I knew Gary well by now. We were in the spotlight because we were losing so much money and then a few years down the line I wanted to do something else. I remember sitting in the cafeteria with my closest friend Muzzafar 'Muzzi' Mirza, who used to head merchant banking. As we are chatting, Gary walks by, tray in hand and asks, “Muzzi, which passport do you carry?” Muzzi says, “Pakistani”, so he goes, “No, you won’t do at all.” Then he asks me, “Which passport do you have?” I say, ‘Indian”. To which he says, “Okay, you come with me. We are doing a session on doing business in India with Fairfield.” I ask, “What are you talking about?” He goes, “You come. We are going to India next month and you please set it up.” That is how I got appointed as the head of GE Capital India over a two-minute conversation.
Gary’s audacity and boldness was infectious. Thirty minutes into our first meeting with HDFC’s Deepak Parekh, he asked, “Can I buy you?” After setting up office in India, I walked straight into the State Bank of India headquarters and asked the chairman, “Will you do a credit card joint venture with me?” Who was I? One man with a briefcase!
Given the talent available in India, the opportunity to offer back-office services across GE Capital seemed very compelling. Raman Roy had already done something on a small scale at Amex. When we met at the Belvedere in Bombay, he asked me, “What is your plan? How should we build out?” I pushed a blank sheet of paper towards him and said, “This is it, this is my business plan. I don’t have one.” He said, “Well, we will take it on.” At that time, there was no proper telecom connection, we had to figure all that out and Gurgaon did not exist as such. We took over a floor and started experimenting with connectivity, hiring and very basic stuff.