The 'IT' men

— Crème

​Brothers Arun Nathani, Founder, CEO and Managing Director and Deepak Nathani, Co-founder, COO, Executive Director of Cybage Software Pvt. Ltd. are a dynamic team. Their brain child, Cybage, a product engineering and IT services company, currently employing 5000 people, is a tour de force. The duo tell their triumphant take to Yoshita Shah Pol.

Arun Nathani
Founder, CEO & Managing Director
Cybage Software Pvt. Ltd. 

Arun Nathani embodies every characteristic that his company stands for– balance, humility, frankness, virtue and intelligence. “There are five stakeholders in a business– promoters, customers, employees, society at large and vendors. What sets Cybage apart is that all these stakeholders are equal in significance in this environment that is structured and very balanced. An organisation should have a good heart, an excellent head in place and be humble in its thought process. Cybage is grounded, execution-focused and a straightforward company,” believes Arun. After completing his MS in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech University and working as a software design engineer in the United States of America for five years, Arun came back to India in 1994, for his forthcoming nuptials and to be close to his family. 

Ahmedabad was the first choice to make his home and Arun tried to settle there, but back then it wasn’t the place to be for technology professionals. Since his wife Ritu was from Pune, it was the other obvious choice. After they got married, Arun made the shift and started working in an internet startup company and was there for almost a year. “This was the time when the internet had just come in. In every industry there are short bursts of immense excitement followed by excruciatingly long periods of boredom.” Timing is key and for Arun the trick was to find that small window of opportunity before it sealed off. “There wasn’t a huge strategy behind founding Cybage. It wasn’t like ‘I always wanted to build a small empire’ kind of thing. The timing was good, I was very ambitious and I set up Cybage in 1995,” he adds. 

In their first year, Cybage was a product company, developing a browser to compete with Netscape and similar other internet bigwigs. “With the internet came the promise of a future which would change the way business is transacted. Now when I look back, I am no longer sure if it was a reckless act of gallantry or a stroke of genius. Regardless of the trigger, I decided to jump the bandwagon of bounty hunters in the big cold rush of dotcoms.” In the first year, he developed a product, took it to USA to market and it was very well received. “But development is one thing and marketing is a different ball game, especially in those days, when we had no money. This was when my brother Deepak also joined the business. He was in Chicago and he too invested in the company within the first year.” After a couple of years, in 1997, Deepak also moved back to India to join Cybage as the COO. “Working with my brother Deepak has been great!” 

“Cybage is my hobby. But if you look at life beyond work, I am very conscious of health and fitness. No matter what and no matter when I have slept at night, you will find me working out in the gym in my home at eight every morning. I am very organised and structured,” says Arun, who is very passionate about writing and writes a lot of blogs. “I am very fascinated in connecting the dots between business and personal life. Therefore, where the writing comes in, a lot of the philosophies of running Cybage come in too.” Arun loves spending time with his family. His wife Ritu, a dentist, who practiced for a few years but quit her job once their children Nisha and Anish were born, now looks after one of the Corporate Social Responsibility arms of of Cybage known as Cybage Khushboo, an education and scholarship initiative. 

Mentoring each dimension of the company’s ecosystem, Arun leads from the front for the company to grow as a figurehead in the global software services industry. His impeccable command over the offshore outsourcing business can be aptly termed as industry thought leadership. 

Cybage has a global presence in North America, Europe, London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and New Zealand. “Expansion is customer based or employee based. With regards to employee based expansion, we plan to stick to Pune, Hyderabad and Gandhinagar. Globally, we want to explore Europe, Japan and Singapore more”. 

Arun’s philosophy of business excellence and its relentless effectuation has earned him a rare distinction having being felicited with some coveted awards: ‘CEO of the Year’ Award at the National Awards in IT Excellence, ‘CEO with HR orientation’ Award by ET Now and World HRD Congress, ‘Asian Outsourcing Excellence Award’ at the CMO Asia Awards ceremony and the ‘DCCIA Pune Award for Excellence’ in the ‘Best Industrialist’ category. He also won the ‘Global HR Excellence’ Award at the Times of India Ascent Asia Pacific HRM Congress. Under his leadership, Cybage received distinct ratings from international bodies such as IAOP, Global Services, Gartner, Zinnov, Dataquest and Bloomberg and that differentiates Cybage from its peers. 

Arun, since the inception of Cybage 19 years back, has worked towards chiselling a niche image by creating goodwill for the company in society. A strong believer in empowerment of the society through education, Arun has been instrumental in establishing and promoting CybageAsha Trust and Khushboo Charitable Trust. Both these philanthropic endeavours have been initiated to focus on bringing about betterment in the society. Speaking about his idols and motivation, Arun says, “I believe learning should be done from events in life rather than people!” 

Deepak Nathani
Co-founder, COO & Executive Director 
Cybage Software Pvt. Ltd.

Deepak Nathani holds the values his mother taught him close to his heart. Being a good human being is one of those principles that he lives out himself and also inculcates in the company, Cybage. “So, more than business it is the human values that we respect the most,” says Deepak. 

Deepak, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Birla Institute of Technology, started his career as a mechanical engineer in the United States of America and then moved on to play a variety of roles in engineering and management. “My brother Arun and I were together in Chicago since1988, and it has been 26 years. Shortly after he came back to India, I too shifted here to join him, as the Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Cybage.” Deepak feels that because of the fact that they both are simple human beings, their business relationship clicked and has stayed strong. “Our relationship has been fantastic!” 

Deepak, in his role as COO and Executive Director of Cybage, cruises through the entire repertoire of charters including Human Resource Development, Recruitment, Training, Finance, Legal, Administration and Infrastructure. As the head of Operations, he mentors and leads a team of experts with multiple responsibilities at different locations globally, ensuring that Cybage gets the right platform to deliver and grow to the tune of the best in the industry. “I firmly believe in creating an exciting corporate culture where each employee feels proud and comfortable,” Deepak emphasises. As an industry expert, Deepak provides strategic intervention and guidance on important organisational mandates such as organisational control and management information system. He leads the implementation of best practices at work in support of the mainstream business processes in software engagements. Deepak is the executive promoter of CybageAsha – the philanthropic venture of Cybage under its broad Corporate Social Responsibility initiative. “Founded in October 2003, CybageAsha works for the under-privileged and needy sections of the society to contribute towards enhancing their quality of life through its four verticals, namely, rural upliftment, alcohol de-addiction, social welfare and go-green. I believe in encouraging every Cybagian to participate in this social cause and, thereby, contribute to the society while performing their official duties.” 

Cybage is different from the rest. “Our business model has been very simple right from the beginning and that gives our clients a very easy to work with environment which is what I think is a differentiator for Cybage and even for our employees who are well taken care of. They feel very much like family when they come to work.” A company that they look up to is Tata Consultancy Services, one of the most respected IT Services Company. “TCS is a very well-balanced company. They take care of their employees just like Cybage does. And they have been expanding and growing in a very process-oriented way which is what even Cybage is looking at,” he affirms. 

Speaking about the prospects of the IT industry in Pune, Deepak feels, “The future is very bright because I think it already ranks number two in India. Looking at the number of Multinational Corporations coming in every year and expanding in the city I think Information Technology will be a forerunner in Pune.” 

Regarding Cybage’s future expansion plans, Deepak adds, “Pune will always be our headquarters and the centre of action. We are already in Hyderabad and Gandhinagar and down the road we will look at other geographies like probably Gurgaon and Bangalore.” 

In his free time, Deepak enjoys a game of golf, biking on his Harley Davidson and all other sports. “I love sports. I used to play cricket for Cybage as well.” Deepak is a complete family man and loves spending time with his wife Sheena and his two children Tina and Raj. For his dedication and outstanding contribution towards the growth of IT space in the country, Deepak was honoured with the ‘IT Excellence Award 2011’. “The IT industry is transforming our lives so eventually it will catch up with the infrastructure too. And there is so much to be done like our traffic system could be automated, whole buildings and cities could be digitised,” says Deepak, a firm believer of innovation.