“It has been a very positive learning experience where I learnt things which I never would have. When you culturally try to understand two cultures, Sweden and India, and merge them, it can be a truly successful company,” says Mikael Gislen, on his 15 year journey with Gislen Software Pvt. Ltd.
The Indo-Swedish IT company at the Madras Export Processing Zone in Tambaram started in 1994 with two Indians as employees. Today, it has come a long way. After fighting the dotcom bubble, the firm has been experiencing a “renaissance of sorts” despite the current economic slowdown. The firm is celebrating its 15th anniversary this month.
“It has been a good year for us. We have been bagging projects and are expecting 30 per cent revenue growth this year,” says the 46-year-old Swede, who has made Chennai his second home.
A tour of Asia in 1992 brought the Gislens to South India where they were charmed by the warmth of the people.
“Besides, there was scarcity of labour in Sweden and the consulting fee was four times that of India,” says Mr. Gislen on why India became a natural choice.
Travelling in city buses and auto rickshaws were among the many little things Mr. Gislen had to do to acquaint himself with the city and a new culture.
The software consultant company today has 40-odd employees, and works on collecting requirements, designing, developing, testing and quality, with a majority of the customers from Sweden, Norway and the U.K.
One of the reasons for the company’s success, says the entrepreneur, has been the way they managed projects.
“We do projects the Scandinavian way, which I call the “flat management style” – there is no hierarchy and the staffs are asked to come up with their own creativity,” he says.
Maria Gislen, his wife, runs the Little Lambs School in Red Hills, which started in 1999 as a corporate social responsibility of the company. It’s where their sons studied until Class V, to now being home schooled.
“The aim of the school is to help underprivileged children gain access to education. We have about 160 children in the school,” says Maria.
Their three children speak Tamil and have a list of south India savouries they like to have.
Gislen Software is next planning to build an active sales organisation in Sweden, recruiting more people and building collaboration for product sales in India and the U.K.