Discovering talent is one thing, but developing it internally has its own benefits for retention. This strategy is precisely how Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has been able to grow quickly in Latin America for the last decade.
Rajeev Gupta, has been Head of Nearshore/Latam Operations at TCS since 2007, when he set up the company’s first nearshore delivery center in Guadalajara, Mexico. Today, TCS has operations in eight countries across the Latin American region, with approximately 15,000 consultants in total.
In this exclusive interview, Gupta reveals the talent-building strategies that one of the world’s largest IT firms has found success with in one of its fastest-growing markets.
Nearshore Americas: What are TCS’s strategies for finding and developing talent for next-gen technologies in Latin America?
Rajeev Gupta: As a company, while we do recruit certain subject matter experts from the local market, we believe that creating the right talent is one of the most important strategies for the future.
Due to the speed at which TCS is growing globally and regionally, we can only fulfill the demand for talent if we have our own learning and development engine to create it. That involves approaching some of the top universities in the region, recruiting the best graduating engineers, and passing hires through extensive learning and development programs. These initiatives are designed to develop things like soft skills, quality management, security, digital, agile methodologies along with domain and business knowledge – it’s a fully-fledged process within the company that helps us to create talent for whichever domain we need it for.
Last year in Mexico we recruited close to 500 fresh engineering graduates from almost 30 universities across the country. We also have internal multiple technology academies that groom junior recruits and even our experienced associates on the technologies and domain expertise that we need. By investing so much into this over time, we are now reaping the benefits of having talent in line with requirements that both TCS and its client have.
Nearshore Americas: Across the region, do you find it harder to develop that talent in some locations over others?
Rajeev Gupta: As of now, we don’t see any issues with any specific countries in terms of finding and retaining talent. There are strategies for each location that determine the types of domains we want to service. For example, in Mexico and Uruguay we focus more on nearshore operations and clients, which means that, apart from the technology skills required, English-speaking skills are also high on the agenda due to the focus on U.S. and European clients.
Other countries have strong domain skills in other fields, for example, Chile and Brazil have strong banking experience. Ultimately, each country has unique strengths that lend themselves to unique strategies, and we take advantage of those.
Nearshore Americas: Speaking of the availability of English skills, how have you seen this develop in the region over the years, and what is TCS doing to accelerate it?
Rajeev Gupta: One of our initiatives is to polish the English skills of our employees to expedite the learning experience. This includes things like certifications, classroom training sessions, and English-speaking groups. We also work closely with universities and the government on a country level to develop local English skills. Aligned with this is our goIT program, which involves bringing students from junior, middle, and high schools into our facilities in order to view the working culture within an IT company. In this way, we can show the importance of learning skills in both technology and English. This creates an interest within the student community at an early age.
In the last decade, we’ve found that the number of English-speaking graduates coming from public universities in the region has become more and more competitive. Nowadays, students coming from the biggest and best state universities have extremely good levels of English. Even at the kindergarten level, we’re seeing more and more parents sending their kids to schools that have educational activities in English, so these initiatives and alliances are all strengthening the capabilities in the region.
If there are people who are interacting with US clients over voice, multiple times a day, then spoken English becomes extremely important, along with the technology. Some US clients, however, do not require such huge amounts of voice-based, day-to-day interaction, so technology skills are more important in those cases.
Nearshore Americas: Besides English, what other skills are you trying to develop in the region?
Rajeev Gupta: Right now, everything is digital, so there’s a lot of focus on cloud, automation, analytics, internet of things (IoT), cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, Big Data and similar technologies as we increase the digital cushion of the company. Just in the last 12 months, more than 200,000 people in TCS have been trained in these particular technologies, and more than 1 million certifications have been received by them as a part of that.
We need to be ready with the digital talent that our clients will need in the near future. Training people in the new technologies is one part of that, and the other is giving people the opportunities to work on those technologies in the real world. Fortunately, our digital business has been growing fast, at an annual rate of 29% in FY17, with about 18% of our entire company’s revenues now coming from digital. This is where we see more opportunities to deploy trained talent into these areas on real-life projects for clients.
Furthermore, as industries grow and evolve, we still believe there is a huge opportunity to grow in every single country we operate in in Latin America.
Rajeev Gupta will be joining other notable speakers next week at Nexus 2017, where he will be participating in the panel “Preparing for Automation Inside and Outside the Enterprise”. For more information about Nexus and to register, click here.