Ninad Karpe, MD & CEO, Aptech Ltd, was earlier Managing Director, CA (formerly known as Computer Associates) for India & SAARC. He had been associated with CA India since the company’s inception in the country. He held numerous management responsibilities in CA India that include setting up offices in India, managing marketing, PR, technical services, HR, operations and finance. In his capacity as Managing Director of the Indian operations of the world’s fourth largest software company, Ninad’s responsibilities included driving the adoption of CA’s technology and broadening and strengthening strategic partnerships in India. Earlier, Karpe was Executive Director of CA India. In the past, he was a consulting specialist for companies seeking to invest in India. He has also authored several books on strategy, taxation and foreign investment in India and contributes regularly to newspapers, magazines and journals.
Aptech Limited is a global retail & corporate training solutions provider headquartered in Mumbai, India, with a presence across 5 continents. The company commenced its IT training business in 1986. Over the years, Aptech Limited has trained over 5 million students. In 1993, Aptech became the first IT training organization in Asia to receive the ISO 9001 quality certification for ‘Education Support Services’. Aptech prepares students for global careers in IT, multimedia & animation, hardware & networking, aviation, hospitality and travel & tourism. Corporate solutions include corporate training, assessment solutions for corporates & universities/ academic institutions and custom content development for overseas & domestic customers.
Ninad Kapre replies to Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL and says, “Every testing requirement is an opportunity. However, reach, infrastructure, connectivity and computer literacy can be some challenges.”
Give us a brief overview of the online testing market. What is the future of online testing market in India and abroad?
Online testing is economical as long as there is volume and economy of scale. The online testing market in India is approx Rs. 350 crore and is increasing. Most of the testing requirements are getting converted to online mode at fast pace - thanks to the push by government. In the overseas markets, it is already established in developed countries and the awareness and demand is getting generated in emerging markets.
What are the opportunities and challenges being in this business?
Every testing requirement is an opportunity. However, reach, infrastructure, connectivity and computer literacy can be some challenges.
Are our schools increasingly going the online testing way?
They intend to, but still migration is very slow.
How secure is this system?
Are you seeing increased outsourcing of online testing? How are you placed to ride the same?
We are extremely optimistic on outsourcing. There are enough opportunities in the market and we are well prepared to address them.
Tell us about your main businesses and what is the outlook for the same?
Our primary business, other than Assessment & Testing, is in Career Education with six brands addressing the skill requirements in the IT, Animation & Multimedia, Aviation and Hospitality domain. While Animation & Multimedia is expected to grow in double digits (12 – 20%), the IT segment has reached a plateau and will grow in high single digits at best. Other segments are still small, but are expected to contribute to the overall growth.
International business used to contribute about 30% to your revenues. How do you see this panning out?
Contribution from our International business to the overall Individual Learning pie (excluding revenues of MAAC brand) has steadily gone up from ~27% in CY2007 to ~45% in FY2012. We have set an internal target to achieve the 50% mark by FY2014. We are confident of achieving this goal before time. We exclude MAAC while comparing the contribution from International business because of two reasons, viz. MAAC is an acquired brand (in Apr 2010) and accounting policy for MAAC is different as compared to other brands.
What is the domestic: international mix in your business?
Based on the revenue contribution, domestic : international mix is as follows:
Tell us about your expansion plans. How are they being funded?
We are aggressively looking to expand the franchise network for our existing Individual Learning brands in the domestic and international markets. We hope to sign-up 125 new centers in FY2013 across the globe. We will also be investing, in the normal way, in new content for our existing brands. For the Enterprise Business, we will be focusing on investments in upgrading our technology infrastructure to augment our capacity to deliver ‘high-stake’ examinations. In addition to this, we have recently made forays in mEducation (with Hungama) and Retail Training (with TRRAIN Foundation), which we are looking to grow. All these initiatives will be funded from internal accruals and existing cash (~Rs. 100 crore) on the balance sheet.
What is the outlook on margins?
We expect to improve our margins on account of operating leverage in-built into our business model. Margins will also get a push from our initiatives to get our newer businesses to break-even.
You were penning a book on strategy and learning from F1. What is the progress?
The book is on course.