the event, take a look at the pics, and watch footage of the speeches here:

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary’s also uploaded some photos and videos, which can be accessed here:

Update on 'India Inc: How India's Top 10 Entrepreneurs Are Winning Globally'

Having completed writing my book and thinking that I’d fulfilled my end of the bargain, I’ve been even busier with other things related to this project. With advice from friends like Mark Kobayashi – Hillary & Alpesh Patel, who’re both serial authors, I’ve managed to make some headway in thinking about the promotion of the book.

So far, the book has received great feedback from esteemed and respected figures like Jim O’ Neill – author of the BRICs report & Chief Economist of Goldman Sachs; Lynn Forrester de Rothschild – of the banking family; Dean Dipak Jain – management guru at Kellogg School of Management; Chandrajit Banerjee – Director General of the Confederation of Indian Industry.. and a few more.

My next step in mastering how to use social media tools like Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter in the promotion of the book. It’s lucky that my firm –, has just launched a service that espouses the use of these tools for improving PR and government relations campaigns!

I’m meeting my publisher and his Indian distributor next week to discuss what we’re planning in India. Thinking of a tour of the key cities and university campuses in Feb / March 2010. Is this a good idea?

I’ve also been approached by an international bank with an offer to, potentially, sponsor the book launches globally. Looks like there’s going to be a lot of interest from sponsors for this type of book and the audience it could bring to them.

As a first time author, the experience has been fascinating. I may have been naive in thinking that all I had to do was write a book, but it’s proving to be fun and am looking forward to the journey.

Outsourcing – Indian BPO firms & public sector procurement

I was invited to be a panellist for a Question Time session at the National Outsourcing Association’s ‘Global Sourcing’ conference that took place today. Around 100 leading practitioners and experts discussed the challenges that the outsourcing sector faces in today’s credit crunch era.

The conference was Chaired by a friend of mine – Mark Kobayashi Hillary – who can only be described as a ‘genius’, who’s authored several books on subjects related to technology outsourcing. As was evident in today’s conference, unlike other “experts”, Mark really does know what he’s talking about. Judging by the quality of the attendee list, he also possesses a fantastic book of contacts.

Back to the conference – which was a new experience for me – I found that everytime someone spoke about off-shoring destinations, everyone really meant ‘India’, despite the fact that companies from other emerging and established economies were present.

I had to field questions on a variety of subjects ranging from labour arbitrage to China but the one that’s still on my mind concerns the monopoly of an established group of vendors who continue to win business in the public sector despite their public failings. Unconventionally, Mark allowed me to ask a question to the audience asking why Indian firms simple don’t factor in public sector procurement. The likes of TCS, Infosys, Wipro are great at what they do, but why haven’t they made inroads into a space that is as lucrative?

I was involved in Government discussions around 2003 when the then Secretary of State famously made a speech saying “A job gained in India does not mean a job is lost in Britain”. Such statements helped in creating an atmosphere in which Indian firms could continue what they did best – unlike what was happening in the US. For this reason, I was surprised to hear that some members of the audience actually thought that the “negative atmosphere” in the UK resulted in procurement officers and decision makers taking a dim view of Indian firms.

Even if you give them the benefit of the doubt, that may have been the case five years ago, but this doesn’t explain why Indian firms (still) haven’t made inroads into the public sector.

I’m keen to learn your views on why companies which are increasingly toe-to-toe against the big boys in the global bazaar, still aren’t getting a look in. Is there a prejudice?, is it because of cultural missundertandings?, are they simply not up to the task? Please leave your comments as I’m interested in improving my understanding.