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Neerja Sethi

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Neerja Sethi is an Indian American entrepreneur and co-founder of global tech staffing firm Syntel. Sethi attended the University of Michigan, where she earned her undergraduate degree in mathmatics, an MS in computer science and an MBA in operations research. During her time of attendance, she met her future husband Bharat Desai.

The two started Syntel from their apartment in Troy, Michigan with a mere $2000 investment. Originally entitled Systems International, their company focused on providing software services to their clients. The firm launched in 1980 and made only $30,000 in its first year. Being on the cusp of a newly emerging tech market, Syntel began building infrastructure so it could accommodate the needs of its larger clients, such as General Motors.

In 1992, Syntel opened their first international development centers in Mumbai and Chennai, India. This made them one of the first companies in the United States to make use of globally outsourced services. By 1994, the employee count at Syntel had increased to over a thousand, and revenues climbed past the $50 million mark. Since then, the company has expanded well beyond the automotive industry, now serving companies in financial services, healthcare, retail, logistics and manufacturing.

Adapting to the ever-changing tech climate has allowed Syntel to stay ahead of their competition, and to best serve their clients they've adopted a wide array of business verticals on which to focus--application services, cloud services, and IT infrastructure management just to name a few. Although Sethi served as treasurer for the first sixteen years of the company's life, she has since shifted to the role of vice president of corporate affairs. She also remains a board member alongside her husband.

As of 2014, Syntel employs over 23,000 people and earns annual revenue in excess of $900 million from its portfolio of over one hundred clients.

Companies and Investments

Syntel (Co-founder, Treasurer, Board Member)

Lessons Learned

In today's world, one is not simply faced with competition that excells in one area. Modern business pits you against opponents that excell in every area, and its your job to find where your services fit with clients. I learned quickly that diversifying our offerings and having alternatives prepared for our clients not only made serving their needs easier for us logistically, but also provided greater client satisfaction in the long run. The money we made was reinvested, allowing us to expand and grow our capabilities. If you stagnate, thinking you've found your niche, you'll fall behind quickly. A skilled entrepreneur can identify their clients needs before even their clients have realized them, and have the ideas necessary to facilitate those needs. We've continued to grow not only our team, but also our umbrella of services as new technology has risen.

Inspiring Quotes

Neerja Sethi's Quotes

Influential Books


Bharat Sethi