Discussing the future of IT Industry and Innovation with Mr. Vijay Agarwal

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    Mr. Vijay Agarwal is the CEO of Neebal Technologies. His passion and drive to be in the software industry comes from his early exposure to computers in the 90s. Back then, computers were rare and people that had operational knowledge were scarce. Vijay faced many challenges in learning about computers as seldom people shared their knowledge. Vijay didn’t want anyone to have a similar experience and decided to create solutions, systems, and a culture that would promote transparency, knowledge sharing, and problem-solving behaviours. His determination stems from the fact that he is always hungry for more.

    At times, Vijay’s creative ideas face severe push back from shareholders but he doesn’t give up on an idea until he executes it and examines the results. Vijay considers experience the best teacher and is always ready for a new challenge. Vijay has a stellar track record in creating innovative solutions for challenges that come his way.

    Our marketing team conducted an interview with him about the challenges and goals of Neebal technologies in 2021, let’s see what he has to say:

    Do you enjoy WFH? 

    I do occasionally. I miss the fun of travel, meeting new people, meeting colleagues in person and discussing ideas. These unplanned conversations lead to great insights and development. We are entering the WFH overdose and I believe an overdose of anything is not healthy. 

    What is the funniest thing that has happened during the lockdown?  

    While I am making a presentation with the team, my daughter’s school teacher suddenly speaks in the background “Okay kids, this is the last page for today”.

    What new hobbies have you picked up during this time?  

    I haven’t picked up any trendy habits or hobbies. I spent a lot of time retrospecting and figuring out future processes. I actually dropped the hobby of watching online web series, contrary to what most people did. 

    What is the first thing you will do once all of this is over? 

    I want to plan a full company outing as soon as it is safe to do so. We used to have an annual outing with the entire organization. It would be nice to get together our new family members.

    Did you face any personal challenges during a lockdown? 

    Making everyone understand that I am not actually at home but virtually at work has been the biggest challenge. I wish there was a way to say that “I am not available”. Creating a balance between personal and professional life when you are physically always at home all the time is more difficult than anticipated. 

    With most of your employees working remotely for the last 9-10 months, how do you keep them motivated? 

    With almost 20% of our employees, we started a leadership coaching program that brought everyone together every weekend for 3 hours. This program ran for about 3 months to build their leadership skills. We also invited industry experts to share their views with this team. For the other 80%, we ensured that all the regular employee engagement activities continued without disruption. We conducted our annual sports championship virtually. We kept the team engaged by sharing key information as part of newsletters, monthly events, and more. We also introduced new awards and rewards ensuring to motivate and inspire our team members. This includes the “Make It Better” Award that pushes the boundaries to deliver excellence. 

    How hard was it for Neebal to adapt to new working conditions?

    It was better than anticipated, and extremely smooth. We had few colleagues on a permanent WFH schedule and they managed to be extremely productive. We were ahead of time and amongst those organizations which were already well versed with WFH. We created virtual war rooms for each team to work every day in the same room and this helped us maintain the momentum just like the office. We are now working to set up a hardware service network to help maintain our assets across the country. In totality, it was an easy transition for us since our one foot was already in the door. 

    How aligned is your organization—both internally and externally—right now?

    Statistically, more than 70% of our employees participate in monthly activities and stay connected. Everyone participates in their daily project standups. Speaking from the recent organizational survey, more than 90% of responses are positive. We ensure to take timely feedback from employees to instill any necessary changes. 

    We never lost the track in terms of alignment. We ensured that all the customers know about our virtual presence. We created a virtual office link for each customer project, and everyone gets aligned every day in this virtual office. As a result, we are growing at the pace that we expected to grow during this year. 

    Whilst many organizations had to, unfortunately, lay off employees and impose heavy pay cuts, what has enabled Neebal to recruit quality talent and keep all its employees on a pre-pandemic payroll?

    The key contributors to that were our customers. The selection of customers helped us to stay afloat. We work with all the critical sectors like Healthcare. Banking, Agri, and Education. As an organization, we have always ethically ensured that no one has to go to a lower payroll. These were testing times and our people needed us the most. Although we may have reduced our positional hiring plan, we are ensuring that we are on track for next year’s growth. We are planning to hire additional talent that we’ll need in order to support the projected growth.

    Speaking of our trajectory, the growth will be further accelerated once things normalize and the investments in innovations will improve. As an organization, our focus will be on building more innovative solutions for our customers. So in 2021, we will gain more momentum than ever. 

    Please tell us about the one thing that Neebal has gained and one thing that it has lost during the Pandemic? 

    We gained KARMA as a single source of delivering projects to our customers. It also helps us in establishing stronger delivery processes. This was a remarkable achievement and a very beneficial gain. The bandwidth that is usually lost in travel was used to build  KARMA. 

    We lost the fun of interacting over casual matters with the Neebal family members. Whatever we try to do virtually, is always insufficient. That is a big loss. 

    The COVID-19 pandemic has made it a challenge for many companies to stay afloat. What do you think separates companies that can continue their business from those that are not?

    At Neebal, we have always been conscious of the industries we chose to work with. The choice of customers can make or break you in difficult times. 

    Perseverance is a cultural attribute that all organizations need to build. Organizations that overspend during regular times have to take drastic steps during distress. 

    Has the “New normal” broken the IT industry or made it stronger? 

    It has definitely made IT stronger. New business avenues have grown in the area of security, virtual productivity, and virtual education. IT has become one of the key business revenue generators for organizations rather than being seen as a cost center. 

    How will Neebal continue to Succeed as a Hypergrowth Company in a Post-COVID-19 World? 

    Staying focused on the initiatives that we started to “make possibilities real”. We will continue to focus on building our solutions like Subsidex and Khaad Dealer. These platforms will help us achieve hypergrowth in the next era of Agritech. To support the scale, KARMA will help in ensuring that we deliver quality, everyday. 

    Can you tell us more about KARMA?

    It is at the heart of our delivery now and covers the entire technical delivery lifecycle. It tells our team members what to do and when to do it. It is a precision system to keep us on track. 

    Tell us more about how the post-Covid future will look at Neebal? 

    We are planning to distribute our offices across geographies.  This will help reduce travel times for employees based on the designated groups of certain locations. The collaboration will continue virtually for most team members across their locations. We will have pockets of people working in co-working spaces across the country. The head office will continue to host people that are unable to work virtually. 

    What 3 things should the CEO’s, Directors, and people in leadership positions focus on in 2021? 

    • Keep investing on your RnD initiatives
    • Give revenue growth responsibilities to IT teams
    • Focus more on people engagement and employee-friendly initiatives.

    Has the Covid 19 pandemic changed your priorities as a CEO, or otherwise affected how you lead? 

    Yes, it has affected a few priorities. We had to put measures in place to ensure no-one questions the productivity of our people internally or externally. The priority is to build confidence in customers that we're still productive like before. KARMA is helping us do that. Everyone has become more organized and adhoc walk-in meetings have become structured and agenda driven. Keeping everyone engaged about their personal growth as well as informed about the company's health and growth has become top most agenda. 

    Parting Thoughts:

    As Neebal Technologies strives to maintain their Hypergrowth in 2021 under the leadership of Mr. Vijay Agarwal, it will be interesting to observe their approach as they scale to new heights. If you want to know more about Neebal's journey or about the organisation, please visit: www.neebal.com   

    Topics: Interviews