Kamal Karmakar has many years of experience counselling executives and companies to achieve better strategy and bottom-line improvements.
What’s your story?
I’m the founder and promoter of CitiXsys. I have been responsible for the company’s evolution to be a specialist provider of software products for the retail segment. Headquartered in New York City, we operate from 22 global offices. CitiXsys has grown to become the market leader in the retail technology domain and known as an innovator in the retail sector. Also, we have been fortunate to achieve several prestigious awards in the tech industry from SAP, Microsoft and most recently Sage.
Beyond CitiXsys, I have considerable experience at counseling executives at high growth companies on strategy formulation, business model transformation, and implementation of a balanced scorecard for their organisations. I’ve worked with many companies in a counseling capacity and have a track record of helping management teams achieve better strategy & bottom-line improvements. A graduate of Harvard Business School, I’m also on the board of various companies globally including being a member of SAP Advisory Council for Business One in Germany.
What excites you most about your industry?
Consumer behaviour excites me the most in this industry. Changing one’s behaviour is a pretty difficult task. Technology has changed how we run our day to day life. 20 years back, people would read a newspaper in the morning but now the news consumption is on a device, almost instantly. Retailing has also changed. I like to study this changing trend and predict how will a person behave in future with the changing digital world. The entire world is moving toward a digital economy, and for retail, it is most interesting to think of how technology can evolve consumerism to be frictionless and even anticipate customer needs. Today all around the world, we can browse and buy online, pay with a tap of our mobile phone, order in advance for next day delivery, seamlessly process returns or even automate purchases. For consumers this is the epitome of convenience and ease – taking a chore and making it painless or enhancing the experience to be more enjoyable; for retailers themselves, it’s all about the next iteration of service and better serving the customer to remain relevant.
What’s your connection to Asia?
Firstly, I am Asian. I grew up travelling all around Asia. Culturally, I am home in Asia, whether its Singapore, Hong Kong or New Delhi (or any of the exciting cities in between). Secondly, Asia, today is the Americas of the mid-1900s. The region is growing at an unprecedented rate. I am not talking about GDP growth, the growth is on innovation. Thousands of start-ups are innovating in the region today which did not happen earlier.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore. The ease of doing business is amazing. The government is so focused on making private companies viable. I advise many start-ups and angel funds. It amazes me to see the assistance provided by the government. If you have a good idea, you will possibly make it a viable business in Singapore. Saying so, I do see that many other South East Asia countries are walking the same path now. Unless the state helps innovators, the growth of innovation remains unsustainable.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Never give up.
Who inspires you?
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Still waiting to be blown away.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. No matter what, keep walking.
How do you unwind?
I often visit resorts with friends and family to relax, just relax.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand. It’s a gorgeous country with a culture imbibed with hospitality.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader. While there are many books on Jobs, this tells a different story of a real human being who wrestled with his failings and learned to maximize his strengths over time.
Shameless plug for your business:
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This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.