Dr. Ashok Bakthavathsalam: Architect of Coimbatore’s Tech Renaissance

Dr. Ashok Bakthavathsalam, Managing Trustee – KGiSL Trust, has emerged as the chief architect behind the metamorphosis of Coimbatore, traditionally known as the ‘Manchester of South India,’ into a burgeoning tech hub. Through his visionary leadership and relentless pursuit of innovation, Dr. Bakthavathsalam has not only revolutionized the city’s economic landscape but has also propelled it onto the global stage as a beacon of technological excellence.

A serial entrepreneur with a knack for seizing opportunities, Dr. Bakthavathsalam embarked on his journey in the world of business as a software consultant. Recognizing the immense potential of the Indian market, he laid the foundation of KGiSL in the 1990s, focusing initially on the niche domain of medical transcription. He leveraged his connections with the renowned KG Hospital and in 1996, established KGiSL as the first and fastest-growing medical transcription company in Coimbatore. Under Dr. Bakthavathsalam’s astute leadership, KGiSL went on to pioneer IT and BPO services in the city.

Under his visionary guidance, KGiSL evolved into a trusted software solutions provider catering to a diverse array of industries, including manufacturing, banking, healthcare, insurance, finance & accounting, and logistics. Notably, KGiSL’s flagship product, Dolphin, designed for back-office clearance and settlement operations in capital markets, has garnered widespread acclaim and is utilized by over 60% of the top institutional brokers in India. Its impending integration with the Stock Exchange of Thailand underscores the company’s growing global footprint and impact. To support its expanding footprint, KGiSL now has offices across the world- in the US, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and Thailand. It boasts the distinction of being the first Diamond Partner of UiPath in Asia. It is one of the few to be globally recognized with ISO 27001:2013 for Information Security in Data Centre Management and Operations.

Moreover, Dr. Bakthavathsalam’s strategic foresight led to the establishment of the CHIL Special Economic Zone, now known as KGiSL SEZ, a sprawling 250-acre enclave designed to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the IT sector. This visionary initiative attracted multinational corporations such as Robert Bosch, Dell International, and Cognizant, propelling Coimbatore’s export revenue to unprecedented heights.

However, Dr. Bakthavathsalam’s contributions extend beyond the realm of business. Recognizing the pivotal role of education in nurturing future talent and fostering innovation, he founded the KGiSL Educational Institutions in Saravanampatti. These institutions, including KiTE (KGiSL Institute of Technology), KGCAS (KG College of Arts and Science), and KGiSL-IIM (KGiSL – Institute of Information Management), have become the cornerstone of industry-embedded education in the region, producing a steady stream of skilled professionals adept in cutting-edge technologies. These institutions have now become a top destination for students seeking tech-forward higher education in artificial intelligence, data science, web 3.0, and other top technologies. The latest addition to this dynamic group of educational institutions is the KGiSL MicroCollege– an initiative to further bridge the divide between academia and industry. The MicroCollege helps graduates upskill for careers in cloud computing, DevOps, full stack development, cyber security, and other emerging areas. MicroCollege has established centers across India and recently expanded its footprint to Dubai. This strategic growth ensures a global reach in providing quality education and skills development.

Furthermore, Dr. Bakthavathsalam’s commitment to social welfare is exemplified through his philanthropic endeavors, notably as a trustee of KG Hospital, where he facilitated over 1,00,000 free IOL surgeries for underprivileged individuals, transforming countless lives in the process.

In recognition of his entrepreneurial acumen and philanthropic contributions, Dr. Bakthavathsalam has been honored with a plethora of awards, including the GK Sundaram Etti Award, Dr.Sc. (Honoris Causa) from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, and the Lifetime Achievement Award in Information Technology from Lions Club International, among others.

Looking ahead, Dr. Bakthavathsalam remains steadfast in his commitment to driving Coimbatore’s technological evolution. With KGiSL’s recent announcement of a ₹1,000 crore investment to develop another IT SEZ, coupled with initiatives such as the Future Mobility Technology Center aimed at fostering R&D in SDV (Software-Defined Vehicle) technology, he continues to chart new frontiers of innovation and progress. When the new zone comes alive, it is expected to boost the existing export revenue by 25%.

In the words of Dr. Ashok Bakthavathsalam, “Life is short; craft is long; opportunities are fleeting; experience is treacherous; and judgment is difficult.” Through his visionary leadership and unwavering determination, he has not only reshaped Coimbatore’s economic landscape but has also inspired a generation of entrepreneurs to dream big and strive for excellence.