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Overseas Talk
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“Bureaucracy is a huge Operational Hassle in India”

Issue Date - 18/08/2011
It was almost 12 years ago when Mark Wilson joined Siemens. And since then he has held various positions in finance and management within The Organisation. In 2002, he was appointed Managing Director of Fujitsu Siemens Computers in South Africa. In April 2007, he was made the Senior Vice President of the Middle East Africa and India Region. In an exclusive interview with B&E, Wilson throws light on the company’s growth trajectory.
B&E: What was it that motivated you to begin your career in the IT sector? Was the environment in South Africa conducive to this sector?
Mark Wilson (MW): It’s been more than 18 years since I took up the job, and as far as I can recollect the developments in information technology domain in South Africa motivated me to take up a job in this sector. It all began 20 years back when in college I was deciding on the right career path to tread on. The IT space then was at its budding stage and looked promising. Siemens, a technology innovator with a great track record had just set foot on the South African soil. I thought it was a good opportunity, knocked at the door and was lucky enough to bag a job with them that offered me a very good profile in the administrative department at one of their start-ups. So that’s where I started, and since then there has been no looking back. After my first promotion, I was made the management in-charge and was required to head the Service Division. Later, I was given a key position as the Financial Director at Siemens’ Service Division. My journey in this organisation has been a great learning experience.

B&E: As you venture into an alliance with Siemens Enterprise Communications (SEC) to offer integrated service in the IT and communication space, what leverage do you think customers in India will get from this association?
MW: Recognising the increasing convergence between telecommunications and IT, Fujitsu India is partnering with Siemens Enterprise Communications to ensure that our Indian customers can benefit from the best of German-Japanese IT platforms and communication capabilities. Together, we expect to redefine innovations and raise the bar in terms of customer offerings. We are certain that this relationship will broaden our scope, increase market share, and strengthen core areas of customer responsiveness.

B&E: What is the scope of these integrated communication services that you, along with SEC, are offering in India?
MW: In India, there is a growing market for unified communications. The services we offer are intelligent solutions to make life easy at the enterprise as well as personal level. For example, if you want to make a conference call and you are not sure of the ones available at that moment through online/voice/video/etc, the comprehensive software will determine who all are available and on what platform, thereby enabling a hassle free conference call experience. Similarly, if you are a celebrity and want to decide what calls you want to take and when, our IT-Communication integration service does that for you too.

B&E: You have travelled across continents in the course of your career. How was the transition each time you shifted market?
MW: Initially, I was heading the South African division of the business. In this capacity, I usually dealt with the English speaking business fraternity of Africa. This was followed by an opportunity to develop business in the Middle East, courtesy requirement and growth aspects. After taking over the region, I was told to oversee South Africa and Turkey markets also. The transition was significantly made easier by the regular workshops conducted within the company. It helped me acquire a lot of knowledge that substantially contributed to my understanding of the cultural differences existent in countries like Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Middle East and Turkey (our primary target markets). The best practices picked up from South Africa were replicated across Middle Eastern markets. On the same note, we plan to implement the practices that have worked well worldwide.

B&E: You’ve been operating in India for the last 18 months. What challenges have you encountered operationally so far? What practices do you think would improve business conditions here?
MW: There is a huge difference in the tax structure, and a lot of unnecessary hassles pop up as a result of bureaucracy. These are a few issues that India needs to address immediately. Something of this scale is only possible if the government brings in stronger policies and mandates, thereby fostering an environment conducive of industry best practices. These factors will perhaps facilitate improvements in the system making it relatively easier for multinational companies to operate in India and deliver world class customer service.

B&E: You have clearly lined up an array of customers in India within a short period of 18 months. But do you think the growth suffered because of the problems you faced due to bureaucracy and slow pace of developments?
MW: No, I think we have progressed at the best possible pace and there has been no deterrent that has pulled us down. What we have done as an organisation is that we have regularly reported quarter-on-quarter growth irrespective of the hurdles that we have faced.


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