By Rekha Balakrishnan | 5th Sep 2020
The technology industry is entering a phenomenal phase of global growth, which will be driven by the East for the next 40 to 50 years, primarily India and China. India is the only open market with over a billion potential customers, 40 percent of which are expected to be uplifted out of poverty over the next 10 to 15 years, who will be first time users. It’s been rightly said that “the future of the internet is Asia”. With over 60 percent of global population on this side of the planet, we are living in an era of data, and it’s expected that 5G will connect everything, which was till today not switched online. In the next five years, every hardware in the open world will be connected digitally and speaking to each other with IoT.
It is with this vision that Ashudeep Chadha runs OnDemand Agility, a niche and domain-centric IT organisation working on legacy and new generation technologies with a focus on providing customized solutions including application development, data services, business process testing, and quality assurance. The Founder & CEO of the company, Ashudeep is a pioneering business entrepreneur and a global marketer in the data and technology space. Breaking the archaic and stereotypical male dominating sector, she is among the 20 percent of the women leadership workforce from the IT industry who has carved a niche for herself in providing technological solutions, especially in the BFSI market. She has also individually led technology and data delivery for numerous clients in the US before venturing out in India and setting up operations in Singapore, Australia, and Philippines. In a conversation with HerStory, Ashudeep speaks about her journey in technology and data analytics business, use of cloud during the COVID-19 crisis, and providing a seamless experience for customers during unprecedented times.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
HerStory: How did you know you wanted to become an entrepreneur?
Ashudeep Chadha: The ‘Aha’ moment happened when I joined Ebusinessware as a working partner since it gave me an opportunity to build the development center for software engineering, frame policies, and showcase them to bigger clients like Prudential, Citibank, Credit Suisse, etc. When the Singapore office became a major success for EBW as the largest revenue generator, I realized that I wanted to start a successful company of my own with the largest operating stake. The challenges keep arriving.
By the virtue of 15 years of experience, agility, and learning, I decided to trust my intuition and start a service company for banks and financial institutions. I also wanted to differentiate OnDemand Agility from the ‘Big 4’ with no layers and bureaucracy. What better place than Wall Street, New York, to set up the base? Like I mentioned earlier, it was my gut feeling.
HerStory: Tell us more about what you do and your clients…
Ashudeep Chadha: ODA has a diversified portfolio of clientele and domains in IT services. Our experience across financial services – investment banking, risk management, capital markets (capital markets experience delivering front, middle and back-office solutions for the sell-side, buy-side, and financial services (asset/wealth managers, banks, clearers/wirehouses, fintech, data providers, etc.) and insurance, retail, utilities, healthcare, and energy gives us a leadership team comprising of multiple decades into direct market.
The recurring revenue model is very closely related to our flexible operating and business models where our core value is an engagement model based on integrity and honesty. ODA believes in being synonymous with quality and resource optimisation with the help of new generation technologies and thought-provoking skills. We have a 24×7 support model aligned with global client needs, and revenue structured across time and material deliveries, fixed cost and outcome-based deliveries, success based and risk sharing deliveries
HerStory: Who is your target audience and where is it based?
Ashudeep Chadha: Our clients are based all the over the world – the US, India, UK, Switzerland, Singapore and tech hubs of all these areas, and include CTOs, Risk Head/CROs, technology decision makers, and organisations generating data but do not know how to use it. They are clients looking for process automation or to manage data or migrate to cloud. We are disrupting the industry by building multiple internal tools along with a larger bespoke solution for our clients. The main disrupter is the automation dashboard model which enables decision makers to identify bottlenecks and growth areas before managers can identify patterns and save huge operational and expansion costs for organisations.
HerStory: How has COVID-19 changed operations at ODA?
Ashudeep Chadha: Since the outbreak of COVID-19, ODA has successfully executed and migrated existing legacy technology environments of multiple organisations to private or hybrid cloud as per the current and future requirements of the industry. Data availability and data security is of prime interest to the top American, Japanese, Swiss, and European banking institutions, which it has served over the past two decades. Any future ready organisation needs an informed decision around its cloud architecture, and ODA ensures these aspects very well.
Cloud solutions being Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) have multiple providers and have hundreds of variable components to choose from. Based upon client needs and requirements, ODA recommends highly efficient and economical solutions and components from a variety of options available in the market, which helps clients to take informed business decisions.
HerStory: Do you think it’s difficult to be a woman entrepreneur in India? What have been your biggest successes and challenges?
Ashudeep Chadha: Entrepreneurs live a dream not only for themselves but for all the people around them at work or outside work to make this dream turn into a reality. Challenges come and go for people who are brave. Being a woman, I had that in-built strength of head and heart, which helped me face each obstacle while taking ODA forward. Multitasking and balancing various acts, which a woman takes up because of the different roles she plays, helped shape my attitude towards life. I am very proud of being a woman. It has not been easy. But the learnings have always helped me evolve into a better human being.
HerStory: Are you from a family of entrepreneurs? What was your education like, what impact did your family have on you, what were some habits/challenges which influenced you, and who were your mentors?
Ashudeep Chadha: I hail from Patiala in Punjab. Both my parents are from academia and that explains how education became the backbone of our family. While growing up, it was the thoughtfulness and wisdom of my father, and hard work and consistency of my mother that helped shape my education, confidence, and perspective towards life. I was the youngest student to receive a national award as an ‘All Rounder’ participant in 1984 and continued to remain a merited student while receiving scholarships for attaining top positions in university exams.