Lalit Dhingra has been at the forefront of digital innovation since he arrived in Atlanta in 1997 with what he called “a one-man army.” As president of NIIT Technologies USA Inc. he built from inception the U.S. arm of the company with revenues of $225 million and a staff of 1,000 with offices in four states.
At age 61, he’s opening a new chapter in his life. Once again, he’s cast as an entrepreneur who, as he told Global Atlanta during a recent interview in Alpharetta, can no longer just assign work to others but must personally take on many tasks.
He is launching his new ventures in a start-up environment in the Avalon community of Alpharetta, much like when he started in Dunwoody on behalf of NIIT. There are, however, some obvious differences this time.
With in-depth experience in a wide range of fields today including financial services, insurance, travel, hospitality and media that he accumulated over the years, he also is drawing on the expertise of a dozen partners to create his new boutique firms – a management consulting firm EnSignis and a “business solution” service firm EnSignis Digital.
“Nobody can do it alone,” he said. “You need a high performing team that can choose the right strategies, that’s almost like a family and shows equal respect to everyone.”
In EnSignis Digital, he has reserved 49 percent of the company’s stock for those who will join him and 20 percent for non-profits and charities, he said adding the rhetorical question, “Who wants to die with $100 million in the bank?” Apparently, that’s not his primary goal and he has set his eyes on establishing a reputation as a problem solver as a more fitting legacy. EnSignis’ mission statement is “We help transform companies to be successful in the Digital World.”
Intensely aware that companies today face many challenges as they figure out how to apply the innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain, Mr. Dhingra recognizes the large scope of activities that his company is willing to take on. But he is committed to meeting each challenge in cooperation with his partners and a mindset projecting calmness derived from their combined experience including hundreds of hours of implementing successful IT and business transformation projects.
Soon after leaving NIIT Technologies in August this year, he traveled to Iceland for a week where he began to reflect on his future. Whether it was the oceanscapes or just a full week of relaxation that inspired him, he came up with the name for the new company by merging “signis” meaning a sign or symbol in Latin and the “en” from Zen which he interprets to mean a sense of inner calmness. EnSignis then is not the rallying cry of a newly embarked entrepreneur out to conquer the world, but rather the embodiment of collaborative wisdom derived from years of successful work.
While at NIIT, he said that his focus was on not only mastering the technology challenges but understanding the entire business context of whatever project he and his team were working on. For instance, by understanding the full process involved in various airline functions, his team in the past was able to build and maintain websites, integrate their kiosks and develop their mobile apps. His experience working on several similar projects in other verticals, he said, helped him to understand the underlying challenges of the business processes.
Shortly after leaving NIIT, he met with former executives of large enterprises who were his customers and business associates to mine their experience and test his ideas. The strategy of offering management consulting services and “business solutions as a service” grew out of these discussions and led to launching EnSignis and EnSignis Digital.
At EnSignis, he added, our network of consultants will use their hands-on experience to help companies in their journey to transformation in the digital world, while at EnSignis Digital, he and his team will cater their work to individual projects by providing comprehensive “business solutions” as a service. Maintaining his focus on delivering results as he has always done, the company will customize its work and develop its concept of providing “business solutions” as a service from all the varied expertise through the company’s networks needed to get the job done.
“We don’t want to do a lot of ‘cookie cutter’ solutions that are implemented by rookie employees as some larger consulting firms do,” he said. Rather, he will apply a more holistic approach. If the service that is needed relates to hiring or managing staffs, or is more technical in nature, he will be able to bring in the expertise to resolve the issue.
His EnSignis model is focused in applying “network to network” capabilities thanks to his experience in working with many different teams and attracting board members with a variety of management expertise.
Mr. Dhingra has made a practice of focusing on the future. While establishing NIIT’s beachhead in the U.S. during the late 1990s, he didn’t focus on the Y2K scare that brought in so many programmers to prevent the alleged havoc that was to take place at the beginning of 2000. Instead, Mr. Dhingra’s team focused on the future by developing e-commerce software.
Originally from Delhi, India, which he visits quite often to stay in touch with extended family and for vacation, he now considers himself an Atlantan through and through. “My roots are here now. I have really come to love Atlanta.”
And it’s from an Atlanta base that he contemplates the future. “I don’t know where the business will take me,” he said. “I know the plan, but I don’t know the future.”
Mr. Dinghra may be reached by email at email@example.com.