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Gen X

Bikram Dasgupta, chairman of Globsyn Group, has found two able partners in progress — Romit and Rahul, 34. t2 chats with the rising sons.

(L-R) Romit and Rahul Dasgupta.
Pictures: Rashbehari Das

Made in usa

Romit Dasgupta: Right after graduating from Syracuse University in 2002 I got inducted into Globsyn in the US. I managed Globsyn’s IT practice from 2002 to 2005 before moving back to India. That’s when Rahul stepped into Globsyn. Ever since 2005 I have spent time in each of the Globsyn business — education, skills and training and local IT business — getting inducted into the entire realm of Globsyn affairs. It was more about learning about the group and the people and getting a sense of the culture of the organisation. I was getting trained but I was also working, I had responsibilities. Every time I had an external responsibility it was coupled with an internal responsibility. So, if I was looking at the IT business I was also looking at the HR function. It gave me a complete view of the organisation. It was only around 2010-11 that I started looking at the future of Globsyn.

Rahul Dasgupta: I used to be a finance guy and he (Romit) was a techie. Dad always said that the US was the place for both. That’s how we got pushed to the US. I was very clear that I did not want to join the family business right after. So I joined Deloitte & Touche in New York in forensic accounting and I did that for five years.

When Romit decided to move back to India, I decided to join our practice in the US. It was like swimming in the ocean because I was coming from a completely corporate background, with a lot of structure and dos and don’ts into something that did not have much of a structure. We had to figure out a lot of things ourselves and we were wearing multiple hats. It was a very interesting experience.

I ran the US practice for four-and-a-half years before taking a break to do my MBA from Durham University. After that I was wondering what to do. We already had a number of established businesses and one of the areas I was passionate about and wanted to explore more was education and training…. Then I read about the situation in India and Globsyn was already in the area of training and education and that kind of motivated me to move back to India.

Personality-wise I am very structured and process-oriented and I liked operations a lot. I think that works very well for us today. We complement each other. Romit is more on the creative side and I am more on the process and operations side.

Roles for ro & ra

Romit: My role in the group is to identify newer opportunities for the group, incubate them and get them to the initial stage of business, professionalise them and then move on and do more of that. I am also looking at the finance function.

Rahul: I run the Globsyn Skills, which is a separate entity with its own mandate. I figured out I was reasonably okay at operations, scalability and process, whereas Globsyn Innoventures, which Romit looks after, looks at lots of lifestyle products and at future growth options for the Globsyn Group.

Of and for the young

Romit: Globsyn Innoventures, which was started in 2009, is more like an incubation bed. We started looking at businesses which would have some kind of convergence, either at the brand level or at the segment level. So, I looked at entertainment and media, not, to be honest, only from the standpoint of making films, though it is the easiest entry into the film industry, but from the standpoint of the needs that the industry has — if there is a scope to professionalise the industry, for training and education.... We also looked at retail. We have got a few franchises here. And the third industry I am looking at is health care.

Rahul: All the products that we are catering to is for the young generation. So we are talking about late teens to working people and that is where we are focusing whether it is entertainment or food and beverage. I got drawn to entertainment and how it can be looked at as a sustainable business. So when Romit decided to do his MBA (Imperial College London) I looked at this whole division and tried to work out how this can happen from an operational point of view. Interacting with directors and others, I have realised that there is a lot unstructured process in the industry and a lot of things don’t happen the way they should and perhaps the involvement of corporates like us might change some of that.

Lights, action...

Romit: We are producing our first film, Aborto (directed by Arindam Sil, releasing on March 1). It is being produced by Globsyn Media Ventures, a division of Globsyn Innoventures. There is a lot of Globsyn in the film. It has been shot in the Globsyn campus and the storyline would relate with the segment that we operate in, the aspirational youth and the work-life balance that we talk about so much.... From a concept standpoint, that is what resonated with us.

We are not going to limit ourselves to producing films. We are not ‘film producers’. But that is not to say that if we have good content we’ll be opposed to investing in it. But our main focus is going to be content. The film industry requires a similar kind of balance as the education industry — the need to weigh the quality and quantity. Education has a social responsibility and is not 100 per cent commerce. In the entertainment industry you have to respect the creativity and then look at numbers. And because we have that the temperament to look at that fine balance, we felt we would be able to do justice to the creative side.

Rahul: I look at the entertainment industry and see young people who learn through projects in an ad hoc manner. There is no structured training at all. So one area I was keen to look at was a way to create a platform through Globsyn for them to get trained and educated. We would start with workshops under Globsyn Media Ventures, looking at TV journalism on one side and films on the other. We will start this around June and the content part of it is already under discussion.... Then maybe move on to a media school.

All for zinger burger!

Romit: Because of our business model, we had a lot of assets and the option was to look at the assets in the form of rentals or as business and we chose to look at it as business. There are three outlets but the most important one for me was KFC (in the Globsyn campus in Sector V). Not only do I like Zinger Burger and want it as close to me as possible (smiles), they have a very interesting business model. When I was thinking of venturing into food and beverage, the option was to start my own restaurant or to look at a franchise. I chose the latter because I wanted to do multiple things….

Rahul: We didn’t have food chains of international level in Sector V at all. So somebody had to make a move to say ‘okay, let’s bring international chains into Sector V’. Today you will see after KFC, McDonald’s has come up. There are many takers here. People in the corporate world today relate to these brands.

Romit: The other two outlets are a restaurant called Fuel.Inn, where we are working with a local entrepreneur, and Rose, a confectionery, again a local venture.

I came into a despondent Calcutta in 1996-97 and was driven by the concept of building an intelligent workplace where world-class software will be developed by people from Bengal, and so Infinity was born. That led to the thought of where these boys and girls would come from… that is what led to the techno campus and the finishing school. The whole story of Globsyn is about transformation.... When Globsyn Crystals started coming up, my boys started helping me. They have had the necessary grooming, they have studied all over the world and then they started working with me. They started getting ideas of doing different things and that’s how Globsyn Innoventures was born. It’s tagline is ‘we develop new ideas about new ideas’. It is a very nice idea and keeps you motivated. It is Rahul and Romit’s baby. The only thing I’ve given to them to start with is a little bit of real estate that we had built and owned. And while they help with Globsyn businesses they are independent to do what they want with Innoventures…. To me the expression of developing new ideas is the theme and that is what Globsyn is about. And the next generation is starting with that. That is their base. Any new venture will require a lot of help from an old venture and that’s my role.


Dad as entrepreneur, sons as businessmen

Romit: I always have this debate with my father that he is an entrepreneur but we tend to look at it more as businessmen. So, we are a little circumspect because we are more answerable. An entrepreneur creates, so he has the full right to destroy. The second generation is more accountable, more answerable. My method has always been incremental — identify an opportunity, invest in it, do a few projects, see what the numbers look like and whether it makes sense for the group, and if it does, take it forward.

Rahul: Romit looks at the newer projects and I look at them from an implementation point of view to see whether it’s viable and how we can do it. So that’s where we come in together.

Romit: I am the guy who makes sure that one of the projects is done and if he can get decent numbers on that I say, so can we get 10 more of these? That is what the job we have for Globsyn, to take it to the next level. That is what the goal is between the two of us.

As told to Chandreyee Chatterjee

What would you like to ask Romit and Rahul?