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At TiE NJ, Bhaskar Sambasivan, CEO of Princeton-based CitiusTech, reviews the leadership – NJ Tech Weekly


A TiE New Jersey chat meeting in November addressed two pressing questions for seasoned entrepreneurs: How do some businesses grow, and how does a new leader replace an established leader? The conversation also touched on topics such as the introduction of diversity in the Leadership Suite.

In the evening’s discussion, Bhaskar Sambasivan, the recently appointed CEO of Princeton-based healthcare technology company CitiusTech, spoke to Anjan Lahiri, Chairman of TiE NJ, who is also the founder and CEO of Navikenz (Princeton).

CitiusTech is a leading provider of services, solutions and platforms for the healthcare sector with a strong presence in the payor, provider, medical technology and life science markets. In 2019, it was bought out by Baring Private Equity Asia (Los Angeles) in a $ 1 billion blockbuster deal, making it a service unicorn. Sambasivan became President of CitiusTech in May 2021 and then became CEO in November.

Sambasivan spoke about growing businesses and said that for him, it’s all about corporate culture. He advocates an “outside-in” culture that focuses on what is best for customers and sees every operation through the eyes of the customer. He found that Cognizant (Teaneck), a company he had been with for nearly 15 years and the global head of life sciences, had adopted this outside-in philosophy. This meant that “You are encouraged to argue internally. You can even stir up arguments with management just to make sure the customer is being served in the best possible way. “

Cognizant has a high degree of autonomy and self-determination, which means that “there are many ‘CEOs’ walking around Cognizant making their own decisions about hiring, pricing offers, business decisions about who to buy from” and who to work with should with. The justification for all of these decisions is customer-oriented.

He found that the CitiusTech stack operates in the same way as Cognizant. “You are encouraged to work collaboratively” in a highly innovative culture. “Everything starts with a ‘why’: a customer page, an internal document, the internal management presentation.” We start with “Why are we doing this?” Said Sambasivan. “It’s not about building a contingent for engineering services, it’s not about analytics, and it’s not about using data science modeling or machine learning. It’s about: “What are we trying to solve? What is the claim? What is the business challenge? “

Lahiri pointed out that almost everyone believes that corporate culture is important to the success of their business, but not everyone has a successful business, even if they focus on culture. One of the listeners noted that he believed that culture must be tied to something concrete because culture is a nebulous concept. For example, you need to know how to be successful in a particular industry, segment, or region. There has to be some concreteness in the values ​​that you aspire to as a company, and then you can promote those values ​​through your actions.

Another audience member asked how to promote diversity in corporate governance, a topic that Sambasivan took up. He said that after leaving Cognizant he worked at a company where he was the only man with an Indian background on the management team. He found that the company always made the same decisions as it grew because it knew that. With diverse leadership, not everyone understands the “same dynamic, the same language, the same approach to leadership style, so you have to bring everyone along. You have to communicate, and that’s difficult sometimes. ”He said it was important to slow down the decision-making process so that you can communicate with people and take them with you. But that requires a different style of leadership. “Diversity is very important when you think about running larger organizations,” he noted.

When talking about CEOs transitioning and installing new leaders to replace themselves, Lahiri asked if anyone in the audience had done that. Only one replied, saying that it was important to bring in new blood, that if you don’t take care of the discipleship, the institution will wither and die.

Sambasivan took on the job of CEO at CitiusTech after working very closely with previous CEO Rizwan Koita, he said, noting that the transition was planned. That was two years after Baring Asia acquired 75 percent of the company.

“I came first as President. If I suddenly came as CEO, people would be wondering what happened, ”said Sambasivan. However, he noted that this gave him time to learn the business, understand the governance structure, and develop relationships with key executives in all geographic locations. He also needs time to build communication and understand the corporate culture, he said.

Sambasivan said that instead of taking a big bang approach, he took the time to learn about the markets and internal functions such as HR, finance, recruiting and operations. He also wanted to gradually implement all the changes he was planning so as not to unsettle customers and employees.

When you need to change something, “take the existing essence of the company, the brand promise and what works well and layer what can be done better so that we can put it on a new path rather than completely” giving up everything the old organization that old leaders did, ”he said. That would have been a recipe for disaster.

CitiusTech already had many customers in the top 50 of the four health sectors it serves and has continued to successfully acquire new customers. What the company could do better was to increase the utilization of the company by the existing customers.

“We made a 2.0 version of our brand promise,” said Sambasivan, but nothing changed dramatically. Instead, he turned back to the overall customer focus, which meant providing customers with healthcare solutions that best match their business challenges and priorities.

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