Executive Q&A: Dell's new Oklahoma City site manager is prepared for anything

In his 10 years with Dell, India native Rohit Keshava has worked across the Americas. Last month he was named one of two general managers of the company's 175,000-square-foot business center in Oklahoma City.
BY PAULA BURKES pburkes@opubco.com Published: February 19, 2012
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For me, coming to America was about branching out and experiencing a new country. After earning a degree in industrial engineering in India, I decided to pursue a master's in industrial engineering and business administration at Texas A&M, which awarded me in-state tuition and a stipend for work I did for the university, writing billing and curriculum programs.

Q: So when did you join Dell?

A: Right after graduate school in 2002. I'd interned with Compaq Computers, which was just being acquired by Hewlett-Packard. Funny. On my drive from College Station to Compaq in Houston, there used to be a billboard advertising better jobs 180 miles east. Following graduation, Compaq offered me a full-time job, but I joined Dell at their Austin headquarters as a consultant for their business strategy group.

Q: How'd you end up in Oklahoma?

A: I moved early last year to be close to my wife's family. We've since divorced, but I'm planning on staying. People here are nice and service-minded. Also, most of my team is here. Of the 1,700 employees in the IT outsourcing operations that I direct at 10 locations across North America and South America, 600 are based in Oklahoma City. Panama City and Nashville have the next largest groups, with 350 and 300 employees, respectively. We have 65 customers, including Boeing, the U.S. Army, Mount Sinai and Cedar-Sinai medical centers, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We take care of their IT for them — whether they use Dell computers or not, and many don't — so they can just do what they're good at.

I bring all potential customers here to Oklahoma City to showcase our outsourcing services, and where we've been successful and where we've stubbed our toes. Customers appreciate that kind of honesty.

Q: Is Dell in India?

A: Yes. They came in early 2000. HP led them for a decade. But as of this year, Dell is the No. 1 computer provider in India.

Q: Are you a U.S. citizen?

A: No, I'm a permanent resident. India doesn't allow dual citizenship. So if I were to apply for American citizenship, I'd have to really think it through.

Q: What career would you have chosen, if not this one?

A: I'd probably be a doctor and, in fact, almost was. My pre-med scores were better than my pre-engineering scores. But in the month before college admissions, I had a change of heart. I was concerned I'd go through seven years of training and not be emotionally ready to deal with patients' pain and suffering.

I believe I chose the right path. Dell recently donated a $197,000 computer lab to the Boys & Girls Clubs at NW 36 and Western, and it was tremendous to see the looks on the kids' faces. They could do everything from paint and talk to friends on Facebook to download games and work on homework. In today's world, IT is the true enabler.



Personally Speaking

Position: General manager, Dell Oklahoma City Business Center.

Hometown: Mysore, Karnataka, in India.

Birth date: June 27, 1977.

Education: Texas A&M University, master's in industrial engineering and business administration.

Pastimes: Running (he's training for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon), biking, tennis and attending performances at the Civic Center Music Hall, which is blocks from his loft apartment in Sycamore Square.

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