Mr. Salim Ghauri is a renowned IT Entrepreneur recognized globally today. He is the founder & CEO of NetSol Technologies (1996).He is also the author of his book “Ghauri”. His Interest in IT over years of IT expertise developed at Saudi Arabia and Australia in his previous years, urged an entrepreneurial thrust for his motivation. During his foreign experiences he direly felt a need of his skills for contribution in Pakistani IT sector. This motivation was a sense of patriotism intrinsically found in Mr. Salim Ghauri, who envisioned a dream of Pakistan having its own leading IT platform.
Today, he talks to Umar Malik from NERC. Lets see what they talk about
Umar Malik: Speaking of IT, as we all know that you are the tycoon of IT industry in Pakistan, what made you get into the IT industry?
Salim Ghauri: It’s interesting to look back as I am one IT guy who runs the IT company and i am not an IT guy technically, as i don’t have the computer science degree. In fact, i am an engineer, but in life you know you are destined to take decisions which changes everything. In the 1970s, while i was studying engineering i encountered one course in computing, which fascinated me a lot. I finished my engineering and decided not to go after an engineering job instead i started looking after computer courses. After the completion of my studies i bought my first ever computer funded via borrowed money from friends and family. The computer which i bought was APPLE 2E as PCs were not there yet and started developing different sort of softwares on that. I bought that computer in 1979, and that machine was soo powerful, that i never looked back to engineering.
Umar Malik: Was there any resistance from the family as the IT sector jobs were not common in that era?
Salim Ghauri: As they didn’t know what computers are at that time. they had no idea what i was doing or what i am trying to do?. I have a very important message that if you are doing what you like, you will do well. If you are forced to pursue a career, you will do it though, but you will be moderate you wont excel in it.
People who adapt their own profession by their own choice do much better than those who are forced to pursue a passion. Even my own story comes out of that, i started engineering for many years but didnt go for that after all.
I followed my heart, i ended up following my passion.
Umar Malik: Lets talk a bit about Netsol Technologies?
Salim Ghauri: Before Netsol Technologies, i had a life, a good life, that was in Australia. A venus country. I was there for around 10 years as a very succesful IT Consultant. Before Australia, i was in Middle East. IN 1989, i was in Sydney and as i had good IT Skills, i was in demand. Life was good. But somehow there was no satisfaction in what i was doing. Nice country with nice people Australia is, but there was no internal gratification for me. Yes, i was making money, but the thing that bothered me was that will i be only making or will there be something special coming out and i didnt see that coming out in Australia. I couldn’t see myself excelling in Australia.
In October 1995, i moved my family back to Lahore, with a vision to build a global empire. Being international myself, that was the wish. I am a person who lives everyday. I am a believer of faith and GOD. You work everyday, you earn and spend everyday, spend wisely, though saving are not a part of my thought process. The message that comes here is that the money may not last but the skills you posses may take you along. We had a small office in DHA Lahore and start working, that was the begging of Netsol
Umar Malik: How did international experience give you a competitive edge?
Salim Ghauri: Everyday, when you work, work with people, deal with customers, everything teaches you. They are all teachers, good customers teach you and the bad customers teach you aswell. I guess bad customers are good teachers as they teach you to sustain and be patient and to deal with them, which is a part of learning.
Umar Malik: What were the things that you wanted your company to follow in the initial phase?
Salim Ghauri: Fortunately, I started my first job with Citibank. Citibank at that time was the most process-oriented organization at that time. The had documentation for the entire process. For young lad, it was a great opporuntity and i was very lucky, though i had worked for a very short period. Then in Australia, i worked for HP which too was very structured, I had those things in mind and wanted to have structured process in Netsol. Money wasnt an issue as i had money in the past, it became secondary. Money no doubt is important but once you get mature, you want to make something that lasts longer.
Umar Malik: How is NETSOL different than other IT companies in Pakistan?
Salim Ghauri: Its all about you do with the profit margin that you are making from customers. If money is your priority you will use that margin for yourself. My case was different, whatever the profit we made, we invested it back into the company to build it grow and to structure it. Even though when there was no money, we structured it. We build things which may bring money in the future others wont do that. Other IT companies focus entirely on the acquisition of the customers which also results in the compromise of quality as the money is the basic objective for them. Whenever your objective is money, your focus on money will be greater than the focus on quality. Even the building we are sitting have processes behind it. Going back to the question, its all about the vision either you have a longterm vision or the short term vision. If your focus is only money then you will be compromising the systems, processes, and quality.
In May 1996, my very first customer, a client from Thailand, is still my client. I have retained them. They are my client for about more than two decades. I treat them the same as i treated them at day 1. I have never compromised on the quality, i have never given an unfair invoice, i have ensured that the invoice is directly proportional to the services that have been rendered. This has been going on for the twenty two and a half years.
Umar Malik: What was the reason to go for public listing ?
Salim Ghauri: Going public was beneficial for us, there are so many restrictions, and hurdles. We have showed the world that Pakistan can also build corporates companies. Leaving it private, we would be having our limitation but this way we can build our legacy. Young blood will come and by following the process and structures will make the company grow. As said earlier, i always wanted to build not own and that what i have done. If we had not gone for this, no would have noticed us publicly. Money was not a priority as said before.
Umar Malik: Your message to those who want to pursue their dreams?
Salim Ghauri: It is very important to take the decision from day 1 that what sort of business they want. i) A business which can take care of their living ii) A business which they want to make only money iii) A business which they want to last for long.
Following basics steps is very important as shortcuts are not a good thing, there may be there but it won’t last for long.