Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS) is a digital customer experience company that has seen significant changes in the business landscape in recent years. Its group CEO Partha DeSarkar is leading the charge to keep the company, with a workforce of over 22,000 and operations spanning across eight countries, resilient and adaptable. In this interview, Partha outlines his strategic vision and delineates the measures he is taking to ensure HGS remains competitive, building a diverse and agile workforce, and how his leadership priorities are evolving.
Here are the edited excerpts.
As a leader, how do you envision your role evolving in the coming year and beyond?
As a CEO, I can say that the past two years have brought about a significant shift in the way we operate. At HGS, we have been focusing more than ever on topics such as digital disruption, organisation transformation, and meeting evolving customer needs. I believe that elements such as better forecasting, resilience, and agility in both understanding situations and how we respond have become more critical than ever to help us deliver what the clients need with scale and speed.
In line with our changing business landscape, my role as CEO at HGS is also evolving in various aspects:
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Hands-on involvement: is crucial to balance great vision with solid execution. To be close to our biggest market and clients, I've decided to relocate to New York and lead our company towards long-term value creation.
Staying on top of technology changes: is critical for me as a CEO to drive change within the organisation and enable transformation for clients and their customers. It means that I always need to be a student, learning and growing to keep up with the latest trends.
Building a diverse team with skills and agility: I'm focused on building a team that has a diversity of thought to bring fresh perspectives and creative solutions.
Serving as a societal leader: An essential part of my role is to address social and community issues, such as sustainability and caring for the environment. I am committed to advocating for issues such as employee well-being and health, safety, training, and upskilling, and ensuring that HGS plays a positive role in the communities we serve.
What are the biggest opportunities and challenges you anticipate in 2023?
As we move into 2023, organisations face a year of adapting to change and reinvention, with economic pressures looming. To better handle immediate challenges while positioning for the long term, innovation and creative management will be essential. Adequate liquidity and cash flows are also vital, particularly given the recent global pressures on banks. At our company, we're vigilant about conserving cash while also being opportunistic in our M&A strategy, leveraging potential bargain-hunting opportunities in this market with lower valuations for target companies.
In terms of customer experience (CX), enterprises must quickly adapt to ever-evolving customer needs as the shift from traditional brick-and-mortar to an online presence continues to dominate. This means that brands will need to pivot to provide more opportunities for customer interaction, with a shift toward customer ownership of CX led by digital adoption. With over 65% of companies increasing CX technology spending in 2023 by an average of 24%, there's an increasing need for more complex and sophisticated digital solutions to deliver superior CX. This requires transformative technologies such as AI, IoT, CDPs, AR/VR, cloud, blockchain, analytics, etc. to build better, faster, and more sophisticated systems in this area. Ultimately, a strong, digitally-enabled workforce will be essential for success in this arena.
How are you leveraging digital transformation to drive business growth and adapt to the changing market?
At HGS, we understand the importance of providing exceptional customer experience (CX) that exceeds expectations. To achieve this goal, we're leveraging the 3As —AI, Analytics, and Automation in a cloud-first environment alongside other digital tools, to drive digital transformation both internally for our people and externally for our clients.
By adopting a more digital approach, we've been able to improve our agility, domain expertise, and operational efficiency while delivering more personalised services to our clients. For example, the recent advancements in generative AI are very exciting, and we anticipate they will be a game changer for the tech industry, and in particular, for CX.
What steps are you taking to ensure the sustainability and resilience of your business in the long-term?
At HGS, we ensure that CX is kept at the core of every strategy as the world moves more and more toward digital. We continue to significantly invest in building an end-to-end ecosystem of digital capabilities that support every touchpoint in the consumer journey. In this direction, we recently acquired TekLink International to strengthen our analytics practice and expand platform and data visualization capabilities. The other key focus is on future-proofing our workforce by upskilling and reskilling them to deliver digital-led services. Ultimately, our goal is to be a digital-led, people-driven CX company that helps the world’s most admired brands’ in building their businesses for the future
How are you addressing the shift towards remote work and flexible work arrangements?
HGS has a history of remote working, having implemented successful work-at-home programs in Canada as early as 2016. Today, the company operates on a hybrid model that leverages cloud technology, allowing employees to work from home while maintaining high-performance metrics for clients. This approach not only benefits employee well-being but also aligns with the changing nature of business requirements.
This interview is part of an exclusive series that featured CEOs and MDs of top organisations sharing their perspectives on the ever-evolving business landscape and the future of work. Browse all the interviews here!