Hear from our of our co-founders, Kumaravel Narayanan, on his career journey, his hopes for Sandhata and how he keeps busy in his spare time.
Tell us about your role in Sandhata
My role is Head of Integration, and I am responsible for integration practices across all of our clients, including focusing on APIs and microservices. I am also one of the co-founders and a director of Sandhata. I currently oversee a few of our accounts including Vodafone, Accenture and Bahwan Cybertek.
How did you get started working in IT?
I didn’t do an IT degree, I graduated in Engineering. My first job was in manufacturing for ACC (Associate Cement Company) as an production engineer (industrial engineer). My role was to look for opportunities for improvement in the manual manufacturing processes as well as budgeting – working out total cost per bag of cement.
I understood that my target was to save 5x my salary and calculated how much money I needed to save for my company. Every day I would walk around and talk to everyone to find and understand problems, for example time lost due to an issue with the machinery. Then I would investigate and create a proposal to introduce an improvement.
I was also responsible for MIPS – maintenance, inspection, planning and systems. At that stage computers were slowly being introduced and we fed information into software which produced schedules for equipment usage to maximise efficiency. My first exposure to IT was using the maintenance and planning software, and I found this the most interesting aspect of my job. I started learning Java and took advantage of the demand in IT industry in India to switch to IT.
Tell me about how and why Sandhata was formed
I met the other co-founders, Srini, Khalai and Babji, while I was working for Three Mobile in the UK on TIBCO middleware development. We were friends and we would all meet up at Manavata events (organised by Srini). We shared key values and principles which convinced us we would be able to run a business together.
At that time there was a lot of demand for TIBCO engineers which could not be filled, and companies had to hire people with non-TIBCO skills then train them in TIBCO. We noticed a huge gap in the market for these skills.
We decided to start an organisation which specialised in middleware services, initially focusing on TIBCO skills. We believed Sandhata could provide high quality, skilled resources and compete with the established by system integrators (SIs).
What is one big challenge that you had to overcome in the early years of Sandhata?
When we started Sandhata our competitors were all big SIs, such as Accenture and HP. The clients we pitched to in the early days liked our expertise and skills, but they were often reluctant to work with us due to our small size (at that time less than ten people).
So we decided to partner with some larger firms to provide them with resources when they were unable to fill resource requirements. The partner organisations valued our strong network of connections to find resources and reliable high quality work.
Over time we gained trust from clients due to our excellent service, we hired more and more people and we were able to pitch to clients and win business purely as Sandhata. Even though we have more than 300 highly skilled consultants working at Sandhata now, I believe size is still a barrier for some clients, since we are competing with big players.
What do you think is the biggest reason for Sandhata’s success?
The success of Sandhata is the people – our consultants are amazing. Sandhata is not driven by the Sandhata management team, rather it is driven by each and every employee. Our consultants are behind Sandhata’s success and are the main reason we have managed to deliver quality projects, gain trust with our clients and grow.
“It’s a cliché, but the people we have are really excellent. Individually our people are very strong and they are the reason for our growth. All the credit goes to them.”
What is your vision for Sandhata over the next few years?
I have three main things in mind:
Replicate client successes
In the last few years we have increased our client base hugely and started delivering work in more areas as well. We focus not just on having a successful project but rather learning from our experiences of solving difficult customer problems, then we bring those experiences, skills and solutions to other customers to help them too. We will continue to use this model to bring services to new clients.
Sandhata is primarily a services company, but we are adding products into our portfolio too. We have recently launched PopUp Mainframe, a mainframe DevOps product. We have also started to launch other products as well, for example we have built an API Platform exposing APIs for public usage.
We value innovation and are keen to nurture entrepreneurs in Sandhata. We provide incentives for employees to take their innovation ideas and build them to solve problems they see for clients as well as internally in Sandhata. We also provide opportunities for employees to build products, host them on Sandhata platforms, and if the products make money then that will be shared with the people who built the products.
In future I will feel proud if I am able to say that Sandhata gave some people the skills, confidence and motivation to start their own business.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
I write poetry in my mother tongue, Tamil. When I was at college I would write sometimes during lectures and did get caught a few times! I still write poetry occasionally if I get a chance. Recently I wrote a poem for my college 25 year reunion based on identity. I write about any topic which takes my fancy, including Brexit amongst other topics. (See poem below.)
I am now mainly into badminton: I used to play but now it is my daughter who plays. Most of my weekends are spent taking my daughter to badminton training and tournaments.
Also I enjoy keeping in touch with people who I worked with and try to have a chat with them every now and again to maintain connections.
Poem written by Kumaravel Narayanan “Dad”
(Poem originally written in Tamil, translated into English.)
Read more about the Sandhata story.