Meet Veeral Majmudar, the President and Founder of Savan Group. Majmudar is an accomplished consultant who specializes in strategic planning, process improvement, and organizational development. WashingtonExec recently had an opportunity to interview Majmudar. He spoke to us about Savan’s future, consulting, leadership and cybersecurity.
WashingtonExec: In your experience what’s the number one thing that Savan advises its clients to do that most business/companies aren’t doing?
Veeral Majmudar: Our federal clients are facing enormous pressure to cut budgets. As a result, many are being forced to reevaluate their current processes, human capital practices, and IT investments that might have been overlooked by business demands in more prosperous times. One of the things we emphasize to all of our clients is that they take a holistic view of their cost-cutting efforts and clearly understand the impact their decisions will have across the enterprise. This isn’t necessarily unique to our approach but it’s something that we really focus on with our clients. Too often than not, we have observed organizations making decisions based on singular factors or without a clear understanding of the impact of their actions beyond their specific responsibilities. These are very tough times and its important that clients do not take one step forward in terms of saving money and two steps back in terms of losing effectiveness and efficiency.
WashingtonExec: As the President of Savan, what have you learned about the importance of a good team?
Veeral Majmudar: I do not think there is anything more important than having an effective team of people around you. I am reminded – almost on a daily basis – the value of a good team not only in terms of knowledge and expertise but also culture. A successful team must have a shared vision of where the company is headed. This is not easy, particularly in a small firm but it is my responsibility to provide the motivation and the working environment to foster that goal and to ensure that everyone feels like they are a contributing member of the team and that Savan Group is going somewhere. If you can do this successfully, the results and rewards for the business are obvious and measurable. I consider myself fortunate in that I have a dedicated team of people that work very hard, enjoy their work and are committed to our clients.
WashingtonExec: Mistakes are sometimes the greatest learning tools in life. What have you learned from some mistakes you have had throughout your life?
Veeral Majmudar: Where do I start? I started my firm at a relatively young age. Inherently, there were steep learning curves and many mistakes. I would have to say the three greatest learning moments for me had to be about leadership, accountability, and resourcefulness. In my opinion, leadership is a trait that I think is intrinsic but requires constant refinement based on conditions “on the ground” so to speak. Leadership is also distinctly different from management. The reason someone like Steve Jobs was successful at Apple was not because he managed every aspect of every new product but rather, he knew how to lead his employees in a manner that inspired them. I think I’ve had to redefine my leadership style over time as I’ve gained an understanding of my strengths and weaknesses as a leader.
Second, accountability is something that I struggled with initially. I am not a micro-manager by nature but I believe holding people accountable including yourself for decisions made and actions taken is important in any aspect of your life. It’s also very hard to do because it requires being the “bad guy” on occasion. In the end, however, holding people accountable demonstrates consistency in your leadership style and forces everyone to carefully make decisions knowing they will be held to a higher standard. Again, I think I had a difficult time enforcing that earlier in my career.
Third, resourcefulness. There are many armchair entrepreneurs out there. It’s the actual implementation of an idea that is difficult. Many times, you are forced to figure things out on your own or you just don’t know where to turn. It requires a certain degree of resourcefulness. In a small firm, the quality of being able to cope with a difficult situation without additional assistance is an intangible and irreplaceable trait. Over time, I have gained an appreciation of people being able to solve problems by thinking creatively and not being afraid to try new approaches.
WashingtonExec: Cybersecurity is a huge threat to businesses and government. What do you think will happen if companies don’t start investing in solutions that protect online assets?
Veeral Majmudar: Interestingly enough, I just read a GAO report recently that mentioned that cybersecurity incidents among federal agencies increased more than 650% in the last five years. That is astonishing to say the least. I think the consequences are pretty straightforward. We have already seen a number of private and public institutions suffer considerable financial losses as a result of not investing in cybersecurity. Not only that, but the sophistication and nature of the threat has shifted from general service related attacks to more specific and targeted attacks aimed at proprietary information and content. It is critically important that companies start to invest not only in cybersecurity technologies but just as importantly, reevaluate their personnel security controls. More and more, we have seen a need to improve training for personnel with significant responsibilities to more effectively monitor security controls. If companies do not invest in these types of efforts, you are going to see significant and detrimental consequences not only for these companies but their customers. The last thing you want to do is lose the full confidence and trust of your customers.
WashingtonExec: What’s the best advice you have ever received?
Veeral Majmudar: To be honest, I would I have to say it came from my father who always encouraged me to take risks in life. I say this often but the fact is that I have always had an entrepreneurial itch I wanted to scratch but I think my father instilled a very simple idea in my head early on – big risk, big reward. Of course, any risk you’re willing to take has to be calculated with the best available information but at the end of the day, very few firms or individuals are successful without taking some degree of risk – financial or otherwise.