Virtusa Corporation — a $1.2 billion US headquartered IT services company with a large employee base in India — is on a hiring spree. It added nearly 6,000 employees in the last one year, and plans to add a similar number next year as business looks up in sectors like healthcare, life sciences, hi-tech and BFSI.

“We crossed a total employee headcount of 30,000 in the second quarter,” said Sundararajan Narayanan, Chief People Officer & Executive Vice President, Virtusa, which was founded in 1996 in Sri Lanka by Kris Canekeratne.

Employee count in India has been growing exponentially — from 14,500 to 21,000 — in the last 18 months in locations like Hyderabad, Chennai, Gurgaon, Bengaluru and Pune, he told BusinessLine . In the US, there are around 4,000 employees, in Sri Lanka about 2,500, and the balance in the rest of the world, he added.

Four-pillar recruitment strategy

Virtusa is focussing on scaling up its recruitment from college campuses. While other companies follow the ‘bus’ type where they go in a bus and pick up lots of students, Virtusa does it differently through a four-pillar strategy, Narayanan said.

The first is by setting up Centres of Excellence (CoE) inside the college campus to help students gain knowledge in areas of demands like business process management, data security management and machine learning.

“We have set up 52 CoEs across India from just 4 in the last seven years. We train both students and professors in specialised areas. Those hired are given a 100 per cent internship in Virtusa during their college times. They also get jobs in other companies. We want to expand to 70 CoEs by next year,” he said. Some colleges in Chennai where the CoEs are located include VIT, SRM, SSN and Sathyabama, he added.

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Three years ago, 1,000 were hired through campus recruitment which was increased to 1,500 last fiscal, 2,500 this fiscal, and will be 4,000 by next year, Narayanan said.

The second pillar of hiring is through hackathons, the third is integrated masters programme and fourth is lateral. Nearly 70 per cent of hiring is lateral and Virtusa wants to reduce this to around 65 per cent and increase campus hiring to 35 per cent, he said.

Virtusa is witnessing an attrition rate of high ‘teens’ (last twelve months level), equal to other companies, he added.

Baring in control

In the last five years, there have been significant changes at Virtusa which, in 2015, acquired 53 per cent of Chennai-based Polaris Consulting and Services. In November 2020, Baring Private Equity Asia (BPEA) acquired all outstanding shares of common stock of Virtusa in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $2 billion. In February, BPEA successfully completed the acquisition and privatisation of Virtusa.

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Narayanan said that there have been significant leadership changes since May this year with Cognizant veteran Santosh Thomas appointed as CEO to succeed Canekeratne. On October 25, Virtusa appointed company veteran Samir Dhir as CEO - Global Markets and Industries, Amit Bajoria (ex-Wipro) as Chief Financial Officer, and Ram Meenakshisundaram (ex-Cognizant) as Chief Technology Officer, he said.