Marco Stefanini, 57, did not start out to be an IT guy. A geologist by training, he said finishing college during a recession is what led him to a different path. “When I got my diploma in 1983, there were simply no jobs, so I started a trainee program to become a systems analyst at a bank” he said. “But I always wanted to have my own business.”
In the late 1980s Stefanini started to offer IT training programs. “It is the old business adage, do what you know best. I liked teaching and it didn’t require any capital to open my own company. All I needed was my expertise.” From there he grew his company into a $3 billion global provider of IT services operating in 40 countries. The acquisition of a U.S. competitor in 2011 was Stefanini’s door into China. “Tech Team was our biggest acquisition and they had a small office in China” Stefanini told AQ.
From just 30 people in that initial office the operation now has 250 employees — all Chinese — and 15 offices across the country supporting global clients that have operations in China, Korea and Japan. Stefanini said they are starting a second phase now, serving Chinese companies that have business abroad. “Our third phase will be to enter the local market, to service Chinese companies operating at home.” Stefanini said they considered an acquisition to speed up growth within the Chinese market but decided it was best to learn more about the culture. “Everything in China is in a different scale, everything is gigantic and hugely fast.”
Speed is the one thing Stefanini said everyone should learn from the Chinese. “They are fast and don’t have any qualms about changing a business model or turning back on a decision.” Stefanini is not standing still either. “We are developing the company to the next level, to offer digital solutions to multiple sectors. We have to keep moving.”
He said change in China happens in front of your eyes. “Just seven years back everything here was paid in cash. Now even a street vendor selling old stuff will have a QR code to accept digital payments. Here you don’t just learn, you get woken up.”