Indian Outsourcers Work To Retain Staff As Industry Booms

Competition for IT and management professionals in India is intense.
With computer sales in India rising nearly 40% in the June quarter and the Bangalore region employing more IT professionals than does Silicon Valley, Indian offshore-outsourcing companies are instituting aggressive strategies to keep and develop their staffs.

The situation can only get tighter, as evidenced by this week's report from the Indian Manufacturers Association of Information Technology. It stated that computer sales were up 39% in the first quarter of the current fiscal year, ending in June, and that boom is pushing global computer companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Asian PC makers to beef up their presence in India.

At the same time, competition for IT and management professionals in India is intense. "The scarcity of [human] resources is at the middle level," says Milind Jadhav, VP of global HR at Patni Computing Systems. "It's a matter of great concern."

Patni, which pioneered the offshore-outsourcing industry in India, is finding that midlevel managers--specialists with a few years of experience--are often tempted to leave India for the United States primarily, but also for Asia and Europe. The firm has instituted a professional-development program, called Leadership Excellence at Patni, to increase and retain its professional staff.

The program features a six-point strategy that emphasizes the development of leadership abilities in customer relations and people and entrepreneurial skills, as well as strategic vision, modeling values, and achievement. "The end result," Jadhav says, "is that Patni workers are now more well-rounded, thus making them better prepared to pursue various career tracks within the organization."

They are also better prepared for work in other countries, including the United States. Sruthi Sagar Ananthachari, Patni's human-resources director for North America, says the competition for professional IT workers is intense everywhere. "There's a rising boom for technocrats everywhere," he says. "After two or three years, people start migrating outside of India."

Jadhav, in Bangalore, says Indian IT workers are migrating back to India, too. "Many are returning to India," he says. "Several thousand have returned to India. And we're also beginning to get U.S. and European nationals coming to India to work."

Indian outsourcing firms are becoming more global all the time, Jadhav says, pointing to the changes in Bangalore's IT universe. Earlier this year, the regional secretary of IT said Bangalore's tech hub had overtaken Silicon Valley to become the world's largest employer of IT professionals. One company alone, Wipro, employs more than 11,000 in the region.

Growth prospects seem limitless, too. A spokesman for India's trade association points out that India is still a relatively untouched computer territory, with just 12 computers for every 1,000 people--a statistic that's attracting global computer companies to India. He says, "India is suddenly high on the agenda of international manufacturers."