IIC Partners in the News

Posted in Member Firms on 四月 17, 2014
The Economic Times: Athena: How an IIT grad, Bhavishya Sharma, built a Rs 14 crore venture

In 2002, after completing my engineering from IIT Delhi, I was eager to start a career in human resources, instead of the lucrative offers from other sectors that my friends were looking forward to. I knew I had a future in it.

Almost 12 years later, I realise that the decision I made as a 22-year-old proved to be a career-defining step and has made me what I am—managing director of the Rs 14 crore Athena Executive Search & Consulting.

My first job as a management trainee with Careernet Consulting was the perfect launch pad for me. It was a small company, and my hard work and competence soon paid off as I was given the charge of heading its north India division. Two years later, I quit the job to join Executive Access as a business development consultant.

In 2005, I took up a third offer from Singapore-based BTI as a consultant responsible for launching their India operations. I was instrumental in setting up their core team and processes, and the job profile gave me a lot of confidence.

Around June 2006, Pantheon Advisory, an Indian member of IRC, one of the world's leading executive search firms, was looking for someone to bring their operations at par with global standards. I joined them as a principal consultant and was involved in several strategic projects designed to promote cross-border executive search.

By mid-2009, I had gained enough experience to set up my own enterprise. By then, I had built a reputation in the industry as trustworthy and had a dedicated clientele list. So, I had no second thoughts about setting up my own executive search and consulting venture in December 2009 with just Rs 2 lakh.

As for the company name, we wanted it to reflect knowledge and intelligence, and what better choice than Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom.

The Rs 2 lakh went into taking an office space on lease in the business district in Gurgaon, Haryana. One of the clients I had nurtured as a head hunting professional helped us get our first pay cheque even before I could complete the registration process for my new company.

In fact, I had to wait till the bank account was opened to encash the cheque. Our turnover in March 2010 was Rs 15 lakh.

Within the first three months of starting operations, three of the five members in our team quit to join a bigger brand, which offered a better salary. We realised that if we were to beat the bigger players, we needed to create a niche by offering quality services. This is when we started providing consultancy services to our clients.

We introduced high-end consulting services, including board advisory and search, which were within the reach of both small and large clients. In 2011, a significant placement project for Kiran Karnik, former president of NASSCOM and the first independent director of Attero Recycling, an ewaste recycling company, helped us steal the spotlight.

In 2012, we tied up with BrethertonDay, a leading UK-based executive search and interim management solutions company, to launch our first overseas operations.

In 2012-13, we tied up with IIC Partners, one of the top 10 executive search organisations in the world. Through this partnership, we spread our presence across 34 countries and set up 48 partner offices.

We have been offering a host of different services and are growing at over 100% yearon-year. Our first service category is India Entry, where we provide a variety of services to companies planning to launch their operations in India.

We take a lot of time understanding the goals and objectives of our clients by deploying a dedicated internal team of consultants, and then arranging for relevant resources to provide complete support at every stage.

Our second category of service is Asia Pacific expansion. Here, we partner our clients who are seeking to spread out across countries and business services in the Asia Pacific region. The purpose of expansion could be getting strategic funding, launch of new ventures, acquisition of new businesses or any other reason.

The companies are required to take steps to sustain themselves in today's competitive business environment. We offer advisory services to such companies and help them restructure their business plans through project planning, resource identification and cutting down costs. If required, we also help bring in a quality interim management on board during the turnaround period.

We facilitate decision-making on critical investments through in-depth research. We believe in very lean processes and have taken utmost care to hire competent and efficient professionals to represent us. Our 18-employee company registered a turnover Rs 14 crore, or around $2.3 million, in 2013-14.

We are hoping that our overseas operations will help us achieve our target of $5 million in the next two years. In five years, we hope to breach the $10 million mark, something none of our Indian peers have managed yet.

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