India’s digital economy is anticipated to be worth US$2 trillion by 2030. As the government continues to advance digital technology adoption, including the upcoming rollout of 5G, opportunities to accelerate digital transformation in the country are more exciting than ever.
For this latest installment of our “Getting to Know” series, I sat down with Manoj Paul, Managing Director at Equinix India, to learn more about his background and journey to Equinix and discuss the dynamic digital landscape in India.
Jeremy Deutsch (JD); Manoj Paul (MP)
JD: You’ve now been with Equinix for about six months. What has been your top takeaway from this time? Is there anything that has really surprised you about the company?
MP: I joined the Equinix family last September with the acquisition of GPX India by Equinix. To become part of this industry leader with a stellar reputation among customers worldwide and head the India business, which is one of the fastest-growing markets, is a significant milestone in my career.
One of my takeaways from the last few months is the confidence customers worldwide have in Equinix solutions and services. Since the acquisition, we’ve witnessed several inbound deals closing with global customers, and I realized early on that this success is made possible by the strong, highly-skilled, and energetic sales team around the world backed by teams committed to designing and building high-quality infrastructure. The positive atmosphere and teamwork at Equinix are truly unparalleled, and that’s a big enabler for exceeding customer expectations in all aspects.
What really surprised me was that despite being such a large and successful organization, there is tremendous humility and empathy in all actions of the senior executives, and in general, the whole organization. It shows that Equinix has spent time and resources developing a culture for employees to keep the customers in the center of everything they do and themselves feel that they’re safe, they belong, and they matter.
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JD: You have three decades of rich experience in the technology industry. What have been some of the defining moments of your career so far?
MP: It has been an incredible journey since the start of my career in the early 90s, when EPABX systems just started getting deployed in India. Looking back there are a few key milestones that I’m proud to share. One of them was spearheading the rollout of DSL broadband service at Bharti Airtel, the first in India by a telco. We saw immense success and were able to quickly achieve the first 10,000 customers spread over three metros with the subsequent rollout of Wi-Fi DSL broadband at home and in public places.
As the head of the banking, finance and insurance (BFSI) vertical, and then as the Western region COO for Bharti Airtel, I was able to grow the enterprise business exponentially, especially considering that the West region in general and BFSI vertical in particular were strongholds of competing telcos. I remember the celebration we had for the first-ever 100mbps intercity link order from a marquee financial institute.
The most significant achievement of my career has been building a highly motivated and experienced team at GPX India. Together, we created a profitable data center business in India that customers loved and recommend. Through our differentiated positioning and services, GPX India was able to achieve the distinction of being India’s most hyperconnected carrier-neutral data center with an unparalleled ecosystem comprising the world’s largest Cloud Service Providers, Content/OTT and Telecom Service Providers. And finally, the latest defining moment was playing a critical role in the successful acquisition of GPX India by Equinix.
JD: India is certainly an exciting market for Equinix. As we continue to explore expansion plans and the upcoming opening of the Global Centre of Excellence, what are your plans for 2022 and beyond?
MP: I’m thrilled about the opportunities ahead. Over the years, Equinix has rapidly expanded in existing and new metros across all markets it has entered; and the same is planned for India in the coming years.
We have plans to introduce the full range of interconnection and digital infrastructure services, including the launch of Equinix Fabric™. This will allow customers in India to leverage Equinix’s digital infrastructure to expedite their digital journeys, better serve their customers and expand their digital presence in other markets around the world. With customers in India now getting access to Equinix’s ecosystem, we are very well-positioned to be a critical driving force for the digital revolution in India.
We also see a keen interest among many of Equinix’s existing 10,000+ customers to establish their presence in India and we’re gearing up to support their expansion plans. All in all, it’s going to be very exciting years ahead!
JD: With digital transformation firmly on the agenda of enterprises and a booming start-up ecosystem in India, how do you see the market evolving over the next few years? What are some of the key technologies that will shape the future?
MP: The Indian government’s budget this year gives data centers and energy storage systems infrastructure status in India and many states have rolled out special incentives and ease of doing business policies for data centers. These are highly progressive measures to accelerate the growth of digital infrastructure. These measures, along with the announcement of 5G spectrum sale for this year and the impending rollout of 5G, will have a very positive impact on the data center industry. Many sectors like government, education, finance, entertainment and e-commerce, and trends like virtual meetings and work from anywhere, will continue to be highly dependent on digital ecosystems, which will drive demand for data centers and interconnection- based digital infrastructure.
With the massive growth in data volume due to the rise in consumption of digital services, existing and upcoming undersea international cable links, access to skilled resources, and data center incentive policies at state and national levels, India is very well positioned to grow as a critical hub in Southeast Asia and will play a key role in the global data center market in the future.
JD: What is your talent strategy for the market? How are you prioritizing upskilling and inclusion in a hybrid work environment?
MP: Good question. Aggressive expansion plans require additional manpower. We are currently looking at lateral hiring from the industry and at the same time building a talent pool by recruiting fresh graduates from campuses. We also have a high focus on giving growth opportunities to existing team members by upskilling them. Our training and mentorship programs leverage Equinix’s experienced mentor community throughout Asia-Pacific and globally. Another important aspect we’re leveraging is on-the-job training by involving our operations teams during the building, testing, and commissioning of new International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers, which is a unique learning opportunity.
JD: How would you describe your management style?
MP: I’m a hands-on person who believes in “Devil is in the details” and likes to lead from the front. While planning is a critical aspect of management, execution is the key to success. In other words, that’s where the rubber meets the road. I’m highly focused on getting things done with empathy towards all stakeholders and customer-centricity in all activities. For a leader, success lies in getting the team to deliver to their maximum potential by guiding them and aligning them towards a well-articulated common end objective.
In a fast-evolving business environment, it’s also essential for me to continue my learning journey. I focus on constantly upskilling and absorbing knowledge through participation in industry forums and interactions with thought leaders — keeping in step with the latest in the industry so that with the changing business environment, I can continue to add value to my team.
JD: To wrap up, tell us something about yourself that we don’t already know.
MP: Here’s something fun — I am a big foodie! Fortunately, I regularly exercise and go for walks to justify my indulgence. While others believe in “eat to live,” my motto is “live to eat.”
Leveraging growth opportunities in India
This has been an exciting conversation, and I hope it has provided more insight into Manoj’s journey and his impressive vision for Equinix India. I look forward to working with him to support the expansion of more of our global customers into this amazing market!
Unlock the opportunities for Indian businesses expanding internationally and for multinational corporations pursuing growth and innovation in the Indian market. Get in touch with the team at Equinix India to learn more about how we can collaborate and take your business to new interconnectivity heights.