CEO Insights Hall of Fame: 8 Pioneers Who Defined the Indian IT Industry

CEO Insights Hall of Fame: 8 Pioneers Who Defined the Indian IT Industry


Shiv Nadar: The Exemplary Entrepreneur Who Put Employees First


The third-largest software service provider in India began as a calculator and microprocessor development business in a garage. Similar to the numerous legends who flourish in India, proving that nothing stands in the way of achieving greatness if that is your sole ambition. The list wouldn't be complete without Shiv Nadar, one of India's most significant billionaire businessmen and philanthropists, who has led many of HCL Technologies' advancements.

His friends affectionately called him ‘Magus,’ which is an old Persian word for a wizard. HCL Technologies was able to compete with other significant tech companies globally and advance under his watchful observation.

The Formation of HCL

As they say, many entrepreneurs have one thing in common: they take advantage of any opportunity that comes their way. Nadar carried out exactly this action. He saw that the lack of computers in India was exacerbated by IBM's departure due to political concerns.

He then proceeded to form HCL in 1976 with a Rs 1,875,000 initial investment. Nadar's business concept impressed the UP government, which awarded him an additional Rs 20 lakh in exchange for a 26 percent interest in the company. He was able to call the business "Hindustan Computers Limited" because of the government's ownership.

The company founded Far East Computers in 1979 after seeing an opportunity in Singapore. It was able to generate Rs 10 lakhs in revenue. In 1989, Nadar made a disastrous attempt to break into the US computer hardware industry. After that, the business partnered with HP (Hewlett-Packard) to establish HCL HP Limited. Subsequently, HCL collaborated with other multinational companies like Ericsson and Nokia. Nadar remained the company's biggest shareholder even if he took a back seat in the management. Regarded as the founding father of contemporary computing, HCL brings in more than $10.1 billion in revenue, with more than 169,000 employees across 50 nations.

An Educationist

Nadar, compared to many entrepreneurs, is passionate about the value of education in one's life. This is evident from his contributions to the subject of education. In 1981, NIIT was established with his financial support. He established SSN College of Engineering in Tamil Nadu in 1996, using his father's name.

He offered the institution $1 million worth of shares in HCL in addition to assisting in establishing partnerships with other international universities to support and foster research, an area he felt India most needed.


Two rural schools in Uttar Pradesh were established in 2008 by the SSN charity. Until 2014, he also held the position of chairman of the IIT Kharagpur Board of Governors.

With a donation of Rs.630 crores to the education sector, Nadar topped the Hurun India Philanthropy list in 2006 and was named the "Most Generous Indian." In 2011, he also established Shiv Nadar University in Noida.

The Difference

His employee-first, customer-second philosophy made building a strong and moral staff team possible during the "customer is the king" era. He assured his staff that he would not terminate anyone, even in the midst of the 2008–2009 Lehman crisis. This 75-year-old businessman has demonstrated that excellence may be attained without a profitable degree.