By Kirk Laughlin, NSAmericas Editorial Director
When Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) came knocking on the door of the Latin American market eight years ago, the India-based global services player needed a local chief who not only knew the Latin American IT and software markets intimately but also had harder-to-find characteristics: boldness of vision and straight-forward honesty. They found the perfect match when they met Gabriel Rozman, a Uruguay native with over 30 years in global consulting with Ernst and Young, and someone who wasn’t afraid to be candid from the start.
“When TCS came to me it was clear they had a passion for this industry and a passion for global business. They also understood my passion,” said Rozman, who I met with during a recent visit to Boston where he was doing some philanthropic activities. “I definitely was not flashy. It was more than just process and evaluation, they (top TCS management) look to trust people and in our case the chemistry was good,” said Rozman, who went from the role of president of TCS Iberoamerica two years ago to Executive Vice President for Emerging Markets, reporting directly into TCS Chief Executive Officer N. Chandrasekaran.
“Chandra”, as he is called, has made LATAM growth one of his biggest priorities to fuel the global reach of TCS, which rakes in about $6 billion annually. Company leaders have said that Latin Americans operations (located in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico, Chile and Ecuador) generate about $300 million in annual revenue. Over 7,000 workers are employed in these locations, and only 2% of the workforce is of Indian origin.
LATAM: Right Partner for Global Delivery
Rozman sees LATAM as the ideal geographic partner to TCS’s homebase of India, noting that China – once thought to be the ideal second-place source companion alongside India – has struggled because of a business culture that can appear complex to outsiders. “A good example is the challenges around simply opening a bank account,” says Rozman.
Meanwhile in the Americas, workplaces practices and business norms are far more similar. “Many LATAM people travel to Miami, they know the US, it is relatively easy to get a visa,” says Rozman.
Making the region a more visible option for customers, particularly from the US, is clearly an important strategic goal. Rozman says that TCS will put increasing emphasis on its Global Network Delivery Model that will essentially provide customers with a “buffet selection” of worldwide geographic options which can be customized to fit the niche needs of each client. “We are going to make heavy investments in GNDM,” says Rozman. “LATAM will continue to be our flagship for GNDM and you will probably see more locations in LATAM.”
Growth: Acquisition Vs. Organic
When the interview turns to exactly how TCS will become larger in the region, Rozman characteristically doesn’t mince words: “It’s is very difficult to acquire companies in LATAM. It’s a very fragemented market. For example, the average software company in Argentina has about twenty people.”
“Somos el grupo mas importante de la India” (We are the most important group from India) — Gabriel Rozman, Head of TCS Latin America said during a TCS delivery center opening in Mexico in 2007
The fact that TCS is out in the market “shopping” comes as no surprise to anyone in the nearshore services marketplace. Argentina-based Globant has been approached by TCS, but in our recent interview with Globant CEO Martin Migoya, he made clear his company is not for sale. Others mentioned as possible targets include respected medium-sized ITO players Politec and Stefanini, both based in Brazil.”A lot of companies we look at will not pass due dilligence. We continue to look for acquisitions but we haven’t found too many that are palatable,” he says.
As a result, more effort will be placed on growing organically as is the case in Eucador where TCS employs about 1,000 people in a BPO facility and will continue to grow there largely because the company, as Rozman points out, can be “number one” in the market.
The growing influence of TCS (and other Indian providers such as Wipro and Infosys) is generally seen as a positive trend for the region, according to several interviews with owners and executives at several nearshore providers. They argue that TCS has a great reputation for training local talent and will help drive better delivery capabilities. Process maturity strength and high-end technical expertise are valuable assets.
The continued success of TCS partly hinges on the ability of two fairly unique cultures (Latin America and India) to work well together, which requires the executive level to pay more attention to how workers from each of these cultures assimilate in the working environment. “To work for an Indian company, you need to have an appreciation for India to make it work,” says Rozman, who does concede that there are fundamental differences in how far workers will go to serve the employer – or as has become the catchphrase in the US marketplace – the “work-life” balance issues are often not compatible. “The Indians are willing to make sacrifices that the Latins are not willing to go do,” says Rozman.
Top Latin American leaders from TCS are routinely sent to India for training. At the same time, TCS facilities in LATAM regularly celebrate India holidays and efforts are made to introduce Indian culture to local employees.
With an apparent open checkbook to pursue new facilities and hire more people, one has to wonder where Gabriel Rozman will land next? The country that is frequently on everyone’s emerging watch list – Colombia – is certainly looking attractive to Rozman. “I love Colombia. The country is very stable and has not had a financial crisis since 1970. President Uribe is a fantastic guy.”
Will TCS ever go to the Caribbean? “Too fragmented for us,” said Rozman. But don’t count out Panama, Guatemala or other emerging nearshore locations where wage levers are particularly desirable.
Despite entering his fourth decade working in global consulting, Rozman shows no signs of softening and he may well be the most important figure representing not just India Inc, but Nearshore Inc. on the worldwide sourcing stage.
Biography: Gabriel Rozman: Executive Vice President for Emerging Markets
Since 2002, responsible for subsidiaries and operations in Latin America, Spain, Portugal and Israel. First and largest Indian IT Consulting and Outsourcing firm in the Region with over 5,000 headcount with 98% of staff from local countries.
For the previous 30 years US Partner with Ernst & Young Global. During this time span, in charge of Management Consulting for several countries such as Japan, Korea, Italy, Spain and several in Latin America. Regional Head for Latin America; software sales director for Europe and later worldwide; Director of IT Consulting Global and Director of Management Consulting Global.
Shorter assignments as CEO of Softtek International, a Mexican software firm; one year with McKinsey in New York; same with an investment bank in New York. Previously, programmer and systems analyst with an IT equipment manufacturer.
BS in Economics, from California State University and MBA from UCLA.
Member of the Board of ACCION International in Washington D.C. and Advisory Board Member and President of Uruguay chapter of Endeavor (both NGOs). Member of the Board of CTT Venezuela and Board Member of several Tata Consultancy Services subsidiaries and Business Units