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A non-conformist entrepreneur

K K Singh


President
Chairman and CEO, Rolta India Pvt. Ltd.

K K Singh stands out as a significant example of a non-conformist. His decision to step aside the general trends of career development is perhaps a major and an unnoticed boon to the industry in India and the science as a whole. He believes in the synergy between an entrepreneur’s freedom towards his own ways of expressing his creativities. Thinking ahead seems to be the mantra of success for Mr Singh. A deep desire to achieve perfection in the work and a strong sense of rejection of shabiness is deep rooted in his personality.

Three to four decades ago, just like any one of the thousands of aspiring Indians, a man could have been washed away by the common alluring tides of becoming a doctor, an engineer in service, or returning as a MBA from a prestigious school overseas. However, destiny guided this man in a different direction. Inspite of the strong influence of the common, he challenged to be different, he dared to be unlike. What finally evolved – was a pioneer and a landmark of Geoinformatics industry in India.

An aura of elegance surrounds K K Singh as well as his home everywhere. When you enter his home located at a posh locality in Mumbai, an aesthetically decorated ambience of paintings, artifacts and murals of eminent artists welcomes. I could sense a very artistic use of yellow colour predominantly – the colour which mythlogically symbolizes Lord Brihaspati – the God of wisdom.

Mr Singh is a true manifestation of an artist- In the sense of a discerning admirer of any work of art. An artist by his nature to explore, to move on new paths. An artist as an entrepreneur. He had visualized a painting many years ago and has kept on filling it with colours till today. He remains unaltered and steadfast – in his wish to dream, to think, and to still add more new colours. K K Singh was brought up in a family of renowned medical practitioners. His grandfather Rai Bahadur Dr Lakhraj Singh was an acclaimed physician in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India, who has a few colonies named after him in Aligarh. His father Dr R P Singh was also a doctor of fame. He was the Dean of Indore Medical College for 33 years and retired as Director, Health Services, Madhya Pradesh. Dr R P Singh’s childhood was spent in Bhopal. After completing engineering course in Bhopal he did his MBA from Indore. Under such enlightened atmosphere Mr Singh grew up, with strong foundations and firm ideologies. In 1970, when he completed his engineering studies, Rotary International was a selecting candidate from various countries for postgraduate studies. Students selected were supposed to be considered as goodwill ambassador of their respective countries. The selection was tough and Mr Singh was the only candidate selected from India. Moreover, he also got admission at Harvard University to pursue MBA. Any other student must have jumped upon this career opportunity but for Mr Singh destiny had something different in store…

“I realized the importance of modern technological tools and also sensed the advent of knowledge economy. I felt the need of a white collar industry.”

He had seven months at his disposal before take off to Harvard when a family friend who owned a steel plant asked him if would be interested in supplying ingots to him. In the next seven months, Mr Singh got engrossed in the business worth Rs 10 lakhs – one lakh took from his father and for the remaining amount he took loans from financial institutions. And here he made one of the most crucial decisions of his life by not going for further studies abroad. A decision that he never regrets and a decision so cherished and fateful for the GeoInformatics industry at large. The gold medallist, throughout his career, turned out be an entrepreneur – an artist.

The ardent listener and a compassionate human being in him, make him very accommodative. He takes pride in his very supportive family and colleagues.

This in fact was the time when he started the painting of his life. He started filling colours onto an open canvass. The small rolling factory he managed turned out to be a mini steel plant. Then came acute economic depression in 1977. The industry was a capital intensive one and was difficult to sustain. He sold the company.

Mr Singh’s yearning to be an enterpreauner actually evolved in his early years. His deep feeling took formative shape and he believed in the synergy between an entrepreneur’s freedom towards his own ways of expressing his creativities. Every entrepreneur has his own noble style to create and grow. When Mr Singh was in standard nine, his father insisted on his taking biology as a subject and become a doctor like him. However his mother was of different opinion. “She said that your father had never had time for family. She was of the opinion that I should go for a profession, which was noble and at the same time has adequate time for family…” recalls Mr Singh.

In 1980, Mr. Singh came to Mumbai and set up a computer company. From steel to computers? Isn’t it amazing? “Not exactly,” Mr Singh ponders, “In a place like Mumbai, I realized the importance of modern technological tools and also sensed the advent of knowledge economy. I felt the need of white collar industry.” And that was the advent of ROLTA. Tracing back the old days, he remembers, “I didn’t want a family oriented name, neither did I want a nationalist name. I wanted an international name. I didn’t want to bring steel in the name, as that would define the role of organization in a too focused manner. I also thought of bringing my elders in the name of the company. My father’s name is Dr R P Singh. My grandfather’s name Dr Lekhraj Singh. I took R and L from their names. T stands for technology. Given all the factors, somehow, the word ROLTA clicked to me.” The perfect balance of an artist still remains strongly in him. His work finds steady and solid shape as ROLTA grows larger and larger everyday. His vision still allows itself to be spaced out far ahead of time. Interestingly, Mr Singh keeps the Sundays for his family. He feels that it is very important to strike a balance between home and office responsibilities. As a person, he likes music – classical and non-classical, both. He loves to explore new ideas and meet new people. He likes all kinds of vegetarian food but prefers home-made. The ardent listener and a compassionate human being in him make him very accommodative. He considers his personal life as a blessed one as he got everything he wanted. As a God fearing person he takes pride in his very supportive family and colleagues. He stands out as a significant example of a non-conformist and his decision to step aside the general trends of career development and enter the geo-informatics industry is perhaps a major boon to the industry in India and the science as a whole.