Shifting Sands-New Destinations for IT

At a recent discussion held in Pune where CEOs and HR heads discussed 
the emerging wants and needs of the new generation of software and BPO
professionals, Gautam Chainani, HR Chief of WNS came up with a great point-that
loyalty amongst the new generation of IT job entrants can be ensured by
addressing three levels: the various cultures and backgrounds they represent,
the age profile-which is typically very young, and finally, the city specific
loyalty that it is so important to foster, particularly among the mobile
workforce that is migrating everywhere in search of new excitement. Gautam’s
suggestion to our group could well be a prescription for success in many of the
new towns and cities that are vying for attention to capture the attention of
the big real estate buyers of the industry.

The chief minister, whom the press loves to call Buddha, amazed all the CEOs when he said that the two software parks in the Salt Lake area were already full

Speaking of real estate, the state that has made the most rapid progress is
unarguably West Bengal. Returning to the City of Joy (read Kolkata) after a few
years, I was amazed to find that I could not even recognize the new road that
has been built from the airport and the glamorous new hotel, Sonar Bangla, that
was the venue of the industry-academia interaction could have been transplanted
from anywhere in the world-so sylvan are the surroundings and luxurious the
interiors! And the chief minister, whom the press loves to call Buddha, amazed
all the CEOs when he mentioned that the two software parks in the Salt Lake area
were already full and the government was now developing a new 100-acre complex
to cater to the huge demand from Wipro and HSBC and many of the new prospects
from the IT and call center space.

This boast came alive in front of my eyes when I visited the new areas to see
first-hand the developments in the city. I saw the gleaming towers of IBM,
Cognizant, Wipro and many others. Globsyn, founded many years ago by industry
veteran Bikram Dasgupta, is now struggling to cope with the demands upon its
finishing school by the training needs of corporates. Their new Technocampus,
with its scores of bright-eyed youngsters swarming all over the place, is an
emblem-Kolkata has arrived with a bang and Buddha’s vision of capturing 15%
of the IT market share and 20% of the BPO one by the end of the decade may well
happen, given the stability of the Government in the state and the enthusiasm of
its entire political hierarchy as well as its bureaucracy.

In this particular seminar, the clarity of vision and clear articulation of
not just the CM, but also the minister for higher education, Satya Sadhan
Chakraborty, and IT minister Manabendra Mukherjee, would have put many of their
IT-savvy predecessors, the Naidus and Krishnas, in the shade. For the first
time, this seminar also enagaged many of us from the industry in a debate with
the crème-de-la-crème of academia, from IIT Kharagpur, Jadavpur University,
IIM Calcutta, a session where we discovered that the divisions are still very
strong, and that it will need a very serious effort from all of us to get the
academicians and HR chiefs to sing from the same hymn sheet.

And the tragedy is that the pendulum might swing in the other direction, with
the perceived need to create “industry ready” professionals making
many worthy academic institutions glorified versions of the NIITs and Aptechs.

Not only are we creating a large pool of unemployed and unemployable
graduates, we are doing nothing to serve the growing needs of the industry,
which will soon have no option but to rely on poaching rampantly from each other
to service urgent client needs. Will the powers that be in government, the
vice-chancellors of the hundreds of public and private universities, and
industry HR chiefs get together to find a new way to instead create a large body
of trainable manpower with which to build a base for the future?

The author is deputy chairman and managing director of Zensar Technologies
and chairman of Nasscom’s SME Forum for Western India Ganesh

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