After 2008, evolve or perish!

“Boom and bust is our lot and we must follow the ancient advice. . .that Joseph gave to the Pharaoh: Put away your surplus during the years of great plenty so you will be ready for the lean years which are sure to follow.”

—Governor Jerry Brown, State of the State speech, January 2014

It’s good to be CEO, even in a recession. Especially in a recession.

Hewlett-Packard’s stock price fell 29 percent in 2008, and the company announced plans to lay off 25,000 workers after it acquired Electronic Data Systems. But CEO Mark Hurd didn’t feel the pain. Hurd earned $43 million in 2008, a 73 percent raise from his 2007 pay. Perks included $136,000 worth of personal travel on corporate jets, paid for by shareholders, and $7,472 in travel expenses for Hurd’s family, according to an analysis of HP’s annual proxy filings by shareholder activist Eric Jackson. Several other top HP executives earning multimillion-dollar pay got double- or triple-digit raises.

The question many ask is why? There’s no such creature as a “recession-proof” company or sector. But some businesses appear to be recession-hardy, warding off the downturn with strong balance sheets, long-range planning and rising global sales of products and services that people want — even in scary economic times. My personal experiences at ARC have shown that metamorphosis is the only way to survive change.

We at ARC belonged to the sector of printing and reprographics which after the great downturn of 2008 started going down 13% Y-o-Y. Despite such a downturn we have emerged as the largest tech player in the document versioning domain. And all that because of perseverance. We hired dedicated tech teams in India & US, people with a lot of skillsets in the technology domain, people who were knowledgeable enough to take the company forward.

I always believe in the mantra ”Evolve or perish”. That along with Philanthropy is my guiding beacon.