The NUS MBA Knowledge Management club hosted Udhay Mathialagan, Founder and CEO of Insight Infrastructure, Singapore to come talk to the MBA cohort. Mr. Mathialagan has extensive experience in the telecom infrastructure industry and shared his experiences as an entrepreneur and a CEO.
Mr Mathialagan talked about how he started the company and their initial plans for growth.The company constructed many telecom towers in the North-Eastern region of India which is considered a difficult region to do business in primarily because of the lack of infrastructure and adverse socio-political conditions. After successful operation for a couple of years, the company has now been sold off.
Looking back at the past two years, Mr Mathialagan commented on some of the early failures they had in securing capital. His advice to emerging entrepreneurs and aspirants among the cohort was to approach business with a thick skin and be prepared to handle rejection. He also stressed on the importance of networks and stated that good opportunities or simply lucky breaks can come from a wide network. He gave us a couple of examples where he got opportunities to present his ideas to financers only through personal contacts. He did however observe that once his company had some early success, getting more contracts was not too difficult.
Mr Mathialagan also touched upon the importance of having good partners in a start-up business. He stressed that good partners do not necessarily agree with each other all the time but offer constructive ideas and feedback, serving as good motivators to each other. He also mentioned the importance of having contrasting personalities in the top management as being a driver for new ideas. Commenting on his own leadership style, Mr Mathialagan said that he did not compare himself to any particular leader but was influenced by many. He said that each leader needs to carve out his own individual style of management and leadership. He did say that passion, drive and self belief were qualities that any good leader needs to have.
The Q&A session was very interesting with questions from the audience about Mr. Mathialagan’s future plans and his brief role in a private equity firm. After the audience had picked his brains to their satisfaction, Mr Mathialagan was presented a token of appreciation by our Vice Dean, Professor Quek Sir Aik. The session concluded with some refreshments where the MBA students got to interact with Mr. Mathialagan personally. On the whole, the session was a success with the students hearing from a CEO about his experiences within the telecom industry and as an entrepreneur. Mr Mathialagan’s success story inspired the budding entrepreneurs within the batch as well as those who aspire to reach the upper echelons of management at young age!