It is 1997. The flight from Heathrow has landed at Oslo’s airport Fornebu, and the cabin door opens. A 25-year-old Indian walks down the aluminium steps and stands on Norwegian soil for the first time. Next morning, young Mr. Vineet Jain will start his new job in Oslo, and he does not know a single word of Norwegian. How will this turn out?
You are without comparison the most international and multicultural of us in Dooropeners, and multilingual to say the least. Do you find language to be a fun subject?
Yes, language is very interesting and important! I grew up in India, where we have 22 official languages and several thousand dialects. Most people speak several regional languages in addition to English, and English is used as a connecting language between different states for ease of communication. I myself speak Hindi and Punjabi. And English, of course. And Norwegian. When I moved from the UK to Norway, I thought I did not need to learn Norwegian because everyone there spoke English. But quite quickly, I understood that speaking Norwegian is extremely important in order to connect, integrate and succeed in that country.
30 kilometres outside of New Delhi lies Gurugram – a city the size of Oslo – where you started your long and comprehensive university education. Why IT?
I was actually born in Delhi but moved to Gurugram (which means “village of gurus”) in early 1980. It has grown a lot in the last 20–30 years and has become the hub for expats and multinational companies due to the proximity to the international airport.
Hmmmmm … yes, why IT? When I was in school, IT was introduced in India and it was a buzz everywhere. Lots of people were studying it, and they were quickly getting well-paid jobs and travelling abroad. I come from a middle-class family, and to be able to travel abroad, get a handsome salary and work in an air-conditioned office sounded like a dream! I therefore decided to move in that direction, and did my Master’s in IT and later on an MBA in Delhi.
The reason I am sitting in Norway is just because I chose to study IT and made a decision that turned out to be a wise one. Now I run a Norwegian IT company with offices in a number of countries and a development centre in Delhi.
How did you earn your first money?
This happened by chance. When I was doing my Bachelor’s, one of my uncles used to work for Siemens in Delhi. During my summer holidays in 1993, he told me not to waste my time and instead work as a trainee at Siemens. I accepted his offer and was there for three months. That’s where I met an IT guy from ISG Technologies who were doing software development for Siemens. I used to sit and learn from him after finishing my own work. He asked me to contact him after I had completed my education. Thanks to him I joined ISG, first in the UK and then in Norway.
After ISG, you worked at Seer, Telenor, EVRY, Accenture, Capgemini, Cognizant and Steria (gasp!). Then all of a sudden you become an entrepreneur after 20 years with crème-de-la-crème jobs?
It is not easy to take risks when you have a family to support. But … I come from a business family. My father was a businessman, and I saw both good and tough days while he was running his own business. Work late, travel a lot. I even worked together with him for a while to support his business. That’s when I decided that I myself will never run a business. Staying away from such things gives you a secure and predictable income, and it is easy to plan your expenses!
What you resist, you become. Ever heard that saying?
Seen it, done that, been there. After working so many years in the industry and having established good connections, my businessman gene started to surface, and I decided to take my chances. It was quite frightening. I had a fantastic job and a good salary as Global Sourcing Director for Nordics at Sopra Steria, and actually left one of the best companies I had ever worked for. However, looking back I feel I made the right decision. The risk paid off, and I have been running Glocal View for more than six years now, and it keeps growing.
Well done, with bells and whistles! What has been your most important decision in your life, except for that one?
In 2010, when I was working for EVRY, they were looking for a country manager to move to Bangalore and manage their Indian operations. I felt this could be a great opportunity, being both an Indian and a Norwegian. I convinced my family to move to Bangalore with me and stay for two years. My wife and children did not see that one coming.
Speaking of family and your private sphere, what is your status?
A completely average Norwegian male, statistically speaking. Married, two children, likes to travel and cook, and participates actively in a team sport. What may not be so typically Norwegian, is that the sport is cricket.
Ball, sticks and unfathomable rules – what’s not to like! Plus, your namesake is one of India’s most famous cricketers.
Exactly! I started a cricket club in Oslo in 2007, and we play in the series of the Norwegian Cricket Federation. The name is Fjord Cricket Club – you can’t get more Norwegian than that.
What do you do as a board member in the Norway India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NICCI)? Or more precisely, what’s the fun in it?
It’s fantastic to meet so many interesting companies and help them in so many ways! NICCI deals with Norwegian companies and individuals interested in doing business in India, and Indian companies and individuals interested in doing the same in Norway. As a board member I have the privilege to help and advise them so that they come in contact with the right partners and get the business rolling. We cooperate with Innovation Norway, Norway’s embassy in India, India’s embassy in Norway, The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) and others.
Have no fear. I am a vegetarian and do not eat meat, fish or seafood. Being from India, where we have a huge variety of food to choose from, I must say my favourite food is Indian. We have a saying there: every 100 kilometres, the language, culture, attire and food changes.
I am lucky enough to have been born and raised with Indian food, but as a grown-up I have been exposed to international cuisine. When I cook, I use this international inspiration to make Indian fusion-dishes.
Ooh, Indian fusion food! Did we hear there’s a free seat at the Jain dinner table for a hungry Dooropeners member?
The more, the merrier. I would also like to mention this: as far as I can see, there’s a basic difference between Norwegians and Indians. We Norwegians eat to live, and we Indians live to eat. By the way, I use “we” on purpose when referring to both Norwegians and Indians. I represent both cultures and spend half of my time in India and the other half in Norway.
How do you personally benefit from being a network builder in Dooropeners?
It is just as fun – if not more – to help others by creating business opportunities for them, as receiving the same help myself! I was one of the initiators of Dooropeners, and several interesting and well-established network builders are now in our group, and they really generate customers and turnover for each other.
Dooropeners has taught me two things: in order to get others to open doors for you, you must get to know them well and build trust. You do that by being accommodating and likeable, but in addition you must really deliver when you are given an opportunity – your product must be reliable, and your service level should be really high above normal. The other thing is that you must give in order to get, and that goes for everybody in the group. When you really help the others by increasing their turnover, you get the same help back. It’s automagical!
See you at our next network lunch, then. Mmm, Indian fusion … (drool)