Bharat Desai is a renowned businessman known globally for his extensive involvement and success in the IT industry. His journey from a Carlyle employee to the chairman of Syntel, a leading IT outsourcing company, is inspirational. Behind the scenes, this self-driven entrepreneur, who paved his path to unprecedented success, is filled with aspects you probably aren’t aware of. Here are the top 10 surprising facts about Bharat Desai:

1. Humble Beginnings

Bharat Desai’s early life was far from being luxurious. He was born in Kenya and later moved to India for his education. Despite being from a middle-class family, his circumstances never came in the way of his ambitions. He always had an unwavering willingness to strive for a better life.

Desai completed his Bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), one of the top institutions in India, which laid a solid foundation for his future business ventures. From a modest background to attaining immeasurable heights in the business world, his journey truly epitomizes the rags to riches tale.

2. Rise to Fame with Syntel

Desai founded Syntel in 1980 along with his wife, Neerja Sethi. Starting its operations from their apartment in Troy, Michigan, the company soon became a major IT service provider with major Fortune 500 clientele. Over time, Syntel has become a global corporation providing IT solutions and consulting on digital transformation, cloud, analytics, and much more.

Under Desai’s leadership, Syntel made revenues of nearly $924 million in 2017. His entrepreneurial acumen and hard work took Syntel from a two-person venture to a multinational corporation employing over 25,000 people worldwide.

3. His Love for Chess

What truly sets Desai apart from his contemporaries is his love for the intellectual game of chess. He is known to be an enthusiastic chess player who attributes his strategic thinking and problem-solving skills to the game.

Desai considers Chess as a reflection of real-life situations where one needs to think ahead and strategize to win. And, he applies these lessons from Chess to manage his businesses and face challenges.

4. An Unconventional Philanthropist

Contrary to his businessman image, Desai is a dedicated philanthropist. He serves as a trustee to the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and was awarded with the ‘Albert Einstein Award’ for his efforts in providing education opportunities to underprivileged children.

Through his Family Foundation, Desai has been actively involved in initiatives to improve healthcare, provide education, and alleviate poverty in India, the USA, and Africa. His philanthropic endeavors are a testament to his belief in giving back to society.

5. Acquisition of Syntel by Atos

In a monumental development, Desai sold Syntel to French IT services major, Atos, in a deal worth $3.4 billion in 2018. This move was considered strategic and marked a new phase in Syntel’s journey. Post the acquisition, Desai continued to be part of Syntel and remained a dominant figure in the IT industry.

The acquisition by Atos has fortified Syntel’s presence in the global IT market and expanded its avenues across verticals. The deal was a significant marker in Desai’s business career.

6. Desai’s Net Worth

Desai’s success as an entrepreneur has elevated him to be one of the richest Indian-origin persons in America. According to Forbes, his net worth was estimated to be $1.6 billion in 2017, making him one of the richest self-made Indian Americans.

Self-made and self-determined, Desai’s wealth is a result of his sheer hard work, determination, and remarkable business skills.

7. Stepped Down as CEO

In 2009, after leading Syntel for nearly three decades, Desai stepped down from the role of CEO. He made way for a new leadership team but continued as the chairman of the company. His decision reflected his belief in fostering new talent and his confidence in the next generation of leaders.

Though he had stepped down as CEO, he remained actively involved in the strategic decision-making processes and continued to contribute to Syntel’s success.

8. Award and Honors

Over the years, Desai has been recognized and honored for his exemplary contributions to the IT industry. In 2012, he received the Indo-American Society’s Corporate Excellence Award. His visionary approach and business ethics have been celebrated and continue to inspire many.

In 2007, he was also awarded the IIT Bombay Distinguished Alumnus Award, further exemplifying his accomplishments and contributions.

9. Personal Life

Desai’s wife, Neerja Sethi, has been an integral part of his journey. They met during their stint at Tata Consulting and together founded Syntel. Over the years, they worked as a team, driving Syntel’s growth and success.

The couple is blessed with two children. Despite their busy schedules and numerous work commitments, they have always prioritized their family, creating a balance between their personal and professional lives.

10. Education Is His Passion

Desai holds a firm belief in the power of education and its potential to change lives. This belief isn’t just reflected in his philanthropic work but also in his personal life as he values lifelong learning.

He has an MBA from the University of Michigan and always emphasizes the role of education in personal and professional growth. It was his educational background that prepared him to overcome the challenges he faced as an entrepreneur.

Useful Links:

1. Syntel Official Site: Syntel Inc.

2. Bharat Desai Forbes Profile: Forbes

3. Desai Family Foundation: Desai Foundation