Secret Diary 2019

“Acquisitions are not something you can train for”

Secret Diary of Ajit Isaac — Part 3

RA Chandroo

In 2004, JP Morgan had moved its fund offshore and wanted to monetise some of its India investments. We hired Rothschild as an investment banker to sell the company. At the same time Adecco, the world’s largest HR solutions company came calling, so we did the transaction. It was a terrific summit to reach, like if you had built an IT services company and IBM came to buy it. There’s a certain pride in selling to the leading player in that space.

As per the deal, I would have to stay on for three more years and join their executive committee in Zurich. During that time, I realised that if one had to grow in the competitive 1% net margin Indian market, one had to move beyond supplying people and manage processes.

I sold and moved on from Adecco in 2007. I was 40 and decided to take some time off. Like gentlemen of leisure, I tried to golf but didn’t quite take to it, or to sitting at home. I also realized that the house has place either for you or your wife, and only one of you can occupy it full time.

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My new found prosperity had led me to buy a BMW but I could not tell my father for six months about it. I knew he would reprimand me. When I did tell him, he asked, “What is the need for this? Isn’t a smaller car good enough? Or the house that you bought, why do you need so many rooms, three rooms would have been fine!” His frugality, though, in no way interfered with him being large hearted. He always used to remind me, “Let nobody go away empty handed. If somebody comes and tells you my son is studying engineering and needs Rs.70,000 for fees, if you can’t give him Rs.70,000, give him Rs.7,000. If you can’t yourself, connect him with somebody who can.” His counsel still fuels our initiatives at Careworks. To him integrity, frugality and generosity were intertwined. He always used to tell me ‘areyum chadikyam padilla’, meaning ‘don’t cheat or don’t let anybody down. Keep your word, always’.

That’s been important for me in terms of how we have built our relationship with investors. The JP Morgan connection has been a constant throug

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