BBC World News’ The Ideas Exchange brings together CEO of the Renault Nissan Alliance and CEO of HCL Technologies Ltd

If one of my employees says 'working for HCL transformed my life' and if a customer says 'working with HCL transformed me', I think we will be successful."Vineet Nayar
Date: 12.10.2012     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.10
Category: BBC World News
BBC World News’ new eight-part series, The Ideas Exchange, pairs up business leaders from around the world to debate today’s business landscape and their secrets to success

The seventh episode brings together Brazilian-born Carlos Ghosn, dubbed 'Le Cost Killer' after forcing through a massive redundancy programme at Nissan in 1999, with Indian-born Vineet Nayar, who transformed HCL Technologies with a simple, but unusual idea.

Ghosn entered the automotive industry in 1978 when he joined Michelin, and worked his way from plant manager to chief operating officer over a period of 18 years. He joined Renault in 1996 and three years later, after the French car maker forged a transcontinental alliance with Nissan, Ghosn moved to Japan to take charge at Nissan.

With no profits for seven years, Nissan had accumulated debts of 20 billion dollars. Ghosn devised a rescue strategy, which involved making 21,000 people redundant, most of them from Japan. He blamed previous bosses for overstaffing.

Ghosn said: “You’re inheriting something, which is a succession of no decisions in the past and all of a sudden you have to take a major one. You feel bad about it; I can tell you that in the week before I announced the Nissan revival plan in October 1999 I didn’t sleep too much.

“So after being very critical about the tough decision we had to make in ’99/2000, people recognise in 2002, 2005 and now that it was worth it. We came from a company which had been declining for 10 years, to a company which has been growing for 10 years.”

In 2005, Ghosn took the helm at the Renault Nissan Alliance, making him the first person to lead two Fortune Global 500 companies at the same time. He was now in charge of two institutions – both seen as emblems of their national culture.

Indian-born Vineet Nayar took over HCL Technologies in 2005 and worked to transform the company with a simple but unusual idea. His first concern was how to fire up his staff. He decided to make their welfare his top priority and grew the business employing a philosophy that stands conventional wisdom on its head. This strategy, called Employees First, Customers Second was based on the idea that if you look after the staff they will look after the clients.

Vineet Nayar said: “The business of managers should be to enthuse, encourage and enable employees to create the differentiated value, hence Employees First, Customers Second.”

From 2005 to the present, annual revenue has grown six fold and the employee base has more than tripled. Today HCL Technologies employs 90,000 people in 32 countries providing software and IT services from a nerve centre just outside Delhi.

Vineet Nayar said: “If one of my employees says ‘working for HCL transformed my life’ and if a customer says ‘working with HCL transformed me’, I think we will be successful.”

The Ideas Exchange, sponsored by HSBC, airs weekly on BBC World News on Saturdays at 02.30 and 15.30 GMT and Sundays at 09.30 and 21.30 GMT. Visit: