Caribbean nations are doubling their efforts to attract foreign investment. One of the keys to achieve this goal is to successfully prepare and upskill the local workforce. However, attracting foreign talent is also a natural next step for any country looking to strengthen and expand its economy.
Anand Biradar’s journey exemplifies what happens when a Caribbean country calls the attention of investors and executives looking to develop knowledge-intensive products and services.
In this role, Biradar has oversight responsibilities over teams in the United States, Jamaica and Colombia, in areas as diverse as operations, workforce training and management, as well as project implementation.
Sagility provides professional services to the US healthcare industry, including conversational engagement services, claim management and payment integrity.
Sagility’s background in Jamaica started in 2012 when the firm was scouting various locations to establish operations.
“We were looking to check all the usual boxes in our market entry process. We wanted the language skills, talent availability and time zone alignment required to serve the US market,” said Birandar.
“On top of that, Jamaica had at the time a higher rate of unemployment, which signaled the need for quality jobs and a favorable curve for growth in the future. As we looked into other locations such as Costa Rica, we quickly realized they weren’t as competitive as we needed them to be,” he added.
Biradar believes that the assistance of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) was a defining factor in the selection process.
“There’s always some red tape, bureaucracy and paperwork everywhere, but JAMPRO played a very important role right before and after we entered the country. They almost handheld us in every step of the way. I used to call JAMPRO 911. If I was in trouble, I’d call JAMPRO. That should tell you how important it was,” Birandar commented.
Data-Driven and People-Centric
Biradar manages around 6,000 people across three different countries. This presents not only logistical issues but also challenges to how he personally approaches this responsibility.
“I think that, in our industry, the decision making process is centered on data. We measure everything, and that means you’re less likely to make a wrong call,” he said.
Even when data is helpful for management decisions, Biradar acknowledges that the biggest asset in the industry is people.
“It’s very important to recognize, reward and invest in people. A significant part of this people-centric approach is to bring purpose to the work and making it worthwhile,” Biradar explained. “As a manager and as a company, we understand that the only way to get is to give, so we focus on giving more to our people,” added Biradar.
Implementing Innovative Technologies
Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking over several industries, prompting more people to pay attention to its development. However, according to Biradar, the use of automation technologies, AI and robotics has been a constant in the industry for the last 15 years.
“We had an AI team 15 years ago. We currently employ over 200 data scientists and analysts; we use generative AI solutions in solving business problems in the healthcare space, and we’ve been doing that for a while to drive better outcomes for our clients. We’ve saved millions and millions of dollars for our clients through leveraging technology,” said Biradar.
Biradar believes that Jamaica is building a good ecosystem while developing the right talent to supply a growing need of AI specialists and related fields. Recent attempts by the Jamaican government as well as private sector players are trying to introduce the skills necessary to guarantee Jamaica’s position in the growing market.
Moving Up the Value Chain
From the initial experiences with JAMPRO, Biradar understood the relevance of proper promotion and guidance for potential investors in a country like Jamaica.
Now, after more than a decade in the island, Biradar leads the Global Services Association of Jamaica (GSAJ), a national organization that unites business and knowledge process outsourcing firms in the country.
Biradar said that he understands the responsibility behind representing the GSAJ, which is the flagship advocacy association for the industry. The business and knowledge process outsourcing industry in Jamaica contributes around 6% of the nation’s GDP. The sector has been a robust solution to the unemployment problem that Jamaica previously experienced.
“We are aware of the magnitude of this responsibility because we know this industry is the right platform to build higher value services,” Birandar said.
“I now live here, and my family lives here, so we have an invested interest in the success of the country. I think there is a lot of talent in Jamaica, and as we move into the next era of five-to-ten years, we will move up the value chain, create higher value work here. There is a lot of talent here. Whatever role I can play in that journey, I’d be happy to,” he concluded.