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Himanshu Bhatia stays alert for opportunity at Rose International Featured

8:01pm EDT May 31, 2011
Himanshu Bhatia stays alert for opportunity at Rose International

Rose International has come a long way from its early days in 1993 when corporate headquarters were housed in the basement of Himanshu Bhatia and her husband’s home in Chesterfield.

“It was just me and him,” Bhatia says. “Starting yourself, you have to do everything and you have to do all the functions. Cold calling, selling, interviewing, bookkeeping and management — everything is on your own shoulders.”

Flash forward 18 years and Bhatia leads a 5,000-employee business that specializes in consulting and IT professional services with offices across the country and around the world. It’s a completely different world as she now has clients that include AT&T, Chevron, Verizon and the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force.

But the principles of relentlessly pursuing growth and always providing opportunity to employees have remained the same through it all.

“The main thing is sharing the vision with all your people and then treating customers and employees both in an equally important way,” says Bhatia, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “If you offer the right opportunity, provide Rose to be a ladder for success for all the people coming in, if they see it as a place where they can grow as individuals and improve their careers, whether it’s the financial returns or their own personal satisfaction and growth, I think that’s very important.”

It hasn’t always been easy and Bhatia vividly remembers challenges such as the buildup to Y2K in 1999 and 2000, which turned out to be much ado about nothing. She remembers the bursting of the dot com bubble and the financial meltdown of just a few years back.

The key is sticking to what you believe in and never losing sight of your goals. Here are some of the principles that Bhatia has followed to help Rose International serve as a great opportunity for her employees to grow and prosper.

Deal with it

Do you ever feel stress in trying to lead your business? If you do, perhaps you need to see what Bhatia has to say. Because she doesn’t believe in it. Ever.

“I don’t think there is a reason for stress,” Bhatia says. “It’s just a matter of managing issues on a daily basis and dealing with it. As a leader, it’s a major responsibility on your shoulders to practice the behavior you want others to follow. So you cannot have outbursts like that. It would be totally irresponsible as a leader to do that. If you handle things in a calm manner, you’re encouraging that kind of culture in your company.”

It’s not Bhatia lives in a bubble or wears rose-colored glasses to work each day. She experiences challenges and hurdles at Rose International, just like the leader of any other business does.

Take the regular power outages that crop up at her company’s offices in New Dehli, India.

“The power goes for many hours and people aren’t able to log into the system,” Bhatia says.

Sounds like a big problem, right? Bhatia doesn’t sweat it.

“That’s the cost of doing business in India,” Bhatia says. “We handle issues on a daily basis. We have issues there where market wages are changing on a rapid basis. There are different issues there. Are we able to catch each one of them in an instant? No. We do our best.”

You can drive yourself crazy if you worry about every last thing that is happening in your business. But in the process, you’ll set a bad example for your people and create a sense of panic in your organization.

“If you want to grow your company, you cannot be everywhere all the time,” Bhatia says. “You have to put the right incentives and the right leadership, management and team structure in place. As big as we are now, we have all the processes and functions defined and delegated.”

If you’ve done a good job assigning responsibilities and putting good people in place to handle their job function, you should be able to handle problems that come up relatively smoothly. When you do need to step in, don’t make it bigger than it needs to be. Your goal should be to get to the root of the problem.

“It’s getting all the parties involved and having an open and calm discussion,” Bhatia says. “It’s really getting to the cause of the issue rather than the result.”

Now certainly, the challenge increases when Bhatia has a problem in New Dehli and she’s in St. Louis, literally on the other side of the world. But Bhatia says she takes the same approach to a problem there as she would at the corporate office.

“In today’s day and age with Internet and e-mail, I don’t know if it’s as much of a problem being connected with people in different cities and locations,” Bhatia says. “At a work level, you are always sharing information.”

And it’s that information that can be the key to maintaining connectivity, no matter the physical distance.

“The teams have their own sense of achievement and celebration and all that, but it’s definitely shared,” Bhatia says.

Get good people

You need to know what you’re looking for when you decide to hire new employees. Everybody wants to hire a good person who will blossom into a great contributor and take your company to the next level.

The truth is some of the clues to making a good hire are not that hard to decipher.

“People that have changed jobs many times, I would not pick those,” Bhatia says. “There obviously isn’t that much patience in that individual to try to make it work. That’s one trait. Look at the depth of experience within the company. If they’ve been able to grow into positions of more responsibility and take on additional responsibilities, that’s a very good sign. That’s a good trait to look for.”

These are things that can be easily gleaned from a resume. But that’s obviously only one part of the process. The questions you ask during the interview can also be revealing.

“Where do they see themselves in five years?” Bhatia says. “Then you know what kind of career ambition they have. What kind of growth do they anticipate for themselves? Does that align with what you have to offer?”

This gets into another important and sometimes overlooked aspect of the hiring process. You can’t just dwell on the opportunity you’re looking to slot this person into and how they will fit into your plans and make your company better.

“It has to be a good match for them to be happy here, as well,” Bhatia says. “It’s not just that we’re getting a good person. Will they be happy here? That’s important. If you hire them and they are not happy and you are, they are going to leave.”

The key to solving this potential hiccup is looking beyond the immediate need that you’re hiring for. If you have an immediate need, you want to make that a priority. But you should also begin thinking about where else this person might fit in your company.

“It really creates a lot of opportunity for our own employees because we don’t hire from the outside for senior positions,” Bhatia says. “We grow our people and if we see talent within, we promote from within for senior positions. That’s very exciting for our people.”

That’s where finding a good match becomes important. If you identify someone who is looking for growth opportunities, and you have growth opportunities to provide, chances are it will be a good fit.

“The growth is very exciting for all our employees because we promote from within so everybody is excited equally, whether they are in any of our 18 offices around the world,” Bhatia says. “They are equally excited about growth. Through all the discussions and meetings, it’s contagious. Believe it or not, people do get that energy.”

Don’t stop growing

Do you struggle to maintain energy and excitement in your work force? Maybe it’s because all you talk about is how tough it is out there and offer excuses as to why your business can’t compete in today’s market.

“Just wanting growth and not doing anything about it is not going to bring growth to your company,” Bhatia says. “I see a lot of companies and entrepreneurs that get to a comfort level and they don’t want to grow any further because it’s beyond their comfort zone. They don’t want to take any risks beyond their local market or put in the investment for future growth. Any time you want to grow, you have to invest heavily into it for the growth to come.”

Rose International operates largely on an IT system that was conceived in the company’s earliest days. It has continued to grow and improve over the years and that effort to keep making it better is part of what drives Bhatia and her employees.

“As we’ve grown, we keep developing it,” Bhatia says. “It’s quite a complex system, but it’s absolutely essential to our growth.”

You need to constantly have goals out there for your employees to pursue. It builds loyalty, motivation and excitement to keep them reaching further ahead.

“The personal growth of an individual has to be tied to the company’s success,” Bhatia says. “Once that connection is there, if the company does well, everybody in the company does well at a personal level. Once that is tied and that connection is there, people pay attention because it means their bottom line.”

So as you offer excuses about why your company can’t grow beyond where it’s at now, you deal one more blow to employee drive and enthusiasm. It’s also a message that you’re sending to your customers.

“As far as clients go, it’s very important to give them value and if they are trusting you and giving you the contract, it’s important that you fulfill and perform beyond expectations,” Bhatia says. “They want to see us handle more and more and help them in areas that they envision doing. Since they are familiar with us, they would rather do that next leap with us than with another outside company. It’s just good overall for us and everybody involved.

“Invest your profits back in the company to support growth. Hire the right individuals and research the market you want to grow into.”

Keep an eye on what’s happening in your market and share your findings with your people. Show them that you’re excited about where your business can go and that you’re excited to have your people go along for the ride.

“Keep up with the latest market trends to be able to streamline your own efforts in a way that is most progressive for you and your team,” Bhatia says. “Know the next trend that might be coming into your industry and keep up with it so you’re not caught flat-footed. … If you want to do it, I’m sure companies would find a way to do it.”

How to reach: Rose International, (636) 812-4000 or www.roseint.com

The Bhatia File

Himanshu Bhatia, Co-founder and CEO, Rose International

Born: New Dehli, India.

Education: School of Planning and Architecture, New Dehli, India; Master’s in information systems, University of Missouri-St. Louis.

What was your very first job?

I worked as an architect in New Dehli. I was 22. In India, people don’t do jobs until you’ve graduated. In IT, we’re building software systems, and it has different components that come together including the databases and the programs. In architecture, your building is actually a building, so there are many components that go toward that. You’re working with a development process that is essentially the same.

What is one of your biggest personal goals?

Having Rose be a truly global, large company with tens of thousands of employees.

What were you interested in when you were growing up?

I was interested in business and I was fascinated by the information and technology revolution. This isn’t college I’m talking about, because we had one computer for the whole college. Coming to the U.S. and going into that field was exciting.

Bhatia on growth: There are very small businesses that in their own way are successful at a small size. But in our industry and our space and our markets, where things are changing on a regular basis, it’s very important to be a certain size and to be bigger and be there for the next change and market that might come.