Interview | Technopark's Army man-turned-CEO says opportunities galore in defence tech

Sanjeev Nair. Photos: Special Arrangement

It has been a little over six months since Sanjeev Nair took charge as the chief executive officer of Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram. The former Army officer came to Kerala’s flagship IT park as an accomplished project and operations management professional with two decades of experience.

An Army man-turned-technocrat, Sanjeev is all confident about Technopark’s prospects as a dynamic business space that caters to the state’s economy as well as the thriving techie population.

In an interview with Onmanorama, Sanjeev speaks about the business status of Technopark, its evolving work culture and scope in the field of defence technology and more.


To begin with, could you please share with us some data about Technopark's business status?
At present, 482 companies function at our three campuses in Thiruvananthapuram and one in Kollam. There are 70,000 direct and 2 lakh indirect employees. Technopark has recorded software exports worth Rs 9,775 crore till December 2022.

Post-pandemic, there has been a shift in the work culture across sectors and especially in IT. What’s the trend in Technopark?
We have seen an uptick in people joining back to the office. The trend is visible because there are a lot of ‘back to campus’ initiatives happening. The general thought process within the companies is that almost all people should join back. Chances of 100 per cent occupancy are high. That’s a healthy trend. At least we are recuperating from what we had seen in the past. Hybrid work culture will possibly continue for some more time.

Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram. Photo: Special Arrangement

The state government and Infopark have initiated what is called the ‘work near home’ project. How do you look at it?
It’s again a blend of home and office work. It’s a good concept. We are all looking forward to it. Meanwhile, we are working on a concept called workation. It’s all about blending business and leisure so that a person can work at a vacation spot also. The project is at its nascent stage. We are discussing it with the tourism department too. We want to do it at our Kollam park also. It’s a beautiful place. We want to increase the USP of that place which is along Ashtamudi Lake.

Once the study is over we will be discussing it with companies. We also expect workers from other parts of the state to make use of such a facility.

Several big companies have reported large-scale staff layoffs. What’s the situation at Technopark
The effects of economic slowdown are felt across the world. Companies in our IT parks are resilient though. We grew even during the Covid time. Technopark has recorded a 15 per cent growth in software exports. I have not heard of any sort of layoffs within our parks.

By the way, India is shining and the Atmanirbharta campaign (self-reliant move) is also catching up.

Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram. Photo: Special Arrangement

You have a rich experience in defence sector. How can Technopark benefit from your experience?

Also, what’s the scope of our startups in the defence sector?

When I came to Technopark, I carried out an outreach session for the Defence India Startup Challenge.

The sector is looking for solutions from startups. There are a lot of issues that startups with the latest technological know-how can address. In Kerala, we already have a few startups working on the defence challenge. I want more startups from Kerala pitching for defence-related national-level challenges.

The market is already there. If a startup makes a prototype and it becomes a success story, there will be orders for them.

Defence challenges are not just related to arms and ammunition. There are many domains within the defence sector. It could be medical-related problems, or administrative.

Kerala is yet to finish the lengthy debates over pubs in IT parks. What’s your take?
Pubs in IT parks are a given thing in Bengaluru or Hyderabad. That’s where the networking and business talks etc happen.

Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram. Photo: Special Arrangement

Be it inside or outside IT parks, people should have avenues to have that kind of engagement. It’s a necessary part of the social fabric. Just an IT park with infrastructure will not do. Good transportation facilities, healthcare and air connectivity are integral parts of the facility. The same is the case with leisure. Work-life balance has to be there.

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