The pandemic, as we all know, has forever changed several aspects of the IT industry. As there has been a rise in digitisation, the demand for skilled workers is increasing as well. In this regard, Richard Lobo, executive vice president, head HR, Infosys recently spoke to Dataquest about how the company and its employees are dealing with the rapidly evolving IT industry.
DQ: How are you handling the issue of talent transformation?
Richard Lobo: The talent transformation challenge that companies are facing today is adapting to a rapidly evolving world of work. On one hand, a newfound digital fluency enables many people to find and solve incredibly hard problems using software that keeps getting more intelligent. On the other, the pandemic induced changes in terms of remote working, competitive hiring, temporary staffing, digital enablement, etc. have made many traditional methods of managing talent obsolete. We need to actively prepare for the duality of the changing talent needs and customer needs with rapid deployment of new age talent practices.
We have a comprehensive plan at Infosys to transform our talent and retain our edge as a best employer. We focus on a holistic value proposition that includes focus on individual learning, opportunities for financial as well as non-financial rewards, and a deep emotional connect with the company. We have enhanced our talent process over the past two years to reflect the needs of the future. We have enhanced our employee experiences with digital enablement. From creating digital interactions with future hires, virtual reality enabled onboarding and learning experiences, with metaverse based engagement and AI enabled employee services platforms; we are ensuring that employees can enjoy experiences that enhance their productivity as well as their connect to the organization.
As we further adopt agile working enterprise-wide; continuous learning, rapid reskilling and on-demand employee services will be a given in the workplace. The overriding challenge will be our ability to adapt to change – both in terms of our employee value delivery as well as the ability to service client needs.
DQ: What about the issue of skilling and reskilling? How do Deep Tech skills fit into all of this?
Richard Lobo: Hiring for “Digital Skills” continue to be the focus across industries and same is with Infosys. As we see deep technology getting more into everyday applications, we will see a greater need for both technical experts as well as people knowledgeable in behavioral sciences and design. As technologies like, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, and synthetic biology further develop, we can expect a convergence in these skills as people get together diverse teams to innovate on complex problems like climate change technologies, genetic engineering, autonomous transportation, and so on.
There is an urgent need for educational institutions and the industry to be proactive and work together to train talent to become future ready. There is a need to look at re-skilling talent, introduce new courses and broaden existing academic disciplines to ensure that the talent we are grooming today in our universities can meet the needs of this dynamically changing industry. Infosys has maintained a sharp focus on re-skilling employees in order to help bridge skill gaps. While we work closely with educational institutions in curriculum design, courseware delivery methodology etc., spend considerable amounts on fresher training and attempt to address the skill gap at an entry level, the aspect of continuous education and learning has been at the forefront of our re-skilling endeavors for employees. This helps us accelerate project starts, aid rapid deployment of skilled resources and create a strategic talent pool that can augment our delivery capabilities across diverse skills. Learnability has always been one of the dimensions in our selection process for experienced professionals since there are skill linkages which can help deploy talent through skilling interventions.
Reskilling is an integral part of Infosys’ four-pronged strategy and is essential for both our employees and clients, to drive accelerated value creation. We operate our reskilling program with the twin objectives of increasing fulfillment of immediate digital skill requirements for client projects and for raising the expertise of our global workforce in next-generation technologies and methodologies. We allow a fair amount of democratization in terms of matching individual desires with potential learnings. However, we do have the capacity for central interventions in learning if we see large opportunities that come out of business needs.
DQ: How is Infosys driving inclusion through leadership and mentoring programs?
Richard Lobo: For any successful leadership development we need to foster a workplace that is collaborative and inclusive to forge innovation and solve new, more challenging problems. Infosys is committed to continue making diversity, equity, and inclusion part of everything we do—from entry level hiring to leadership development. We recognize that unique individuals, collaborative teams and inclusive leaders are important towards our growth as a company. Over the last few years, we have focused on a two-pronged approach to have a diverse leadership – hiring diverse talent from outside as well as developing internal talent. When it comes to hiring, we now look at a broader talent pool and look at attracting the best candidates to fill some of our leadership roles. At the same time, we have tasked the Infosys Leadership Institute to curate custom-designed programs to build our women leadership pipeline. This includes our flagship constellation leadership program where potential leaders are individually groomed on the path to leadership as well as a larger approach that is based on mentoring and self-development on a continuing basis. We are also looking at building a mentoring culture where we can help bridge differences. This helps our leaders and managers to be more inclusive and also benefits the larger talent pool through experiential learning from leaders.
DQ: What are the new kinds of job opportunities that are coming up?
Richard Lobo: Enterprises are being reshaped by a convergence of user experience, digital native clients and an accelerated trend towards digitization. The future needs people with different skill sets coming together in a collaborative and agile way. This requires new talent and skills that were not in the consideration set of companies earlier. At Infosys, we have started hiring people with diverse backgrounds like liberal arts, experience design, cognitive sciences, etc., in addition to others, as we build a workforce that is ready for tomorrow. By building a new hybrid talent pool, which draws on technical expertise, broad-based liberal arts foundations, business knowledge and learning ability, it allows us to have the intellectual diversity we need to create cutting edge solutions for our clients.
While it is predicted that many current jobs will be replaced by automation, a greater number of jobs will be created due to demand spurred by new technologies. Hence at Infosys, we are focusing on identifying future demands and investing in training and skilling people to be ready for tomorrow. Our training infrastructure, both physical and virtual has been enhanced extensively over the last 2 years and today our employees are well placed to take advantage of this focus.
To be at par with the rapidly moving world, at Infosys we have invested on various holistic frameworks of continuous learning, reskilling and refactoring of our talent. We have invested significantly in skill building for the future. For instance, “Lex”, our internal reskilling platform offers a highly scalable and modular learning experience for employees. Lex can be accessed from mobile / laptops allowing them to reskill on the go. We believe in providing lifelong learning for our employees, and competency development continues to be a key area of strategic focus for us. Apart from the tech enabled learning, the platform provides rich features like ‘Playground’ for learning through hands-on, and anywhere, anytime certifications. The certifications and trainings are made available for jobs related to AI, data analytics, product engineering, cloud computing, etc. as well as jobs that focus on the intersection of the human and technology like interface design, consumer behavior analysis, etc. Yet another initiative, Digital Quotient acts as a guide-on-the-go to ensure digital preparedness for our talent, while Skill Tags allow employees to move beyond learning to establish their skill expertise in new-age / niche technology spaces. Our talent have access to diverse reskilling options to fulfill career ambitions through new-age career constructs designed exclusively to nurture talent and help them drive large-scale digital transformation programs. There are also structured learning interventions through Bridge Programs that help talent move internally to career spaces of their choice.
DQ: Which are some of the key tech skills that will help solve real-world industry problems.
Richard Lobo: To solve the problems of tomorrow, each one of us needs to have a commitment to lifelong learning. As the fourth industrial revolution advances, most of our skills will need to be replaced with new skills. We will need advanced technical skills in each area along with a deep understanding of business, creativity and a problem finding / solving mindset. The areas of focus for the next decade or so will include artificial intelligence, data science & analytics, machine learning, data visualization, network and information security, cloud computing, virtual reality, user interface design, internet of things, blockchain, quantum computing, etc. These are in addition to core programing skills and business knowledge.
Workplace evolution today is centered around creating an organization that can predict and adapt to the demands of a future workforce. The way we look to do this is by bringing users into the design process and integrating their perspectives with advances in technology as well as human thought. The challenge is to create an engaging workplace that amplifies human potential through collaboration, innovation and building on company culture. We have done so by redesigning our training infrastructure and augmenting it to drive the rapid acquisition of new skills, as well as encouraging innovation.