Wiesbaden to Trivandrum
Even before the paint on the walls of the Periyar building could dry, Case Consult was one of the early birds to set foot on Technopark soil. Unlike Christopher Columbus, whose westward route to Asia landed him elsewhere, this German multinational didn't have any such navigational problems.
In 1995, which was when Case Consult set up their offshore development center in Trivandrum, IT was booming. All roads led to India and even though Technopark was a back-alley by-stander then, its high quality infrastructure and pool of talented IT pros were an attractive enough proposition to settle the issue. Perhaps, with a "Sehr Gut" from its headquarters in Wiesbaden, one of Germany's oldest cities along the River Rhine with roots that can be traced back to the Roman era.
Case Consult is into providing innovative IT products and services to enable their client's meet the demands of tomorrow. With offices in the US and South Africa, worldwide they have around 200 people, committed to making a substantial contribution to their client's long-term success. Case Consult is ISO certified and promises high-quality services and on-time delivery. They have developed what they call, Evolution En@bling methodology, which comprises a set of services and products to move application systems to new software architectures, development paradigms and quality standards while preserving inherent business rules.
The present strength in the development center is just 90 people. Admits P.D. Johnson, General Manager – HR, that there was indeed a recession and it took the stuffing out of many companies. Now of course, the dark clouds have passed and things are rather upbeat in the industry. "It's over, definitely," he says, almost with a sigh of relief. He agrees that things are more realistic and that any hype won't hold water. And also, the worth of a software engineer can actually be gauged. "Earlier, anyone who knew how to boot a computer was demanding so much. Now everybody is seeing reality," says Johnson, implying that money's not for jam anymore. Not to say that the value of a software engineer has eroded, not at all. "Growth will be realistic and consistent," he adds.
Johnson switched over to IT from a state government enterprise, the Kerala Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation, better known as MILMA, where he was head of Personnel and one who perhaps often found himself at the wrong end of Kerala's militant labour. Johnson's experience has stood him in good stead. But what is it like, from a public sector environment into the rapidly changing world of technology? His answer is philosophical, "For 14 years I carried on my head a sack filled with sand. Since the last 3 years, I feel the sack on my head is filled with cotton." Reminds us of what John Ruskin said, "The highest reward for one's toil is not what one gets for it, but what one becomes of it."
Talking of rewards, Johnson initiated a novel methodology whereby Case Consult remembers birthdays and other occasions of employees. The surprise element is when their front doorbell rings and a bouquet of flowers, or a gift perhaps, is handed over with "Birthday wishes from Case Consult". This "We care" gesture does wonders to the employee psyche. Another scheme is called "My anniversary at Case Consult". Any employee who completes one year, not just the first year, but every year, is presented with a small book in which all employees, from MD to peon, record their feelings about that person. Johnson reads out an email from one such recipient, who says, "Thanks for recording you wishes and also for the nice and inspiring words. Whenever I'm depressed I can go through this book and recharge my energies."
And so, as Case Consult goes about Evolution En@bling, it's simultaneously creating broader definitions to what constitutes a progressive work environ.