After the government’s data showed that India’s economy contracted by a record 23.9 percent in the June quarter, the future didn’t look bright for the job market. However, the recent unlock phases have brought back some hope. Additionally, while some sectors and some roles suffered, there were others which had been in demand all along. For instance, IT, healthcare, FMCG, and even the insurance sector has been doing quite well. These sectors have particularly seen a high demand for digital skill sets, as the reality of work accelerates digitization for all.
In a recent interview, Sandeep Soni, GM and Vice President of Engineering - India Operations, Clumio shares how technologies are currently having the greatest impact on the nature of work. He shares how cloud computing skills like DevOps, Linux, and database skills have become the most sought-after competencies this year.
How is the job market shaping up in the new reality of work triggered by the pandemic? What industries are growing at this point in time? Where are the jobs most likely to be?
COVID-19 has had a heavy impact on the economy and the job scenario across industries. Corporations had a tough first quarter in the wake of the lockdown imposed, with some resorting to salary cuts and layoffs to manage costs. However, the nationwide relaxations and re-opening of critical industries has paved the way for slight recovery in the job market.
In this new COVID economy, industries like IT, healthcare, FMCG, and online education have been in demand since the beginning and will definitely grow further in the coming days.
Talking specifically about the IT industry, Cloud Computing skills have turned out to be most important this year as organizations are migrating from traditional apps to cloud-based platforms. As a result, jobs in this domain are growing massively, making it a trending field in the IT/ ITES sector. Some key job roles organizations are hiring for include, Cloud Application Developer, Cloud Network Engineer, Cloud Automation Engineer, and Cloud Security Manager etc. Data analytics roles have also become important during this time.
The top sectors hiring for talent in analytics are IT/ITeS, BFSI, pharma, and healthcare offering lucrative roles like data scientists, data analytics, data engineers etc. With people working from home, the demand for cybersecurity professionals has seen an instant spike. Various organizations are hiring professionals for roles like Security Engineers, Security Analysts etc. At Clumio, we are hiring bright individuals to fill roles across Software Engineering, Cloud Operations and Customer Support and Success.
What technologies are currently having the greatest impact on the nature of work?
During these unprecedented times, the majority of the organizations have come up with new business models, adopted virtual modes of working and are using the best available tools to enable seamless collaboration. Business leaders are increasingly investing in upskilling the workforce in new-age technologies like Cloud, Analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Technology, if used properly, has a significant role to play during any crisis such as the one caused by COVID-19 pandemic. There are innumerable examples of technology coming to the forefront to maintain business continuity during these challenging times.
A recent IDC report states, as a result of the pandemic, 64 percent of the organizations in India are expected to increase demand for cloud computing. People today are depending on cloud-based solutions that deliver connectivity, efficiency, affordability, and a great user experience on any device, any time. The need to work remotely has created an increased need for collaboration across teams, companies and industries as well. Applications like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet have witnessed a sudden spike in the number of users. The global crisis has provided an opportunity for the cloud marketplace to strengthen and expand its reach.
Coming to emerging technologies, although it replaces many entry-level, task-heavy jobs, AI and ML technologies can create new opportunities, as well. For example, it can be leveraged in key HR functions like recruiting, onboarding, induction and training are also efficiently done on virtual platforms. One of the criticisms about remote work surrounds a business’ ability to monitor the productivity and quality of output from external workers. Fortunately, artificial intelligence and machine learning are on hand to help out. Team leaders, supervisors and managers alike can turn to machine learning programs to monitor staff performance in an accurate manner.
What are the skills and knowledge most needed at the moment?
A recent report stated that nearly 85 lakh fresh graduates are looking to enter the workforce in India this year. It is important to sharpen the current skills and knowledge in order to get ready for the jobs of tomorrow. Some of the tech skills that are most needed in the current situation are cloud computing, data analytics, SaaS, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence. Apart from these tech skills, some of the soft skills that are important are being resilient, flexible and adaptable; time management; leadership and effective communication skills.
In this COVID economy, it is essential to work in a digital environment and hence companies have moved their business and operations to the online platforms which has resulted in increase in the jobs across Cloud computing.
Cloud computing skills like DevOps, Linux, and database skills have become the most sought-after competencies this year.
When organizations are transitioning to the cloud, it is also important to have a good understanding and knowledge on it as not all Cloud is created equal. Different considerations must be made for private cloud, public cloud and SaaS. For example, building a new application in the public cloud immediately can be complex and expensive. With good cloud engineers being in short supply, organizations have to think carefully about how those resources are deployed. Alternatively, enterprises can get to cloud faster when they use SaaS.
In this model, someone else has done the difficult work for you and you can use lower-skilled resources to meet the needs of the business. This is particularly effective during this pandemic since you don’t need physical access to sites to get up and running quickly.
There is also a spike in demand for cybersecurity professionals as various organizations have reported ransomware attacks in the past few months while doing remote work. This domain is likely to witness a steady demand and skilling here will lead to good job opportunities for security engineers and analysts. The emergence of digital operations has also led to the evolution of AI systems across businesses in India. AI is increasingly being adopted in automating many jobs and this is fostering the demand for AI specialists across industries.
How has the current global health crisis impacted your business priorities and people strategies?
The COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly has disrupted the normalcy of every company across every sector. At Clumio, our primary focus continues to be the health and well-being of our people. While tackling the situation, we also need to keep pace with our professional duties. We made the transition to remote work immediately and are in constant touch with our employees to ensure they don’t feel isolated and remain focused on their work. We are encouraging employees to follow the best practices of remote work and motivating them to spend time on their emotional, mental and physical wellbeing during this time. We conduct Zoom happy hours frequently to stay connected and have fun. As part of the session, we also celebrated a virtual babyshower of one of our colleagues recently. We had our annual summer picnic and created wonderful memories while maintaining social distance, but staying together.
During this time, we have also launched the India Research and Development center in Bangalore. Our India Center will drive front-end innovation and research to build cloud solutions. India has a huge talent pool in technology, and it is only growing. We have also started virtual hiring and onboarding during the pandemic.
Clumio has added 18 new employees - many of them in India - which is nearly 15% of our current staff. To help students be better prepared to successfully enter this rapidly evolving workforce, we at Clumio are actively offering tie-ups and programmes with colleges or other initiatives to enable youth. We are doing this by offering internship opportunities for computer science students from BITS, IIT’s, NIT’s, BMS and PESIT. 40% of India's employee strength is from new college hires and interns to full-time conversion. We proactively engaged with all our offered students from IIT's, BITS, and other colleges to train them on the AWS and Clumio tech stack - Distributed systems, Cloud-native Microservices architecture and Web development. During their final semesters, we gave them a few small projects and assigned mentors to educate and enhance their technical skills. This gained lots of attention among our college hires and made them build confidence to join a startup while learning how to build on the public cloud. This will be a skill that they can carry forward in their careers, regardless of where they choose to work.
Lastly, how are you dealing with this crisis? What are some personal challenges you think leaders often face in these tough times? How are you ensuring that you keep calm, sail through and help others also in these tough times? Share your tips.
In situations like this, prioritizing the safety of our employees while being committed to our clients is essential. At Clumio, we have made the transition to remote work, we are fostering a flexible work culture and encouraging employees to focus on emotional and mental wellbeing during this time. As leaders, it is crucial for us to manage this situation effectively where both health and business are not compromised.
While in the near term, we do not foresee any significant impact to our business operations, we will continue to be attentive. We constantly share guidelines and updates to all employees on the issue and precautionary recommendations such as seeking medical attention if any symptoms arise. With every major change and crisis, we have a chance to develop new coping strategies and build our resilience.
By shifting our mindset, we can learn to navigate fears, manage life’s threats more effectively and achieve positive mental well-being. Leaders need to stay calm and must be ready to make flexible choices and difficult decisions to have a smoother recovery journey.
It is important to operate through a mindset of anticipation, preparation and resilience.
Leaders need to hone a clear, honest, empathetic and simple approach to communication during this crisis. Listening, acknowledging, caring for our people and diverse leadership is the need of the hour.
There is a large amount of information, as well as misinformation, that comes our way on a day to day basis during the COVID-19 pandemic. The key is to remain grounded, in touch with reality and not lose one's focus. I believe in three aspects which help me deal with these uncertainties:
- Strengthen your perspective - read/hear everything carefully but trust cautiously.
- Be goal oriented - Focus on short term survival (as, this too shall pass), but build for the long-term resilience of people, product and service.
- Keep the challenges of people and business in mind, decide and execute with clarity - both in communication and execution.