From Nothing to Everything – Exclusive Interview With Salim Ghauri

December 1995. The early months required a lot of struggle as there was not much awareness of IT in Pakistan, due to which there were very few opportunities. But Salim took all that with courage and continued his unfaltering efforts towards developing NetSol as a world-class provider of IT solutions and services.
Showing the patriotic energy led to the founding of NetSol Technologies which over decades is today the only CMMI Level 5 organization in the country is a major asset of Salim Ghauri. As a result, NetSol Technologies is a fine example of his vision to help Pakistan actualize its potential as a leading global IT destination, and Mr. Salim Ghauri as its pioneer.
Enterprise Magazine team paid a visit to Netsol Technologies and had a one-to-one interview session over his successes, achievements & lessons.

Please tell us about your business portfolio and ventures?

We are a much-focused organization where our hard work of all these years went into developing our own product of Asset Financing which is NetSol’s success. Today, we are the main providers of Asset Financing Software in the world while proudly captured 90% of the Chinese market. It will be pertinent to mention here that Chinese Multinational and Asset Financing are now managing their portfolio on NetSol’ software. It is our niche indeed and we are dedicated to continuing with this service in the coming years.

How do you manage your core team/facilitators and maximum output from them?

It is very important for any business to bring on board the best people. That remains the first criteria. What follows is to give them space to work, to show their skills, listen to them, and welcome their ideas. Once a capable team is built, expect healthy discussions and debates before embarking on a new venture. The performance in the result will be outclassed.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

I believe the toughest decisions are taken every day. Every day comes with a challenge where we are required to take steps catering to our customers’ need. However, the hardest decision making comes when deciding how to react or answer to the customer’s extraordinary demands and needs.

What drives you? What are the factors that push you forward in life?

When we see we are making a difference, we see we are bringing a change and when it is benefiting others; it gives a push, an oomph, a reason to continue what we are doing along with the desire to do more. We have seen some great results from our work in the last 22 years and we have reached a point where we now think all the work done in these years has brought greatness to the people around us. This in itself is an inspiration to keep going.

What were the difficulties you faced as an entrepreneur in the beginning? And how you overcome difficulties at bad times?

Certainly, no basket of flowers will land in your hand by itself. It has to be earned. When I began 22 years ago, I left a highly paid job, a good house and a comfortable life to pursue what I had dreamt of. I faced many challenges indeed, plenty of failures and many dips as well but then if you are truly an entrepreneur, these hurdles will never stop you. I never stopped. I started NetSol here in Pakistan from a very small office, with just 4 people and no client. I made calls, went around introducing myself and kept working on my services. Nothing lucrative came in the initial months when one day, my days and nights did pay off when I signed a heavy deal with my first client; who after 22 years, is still my client! Thereafter, failures gave me another reason to work hard and hard work gave me success. So if you are a true entrepreneur, you will not stop no matter what the challenges are. Keep going to achieve the dream you dreamt and when you succeed, work harder to Win!

What do you think about politics? Do you have any plans for that?

Well, people opt for politics primarily to serve the people and make a difference. But as a businessman, I believe, I am working for the same. I believe I can serve my people and make a difference in what I am good at.

We are afraid of losing, afraid of failing. How would you guide the young entrepreneurs to deal with defeats & failures?

In my life I have been unsuccessful many times; certainly faced many downfalls as well. I’ve told myself not to stop. I keep going and I do what I believe in disregard of the fact that if it will yield success or not. Many a time, I missed on ideas and things I wanted to work on and now that I look back, I think to myself I should have. Unsuccessfulness means many losses but I have no regrets. So my message to the youngsters is that if you have an idea and if you are willing to try; do so without thinking of the result. If you fail, you have learned the hard way; if you succeed, you have won.
His Interest in IT over years of IT expertise developed in Saudi Arabia and Australia in his previous years urged an entrepreneurial thrust for his motivation. During his foreign experiences, he direly felt a need for his skills for contribution in Pakistani IT sector. This motivation was a sense of patriotism intrinsically found in Salim Ghauri, who envisioned a dream of Pakistan having its own leading IT platform.