Ma Foi’s K. Pandia Rajan, insists that you should park your brand in the right place, away from your business 

When K. Pandia Rajan and his wife, Hemalatha, founded Ma Foi Management Consultants Ltd. in 1992, little did he sense his company would be instrumental in the landscaping of human resources management. What began as a consultancy to place mid-level management overseas, especially in the Middle-East, soon evolved into a company that helped international giants build their workforces in India. In 2004, Pandia Rajan sold a majority stake in the company to Dutch head hunter, Vedior.

In Pandia Rajan’s own words, he was never conscious of the birth of brand Ma Foi. “Much later, Vedior conducted a brand tracking study across 51 countries and Ma Foi had the highest T.O.M.A (top of mind awareness) score of six per cent. We also had a Net Promoter score of 86 per cent with the next closest score being 20 per cent,” he shares. This was the first time he sensed the power of brand Ma Foi. By Pandia Rajan’s own admission, the focus was to grow the business into a billion dollar enterprise and no conscious effort was made to build its brand. The turning point for Ma Foi came in 2007, when Dutch human resources firm, Randstad, bought over the company through an acquisition of Vedior. While the Dutch firm initially christened its India operations Ma Foi Randstad, in 2012, it changed to Randstad India. This was also the year that Pandia Rajan established Ma Foi Strategic Consultants Pvt. Ltd, a company that provides research and analytics services alongside strategic consulting. Interestingly, the new company made an agreement with Randstad to use the Ma Foi brand name for three years. Post that period, Pandia Rajan plans to buy the brand back, pending legal approvals.

“ Our reinvented brand will carry forth our value systems, for that is what defines us. ”

Brand is everything

Looking back at how things worked out, Pandia Rajan rues not having done one thing, separating the brand as an entity from the business. “While it is difficult to distinguish between the two, business owners must treat the brand like an intellectual property, because the brand can lend credibility to any business vertical that the company chooses to go into,” he stresses.

In his current venture with Ma Foi Strategic Consultants, Pandia Rajan plans on giving his brand the respect it deserves. “One of the most important takeaways for me from the first phase of business was the importance of growing the Ma Foi brand,” he says. And he fully well intends to, as he puts it, ‘park my brand in the right place’, to avoid any legal conflicts or other difficulties.

Ma Foi V2

Describing the second phase of business, Pandia Rajan says Ma Foi Strategic Consultants was born from a process of ‘reimagining, reframing, reshaping and repositioning’. The idea was to break free from the clutches of history, define the brand’s boundaries and think of newer vehicles for it while giving it a sheen of class. “Our reinvented brand will carry forth our value systems, for that is what defines us,” says Pandia Rajan, while adding that brand owners must know what to hold dear and what to let go of. He also adds that 21 years of being in business brings on board the best people to grow your business.

The new company currently has two business verticals, Ma Foi Analytics and Research and Ma Foi Connecting Dots which focuses on managing the supply chain for the manufacturing industry. The idea is to take a mix of products and services in the form of a ‘hub and spoke’ business model and penetrate the industrial clusters in the Tier-II and Tier-III cities and towns, shares Pandia Rajan. In the next year, the company plans on establishing about 48 offices across India and the globe. Speaking of raising funds, Pandia Rajan says, “We have to first achieve a certain scale, once we do, we’ll think of raising additional funds.” As the young company charts out its growth map for both verticals, Pandia Rajan is clear that this time around, the brand will take centre stage.

COMPANY: Ma Foi Strategic Consultants

FOUNDER: K. Pandia Rajan

As he established his second company, Ma Foi Strategic Consultants, K. Pandia Rajan, realised the importance of a brand and why every business owner must first look to build it. Having gone through the process of leasing his brand name from an international company, post acquisition, Pandiarajan is now conscious of treating brand and business as separate entities.

Currently, the new company has two business verticals, Ma Foi Analytics and Research and Ma Foi Connecting Dots which focuses on managing the supply chain of manufacturing industries. A year from now, he plans on setting up about 48 offices across the country and overseas. 

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