Das capital: Orijit Das, Genpact
28 March 2011 | By Caroline Butcher
Outsourcer Genpact has strong links with the world’s fastest-growing economies - and legal boss Orijit Das makes the most of them.
While many multinationals have borne the full force of the recessionary storm, one senior counsel has been inundated with work as his global outsourcing company continues its upward trajectory.
Orijit Das, senior legal counsel and vice-president for Europe at business process and technology management specialist Genpact, says things have never looked rosier. And the secret to the company’s phenomenal 40 per cent annual growth lies firmly in the East.
While Das leads a team of six in-house lawyers covering Genpact’s European and African operations, nearly half of the company’s 80-strong legal team are based in India, along with the lion’s share of its IT outsourcing services.
That makes all the difference to the bottom line when clients’ budgets are squeezed, according to Das.
“Our legal staffing in Europe is kept lean because we rely on support from our low-cost team in India,” he says. “We have lawyers spread across China, the Philippines and the rest of the company, but the bulk of them are in India, where we have at least 35 lawyers.”
Genpact began in 1997 as an independent business unit of GE, with its roots in some of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Das says this has not only helped it withstand the global crisis, but also allowed it to capitalise on a shift in financial momentum from West to East and a huge pool of talented, low-cost lawyers.
Das joined Genpact in 2005, the same year it separated from parent GE and was successfully listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Since then he has witnessed its rapid expansion first hand.
“I was pretty much here from day one, and we’ve gone from having one client to more than 200,” he reveals. “It’s been exciting and completely mad. Genpact has grown every year by around 40 per cent, and with that rate of expansion there’s been a fair amount of excitement.”
Genpact now has offices in 13 countries, including China, India, Mexico, Morocco, Poland, Romania, South Africa and the US. It provides outsourcing services ranging from finance, accounting and procurement to IT and HR.
From a legal point of view, Das says the variety and volume of work Genpact is attracting can be a daunting prospect.
“It’s probably one of my biggest challenges,” he admits. “The culture of Genpact is very value-conscious, so much of the legal work doesn’t get outsourced. We tend to do a lot of it ourselves - that’s the culture we inherited from GE.”
The work is divided between Das’s European team, the mammoth Indian team and smaller in-house legal outfits at Genpact’s other international offices.
“Our work involves handling confidential data so we have to make sure offices are secure and there are no incidence of fraud,” he says. “My regular work might involve litigation or securing large commercial deals. I tend to work on large outsourcing and offshoring contracts where there can be negotiations lasting up to eight months. Every day brings a new set of challenges.”
While there is an overriding emphasis on keeping legal work in-house, Das inevitably collaborates with a panel of external law firms on larger and more specialised projects.
“We work with McGrath on immigration - global mobility’s a big focus for us,” he says. “We also work with Baker & McKenzie, Bird & Bird and Eversheds. And we use Linklaters on big pan-European projects.”
The Indian-born lawyer cut his teeth at Arthur Andersen and PricewaterhouseCoopers before moving to the UK 12 years ago.
He then worked at Bird & Bird, Kirkpatrick & Lockhart and in-house as general counsel at Convergys before being headhunted by Genpact in 2005.
Das says he has watched the in-house legal industry go from strength to strength.
“There’s a lot of talent coming into the profession and in-house lawyers are beginning to exert more influence across the industry,” he says.
Das maintains that the future is also bright for Genpact, with emerging markets in Asia, Eastern Europe and North Africa strengthening its business.
“We’ll be able to embrace changes around the world and make the most of them,” he asserts. “We’re seeing more lawyers from emerging countries such as China, the Philippines and Romania participating in global issues. Ten years ago that didn’t happen.”
Name: Orijit Das
Sector: Business process outsourcing
Position: Senior legal counsel and vice-president (Europe)
Turnover: $1.11bn (£740m)
Main external law firms:Baker & McKenzie, Bird & Bird, Franklin, Magrath, Solv, Vestius