Syed Ishtiyaq: An Eminent Resilient Leadership

Syed Ishtiyaq
Syed Ishtiyaq | General Manager | Howell Protection Systems (India) New Delhi

In the new normal, business in the traditional sense does not exist anymore. Socio-economic challenges, environmental and sustainability requirements, rapid technological advancements, and post-pandemic market demands ask for agile organisations and resilient leadership.

In the ELV system integration and advanced security industry, Howell Protection Systems [India] Pvt Ltd is an industry leader as an active solution provider that can respond effectively to any challenge.

Under the resilient leadership of Syed Ishtiyaq, the General Manager-India Operations, Howell has emerged as an eminent brand to reckon with. Syed shares, “We are constantly adapting to meet tomorrow’s challenges, increasing scale, reach and expertise to service our clients wherever they are. We provide advanced solutions and services with a national reach.

The credible alliance with leading industry OEMs and service providers is a major step in our strategy to extend Howell’s national reach and complement our portfolio and market expertise.

Together, we progress as a strong combination that drives growth and greatly enhances the services, we provide to you as a client.”

An Ever-Inspiring Leader

After graduating from the University of Kashmir in 2004 with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in electronics & communication, Syed commenced his professional career and began honing his expertise in various industries, before finally landing in Howell as a Head of Business Development which he continued for nine and a half years before acquiring the leadership mantle of GM, India.

Syed Says “Howell’s clients benefit from an experienced group of business technologists and their profound knowledge of both business and engineering. These experts have the experience and know-how to deliver end-to-end blueprints that can consistently stimulate growth and profitability”.

Syed continues, “Our expertise ensures that as a client you receive leadership in services and a passion for technology that drives efficiency and innovation.”

Sustainable Firm of the Future

Today, under his leadership there are multiple companies running, one amongst them is the Howell which is a system integration company that does business in the low voltage sector.

Syed explains, “We are proud that our portfolio includes clients from around the world that are impressive both in numbers and growth.” We do almost all technical services that are there in the building other than HVAC, plumbing and electricals. Also, we do cater almost all industries , like hospitality, education, commercials , retails & fitouts , governments, and law enforcement agencies.

Today, including Syed, most of Howell’s team has over decades of expertise in systems integrations and Hi-Tech technology.

Surmounting the Adversities

When asked what kind of challenges he faced during establishing all of his business, Syed replied, “Challenges are fundamental to growth of the organizations and when you overcome them ; you grow. We have made a strong SOP for change and challenge management. However, there are inherent challenges, for example, technical know of human resources and product limitations.  Howell is not a hardcore manufacturer.

Syed explains, “Sometimes it becomes very tedious to become dependent on the OEM because our hands are tied up, and we cannot go beyond the availability of the market. That means if something is available, we have to design our solution as for that availability only.

Howell, the Holistic Solutions Provider

Syed reflects, “We are one window solution and service providers, we do everything, from the initial stage of designing to implementations ourselves. Our designing, implementation, delivery, installation, and post-sales services, everything is in-house nothing is outsourced except the local wiring and conduiting (that too under our supervision)  

That is why our brand name Howell, which in Cornish means the ‘Eminent one- A leader’ is today associated with trust, service, integrity, engineering excellence, business commitment, reliability and dependability.”

With a proven track record of on-time delivery and a wide spectrum of services in the industry that are seamless, the brand name Howell commands respect and recognition.

Syed elaborates, “It means when we design a solution, we know it from the basics to the end what goes into that.” This way, the customer gets assurance that what Howell is promising or committing will be delivered, guaranteed.

Syed states, “As a committed business, we have a business guarantee which is called the 100% money refund assurance. If our design solutions fail in the implementation, we refund 100% of the amount to the customer within three months. In the last 17 years, there is not even a single site where we had to refund any money. Come what may, whatever challenge we will face, we always ensure that the system is handed over to the customer to his best satisfaction.

Single Point of Customer Relationship Management

According to Syed, what they follow at Howell, no one else follows. Even in big MNCs, when customers face issues or queries, they have been thrown from one department to another, and one person to other, without resolving their conflict. That means, however big the company is, a customer gets drained down into the operation process.

Syed shares, “It’s typically what we call the SPOC. We have three single points of contact. In the sales, there will be a single point of contact for you. Once the sale is closed, it will be handed over to the project execution of the operations. Again, the SPC will be aligned with you. Once that is being completed, you’ll be given a single point of contacting services.”

In three phases Howell has three single points of contact, one for Sales, one for Operations, and one for Post-sales services. So, the customer does not have to hassle across the organization.

The SPOC in respective departments is authorised to make decisions and anything which warrants the attention of other members of department is attended to very swiftly, to ensure services without any interruption.

Exceptional Wisdom

Being an exceptional leader Syed advises budding aspirants to focus not only on product and revenue but on a strong bottom line. He shares “People get excited to see the sales figures but they miss the bottom line in the totality of the project delivery. The simple piece of advice is if you are not making money; don’t do the project.”

Further he adds “If a project is not making money, the organization will have to borrow money at a cost which gets added up in the project and further pulls the project profitability down. Ultimately in absence of any cash generated, organization is not able to support the customer and it becomes a vicious circle and eventually project gets abandoned or not delivered as per agreed benchmarks”

On top of that, the customer will make staggered payments on delivery and installation and will retain some percentage of money as project performance guarantee. If there are thin or no margins the business becomes unviable as you as an organization will have to fulfil project payables to your vendors and employees. This will again attract cost.

Syed says, “This is where I have seen the newcomers doing mistakes. They are very keen on taking low-margin orders where the cash flow is stagnant. It is fundamental for every business that it should be able to generate cash to run itself over a period of time.”

Visionary of the Tomorrow

According to Syed however the future turns out and whatever the case might be, the buildings will be there forever. We can debate that there might be sustainable buildings for sustainable environments and over a period of time product portfolio will change, but the building is going to be there for its life of 30, 40, or 50 years. And as long as buildings are there, Howell will remain in the business.

Syed opines, “We do not have a very large infrastructure in the country. We are very far behind with respect to the west and with respect to the developed countries. Forget countries in the west, take Singapore or Hong Kong, compared to them, we are very far behind.

Till the time we reach that point, I can say it is another 20 years when we will have that kind of buildings in the country. So, the future is very, very promising and very, very bright, and we will be growing at an average rate of around 30%.”

Syed believes that there is a huge potential, even for other companies to enter into this industry. But they have to do it with the promise of designing new products, and new solutions for the buildings, rather than cost-saving or price discounting which will not serve the longer purpose of sustaining the business.

Syed concludes with, “Only a cash-generating company will become a sustainable business. The debt, private equity, or whatever the funds you put in the business should be used to start a new business that will generate cash rather than fixing up your old one for the lost costs.”