Its commencement time across U.S. college campuses, following which, many graduates will be packing up and heading off to their first jobs. One hundred grads will be heading off to Mysore, India, in August to begin four to six months of training at Infosys education center. When their training is done, theyll head back to the United States to assume their duties at Infosys facilities.
Those graduates will be the first Infosys recruitment class culled directly from U.S. campuses, as Infosys launches a push to become less an Indian company and more a global one. In addition to leavening the Infosys work force by bringing in a group of workers with U.S. college backgrounds, the push will give Infosys a U.S. face in dealing with its many U.S. customers.
The move also carries out a strategy that many of the Indian outsourcers have said they would be adopting—hiring local people in the many different countries in which they operate. TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) claims to employ the highest ratio—6.5 percent—of non-Indian workers of any of the major Indian outsourcers. All workers that have direct dealings with customers must head to India for training.
In addition, TCS launched in 2005 an internship program in which it sends U.S. college students to India to get a taste of work at a major Indian IT services provider. TCS said it hired 500 U.S. workers in 2005 and aims to hire 1,500 in 2006. These totals, of course, are dwarfed by the thousands of Indians recruited and hired by each of the big outsourcers every month, but the push to hire non-Indians is a critical step for the big Indian companies as they strive to become global companies.
Mohandas Pai, vice president of human resources for Infosys, in Bangalore, India, said he receives 11,000 applications for these positions for every 100 U.S. workers he hires—an astounding ratio that would seem sure to generate a crop of the best and the brightest.
Bringing in U.S.-college-trained students answers a need that I heard expressed earlier in 2006 in India: that Indian colleges are inadequate to meet the needs of Indian companies. Executives at the top Indian outsourcers complained of out-of-date textbooks; unqualified, underpaid and unmotivated professors; and too much rote learning and not enough creative thinking as symptoms of an Indian system in need of an overhaul.
Presumably, the students recruited from U.S. colleges will not suffer from these impediments, especially when you consider that Infosys is canvassing across all the top schools, including Harvard, Stanford and MIT.
Interestingly, Infosys is not looking for only computer science graduates. The company is seeking graduates with engineering degrees of all kinds. The trend is not unique. In 2005, during a visit to French outsourcer Unilog, the companys leaders told me that they likewise were not seeking out only grads with computer science degrees, but instead, were interested in hiring primarily “cervaux”—brains—regardless of their specific academic discipline.
“Our ambition is that we must hire the brightest people,” said Pai. “Were looking for learnability. We want bright people to come, and we will train them in software engineering,” said Pai, who said a 3.2 or better grade point average is required. “They do need an engineering degree. We expect people to have a logical background. On top of that, we build software engineering capabilities.”
What will they be paid? In India, theyll get a stipend and living expenses. When theyre back in the United States, theyll get $55,000 to $75,000 per year. New hires in India are paid about $5,000 per year, but in India, thats enough for a decent lifestyle.
Indian outsourcing companies are not only globalizing, theyre insisting that training take place at their facilities in India. They have a sense of mission: that its their destiny to rule in the next generation of information technology—to be the Rome of IT. Propagating their corporate cultures by bringing trainees from the provinces to the capital is one way to help bring that about.
Executive Editor Stan Gibson can be reached at [email protected].