American By Design

Rajit Gulathi

Rajit Gulati loves to build things and build them the American way. In a career that began on the Indian subcontinent and which has allowed him to work with people from all parts of the world, he definitely has a bias for Americans and what he calls the American approach to work and life.

This love of building things and doing it the American way has served him well over the past 12 years as he has moved around in a career of building teams to  perform significant work for a number of major companies and clients.

“We don’t realize it, because we live it every day, but the American sense of fair play and an equal chance for all is a huge advantage in world competition,” Gulati says. “The US has the least discrimination of any country that I have visited or worked in – which is significant in terms of personal productivity.” This translates into more productive teams. “Whether from the country or the city and regardless of race, Americans are very sure that the person most qualified for a particular role should have that role – they don’t even think about it.” Gulati believes that this attitude is more than a nice sentiment but a major cultural advantage that will keep the US far ahead of its competitors. “Drags on productivity which are ‘built in’ to the cultures of many countries - because of class, religion, ethnicity – just don’t occur here.”

Gulati was born and grew up in New Delhi and graduated from the University of Aurangabad near Bombay, now known as Mumbai, where he received his Bachelors in Telecommunication Engineering. He later earned an MBA from the University of Pune then came to the US in late 1999 to begin his career in consulting. On the road in the US, he became quite familiar with air travel as a “road warrior” bringing cutting edge technology to clients including John Deere, Sothebys and Cox. It was Cox that first brought him to Atlanta where he has lived since 2001. Building one of his first teams there, Gulati brought new technology to the venerated media company and built a number of significant websites in the process. Atlantans are very well acquainted with the AJC.com and AccessAtlanta.com, but he also provided sites for other important media assets in the Cox chain – the Austin American-Statesman, the Palm Beach Post and the Dayton Daily News. For the first time ever, online products fed into print newspapers and he achieved significant savings by integrating the diverse development teams under one umbrella.

Looking for a new challenge, Gulati then joined Studiocom, the digital agency of record for important American brands like Coke, Mattel, Dunkin Baskin, Kimberly Clark and others. Despite the notable client list the agency was losing business primarily because of a “broken” team that Gulati was called upon to fix. On his start day, Gulati’s CEO said that he would assume everything was going well if he did not hear more than one technology related complaint every two weeks. One year later the CEO told him that not only was there no complaints - for the first time clients were complimenting the Technology organization. Gulati’s team of 80 engineers worldwide had clearly turned around and he was given a CEO Award for the transformation.

Movius

After fixing the Studiocom team, Gulati welcomed his next challenge – leading a team at a recently merged company. Movius Interactive Corporation had earlier formed from the merger of Atlanta based Glenayre’s Messaging Division and IP Unity out of California.  A highly respected telecommunications company, investors in Movius and/or the two prior companies include Goldman Sachs, Battery Ventures and New Enterprise Associates. In 2009, the management at Movius wanted him to come in and lead the Research & Development organization to drive innovative products on existing platforms. Shortly after accepting this position, Gulati was called upon to lead all of engineering and execute on the product vision.

The results of the challenge have been satisfying. According to Gulati, when he started at Movius the majority of customers were Tier 2 telecom companies. “Today, Tier 1 carriers are a much more significant percentage of our clients, “he says,  “and we have a more diverse global customer base.”

Gulati gives credit to the executive team “for deciding to build a more diversified product portfolio,” and to his team members “for executing on the plan.”

Starting initially at Movius with a team of seven people, Gulati today leads a team of 70 spread across the globe with most being in either the US, Bangalore-India or Russia. Some of the new products that both Gulati and Movius are especially proud of include:

Side-Line™ Service – this one of a kind service, sold to carrier clients and then provided by them to carrier customers for a fee, allows the consumer to have two phone numbers without two phones or two sim cards. They can have two numbers on the same phone.

“Our Sideline Service,” says Gulati, “caters to both business and consumer by allowing them to have a business number and a personal number on one phone. The billing is separate and the consumer doesn’t have to keep a spare ‘personal’ phone.” Carriers can host the service on existing Movius messaging platform so there is no capex expenditure.

While this has appeal worldwide, some of the greatest initial interest has been in countries outside of the US and Europe. Outside of the most developed countries, telecom infrastructure costs are significantly higher. This leads to much higher phone usage costs so companies have very firm rules about personal use of cell phones – you can be fired for doing it – which provides a big opportunity for Movius.

The service has already been launched in Mexico and will be launched soon in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America.

Video Conferencing on Mobile – this service enabled on existing Movius Messaging platforms allows subscribers to host videoconferencing on feature phones, smart phones, web and tablets. The big deal here – this service is engineered to provide interoperability between the old technology clients like feature phones and modern clients like tablets.

Pay-4-Me for Wireless – As the name implies, this service allows a wireless user to make authorized collect calls, a much-wanted feature in the international markets..

Clearly, Gulati is proud to be part of the Movius success story and happy to be in the United States. “America is so adaptable, so open to change,” he says, “and Americans value the freedom to modify, alter, renew. This is what I admire about the United States.”

Secrets to Success:

  • I am only as good as my team. Hire the best and provide opportunities to grow. A leader must provide a career path to each individual in the team. Leading a technology organization, I firmly believe that technologists make great leaders if groomed well; I have been very successful in making managers out of engineers. I share a great relationship with my team and make sure they have great relationships with their peers across the organization.
  • Lead the team through initiatives and provide tools to ensure success.
  • One can lead technical teams more effectively if the team understands that you know their job as well as your own.
  • Acknowledgment and recognition are more motivating than money.

Staff Writer
ATLANTA TREND™

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