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Sampath Iyengar – CEO, Blue Tiger

30 May 2011 2 Comments

Hi All,

Welcome back to the interview show on Coffee With Sundar!

Today, we have Mr. Sampath Iyengar, an experieced veteran in the corporate world.. who has grown up the ladder by running many many organizations. Mr. Sampath Iyengar is the CEO of BlueTiger, an education venture aiming to bridge the gap between the academia and corporate world. Let us go straight to the interview and hear from the horse’s mouth.

Me: Sundar Rajan G S
SI: Sampath Iyengar

Me: Hello Sir, Welcome to CWS.. Can you introduce yourself.. Your background.. your early childhood days.. educational background etc..
SI: Thank you for having me for this show Sundar.
Born in a tiny village called Kaniyar in Hassan District in Karnataka as a 5th son to a school teacher father and uneducated mother (of course she was managing a big joint family efficiently with ease). I did my primary education from the village school and then 5 to 10th Standard from neighboring village in Kannada medium. Courtesy to my elder brother & my sister-in-law, I did my PU from Cauvery College, in Coorg.
Like most other kids in the village, I was brave, confident, knew no fear (except the school head master though). Swimming in the village lake or 30 ft deep well in our farm, climbing the tall Mango, Coconut or Aracanut trees, grazing & milking the cows & Buffalos and playing all kinds of typical village games and cricket with friends were my hobbies. In fact the village cricket club was famous within the district as the ‘Lungy boys with no slippers’ used to beat the so called professional teams from the colleges and neighboring villages & towns.

Me: Malnad engineering college to COO of KCS BPO.. How did your career progress.. Can you talk in detail about 3 or 4 positions you held..

SI: Early days in MCE was really tough. I had lost my father just few months ago and that loss can be understood by only those who experience it. Emotionally and financially, situation was bad and made me strong. There are number of days wherein I couldn’t have dinner because I didn’t have money but didn’t inform anyone. But, tough situations like that make you a better person and help you to become a better human being.
Started as a construction supervisor for a monthly salary of Rs. 500, changed couple of jobs before landed in a sales job, which changed the world for me. When sales job meant only a Medical Reps job, I joined as a Sales Engineer for a construction equipment company, Construction Equipments India Pvt ltd, not knowing anything about sales (MD of that company used to tell everyone after I joined that he hired Sampath for his honesty and he is the top performer till date), became the head of sales department in flat 6 months as all the others in the department left & started a company to sell the same products. It was a ‘big thing’ to face such senior people for competition and still win many deals.
After 4 years, I moved out to join a company to sell imported thermal sensors, did well for an year and then moved out due to unbearable impact on cost due to heavy rupee devaluation in 1992.

That led to join Espak Agro, the leading distributor for Jain Irrigation, a pioneer in micro irrigation in India. That’s where I came in contact with Capt. Gopinath. From a sales manager to CEO of Espak, spent nearly 6 years, full of hard work but fun, plenty of challenges, travel, field work, interacting with farmers, policeman, IAS officers, politicians, horticulture departments, floriculture units owned by corporations, international consultants, agri university & research programs, farm land developers, oh…so many different variety of people to interact & as customers.

After 6 years, the learning had slowed down, hardly any challenges (that’s what I was feeling then) and was jealous of young IT professionals making more money with less work, getting frustrated at Esapk and one fine day went up to Capt.Gopi to let him know of my decision to quit as his CEO & move on to unknown territory. Though he wanted me to stay around, didn’t stop me from trying something new. With his blessings, moved out after another 3 months with a single aim of getting in to IT but without knowing any further.

If my work at construction equipments laid the strong foundation, Espak just helped me become a solid, strong & successful professional and then the move to join IT industry helped me to jump in to a new trajectory all together.

Started in a humble way with a friend, who had just returned to start his own company, I started traveling counties to start new offices & then zeroed in on London. Set up the office and then moved on in life due to some difference with the CEO friend. The next stop was New Jersey for a while & had to go back to India due to delay with H1B visas. Then I joined Zenith Software in charge of Europe business development & then became head of BPO operations and my life changed from IT sales to BPO operation. From there on except a 3 month span with Kempfort, then the largest single owner shopping mall, known for its customer experience as Chief of Services.

Then I joined Vanguard, which is probably the next most important break in my career, where I had the opportunity to innovate & implement lot of my ideas successfully. My management style was appreciated by the management & the people worked with me and still people connect with me to talk about it. The team work was amazing there.

Readers, hope you enjoyed the part 1 of the interview with Mr. Sampath. Stay tuned for part 2. In the mean time, please check out the previous interview with Mr. Vijay from Poetry in Stone here – part 1, part 2 & part 3.




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