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Vivek Mohan, President and CEO, Lucent Technologies India

October 15, 2006
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After successfully starting up –­ and exiting –­ two companies of his own, Vivek Mohan is now back in the thick of corporate life. As president and CEO of Lucent Technologies India, he is determined to make the most of the emerging opportunities in the rapidly growing Indian telecom market, especially in the rural and semi-urban areas... It may well be that the telecom market in big Indian cities is saturated, but that does not bother anyone. The market in the smaller towns and countryside is so vast that everyone's excitement is at fever-pitch.

That includes Vivek Mohan, president and CEO, Lucent Technologies India, who can see that demand is moving from tier 1 cities into tier 2 and tier 3 cities."This means that the distribution is becoming wider, demonstrating widespread penetration. This is a really important trend," he says.

For Mohan, the opportunity the Indian market represents is huge. It is, of course, the fastest growing telecom market in the world. "The challenge is how to meet the needs of the market in a way that is of value to the Indian consumer while maintaining the profitability of the company that is serving the market," he says.

Lucent aims to increase its share in this market. It intends to do this by identifying and meeting the needs of the various market segments. The needs of the small town and rural consumer can be different from those of people in metropolitan India. Lucent has to work out the architecture and the products to meet the market's price points.

August 2006, he says, saw India registering the highest number of mobile subscribers in the world. Mohan also sees opportunities emerging in 3G and nextgeneration technologies. He expects 3G services to be launched in the country in the near future, once the government finalises the spectrum policy. Indian operators are also poised to introduce next-generation technologies leading to IMS-based services in a few years' time."I foresee a large growth in broadband as end-devices like PCs and mobiles continue to become cheaper," notes Mohan. "Operators will also adapt convergence technologies and introduce new revenue streams such as IP-TV and mobile applications. All these promise a very huge market ahead for Lucent India. Lucent leads the way in next-generation communication networks worldwide. We are helping our partners meet the demand for converged services that are simple, seamless, personal, portable and secure."

Mohan joined Lucent India about four months ago. Prior to this, he was running the Asia-Pacific and China chain operations for the company in Shanghai.Earlier, he had been at the corporate head office in New Jersey where, among other things, he ran the optical group. Prior to joining Lucent, Mohan had started two companies of his own.

He has no doubts about joining Lucent. "I wanted to participate in the very exciting telecom space globally and I wanted to be part of the Bell Labs mystique of an innovation giant." Mohan had gained plenty of experience in starting his own small companies but this was a chance to learn how a big company worked and be able to contribute to it.

"Also, with the mega M&A deals and technological advancement happening, I wanted to use my entrepreneurial skills and expertise in the best of the companies in the sector, and Lucent was the one," he says.

While he has had diverse and very exciting experience in the telecom industry, his most memorable assignment was when he introduced the first Lucent product that was redesigned in China. As executive director for the Asia-Pacific and China supply chain operations for Lucent, Mohan was based in Shanghai, supporting a large and diverse workforce of 1,000, spread across the entire region –­ from the Indian subcontinent to Australia.

Of course, leading the India team has been equally fascinating. As head of the Indian operations, his prime responsibility is business development. But he is also in charge of administrative supervision of other groups in India.

"One of our main strengths is probably Bell Labs and the innovation engine that the company has. We are working on an enhanced focus on emerging markets and figuring out how to meet the needs of these markets as opposed to the developed markets," says Mohan.

Mohan and his team are assessing the market and identifying the needs. Once that exercise has been carried out, he will either use the existing team or put together a new one to address outstanding issues."I can be pretty impatient. Ideally, I would like to have delegation with accountability.But if the situation requires it, you have to roll up your sleeves and get into it yourself. My main weakness is impatience with the status quo."

Mohan grew up in Chandigarh. The corporate heroes he grew up with were the legends of India, people like the Tatas and the Ambanis. "I used to wonder what do they do that's so different from others that has allowed them to reach this point in their lives or careers. That might have been how my interest in business began. In fact, business has been a lifelong passion for me," he says.

Way back in 1984, he founded Alok Industries and within four years built it into an $8 million business. Moving forward, he joined Micropoint, USA and helped the company register 20 per cent increased sales in three years. Progressing further, Mohan started Orient Junction, a diversified international commodity trading and distribution company in California, dealing with non-ferrous metals, agri-food items, pulp and paper. In five years, its revenue crossed $5 million and maintained 200 per cent profits. He divested the company in several phases, resulting in his successful exit to return to the corporate sector.

Mohan studied at Punjab University in Chandigarh where he obtained a BA honours degree and a postgraduate diploma.He also has a degree in computer science from California State University and an MBA from Harvard.

Asked how he would describe where he is in his career at present, Mohan replies: "I am on track. My desires and ambitions have been fulfilled. I have always wanted to participate in, and lead, and cause change in a global company. So I'm pleased with the way my career has developed."

Asked about spare time, he laughs, "What spare time!" What little there is, he spends with his family. The day begins early, at 5 a.m., when he starts writing emails. At about 6.30, he wraps up all the pending matters from the night before and then goes for a jog. Then he reaches the office. Much of his time is spent travelling or in meetings.

The day only ends at around 7.30 when he gets a chance to spend an hour with his children. Then it's back to the emails again. In fact, he often continues working till midnight. "It's tough striking a balance and devoting enough time to the family while working long hours. So far, the family has taken it all right. The days when they don't, you end up cutting back on work a bit, only to return to the same routine later," he says.

No matter how limited those family moments may be, they are the ones that linger in his memory for years afterwards.He says: "Whether it's a vacation or a child winning a sports event, that's what stays in the mind."



 
 
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