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Harsh Marwah, Country Manager, Verizon Enterprise Solutions India

October 01, 2014
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For Harsh Marwah, there are five pillars of growth at Verizon Enterprise Solutions, the company he joined a year ago: people, customers, the product portfolio, the other support functions, and compliance in the sense of a zero tolerance policy.

Verizon’s forte lies in the wireless and wireline domains. Looking at some of the acquisitions the company has made recently, it is evident that Verizon is emerging as a leader in the network convergence space. Among its acquisitions have been security companies such as Cybertrust and cloud solutions providers such as Terremark.

“We came out with a transformational 4G-HD infrastructure back in the US, virtually the first of its kind, which showcases our ability to innovate. Finally, we invested in some organisations and some leading technologies in the machine-to- machine (M2M) space. Each of these has its own strong capabilities and strengths. But the real value comes in when you bring them all together, amplify the entire capability, and give your customers what they need rather than what you want to sell,” he says.

The current challenge that many service providers are facing is to give end-to-end solutions to their customers to help them address business challenges. Verizon Enterprise Solutions sees huge opportunities because the company is not only about connecting the asset base of its customers, but about connecting the businesses of its customers.

“If we have customers in the health space, we help them with something called a connected health model. Or we can help our customers in education with a connected education model. Moving up the chain, I personally feel that in an environment where mobility has become a norm and rich media content is a given, embracing cloud is inevitable. So, I see a huge opportunity in the cloud space, both for global companies venturing into India, and for Indian multinationals going outside the country,” he says.

As mentioned earlier, security is another big opportunity because there is a huge shortage of security expertise and staff. As hackers become smarter, the threats are becoming more advanced and persistent, and it is here that Verizon Enterprise Solutions is fully equipped to make a contribution.

“Verizon Enterprise Solutions has created a very strong asset base, whether in the space of identity management or cyber intelligence or security analytics or governance risk compliance, which is aligned to our customers’ security requirements,” he says. 

Before joining Verizon Enterprise Solutions, Marwah, an engineering graduate from Pune University, worked with BT India (the erstwhile British Telecom) where he spent five years as director and was responsible for the overall sales, and business development for BT in India. He also spearheaded some new initiatives, such as the network integration practice, and was responsible for managing the company’s partnerships and alliances.

Prior to this, he was with Cisco Systems, where his last assignment was as vice-president, responsible for the government and defence portfolio. This experience with a large company was completely different from what he had been doing earlier as co-promoter and CEO of a system integration company which was a virtual start-up.

It was a difficult but tremendously satisfying experience for Marwah because he had to create the entire organisation. He saw his “baby” grow from four persons in 1995 when it started to almost 300 people, offices all over the country and service revenues of more than $20 million by the time he left 10 years later.

His very first job, after graduating, was with Kirloskar Brothers in 1992 where his team was mandated to handle all the information technology functions for the Kirloskar Group. He started with an application development profile and went on to become the project lead for the entire network infrastructure across 100 different locations.

“At that time, communication was absolutely new and we had to go and set up a multilocational business network, which meant having to share our foundation plan, drawings and other details from our factories with people on the ground. It was extremely satisfying,” he says.

Cisco was satisfying for different reasons, owing obviously to its status as a global multinational and high-performance-driven brand. “I had to completely change my style, from running a business to joining one of the most professional organisations anywhere. And that in itself was satisfying because suddenly you are around the driving street, and I understood, after having run a business, how the channels can be driven,” he says.

Marwah’s strengths as country manager come from a combination of factors: his strong technology background, his knowledge of customer expectations, and how the vendor community – whether service providers or system integrators – should get up to speed to support customers.

“I strongly believe that industries don’t converge till the people converge. I feel my own career has taken the same path towards convergence, ranging from my broad-based role at Kirloskar to starting my own venture. I have a converged profile – I understand technology, how system integration companies work, how application development companies work, how you go and train your people to really see to it that their skills set is right, and I combine all that with a strong service provider background, having worked for BT and now with Verizon Enterprise Solutions,” he says.

He likes to strike a balance between his work and family time. For example, he goes horse-riding – a childhood passion – with his children at weekends.

His other childhood passion was music but he did not get a chance to pursue it because he grew up, as millions of middle-class Indians did in those days, having no choice but to become a doctor or an engineer.

“I still adore music. My 12-year-old son Jasraj is a budding drummer and my daughter Jasnoor is a keyboard player and vocalist. Getting aligned with both music and sports through my kids is something that gives me a big kick in life on the personal front,” he says.

Seeing the people around him happy and motivated – whether it’s his wife and children or his team – is very important for him. “When I see my people happy, when I see that they are second to none in the industry, it gives me a real kick. I am not an individual performer. I only perform with teams and teams are very close to my head, heart and soul,” he says.

The bedrock of the family is his wife Chandeep, who quit her job as a lecturer to enter the corporate world. She is, however, currently on a sabbatical because she wants to spend more time with the children.

Marwah is pleased with Verizon Enterprise Solutions’ positioning as a leading player in the Indian telecom market. Its strategy is based on a clear segmentation of its customers into three. One is the India-led multinationals that, over a period of time, have grown and created global models, whether in the space of IT, hedge funds or minerals. The second segment is the global multinationals in India. Verizon Enterprise Solutions serves almost all Fortune 500 companies, many of which are making huge investments in India. And the third segment comprises corporate customers, typically companies that have either gone global or have created very strong domestic business models.

“Once we have segmented our customer base, we have accordingly segmented our product portfolio. So, we basically map the two and see what kind of product portfolio is going to be really compelling for the kind of customer base we are catering to.

“So, when it comes to our global high-IQ network, it is basically relevant to both our global multinationals in India from a global perspective and also the Indian multinationals that have gone outside the country. Our expertise in the cloud business is coming in handy for both kinds of customers. When we look at the M2M space, which is building automation in the customer environment, it is relevant not only for our global customers but also very relevant for our domestic corporate customers,” he says.

Lastly, Marwah talks of the company’s professional services, which cover the ambit of the security, IT, M2M and unified communication domains, and are very useful for their domestic customers in the corporate space.

“The vision that I have for India is to serve the customer base by aligning our specific product portfolio and solution offerings with their requirements,” Marwah says.

“The biggest challenge for me is to bring in some of our global product propositions that are relevant to the Indian market, and build strong credentials in line with the brand image and the kind of great work we do globally. So I think my journey in Verizon is just starting,” he says.

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