The Indian practice of Bain & Company has undergone a shakeup, with Karan Singh, leader of the firm's Asia-Pacific healthcare practice, taking up the role of Managing Director. In an interview, Singh elaborates on the current economic climate in India, which has allowed the Indian practice to grow rapidly.
As the new Managing Director, Karan Singh follows up Sri Rajan, who has taken on the role of Chairman – while the previous Chairman, Ashish Singh, has been repositioned to take on the role of Leader of the firm's Global Healthcare as well as continuing to take a seat on Bain’s global level board.
Singh has already had extensive experience in India, having helped set up the Indian practice of Bain & Company in 2006 in a four person team, including Sri Rajan, Ashish Singh and Vivek Gambhir, who left the firm in 2009. Since its establishment, the Indian team has grown rapidly; becoming the fastest growing practice in the history of the firm. Today the practice employs more than the China operation and is expected to continue to grow with double digit figures.
In an interview with the Times of India, Singh elaborates on the current economic climate, which was late last year cited with optimism by the heads of McKinsey & Company and The Boston Consulting Group. In terms of the future, Singh remains optimistic about India. While many economic regions are slowing down, including Europe, China and Brazil, Singh says: “India is still a golden opportunity. We are consumption-driven, there is still pent-up demand. Macro-economic conditions have improved.”
One problem however, according to Singh, is that “earnings are pretty much flat. If the one priority for the government is recreation of livelihood and jobs, you need to kick-start the investment cycle. Companies are in a wait-and-watch mode. On the MNC [Multinational Corporation] front, very interestingly India is back on the radar.” Singh explains that many companies are going for “… growth preparedness, taking a 2020 view — if the economy starts to open up, where would they double down and what would drive differential growth going forward. Some of them are not only thinking organically but boldly, suggesting transformational growth.”
The Bain practice offers its clients ways in which to be more efficient, while “at the same time, a lot of companies are working on getting back to breakout growth strategy assuming the market picks up. Indian companies are making big, bold bets and many of them have not done it before. Cross-border M&As, adjacent businesses and new business models — this is not what they have done in the past.”
One way forward, Singh notes, is take on digital technologies into their growth strategies. “We are helping a few clients develop scenarios for a three-year period on how to play the game differently and proactively. Companies ask us how they can embrace the digital opportunity. Digital has become a CEO topic. That's a fundamental shift.”
CEOs in India are also working on other pivotal topics, including “talent [being] a CEO topic. Thinking about disruptive growth models, boldly growing in the future and delivering numbers […]” To be successful in delivering these, Singh remarks that “CEOs will have a balanced agenda — to deliver in the near term but to be clear about the 1-2 big growth initiatives. Successful CEOs are not looking at a 1-2 year horizon.”
Bain & Company India
In May Consultancy.uk featured an article on Bain's entrepreneurial spirit in India, turning the consultancy's office into a breeding ground for high profile start-ups. And in March WEF unveiled that it had named Bain India partner Prashant Sarin (Head of the Indian Organisation Practice) a Young Global Leader.