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Lokvani Talks To Jay Srinivasan

Ranjai Saigal

Jay Srinivasan has worked in several Fortune 500 companies including Siemens, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Compaq/Digital Equipment Corporation, Schlumberger and TATA (Telco).

He has a MS in Mechanical Engineering from Madras University and a MS in Industrial Engineering from NITIE, Bombay, India., He also has an MBA from XLRI, India and a MS in Finance from Boston College, Boston, MA.

He attributes his interest in community activity to his interest in Tamil drama, (story, dialogue, and direction) which brought him in close connection with different groups of film stars, politicians, and industrial leaders during his college days. His first exposure to entrepreneurship was when he started two student magazines (Suryagandhi and Manavarism) and tried to make them financially viable. From his college days, he has been involved in all kinds of arts and community activities including Lions Club.

Recently, Jay Srinivasan  was selected as one of the  â€œOutstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business” by  Asian American Business Development Center for his efforts not only in the technology area, but also in the industrial and consumer sectors business as well as involvement in various community related volunteer activities. Jay is also currently involved in the Import / Export business of certain industrial and consumer products in India and China

In the Boston area he has been very active in various organizations. He was the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the New England Hindu Temple. He is a Charter Member of The Indus Entrepreneur (TIE-Boston) He was the co-chair of TIECON EAST 2005, which is one the largest entrepreneurship conference in the eastern part of the US. He is very actively involved in the town of Medway where he lives with his wife and three daughters. Those who have known Jay is aware of his high energy level he brings to any task he has undertaken

Srinivasan spoke to Lokvani about his interests and his work.

Congratulations on being selected as Outstanding 50 -2005 Asian American award. Could you tell us  more about this.

I guess I got this award due to my involvement in multiple fronts, including my professional / business background as well as my involvement in several community organizations. I am also part of a major Import / export business with suppliers not only from India, but also from China and Taiwan. While I cannot talk a whole lot about the operations, suffice it to say it is growing rapidly. It was really a humbling experience to be recognized by this award.

You are the Director of Application Management Services (SAP). There was a time when SAP was one of the hottest fields in the US. Has outsourcing impacted this market?

SAP continues to be the hottest field in the US followed by other ERP applications and business intelligence applications. CIOs are trying to reduce the cost in every way possible to balance the IT budget. It is my view that entire infrastructure, programming, and support functions will be completely outsourced by major corporations to offshore companies, which can provide cost effective solutions. In fact this is no longer a simple body shopping work. Many companies are signing up with offshore organizations for three to five-year contracts. Such a long-term contract provides steady revenue stream for the offshore organizations and they are able to plan staffing better, instead of worrying about bench time, utilizations, etc.

I do not see significant opportunity in the areas of offshore outsourcing for business intelligence applications. This area will continue to evolve as an on- shore outsourcing.

You Co-Chaired TIECON EAST 2005, which was very successful. What was that experience like?

I enjoyed it. It was a team effort.  While TIECON SV had 400 volunteers, IIT Global conference had 145 volunteers; we managed TiECON EAST with less than 15 volunteers. While we have received several kudos on the successful conference, I feel we can elevate TiECON EAST  to the next level. There is room for improvement on several fronts and I hope the next chairs for TiECON 2006 will make the appropriate adjustment.

It must be a challenge to put such a large event together. To what do you attribute the success?

Right from the start we realized that in order for the conference to be successful, we need to have a great product. Hence, our first focus was on the quality of the speakers as well as their diversity. As you might have noticed from the speakers list, we had speakers from diverse fields of expertise.

We did a few things differently this year. Having a small volunteer team helped us plan and manage the activities efficiently. Since TIE is about entrepreneurship and considering that we are mentoring people to run successful businesses, we felt it was important for TIECON to be managed profitably. TIE is also about supporting local entrepreneurs and hence we made it a point to support local businesses as much as possible.

We worked very hard to look at all the expenses and eliminate those that we felt did not bring in required returns.  We looked at creative ways to save money. For example, one of our keynote speakers needed two large plasma screens. When we looked at the rental from the hotel, we realized that it would be cheaper to buy them. We purchased them and then raffled them off at the event.

We also made sure that the sponsors got high visibility.  We were very careful to put a lot of “Wild Card” planning in place so that we had a contingency plan for many possible points of failure.

This conference owes its success in no small measure to the support given from other charter members who, despite their very busy schedules, were always there to help.

You were the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the New England Hindu Temple. What do you perceive the role of the temple is in New England and what do you think is your major contribution to the temple?

I spent four years of my life volunteering at various positions at NEHTI. As you know, I served in various capacities as a  Trustee, secretary and later as chairman of the board. In fact I started the FINCOM concept in the temple in 1996. Coming from a finance background, one of the first tasks I undertook was to establish a finance committee to streamline the operations. With the help of the finance committee and the board, we were able to diversify the investments, thus, increasing the returns. I also introduced the 403(B) plan. I had an evaluation plan for the priests and they received bonuses four times a year based on a review and devotee feedback

One of my major contributions to the temple was to initiate and complete the granite flooring project through the program where members sponsor a tile for 10 dollars.  During my volunteer period, we started the repairs to temple infrastructure, including Rajagopurams which were falling apart.

It was my vision to have a center for performing arts in the premises that can serve as a community center as well. A center like that would attract members of other communities to see the temple and understand our culture and traditions. I convinced the board to support the initiatives of other programs and initial funds of approximately 80 thousand dollars were raised through members sponsoring a brick for 100 dollars. We formed a special committee which started looking at various plans. Location etc..

You have been very active in the town of Medway. Why did you think it was important to get involved in the town activities?

Most Indian Americans have skills that can help improve the functioning of the town. Considering that we give a lot of our tax dollars to the town, it is important that we understand where the money is going and influence the spending.  After all we spend nearly 5 to 10 % of our income on property tax.. 

I became part of the finance committee in 1995-98 and was able to contribute significantly to the improvement of the town’s school system. I was part of team which did the early work in the Finance committee. The budget for new elementary school, new police station, new fire station etc were approved during my term as a FINCOM member. Medway today has one of the best school systems. Medway also has a brand new 675 seat auditorium that is state of the art. 

I have been  told that I have been again nominated to FINCOM of Town of Medway and I am looking forward to help streamline the finances.

You are an engineer and yet you seem to have placed a lot of emphasis on entrepreneurship and donating your time to community activities. Was this an interest that you developed in the United States?

My interest in the community activities comes from my interest in writing.  During my student days, I wrote a lot of Tamil plays. I was a classmate of “Crazy Mohan”, who has made a name for himself in the world of drama. I also started two student magazines. To start a magazine and make it financially viable, it is important to have entrepreneurial skills and also an involvement with the community.  I think that was the seed for all that I do now.

Any special thoughts that you would like to share with our readers?

Our community has several leaders with tremendous energy and leadership capabilities. I would urge everyone to get involved with at least one non-profit community activity to spend at least 1 to 2% of their time for the benefit of their community. We are slowly becoming a powerful minority group. In the recent years I am yet to listen to a technology or business conference where the India is not mentioned. 20 + years ago this was not the case. Collectively we can make a difference not only for India, but also for the community we live in! 

Thank you for your time

Thank you.


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