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Rediff.com  » Business » To retain talent, IT firms start rewarding best techies

To retain talent, IT firms start rewarding best techies

August 19, 2014 11:17 IST

To retain talent, IT firms start rewarding best techies

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Bibhu Ranjan Mishra and Itika Sharma Punit

On a bright morning recently, the 40-acre Intel India campus in the hi-tech corridor of Outer Ring Road here set the temperature soaring with ‘Oscar like’ felicitation of its own superstars.  

The occasion was the company’s innovation jamboree, Intel India Innovation Day.

It included a specially-designed felicitation ceremony for its newly appointed five principal engineers and two senior principal engineers, with their families.

These celebrated techies, along with kin, walked the red carpet. Each looked elated, amid an exhilarating ambience of arc lights, upbeat music in the background and thunderous applause from 1,000-odd employees in the audience.

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Image: Intel's Bangalore office building.
Photographs: Courtesy, Intel India

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The importance that Intel India gives to people with deep technical expertise could be gauged from the fact that it hired the most number of senior principal engineers and principal engineers this year — these roles are earned with a consistent history of successful ideation and execution of technical works.

So far, Intel India has four senior principal engineers and 18 principal engineers, who are part of its 4,500-strong research & development workforce in the country.  

Intel India is one example of the huge transition being witnessed in the Indian information technology (IT) sector, where technical talent is increasingly being recognised much more than ever before.

Many leading IT companies are now bestowing a lot of focus and visibility on their senior technologists’ roles, becoming highly aspirational among techies.  

“Intel India has a deep focus on not just developing leaders but leaders with world-class technical expertise and strong understanding of the industry.

They are respected and their contributions are immensely valued by the organisation,” said President Kumud Srinivasan.

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Image: So far, Intel India has four senior principal engineers and 18 principal engineers, who are part of its 4,500-strong research & development workforce in the country.
Photographs: Reuters
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Earlier this month, India’s second-largest IT services company, Infosys, announced 5,000 promotions, mainly to curtail steep employee attrition.

According to sources in the know, most of these out-of-turn promotions were given to technical talent.  

Bangalore-based IT major Wipro is another example of how companies are moving towards recognising technology talent more than before.

The company earns its bread and butter by coding software solutions for global clients. It has created a technical position considered equivalent to that of the chief executive officer (CEO).

The rank and benefits are on par with the CEO’s, sans the external facing role.  

 “About six months ago, we created what we called a distinguished member of technical staff. We said irrespective of what happens, if you fit certain criteria, you can have a job that is like my job, in the technical side.

You might not be an external-facing CEO — probably you don’t want to be — but your rank and privileges will be equal to mine,” Wipro CEO T K Kurien, told Business Standard.

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Image: India's second-largest IT services company, Infosys, announced 5,000 promotions, mainly to curtail steep employee attrition.
Photographs: Courtesy, Wikimedia Commons

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At the same time, Wipro has created a chain of some highly accomplished technical experts who are specialists in certain technologies, speak publicly on the subject and have filed patents, irrespective of their age.

This year alone, Wipro has identified around six of them who would directly report to the CEOs in certain areas. 

“We are creating an entire career of people who are technically very competent, irrespective of age. So, you won’t have to be 50-plus.

You can be 20 years of age but if you are technically good, that’s where you can land up. It’s a completely different career path,” added Kurien.  

For a sector known to extravagantly reward its sales teams, which are the revenue-centre and, thus, the ‘stars’ at companies, experts believe this is a tectonic shift.  

“As markets mature and consolidate, this phenomenon (of attaching importance to technology teams) is bound to happen because the initial euphoria is replaced with quality, speed and prediction, for which people with strong technological understanding would be needed,” says Elango R, chief human resources officer at mid-sized IT services company Mphasis.

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Image: Wipro has created a chain of some highly accomplished technical experts.
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters

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Specialists are in high demand as they can help win deals in a mature market and provide the value that clients see. So, specialists will be “disproportionately rewarded and disproportionately recognised”, says Elango.  

The recent appointment of highly-accomplished technocrat and thought leader Vishal Sikka as CEO of Infosys is a testimony to maturing of Indian IT services and the direction it is headed, experts believe.  

Kunal Sen, senior vice-president at TeamLease Services and an observer of human resource trends in Indian IT services, also believes that professionals with technical background are increasingly becoming important in companies for several reasons.

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Image: Infosys extends a warm welcome to the students of PSG College of Technology at Infosys, Bangalore.
Photographs: Courtesy, Infosys/Facebook

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Traditionally, techies were used for pre-sales more than sales/account management roles, since many did not enjoy the rigours of field selling and were lower on softer skills like presentation, negotiation, etc, required to techno-commercially convince CXOs (brass) of large accounts and close orders within timelines.

The situation has now changed, with a lot of face-to-face meetings getting replaced by remote meetings and techies working on their softer skills,” he said.  

The geeks, it would seem, are readying to rule again.  

TECH-TONIC SHIFT

•More software/IT engineers are now seen taking up technical career path than managerial roles

•Employers are making sure technical roles enjoy more respect and recognition

•Companies are creating technical roles that are almost equivalent to the CEO’s

•People having strong technical domain expertise are getting faster promotions, better increments

•Age is no barrier for highly competent tech professionals for senior positions

 


Image: Employees of ISGN work at their stations inside the company headquarters in Bangalore June 11, 2014.
Photographs: Reuters
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