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Outsourcing: Sandip Sen, President And CMO, Aegis (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, Jun 8th 2011

About Sandip Sen

Sandip Sen is president (Americas) and chief marketing officer of Aegis. He was the founder CEO and COO of Customer First Services, which was formed as a result of a management buyout in 2001. During his tenure at Customer First Services, it became one of India’s largest domestic call center companies with 1,400 seats across six locations, and employed more than 2,000 people. In January 2006, Customer First Services became a part of Aegis.

Prior to founding Customer First Services, Sen worked in senior management positions in the FMCG and telecom sectors. He was the head of marketing and later network head at Hutchison Paging. Mr Sen has an honors degree in economics from the Presidency College (Calcutta, India) and a master’s degree in business administration from the Xavier Labor Relations Institute (Jamshedpur, India). He also teaches MBA students Consumer Behavior at the Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship (Bangalore, India).

About Aegis

Aegis provides back office support, back office outsourcing, and global outsourcing. Several Fortune 500 clients have chosen Aegis to manage their customer interaction, back office, and other routine business processes. It serves clients in a variety of industries, including banking and financial services, travel and hospitality, auto and manufacturing, technology, and retail, among others.

Sramana Mitra: Hi, Sandip, and welcome to the Outsourcing series. To set the context, would you give us some background on Aegis. When was the company founded? Where is it headquartered? Where was it founded? What is the genesis of the company?

Sandip Sen: Aegis is actually a company which is more than two decades old. It used to be headquartered in Dallas, where I am based. Somewhere around 2003, after the company had been around 12 to 13 years, they were in a lot of trouble. They were losing a lot of money every month. It was at that time that my parent company, the company which owns 100% of Aegis and is called the ESSAR Group, was looking at getting into the services industry because they said they could complement that with the core business that they are in.

They wanted to be both in core and contemporary business, and they were looking at an entry into the services business. ESSAR Group is a very large Indian industrial conglomerate. In India we sometimes refer to it as the GE of India because of its presence in steel, petroleum and refining, constructing, telecom extra.  They did something different. Instead of setting up a call center BPO in India, looking at clients from the U.S., they said why don’t we acquire a U.S. company? They looked around and saw that this company, Aegis Communication, which was based in Dallas and had decent clients but was not being run well and was losing money. In other words, the erstwhile Aegis was a nice bakery. They could bake a lot of good cakes, but they didn’t have a storefront. ESSAR acquired Aegis in 2003 and 2004. At that time, Aegis had about 1,500 people.

From that time on, ESSAR invested heavily in this company. I am going to, obviously, discuss the key things that we do, but if I can do a fast forward to what Aegis is doing today, we are just north of $800 million in revenue, with 50,000 people in 11 countries, 38 call centers and one of the fastest-growing companies in the world, if you look at the CAGR of the past five years. That is really where we are today

Sramana: What do you do, and how do you do it?

Sandip: I think we had two big engines. We call it a double cylinder of both organic and inorganic growth. The first thing we did, of course, was, again, something different. When we acquired Aegis communication, people naturally assumed that we would move it all the way back to India. After all, we were an Indian-owned conglomerate. But we didn’t do that. We said, let’s train them on all the client-facing stuff in the U.S., which is in terms of the operating folks and above all, the salespeople. Let’s grow this business. And as a continuum of that, today in the U.S., we have 10 centers. We have more than 5,000 people. We have a very large base in the U.S.

Sramana Mitra: Where are your U.S. call centers?

Sandip: They are are in a number of locations. We have, starting from the East Coast, one in New York City, in Manhattan. We have one in Florida, in Port St. Lucie. We have one in Joplin, Missouri. We have three centers in Texas, two in Dallas Metro Plaza and one in a place called Killeen. We have a center in Sierra Vista, in Arizona. We have a center in Burbank, California, and we have Fairmount in West Virginia.

Sramana: OK.

Sandip: What we did, initially, is we moved from the back office functions. We did a BPO for a BPO, which is to say that we removed the U.S. back end office. Our financial accounting [and other back-end functions] for Aegis BPO happens in India.

Sramana Mitra: Where in India are you located?

Sandip: In India, we have our corporate office in Mumbai, but we have 19 centers in the country, largely in the tier one cities such as Noida and Gurgaon, Pune, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Hyderabad. We also run centers into tier two cities like Lucknow, Bhopal and Jamshedpur.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Outsourcing: Sandip Sen, President And CMO, Aegis
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