Kamal Bathla is annoyed. Outsourcing America’s tech jobs doesn’t sit well with him. Sure he’s in favor of spreading the wealth, but not when wealth is as tough to come by in the IT field as it has been these past couple years. A major reason why there are so many IT companies and consultants boils down to the dearth of staff jobs available in the United States.
“I’m not entirely opposed to the idea,” Bathla says. “We need to create global markets. But when [U.S.] unemployment is 10 percent, why not use professionals here? We can’t avoid going global, but we have to help ourselves.”
Bathla is the managing director of Maestro Technologies, an IT and technical staffing firm that he began in New York while working in compliance and regulations at JP Morgan Chase. He earned a bachelor’s in electrical engineering in India and a master’s in computer science from SUNY Buffalo. Despite that his father, a businessman in India, wanted him to become a doctor, Bathla went to work for Lehman Brothers in 1990. He later went to JP Morgan.
Bathla co-founded Maestro in 1993 as an Internet service provider. He developed the infrastructure and his partners ran Maestro while he started working at JP Morgan Chase as an independent IT consultant. Toronto Dominion Bank (now TD Ameritrade) was one of the largest dial-up customers the firm had — 500 traders and employees had dial-up accounts on the Maestro servers.
In 1998 Maestro turned into a consulting and IT solutions company after winning an independent contract from Goldman Sachs. From 1998 to 2007 it was a consulting company with only three or four contracts.
Bathla eventually became a senior vice president at JP Morgan and was part of a round of executives offered a buyout a few years ago. Since taking on the business full-time, Maestro has grown 1200 percent. The firm recently acquired Brahma Infotech (operated by Nikki Kedia) for an undisclosed sum. It operates in Brahma’s former office at 707 Alexander Road and employs 12 on-site, 57 overall, Bathla says.
Maestro and Brahma were connected for years; Kedia was connected to them, as part of a group of partners running the firms. Kedia, 36, says he sold Brahma in the wake of a lawsuit that accused the company of fraud. Kedia, who says he won the suit, has been traveling the world in an effort to recharge his batteries. He also says he is grateful for the suit, as it gave him a perspective on life and business that he otherwise would never have had. Consequently, he says, he has no plans on going back into the IT field. He is developing a new business plan and says he will likely not be out of the business world for long.
“I’m an entrepreneur,” he says. “I can’t sit still for long.” He also says that Bathla “is a good man and I wish him the best.”
Bathla sees his deep roots on Wall Street as a competitive advantage, but acknowledges that most successful IT firms are founded by people with a lot of corporate experience. What he is hoping to do in Princeton is tap into the collection of high-end businesses (including Princeton University) and help them solve their technical issues.
The off-the-bench nature of consulting and IT work, he says, lends itself to such a pursuit. But it also signals for him the way the American employment picture will shape up. Bathla cites an increasingly popular projection of the U.S. labor force that suggests that as much as 40 percent of the workforce will be involved in consulting in the next decade or so. That’s not just IT consulting. Bathla is referring to experts and professionals in several fields who will be brought in on project-to-project bases.
As he sees it, the workforce of the near future will largely operate like a movie shoot. There will be a production company that has a project to make and it will hire as much staff as it needs for as long as it needs. Once the project is done, workers go onto the next project. They might work for a company, but most likely will not be full-time employees.
In Bathla’s field, this is old hat, but it works well, he says. And it has the inherent benefit of reducing mass layoffs, though he says that some fields — like finance — will not be able to take full advantage of the temporary workforce. Most companies — including financial — are heavily technology-based or technology-dependent these days, but finance still requires a lot of training and a lot of hands-on work. Most other companies, particularly those who operate directly in technology, he says, should adjust to the new paradigm fairly well.
#b#Maestro Technologies#/b#, 707 Alexander Road, Suite 204, Princeton 08540; 609-520-9800; fax, 609-520-9801. Kamal Singh Bathla, managing director. www.maestro.com.