Growing up, Deepak Hathiramani was always told to follow his passion. It’s a message that inspired the D.C.-area executive to found his company, Vistronix, more than two decades ago. It’s also a message he’s imparted to his son, Vishal, along the way.
Today, Vistronix is focused on its mission sets of cybersecurity and signals intelligence, open source intelligence and media exploitation, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and enterprise class data analytics. “We leverage our core capabilities across the entire company in advanced analytics, signal processing, cloud computing and large-scale data management to deliver mission solutions,” says Deepak Hathiramani. “As we grow, our plan is to deepen our capabilities, sharpen our mission set expertise and expand our customer base.”
Sharing in that company mission is Vishal Hathiramani, for whom his father, Deepak, partially named the company years ago. Recently, both father and son sat down with WashingtonExec to talk about their shared passion for seeing Vistronix grow – and why at least one of them may have to rethink his golf game.
WashingtonExec: What was your dream job growing up?
Vishal Hathiramani: Growing up I played a lot of baseball. My dream job was to become the first professional Indian baseball player in the major leagues. As I grew older the competition grew as well and I wasn’t really cut out for playing at that high of a level. When I got realistic, it came down to doing something with a future: The tech industry, especially in the DC area, made perfect sense.
Deepak Hathiramani: My dream job was originally to come to the United States and get a degree in computer science and eventually start a company similar to what I’m doing now. After completing my degree from the University of Texas at Austin, I worked for a couple of high-tech start-ups to gain the appropriate experience prior to starting Vistronix in 1990.
WashingtonExec: What professional advice did your parents impart growing up that sticks with you to this day?
Vishal Hathiramani: The biggest thing I was told growing up was, “Do something that you love, never do anything for any other reason.” Because, at the end of the day, you don’t want to be stuck doing something you don’t like as a career.
Deepak Hathiramani: Since my parents lived in Spain, I spent a majority of my childhood years in India with my grandmother and aunt who had a strong influence on my upbringing. My parents, along with my grandmother and aunt, always instilled in me a strong commitment to integrity and ethics, the importance of following your passion and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
WashingtonExec: Could you describe a little bit about your own professional background?
Vishal Hathiramani: I graduated with a degree in marketing, with a specialization in management, from Clemson University. Professionally I’ve worked at a couple of companies, then interned at Vistronix. I did a rotation where I worked in different fields and got a feel for pricing and contracts. It gave me a broad range of experience to decide what I wanted to do in the future before I started working full time. I’ve also done administrative work during the summers to get a sense of the business culture at other companies such as National Glass Association. I want to start my own business one day in government contracting; possibly focusing on big data or cyber security.
Deepak Hathiramani: Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, I was always passionate about starting a company.
After graduating from the University of Texas, hoping to gain valuable experience, I intentionally pursued a career with a high-tech start in Austin – Cinnabar Software. The five-employee enterprise essentially built software designed to test other software, and my work often brought me into Washington, D.C., allowing me to gain a nuanced understanding and appreciation of the city, the community and the government contracting industry. After the sale of Cinnabar to a publicly traded company, I moved to the Washington DC area to join Netrix Corporation – a venture-backed high-tech start-up. Three years later after a successful initial public offering, I decided it was time to follow my passion. Resigning from Netrix, I founded Vistronix in April 1990.
WashingtonExec: What was your first job ever and what is your current role?
Vishal Hathiramani: My first job was actually as a summer intern at Vistronix. They were moving offices and I did a lot of administrative work — whether it was boxing up items or taking inventory. Now my role is project lead in the software development life cycle. I work primarily on testing and coordinating with the design, testing and deployment teams. A lot of it has to do with getting the product to where the clients want it and the way we move it through the software development life cycle.
WashingtonExec: What’s it like bearing the moniker of the business for your father?
Vishal Hathiramani: People get to know you by your last name but you can’t take that into account. I know I’ve got some big shoes to fill. I pretty much try to pretend that I’m not related in terms of getting any special treatment because no one should give me any and I wouldn’t expect it. The thing that I can do is just to do my best and just be the best employee I can. I’ve met many people throughout the govcon industry that after I introduce myself, ask me if I’m Deepak’s son. There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages of being my father’s son, but at the end of the day whether I am related to him or someone who is just starting out in the industry and is unknown, I have to make my name known to get to where I want to go.
WashingtonExec: Where do you see yourself in 15 years?
Vishal Hathiramani: I definitely see myself owning my own business. In order to get there, I plan, like my dad did, to work for industry start-ups, in order to gain insight into the start-up culture and what it takes to run and grow a business from the ground up. I also plan on returning to school to complete a M.B.A within the next few years. Whether I continue in the govcon space or start a business in another field, hopefully with good luck in the next 15 years I’ll be able to say that I’ve accomplished the goals that I have set.
WashingtonExec: What do each of you enjoy doing in your free time?
Vishal Hathiramani: Whenever I have time off, I like to travel. I think seeing the world gives you a whole different perspective on how other people live. Even just spending the weekend in another city, it puts you out of your comfort zone, and I believe that is where you really have the opportunity to grow. On normal days I just like to relax and hang out with friends. I like sports; whether it is watching or playing sports, I always like to do something athletic.
Deepak Hathiramani: As an entrepreneur, one of the most difficult things is maintaining a healthy work-life balance. In the early days of the company, I was very involved with the business and did not spend as much time as I should have with my kids. Today, I am fortunate, that I have reached the stage where I have greater flexibility and I tend to spend much of my free time with my wife and kids. Someday, I hope to take up golf in spite of the fact that the trainer requested I stop wasting his time after taking lessons 3 years in a row!
WashingtonExec: What can we expect next from Vistronix?
Deepak Hathiramani: Vistronix Intelligence and Technology Solutions is a mission systems innovator solving complex data challenges. Our plans for growth revolve around helping national security and federal agency customers collect, process, secure and exploit big data for mission success. During the next three to five years, we will continue to make investments and continue to acquire companies that provide us with the mission expertise, technology differentiation and software talent to help our customers achieve their objectives.