‘We will expand our global footprint’
Economic Times – 5 Jul, 2009
The new CEO & MD of the Rs 100-crore Aptech, Ninad Karpe, believes that the huge skills needs globally will drive business for training majors. Karpe, the former MD of software company CA (earlier known as Computer Associates) for India & SAARC, has also had stints as an IT consultant and tech author. He spoke to Ishani Duttagupta about training needs in the slowdown and the diversification and expansion plans of Aptech, both in India and globally. Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Your company has diversified into many areas lately. What was the reason behind moving beyond the core competencies of IT training?
A: We have taken a definite view that we want to be a global learning solutions provider. Whether itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the need to reskill or learn new skills, we want to position ourselves as the provider. We have a strong presence in IT, animation and multimedia training. With the N-Power brand we have entered hardware networking. After the acquisition of Avalon, we are now in aviation, hospitality, and airport management services training as well.
We have recently taken over a small company in Bangalore that specialises in English language training. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a strong need in India as well, as the other markets that we are present in, for development of communication skills, and now we will be in a strong position to provide that as well.
Q: Aptech has a presence across five continents, going forward do you see your global footprint increasing?
A: We have a presence in 35 countries and are looking for newer ones. While China is our biggest operations overseas, Vietnam is also growing rapidly. We already have three of our brands in Vietnam and have captured around 60% of the market share in IT training.
We plan to launch more products in the markets that we are in and bring in more depth and width there. At any given time, we have new products under development keeping in mind the needs of specific markets.
We are now in the process of launching 50 centres in Brazil, which is also a challenging market. While Aptech already has a presence in the English-speaking part of Africa, we are making a foray into the Francophone countries too.
Q: Has the slowdown had any significant impact on AptechÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bottom line?
A: Aptech is well-hedged and diversified and that has helped a lot. Besides, though thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s some slowdown in the IT training business in the metros, the non-metros are not as weak. Currently, there are signs of business bouncing back and we have lined up new offerings such as short-term courses which are doing well in these times.
Q: You are a strong player in the multimedia training arena, will your presence in that segment grow in the coming months?
A: Our multimedia training brand, Arena, continues to remain the leader in that segment. We are planning to launch a new course exclusively for gaming and also lined up new short-term offerings that combine animation and gaming.
Globally, animation is a $40 billion industry and India only accounts for a meagre $600 million. We see huge opportunity for pre-production, post-production and production work in animation being sourced out of India. The cost advantage works out to about 60% and the talent pool is very big.