Sangram Sahoo, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Peru country manager for almost 18 years and regional VP for over nine, has seen huge changes under his watch, but nothing like the events of the past 12 months.
Sahoo was with TCS when the company blazed a trail into the region, becoming the first India-headquartered IT consultancy to set up in Latin America. Now, 15 years later, the company’s regional presence stretches across eight Latin American countries while it employees approximately 19,000 people.
In Peru itself, Sangram oversees 1,300 workers across three offices, although virtually all of those employees are working from home.
Here, he tells Nearshore Americas about the ways that TCS’ Peru operations have changed and adapted to the new way of working, how the mammoth company works alongside new players from the new economy and how TCS has made the most of the pandemic.
Nearshore Americas: How would you describe the process of operating in Peru and key lessons gained in those years?
Sangram Sahoo: The experience has been very interesting. I’ve been here from the very first moment, when TCS began evaluating the Peruvian market and creating a business plan. We started from zero, operating from a business center, but today we have approximately 1,300 people working across three offices for 20 clients. Our offices are distributed around different industries.
There were two major reasons that we decided to move into Peru. One was the talent. TCS has a global programming competition, called CodeVita, and if you look at the results for the last several years of the competition, there are always Peruvian students who appear in the Top 10 or Top 20 competitors. This demonstrates the quality talent pool Peru offers.
The other reason was to improve the service we can give local customers. These customers are very relevant in the market due to their size and the nature of their work. There are other regional and global companies with significant presence here, and we are better able to serve them when in-country.
In December 2020, we received a Peruvian award for the best company to work for in our field. We were also given an award by Peru’s Ministry of Labor and Employment Promotion. This is important because it highlights that we are not only a global company but one that is recognized at the local level too.
Nearshore Americas: Where does TCS Peru fit within the so-called ‘new economy’?
Sangram Sahoo: Every company today is looking to build ecosystems, irrespective of the industry they are in. This is why they partnership with us. Within TCS itself, this philosophy has been in place for quite some time.
To move towards this idea, we partner with local universities on projects associated with digital ecology, and growth and transport initiatives of our customers, whether that is e-commerce, CX or remote services. These trends are not new either, but they have certainly all been accelerated recently and at the moment all companies are focused on serving customers remotely. We are part of that.
We have the advantage of being a relevant local player here in Peru – 98% of our employees are local people – but can also leverage our larger TSC ecosystem, including centers of excellence and the Co-Innovation Network that includes other universities and start-up ecosystems.
Every company today is looking to build ecosystems, irrespective of the industry they are in. This is why they partnership with us
We work alongside new economy players. However, if you were to ask me today who my top competitors are then I would not be able to give you a definite answer. The answer would depend on the service we are talking about, the sector we’re talking about, or even which customer we are discussing. Because of the large service portfolio TCS offers, we can be facing another major company or a smaller niche outfit.
As TCS, we need to be open to all forms of competition. For that reason, we understand that while we are a larger and growing company, we must maintain the culture of agility and the entrepreneurial spirit. We have demonstrated this before, and our Peru office is a testament to that; we were the first Indian company to enter into Latin America and the Peruvian market.
Nearshore Americas: Peru’s GDP declined 11.1 percent in 2020. How does this economic instability impact the way TCS works in the country?
Sangram Sahoo: Peru was among the worst-affected countries in Latin America last year. This impacted all industries, our customers and consequently ourselves. 2Q20 was the worst quarter for the country and the company. Peru was quick to announce a strict lockdown and it lasted for many months.
We understand that while we are a larger and growing company, we must maintain the culture of agility and the entrepreneurial spirit
But from 3Q20, the economy began to open up again and demand increased. Due to this, TCS has already returned to pre-pandemic levels in terms of financial performance. We closed last year’s financial year with a positive trend and 1Q21 was one of the company’s best quarters for years.
We renewed all of our contracts in Peru – not a single one has been lost or closed. We have also been successful in adding new customers and entering new service lines. We’ve grown in a sustainable way and are looking forward with lots of optimism.
Nearshore Americas: How would you characterise TCS’ adaption to the work from home environment?
Sangram Sahoo: We quickly adapted to the new way of working but have not returned to the office yet.
We’re fortunate to be in the technology industry where most of our employees can work remotely via our Secure Borderless Workspace platform. This guarantees remote working with clients that is compliant with all governance and security measures needed for total transparency.
We renewed all of our contracts in Peru during the last year – not a single one has been lost or closed
Today, more than 97% of our employees work remotely. This is the standard throughout Latin America, though the nature of specific work with specific clients can mean that changes slightly. Sometimes some of our associates are required on-site for the client.
Nearshore Americas: How do questions over stability in the country impact TCS’ future in Peru?
Sangram Sahoo: At the moment, there are two presidential candidates in Peru each presently completely different economic models. One is proposing a model that would continue an open economy with private spending, while the other is promoting the idea of greater government intervention. We are looking at the situation seriously but there is plenty of time before the elections and we do not know what will happen yet.
Past predictions that have said Peru would take extreme measures have proved to be false, at least in recent decades.
Nearshore Americas: Are we at risk of losing out with the demise of the office environment?
Sangram Sahoo: We are still only one year into this situation and are still in the adaption process. However, I feel that TCS is far into that adaption process and we are recruiting and inducting them into the company and providing training virtually. We believe that remote work is effective and have carried out various productivity analyses. We have not so far heard any negative news from our clients related to the final result that we are providing.
The pandemic has brought many opportunities and has changed the experiences we are all having, but we still have new ways of engaging with clients and employees. We are being creative in the virtual journey.