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“Acquisitions have been an important part of our growth strategy”
QuEST Global Services, a global leader in providing premium engineering solutions, offers complete lifecycle product development and production engineering solutions to many of the world’s most recognized brands. The company enables its customers to increase profitability and transform their businesses through innovative and industry-leading solutions, through a collaborative approach and by using proven consultative tools. Ajit Prabhu, Chairman and CEO of QuEST Global, throws light on how they help their customers define, develop and execute solutions that span the product lifecycle and which improve efficiency, speed time to market and reduce costs, in an interview with Shashidhar V.

QuEST has recently acquired Mobiliya, and prior to that, Exilant. In fact, Exilant is the fourth acquisition this financial year. So, are acquisitions the way forward for QuEST?
Not entirely. Acquisitions have been an important part of our growth strategy but it is not the only path to growth. The trusted relationships we have with our customers earn us more of their business every day. And, we have a strong new business development strategy that will help us add new customers.

What are your company’s long-term plans – where do you want to be seen in the next couple of years – and how do these acquisitions fit into those plans?
We are building this company to last over 100 years, long after I am gone. Over the last 20 years, we have grown from a small office offering one service to one company, to a global company with a broad portfolio servicing a wide range of industries. The next few years are just another marker for us on our journey to being the most highly valued and trusted engineering company in the world.

Some leading companies are integrating new technologies by developing them in-house, or acquiring smaller companies specializing in such technologies. What is the differentiation that QuEST brings in such a scenario?
We have two strategies here. The first is to integrate our acquisitions into the QuEST family to gain additional value through the mix of services. Otherwise, they sit separately and don’t gain value. The other strategy is to look across industry to port best practice concepts from one industry to another. This is going to be critical in the convergence of the mechanical/industrial world and the digital/technical world.

You are looking at collaborative approach. In your experience, does one solution fit all, probably in a given product vertical? After all, no two companies are identical and no one solution fits all.
Yes, they have similarities that are easy to categorize but each of our customer’s challenges are unique unto themselves. That basic assumption, married with our engineering curiosity to solve problems, is what creates the trusted relationship our customers value so much.

Are the solutions developed solely and exclusively for a given company if it is a collaborative approach?
Yes, very much so. We dig in to each problem and apply our expertise to help our customers solve it in their own unique way. By comparison, staffing companies will provide the bodies to do what they are told.
 
Which are your strong markets presently?
We are known mainly for our work in the aerospace and related industries. But, we are equally strong in oil and gas, power generation, automotive, rail, medical devices and high tech.

What has been your YoY growth in terms of revenues / customers?
Approximately 30 per cent YoY.
 
And, what are the new markets that you are presently looking at?
Our customers are in industries that rely heavily on engineering as their core competency. For instance, building turbine engines, or oil pipelines, or power plants, those types of industries. Their need for engineering excellence is extreme. The rate of engineering graduates has been declining since the mid to late 20th century. This is where QuEST plays a role – we provide skills and capabilities, scale and capacity, and we do it through a model that is both local to the customer and global for scale.
The number of industries that have the need and realize the greatest benefit from what we do is not large. So, we are focused on serving our core verticals. Yes, there will be others but when we do it, we will be very deliberate.

Are the solutions that you offer developed locally, or in collaboration with other centres of QuEST, or do you bring in those already proven solutions to the Indian market (or take local solutions to overseas markets) and offer them to Indian manufacturers?
One of the unique aspects of our operating model is our local-global operating philosophy, meaning we combine and integrate local resources that are close to the client with global resources located in other countries to achieve cost effective scale. More and more, we are providing outcome-based services where we can leverage our scale in certain disciplines across companies. This provides a better, more predictable outcome for our customers.
Another unique value proposition is our ability to innovate cross industry, as I mentioned earlier. In that way, it is more important that we provide the right innovative solution, not limited to, or dictated by a specific country.

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“The rate of engineering graduates has been declining since the mid to late 20th century. This is where QuEST plays a role – we provide skills and capabilities, scale and capacity, and we do it through a model that is both local to the customer and global for scale.”
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