Completing five years as the Chief Human Resource Officer at one of the country’s largest IT firms, Tata Consultancy Services, Milind Lakkad has navigated major paradigm shifts in the tech world that have come in the recent years. In a sit-down interview with businessline, Lakkad discusses what these changes and new technologies such as AI could mean for the new crop of techies.


In 2024, you complete five years in this role. Over this period, you have seen many paradigm shifts, what was your experience of navigating these shifts in the tech sector as an HR leader?

In the past five years, we saw the pandemic followed by the great resignation era. So yes, it has been a challenge. Personally, every challenge, if you look at it positively, it’s a good thing. You learn a lot in the process and eventually you contribute in whatever way you can. 


Every other day, we see news around layoffs in the tech industry and fresh graduates in general are struggling to find a job. What advice do you have for the young techies?

So, the first thing is to not lose hope. It is important to use this time to learn. Leverage that learning into what will eventually become a market-level skill for you. After having spent 37 years now in this job, I still believe there is a lot more for me to learn. Because there is always something new coming in, and there are new skills to acquire. 


You have mentioned that the existing trend for net additions is something which is likely to continue in the upcoming quarters. Does this mean that you are looking at a leaner and efficient working model for the future?

No. What we did in the past was something extraordinary in terms of hiring, by hiring in droves. Those investments are getting leveraged now. The kind of bench you would need for a business like ours, we’ll always have that bench. Our utilisation numbers will always be at a certain level where we have a certain number of people on the bench. It will always be people who are coming in, getting trained, and then eventually getting productive.


What about gig workers, will the scope of hiring them reduce in the future?

We have to also look at them (gig workers) now in the context of AI. If some work can be done by somebody else without the context, can it also be done by the co-pilot, is a question which you have to ask. Opportunities for gig workers could be re-evaluated.


As technologies keep on evolving, especially with AI, do you think the definition of an average techie is changing?

It will change over the years. It has changed from what it was 10 years ago to now also in the context of new technologies like AI. You basically need to have full stack skills. You cannot say that I am a developer, I am a tester. You just have to have full stack expertise. With AI coming in, it will also be another change that will happen. The complete software development life cycle can be reimagined in the context of AI which you have to be equipped to understand. Gen AI, it will only change the nature of work. It will change the role of a developer to some extent. But that does not mean that there will be a volume issue. There will be a lot more… different kinds of new roles will also come in, in the process.