Article: Managing diversity is a key challenge, says TCS MD N. Chandrasekaran


Managing diversity is a key challenge, says TCS MD N. Chandrasekaran

A strong focus on customer centricity as well as rigour in sales processes has helped TCS add clients even in tough environment. Mr N Chandrasekaran, CEO and MD-TCS, had an exclusive converstion with People Matters on building the organisation of the future and managing growth

Our employees are our competitive advantage. Hence we need to consistently attract bright young people and integrate them into TCS


In my interactions with employees, I have seen that they understand that the world is changing and our behaviour has to also change to remain relevant


A strong focus on customer centricity as well as rigour in sales processes has helped TCS add clients even in a tough environment. Mr N Chandrasekaran, CEO and MD - TCS, had an exclusive conversation with People Matters on building the organization of the future and managing growth. Following are the excerpts

In your opinion, have the Indian corpo-rate advantaged from the slowdown in the year gone by to emerge as a stron-ger player in the global market?

There are plenty of opportunities that arise of out of every challenging situation. What is important is how you position yourself in a volatile environment, the value proposition you offer to customers and how agile you are to seize opportunities as they arise.

If you look at the last two years, we have used several levers internally to sustain our growth in an unpredictable environment. We focused on operational efficiencies and driving a rigorous cost management programme. On the other hand, a strong focus on customer centricity as well as rigour in our sales processes has helped us to add clients even in a tough environment.

Our robust business model, full-services play; global delivery capabilities, and the resulting value proposition are playing an important role in enabling growth and enhancing competitiveness of our clients. We have clearly demonstrated our single-minded focus on our customers.

The performance in the July-September quarter has validated our strategy and we have achieved a revenue growth of about 3.2%, backed by volume growth of 5% and international revenue growth of 5.3%. The deal wins have been very healthy. We closed 10 large deals during the quarter and added 30 new clients.

Do you believe we can now consider market expansion as well as internal skills development and growth in the wake of economic recovery?

We have a great global footprint with offices in 42 countries and a global network delivery model across five continents. We have also made significant investments in new markets of Asia like India, as well as Latin America, and these are yielding results as they scale. What is now important is to build scale in markets like Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, China, Europe and capitalize on the investments we are making in these markets.

From a people perspective, we continue to invest in the future by building people-competency as we look and explore new opportunities. This is strategic to our business even in the most challenging macro environment. For example in FY09, over 1.6 million learning days have been invested in developing additional competencies. High potential individuals have been identified and are being trained for future leadership roles.

How did TCS change plans that were tailored to an optimistic world view in early 2008, to a doomsday scenario by the end of 2008 and the way we see the world day, from an HR perspective?

TCS has grown multi-fold in the last five years. Since a significant proportion of our workforce is very young and had never seen a slowdown, the leadership HR teams were required to play a key role in talent management during this challenging time.

The first challenge was to keep employees motivated and also raise the performance bar. We needed to build a more dynamic employee environment to leverage emerging opportunities across verticals and markets. We also needed effective engagement initiatives to managing employee concerns. As a result of these actions, we created a more responsive Team TCS and HR has played a key role to make this change!

On the talent acquisition front, we switched to a more real-time model as the market conditions deteriorated. While we remained committed to meeting all job offers made on campus, we controlled our lateral hiring and joining pattern to maintain utilization rates.

In my interactions with employees, I have seen that they understand the world is changing and our behaviour has to change as well to remain relevant in the global business arena.

TCS has successfully put in place a robust Talent Management process to identify talent, mentor and create an effective succession planning. What are the key challenges TCS faces in the area of Talent Management?

TCS is a 140,000 strong organization with a diverse workforce which best represents the global character of the company. Over 8% of our workforce comprises people of originating from 75 nationalities. Managing diversity is a key challenge. We have adopted several diversity management initiatives in the last few years. Foreign languages like French, German, Spanish are part of our training curriculum.

Aspiration management in a growing organization where the average age of an employee is only 28 years is another challenge. We have already established well-defined processes to meet individual career aspirations – global career, training opportunities.

Today we need to take talent management to the next level. We need to consistently have a highly motivated and empowered workforce. That is the key to delivery excellence, the ability to get people to realize their true potential and bring out the best in them.

What is the importance of Employer Branding? How can a company build achieve this?

We believe our employees are our competitive advantage. Hence we need to consistently attract bright young people and integrate them into TCS. Building brand TCS helps us attract the best talent available in the industry, both trainees and experienced professionals. This in turn, enhances the quality of experience for our customers when they engage with us.
At the campus level, we have built mutually beneficial relationships with institutes through our Academic Interface Programme. This creates a platform to interact with potential recruits and create awareness about our career value proposition.

We have forged strong global alliances with institutes across US, Canada, APAC and Europe. This has helped us attract talent from overseas. We actively participate in job fairs overseas to enhance our visibility and promote TCS as an employer of choice.

How are you planning to grow TCS market share in the technology service spend? What are the implications on people management practices?

Despite the fact that the global spend on technology services is over a trillion dollars, the industry is still very fragmented with the largest player having only a single digit market share. Even if we double our revenues from here on, we will still be only 2% of the global market!

Our Global Network Delivery Model combined with our integrated full services play and complete customer orientation means we have tremendous headroom for growth across all our service lines and in terms of our revenues from different major and emerging markets.

From people management perspective, we focus on the talent development cycle on the whole which includes competency development to leadership training. We have also included modules on technologies of the future. From people perspective, we are well poised to take advantage of any upswing in the business environment.

TCS has successfully been able to align its employees’ vision to the mission of the organization year on year. What is TCS’ mantra for engaging employees to give their maximum for the organization?

We want to help all our employees, regardless of their function, location or experience, to realize their potential. When you realize your potential, you feel energized, satisfied and happy. If we can provide the tools, learnings and opportunities to our people, motivation will come from within each TCSer.

A common vision will only cement this motivation and help the combined force of over 140,000 members of Team TCS to move in the same direction. A cascading communication process is strategic to our culture of ‘performance excellence’. I personally engage with the senior leadership team to drive this.

At the process level, our performance management system closely aligns individual goals with organizational goals. HR engages with employees at various levels to understand their aspirations and offers them the guidance to the appropriate career path.

What are the key methodologies that your team practices towards people and organization effectiveness?

A collaborative business environment and strategic training are some of the focus areas for organization effectiveness. Social networking, web conferencing and instant messaging have rapidly grown to huge proportions, enabling widespread business collaboration. We have used several Web 2.0 tools internally to enhance collaboration and improve people productivity. We will continue to look at all areas that enhance organizational effectiveness going forward.

What role does the HR function need to play in the organization of the future?

HR must help organizations to win - regardless of external market conditions. Its role is an exhaustive - from policy creation for compensation, competency development, employee benefits, compliance, etc. HR also has to be a highly proactive partner to meet individual aspirations and corporate goals. Most importantly, it has to remove obstacles that may arise and help people perform at the highest level at all times.



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Topics: Leadership, C-Suite, #ExpertViews

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