A google techie to an I-Manager, an enigmatic transition is what people call the past four years of Mrs.Elvia Reddy the Managing Director of I-Associates group. BT's Thoorika Markandeya caught up with her for an exclusive interaction.
In less than four years ‘The I-Associates’ has been enlisted in NSE. The assets you manage have crossed the 1 billion rupees mark. To what do you attribute this growth to?
Firstly, this is a direct result of Shantanu’s ambitious or I should say restless nature. When people consider running is fast, he considers flying is slow. The other major factor is the sort of good people and opportunities we had come across. The right kind of core team of investment analysts like our CIO Mr.Hari Vasudev and chief analyst Mr.Praveen Kumar, who let Shantanu pull them to his pace. An ideal mix of determination, dedication, team effort and divine will.
How did an investment and fund management company diversify into IT? Is it something that you took up to satiate your techie ambitions?
After my brief stint in Google I gave up my job to join the IT dept. of I-Associates. Shantanu was profoundly unhappy about this move of mine. He always considered I deserve to be in a better place than an IT dept that had less than a dozen staff. It’s at this juncture Kiran our good friend and our college senior expressed his intention to be free of the ‘employee’ tag. These intentions and motives of us brought us together into I-IT services.
It’s said that you are closer to Mrs.Anusuya Kiran, but why is that she joined I-IT services recently a good year later than Mr.Kiran?
Shantanu was not game for Anu to leave Mic. He was just as reluctant as he felt for me leaving Google. He argued that it would be safe if there is one wage earning member in Anu’s household. Moreover, Kiran was with Symantec for more than 2 years and had a better exposure and experience in IT products and services. So Anu waited for a year until we stabilized and when we had a surge in orders we had to call Anu in.
An IT dept changing into a full fledged IT company is not a new concept, but I-Health?
(laughs) It’s an irony that wealth is unhealthy. In this era the upper middle class encounter a lot of health problems. Matter of factly a good chunk of our clients fall in this category. As a customer based and hence customer friendly organization we started off with health tips to our customers, and our client relations executives kept track of our client’s health as a valued added service. These services are received well. Like our IT we realized our potential to start a health management service, and now we have I-Health. We have MOUs with ambitious small players in medical insurance companies and good hospitals that are not chains, and hence making a mutually beneficial partnership.
Initially you were part of the IT core team under Mr.Kiran and now you have become the MD of the group. Is it because you are the wife of the chairman and hence the most trust worthy person for the job?
It so appears that way to the outside world, but the truth is that most of our board members are as young as I am and they specialize in their fields. When Shantanu got an admit into the school of his dreams there wasn’t anyone who was ready to take up his place. The core members of both the investment management and IT aspects of the group were already over loaded and they are still involved in the technical aspects of the functioning of their business rather than full time managers. Without Hari and Praveen the fund management analysis would be paralyzed and Kiran is still a full time programmer despite being the head of our IT business.
That had left me in the position to take up the job, temporarily, till Shantanu is back from Harvard. The senior people manage their respective businesses. My job is mainly to co-ordinate the finances and client aspects of both the businesses, with guidance from Shantanu. Though he is at the other end of the globe, his thoughts are all focused on the group. Half the time, I just execute instructions from him. Regarding the trust aspect, our organization is not build on money or just people; it’s built on trust amongst our people. Trust not just in the core level. Our trust runs till the root, to a fresher customer relation executive to a programmer everyone is autonomous and works on their free will, bound by the responsibility of their position in this organization.
Regarding the new I-H-cafes, it is said that it was entirely your initiative?
Well in all these years with Shantanu, the least I could do was to think of a restaurant initiative as part of I-health services.
When is IH-cafes expected to be operational and what exactly is an IH-café?
It’s more like a cause and effect thing. Lack of proper diet is a major reason for most of our common health troubles..
(just when she was talking, a cute little figure storms into her room with a loud calling, ‘mummieee’. An apologetic PA stood anxiously at the door step for letting her bosses meeting interrupted.
She dismisses him with a wave and continues talking as if the interruption never happened. The young Ms.Shantanu sits on her mother’s lap silently and starts listening to the conversation attentively)
So, as I was saying for a good health you need a healthy-balanced diet. IH-café would specialize on healthy food with best possible taste. We would operate more like a home delivery, as we don’t expect our clients to drop by our outlet day in and day out. We also would encourage home-makers to cook healthy food by supplying them with the raw items or the semi-prepared mixes. This is more like not for profit organization, wherein one mother helps her fellows keep their family healthy.
Would you mind us sharing a bit of your personal life?
(Smiles) That depends on the part of it that interests you..
I heard that you fell in love with Mr.Reddy when in college… and initially there were a lot of troubles in your marriage. On a personal note out of my curiosity would you mind if I ask the story of your marriage?
An attempt on a sequel for a non-existent novel :p Waiting for ur comments...