(October 24, 1945 - March 5, 2011)
The Late Shri Ramesh D. Grover is one of the pioneers of the technology revolution in India. His vision not only helped set up the CMS Empire, but also helped in creating new opportunities in the IT business, some of which were later adopted by several startups as well as large corporate houses.
Shri Ramesh Grover was born in a modest home in Lahore. One of ten siblings, his father was employed with the Indian Railways. The family decided to move from Lahore to India in 1947 like many other families who were faced with socio-political unrest triggered by the Partition.
Ramesh did his schooling in Delhi, followed by his graduation at the prestigious BITS Pilani. He was a Mechanical Engineer with a deep interest in Electronics. Labeled as somewhat of an ‘Electronic Genius’ his passion led him to assemble radios and transistors, which he eventually sold to his friends for some pocket money.
After graduating from BITS, Ramesh started working with Larsen & Toubro. However, his love for electronics left him restless. He joined IBM in Mumbai by cracking the qualifying test with a perfect score. He had a reputation of being the most sought-after service engineer in IBM. Within three years of service, he was elevated to the position of Customer Service Manager and won several awards at IBM.
The future of the IT industry and Ramesh Grover was looking promising until Indira Gandhi Government passed Foreign Exchange Regulation Act in 1973, a legislation that came as a major blow to foreign trade and multi-national companies in the country. As the act forced IBM to exit the Indian market in 1978, Ramesh realised the need of the hour for an indigenous service provider — a company that could absorb the talents that was rendered jobless with the exit of IBM.
“We all took a leap and started off this company,” say Srinivasan Ramadorai and Varun Kumar Prasad, the co-founders of the company.
Mr Grover always identified talented people who could take it to the next level and encourage them.
The Rising Star
CMS grew by leaps and bounds as it acquired accounts from companies like Philips, ACC, Premier Automobiles and Union Carbide for their maintenance business. In 1984, CMS acquired Europe-based SYSTIME computers and became India’s first end-to-end IT solutions company. Given this new start, the restless Shri Grover expanded the business to areas like smart cards, traffic signals, printing systems, cash management and ERP.
Aarti Grover, current Managing Director, CMS computers, and daughter of the Shri Ramesh Grover, says “The key to what makes CMS different is an insight into customer need. For core infrastructure services, India had the need but didn’t have ‘Indian prices’. So my father created three R&D centers across the country in Pune, Bombay and Trivandrum, where we created products and innovated.”
In subsequent years, CMS became a leading IT giant in India, ranked as one of the top companies by various customer satisfaction surveys. Today, CMS serves over thousands of customers and has more than 4,000 employees with 100 offices in India and the company’s relationship with pioneering firms of various industries spans decades.
The group is currently in the process of leveraging its scale and reach, with an aim to expand its offerings of high value and innovative end-to-end solutions in the IT and outsourced business segments. Ramesh’s dream has translated into the CMS vision. His mantra for the company was, “We are a customer-oriented company. We are dedicated to innovation and quality, in providing cost-effective solutions to our customers in the area of information technology.”
His human face
Mr Grover was a humble man. He spent a large sum of money on charity, but never spoke about these acts. In one of his biggest philanthropic contributions, he donated a large land parcel for the cause of building a cancer hospital. He partnered with India’s leading oncologists, and gave them a platform to fulfill their dreams of building the first ever state-of the-art, dedicated cancer care facility in Mumbai.
He always motivated his employees to deliver better, which manifested in him sometimes being a strict taskmaster for the benefit of the firm. “I’ve been with CMS for more than two decades. If you look at various divisions of the group, most of the leaders have been with the group for long and have grown with the firm. Mr Grover always identified talent—people who could take it to the next level—and encourage them. He never had ego. We did have argument at times, but he would come back to us in the evening, put his arm around us and, sometimes, even take us out for a drink,” reminisces Maurice D’Souza, Chief Operating Officer, CMS Computers Limited.
Despite maintaining 18-hour- work schedule for his entire life, Mr Grover never let his work get in the way of spending time with his family.
Shri Ramesh D. Grover was a visionary and an epitome of diligence and perseverance throughout his life. He will remain a source of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders in the country.
Life and Times of Ramesh D.Grover