iMahal Interview Series: Rahul Roy
August 22, 2002
iMahal: It sounds like your definition of success includes having strong personal connections to family and friends. Does this apply equally well to people you work with and people who work for you?
..a commitment made is a commitment kept..
Roy: Yes, and this reminds me of a story about my father. At a time in his life when he didn’t have much money he did have a nice diamond ring. One of his employees had to pay for the expensive reception at a daughter’s wedding. My father had a great deal of respect for the contributions always made at work by this employee. He didn’t really have to think twice; he removed his diamond ring and gave it to the employee to pay for the wedding reception. That action by my dad really helped me learn that a commitment made is a commitment kept, whether in business, family or both. And for my father many people in his business were treated like family.
I think it is important to try to treat people in your business like family. I hate surprises, for example. We have close to 4000 employees in our company now, and I try to treat all as family. We have never had a layoff. My philosophy is that I should hire well or outsource. Because I hire well, there is rarely a need to let people go.
The managers here in our office I recruited with great effort, including some trips to India, and I always continue to teach them and challenge them. The results are good, to say the least. They and their teams have built an industry-leading software application, recognized around the world. I put their names on our patents. I demanded from our board that these workers be paid well, in salary and bonuses. They are a young bunch, about 6 six of them and the average age is 27. I teach them about working in teams, managing employees, improving their presentation skills, and becoming knowledgeable about their new country.
When they arrive here, they soon learn my philosophy about commitments. One should be committed to family first, then to relatives, the community, and one’s country. And I teach them to be charitable. Every Thanksgiving I tell them to take $500 of their own money, load a van with food or clothing and go distribute it to the less fortunate. They even give blood, which is not common in India. I help to organize a blood drive every Independence Day here in the local Indian community. This is a great country, I tell them, and we have got to do good things to pay back for the opportunities we find here.
As far as the efforts I put into treating employees like family, I have found that whatever I put in, I get more than that back. I’ll give you an example. The first time I lost a lot of money, very few people found out. But my recent losses in the stock market became public knowledge. My employees felt bad about it. One day I came home to find many of them there, and they handed me a check, about 6 feet long and 2 feet high, for the amount of $10,000. It was from everybody in the company. I couldn’t believe it. I looked around my living room, overflowing with employees of every ethnicity — Indians, caucasians, asians, latinos, you name it we got it — and I couldn’t help myself. Tears just started flowing.
..you should of course love your motherland, but you should serve your adopted land..
Moments like that make me very happy about being here in this land of not only opportunity but personal and social growth. I tell my friends, “you should of course love your motherland, but you should serve your adopted land.. This is especially true of this land, the United State of America. It is the world leader in so many things. The world brain embodies the American dream. Why is there all this fascination with America? It’s because people should be fascinated by it. There has never been anything like it. On any metric you care to name, the US is in the top 2%.