Rajan Bala is Sr.Vice President – Strategic National Account at Indotronix International Corporation (IIC). A veritable ‘Legend’ at Indotronix, Bala holds an undergraduate degree in Engineering, a graduate degree in Math and an MBA – all from premier institutes in India. He has been with the company for over twenty years starting as a Recruiter and transitioning to roles with increasing responsibilities like Delivery and Account Management. He presently heads National Accounts strategic to Indotronix.
The following is an excerpt from my interview with Mr. Rajan Bala:
Q. Could you elaborate on your Indotronix journey?
Bala – It has been fantastic. I started as a recruiter in 1996 when the Contingent Staffing industry was still in the nascent stages. I spent thirteen years in recruitment and have seen various facets of this industry. In early 2000 the industry began to change – margins shrunk and an increasing number of corporations moved to an MSP (Managed Service Provider) model. We at Indotronix had to change the way we operate from a relationship oriented approach to an SLA-driven approach. It was a learning curve but we put all our energies into it and today, we are doing great. Now with the energetic leadership of a new management – I think we will scale even greater heights.
Clean and ethical practices.
Q. Twenty years! What has made you stick with the organization for so long?
Bala – Clean and ethical practices. I have seen a lot of companies in this industry operate on shady principles but at Indotronix we never compromise on that front. Also, this company respects employees. Babu Rao Mandava, the founder of our company, had a human touch. Nothing much has changed in the past 20 years, except that our corporate headquarters has shifted from Poughkeepsie, NY to Rochester, NY.
I have developed immense respect for individuals
Q. What changes have you witnessed within yourself during this period?
Bala – I have developed immense respect for individuals, not that I did not have it before but now, it has grown exponentially. Being upfront and to doing the right thing no matter what in all our interactions has been further reinforced. This has helped me develop a huge and loyal network
Bala: This industry is ever-changing. We have reached the saturated state – the marketplace and the industry, in general, is saturated. From 2010 onwards, there has been a lot of consolidation of companies. Despite all this, we have survived. In early 2000, the industry was more personal and direct. Now it has shifted to the MSP model and is SLA driven. We need to be able to understand client requirements thoroughly and give them the best. There is also a growing pressure on pricing and paucity of qualified people. In general, we are moving towards a more efficient marketplace.
Q. Why has Indotronix been successful in the staffing industry?
Bala – There are two reasons
- At Indotronix we work towards understanding client requirements thoroughly and being able to provide the best possible candidate. Which means less work for the client.
- Relationships built with MSPs. Earlier, most big companies were only marginally aware of us but today they take us seriously because we have never failed to deliver what the client needs. The reason I have been able to deliver is because of my team. My team and I are on the same wavelength; they understand my language. There has been close to zero attrition rate in my team in the past five years. The key guys have stuck with me all along. John and Rajana are true leaders. They lead from the front. I have to acknowledge that they run with me at the same speed as I do. I am confident we will be able to deliver better results when we grow more in scale and size.
“He is the one person in the company who is in touch with everyone.” – Anu Rao
Q. You have made a huge effort keeping relationships and that has benefitted the company immensely. From where did you begin?
Bala: Networking comes naturally to me. When I first started – recruitment was all about relationships and networking. I am still in touch with the consultants and managers I worked with back in the day. Many companies have invited us for RFPs and given us vendorships because of the recommendation of our ex-employees. For example, in 2011, we were invited to be a vendor for a now prominent client of ours purely based on a reference by an ex-consultant. I think employees and consultants refer us because they know the values and ethics that we stand by.
We need to be able to understand client requirements thoroughly and give them the best.
Q. The kind of roles you address now has evolved. Could you elaborate?
Bala: I realized in 2012 – 2013, that I need to do something new. I saw an opportunity to address tough high-end niche positions and Engineering roles and took it. At this level, there is far less competition when compared to normal contingent staffing and the returns are much higher. However, the talent pool is also smaller so our ability to source deep for latent talent needs to be very strong.
Q. During your tenure at Indotronix, you have helped place over 6000 candidates. What is your secret to this incredible success?
Bala: No secrets. I helped a lot of people get placed on projects that they enjoyed doing. We were even able to re-deploy many of our consultants on new projects after they rolled off a project. They were happy to rejoin because of the relationship that we had developed with them over time. Also, the one thing that I have learned over the years is that always close the loop with a candidate or client( good or bad). Today all my consultants and clients compliment me for being very responsive and on top of things. I think this single quality has made me successful.
Q. Can you share with us examples of a very challenging client requirement that you helped address?
Bala: We had a requirement from a prominent local government agency in the city of Santa Clara. The requirement was open for 3 months. The requirement of the client had multiple challenges. The ideal candidate needed to be highly experienced and possess many disparate technical skills sets. The location was also a challenge because the local talent pool was very limited. The cost of living in that area was another challenge. However, we able to address the requirement because my team just did not give up. We kept working at it till we found the ideal candidate. Once we had the Key architect in place it opened the door for other requirements and now we have placed 6 guys there at the city.
Q. The platform that Indotronix provided for your growth.
Bala: Indotronix gives freedom and opportunities for everyone to grow. Here you can do what you are good at. Most companies monitor you. Here there is no micro-management. I monitor my team only through numbers and yardsticks. A recruiter can take up any platform. One is not restricted to just one domain. My team of recruiters say they feel really good working in OUR team. They feel their work is recognized and they are respected as an individual.
Q. As head of National Accounts strategic to Indotronix, what future do you see for yourself at the company?
Bala – Today, I have 80+ consultants and I aim to take it to a hundred by the end of this year. And with that, I intend to knock-on the doors of more customers, and take the business to ten million.
Q. How do you see the Staffing industry evolve?
Bala – I see more consolidation and more MSPs – as a result, more pressure on pricing. There has been a resistance to working on low-end roles, now everyone does it. The clients need “Vendors who do it all”, their one stop shop for all their needs.
Q. A word of motivation that you would like to pass onto the employees here.
Bala – Indotronix is not a fly-by-night operator. It has been through its share of ups and downs but here we are still growing strong after 30 years. The basic foundation and policies here are great. Clean and ethical practices and we always honor commitment made to clients, consultants and employees. Our goal is to be a $100 Million company by 2020!