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`Global delivery model is here to stay'

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Infosys optimistic about meeting its manpower requirements

MR MOHANDAS PAI
MR MOHANDAS PAI

Anjali Prayag
Vishwanath Kulkarni

`You can get your share of people so long as you are the right brand, you make the right investments and give the right compensation. You can scale up in China but at a particular rate. You can hire 1,000-2,00 people. But 10,000 people? Doubtful.'

Bangalore, June 11

Mr Mohandas Pai, Director, HR, Administration, Research and Education, has taken over the `people's department' at Infoys at a crucial time when the industry is facing the worst supply-demand mismatch in the talent pool available. According to a Nasscom-McKinsey report, the country is expected to face a shortfall of 1.5 lakh people in the IT industry alone.

Business Line

caught up with this `creative accountant' (a term used by the Infosys' Chairman and Chief Mentor, Mr Murthy, to describe Mr Pai), for his take on people matters.

You have plans of hiring about 25,000 people this year. This is no mean task considering the talent demand-supply mismatch the country is facing. How do you propose to reach this figure?

About 6,000 people will come from campus recruitment, Progeon will take 5,000 and laterals will constitute about 5,000 people. We have to look for 9,000 people from the marketplace. It is a stretched, but feasible target, because we have the brand, we have the execution capability and we started early. But I'm more concerned about what happens to the marketplace if all the top five IT companies take away about 100,000 people. Next year, if the recruitment goes up by 25-30 per cent, then there's going to be a severe resource crunch.

But the hit ratio for IT hiring in the country is around 8:100. Does this mean you are compromising on the quality of engineers you are getting?

No, we are not. This ratio is for the number of applicants, but not for the eligible population. People apply for the sake of applying, but they may not form part of the eligible population, which comprises engineers who have minimum 65 per cent pass in the examination. Yes, the education system is not giving us engineers who are ready for work. We still have to train them for 16 weeks. In Campus Connect, we have tied up with 250 engineering colleges across the country to train their faculty in the latest technology trends. We are spending close to $4 million this year.

Are you discussing the issue with the Government?

Mr Narayana Murthy is talking to the Prime Minister. Mr Nandan Nilekani is part of the National Knowledge Commission. We are taking it up with the AICTE. But the response has been inadequate. We need some quick response.

Headhunters say that a big brand is no longer a pulling power for candidates. There are employees who look for mid-sized companies with challenging assignments.

Yes, people have more choice today. The competition for talent is getting stiffer, which means company brand equity is important. Ask any young person if he/she would like to work in Infosys and they will say yes. Companies that pick 50 people and 5,000 people are surely different.

You have initiated the process of having a diverse and global workforce. Is it easy to achieve this?

You must have a workforce that reflects the kind of company you are. We have been recruiting people from America and Europe. Earlier very high quality people from abroad did not join us. Now, it has changed and this year we are getting about 300 people. The first batch of 100 people is joining us in July. Of course, we pay comparable wages in all countries that we operate in. Currently our `foreign' employees form three per cent of the employee pool, but we want to increase it on incremental basis.

Infosys is said to have put in some excellent systems and processes. But this was when the company had about 20,000-25,000 people. Are these processes capable of taking in 75,000 employees, which is your target this year?

Our process capacity is planned to handle at least twice of what we are doing right now. Our training facility is about 40,000 a year. We are doubling our training capacity in the next year. We have 180 computer science faculties as our full-time staff at our training centres. Utilisation of the Mysore training centre is about 120 per cent.

What are the constraints in hiring good talent here?

We are a $ 800-billion economy servicing the needs of a $45-trillion global economy and not as sophisticated as the economies where we work. Business is becoming more complex. We need people with more expertise and domain knowledge, both technical and business. The mix is becoming richer, but the challenge we face in this country is that we don't have people with business domain expertise of handling large complex organisations or technologies. Since we are getting a large majority of people from India for the offshore model, we are naturally constrained and so all the mid-level people with experience we hired are from outside.

But global majors too are announcing huge hiring numbers...

The top five offshore players together will hire 100,000 people and global MNCs may hire 25,000 people. So it's okay. The global delivery model is here to stay and MNCs coming here will expand the marketplace. You can get your share of people so long as you are the right brand, you make the right investments and give the right compensation.

For Infosys, do you see any other country giving this kind of numbers?

No, China is the only comparable country but that country is growing at 9-10 per cent and requires an enormous number of people from its colleges to scale up. You can scale up in China but at a particular rate. You can hire 1,000-2,00 people. But 10,000 people? Doubtful.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 12, 2006)
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