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Mindtree’s CPO On Propelling Talent Career Progression and Skill Building
While speaking about the capabilities of India’s youth today, Paneesh Rao, CPO, Mindtree, asserts, “Industry-academia collaboration will have to be broadened further for it to scale up to the needs of the post-pandemic economy. India already has an edge as the talent hub for today’s digital world”
The pandemic has underlined the benefits of a “learn anywhere, anytime” approach to delivering quality learning at scale. The strategy will have to make sure that the employees are provided adequate time and avenues to enhance their skills and acquire new ones without having to make an either-or choice between learning and work deliverables.
In an exclusive interaction with Paneesh Rao, CPO, Mindtree, he shared his observation on how the skills in the post-pandemic world have taken an absolutely new shape, also at what qualities and skills talent acquisition leaders are looking while hiring new talent onboards. Mindtree’s Rao also highlighted the criticality of developing future-ready cutting edge technology-oriented solutions to sustain which is also required to cater to the workforce’s needs across the industries and various functions.
The theme of the recent world youth day was 'Reimagining Youth Skills Post-Pandemic'. How did the skills change that will demand and challenge the current competencies of the youth who are ready to enter into the workforce?
The pandemic has driven home the critical significance of change and agility, not just in tiding through crises, but also in building sustainable competitive advantage. To me, those growth catalysts also encapsulate the story of post-pandemic skills. Considering the emphasis on hiring for attitude and training for skills, adaptability to dynamic environments and learning agility will become the top prerequisites for entering and thriving in the workforce. A curiosity-based, continuous learning mindset and analytical thinking will be paramount. Equally important in a globally integrated world will be the ability to collaborate, understand cultures, and be inclusive. Today’s youth enjoy a technology head-start in the way digital has pervaded every aspect of our lives. They would be expected to make the most of it in building and growing their careers as the future will be about collaborating with, as against competing with, ever smarter technologies and machines. Adapting to the changing nature of work and new job descriptions will entail high levels of alacrity, creativity, proactiveness, and commitment.
As the world underwent a transformation, how has the employability index for India’s high-growth sectors changed on the basis of existing skill gaps? According to you, how can the gap be bridged between skilled people and the employability index?
Thanks to increased industry-academia collaboration, education has become more industry-aligned. Students have more opportunities to boost their industry exposure and job-readiness. Fresh graduates are multi-skilled, highly conversant with technology, quick at learning new skills, and better at applying those skills. This is key to fulfilling the massive demand for new-age capabilities. Doing so through a competitive supply environment will require organizations to get creative with their talent hiring, training, nurturing, and retention efforts. Industry-academia collaboration will have to be broadened further for it to scale up to the needs of the post-pandemic economy. India already has an edge as the talent hub for today’s digital world. With the right policies and foresight, technology could be used even more effectively in enabling the full potential of education to improve employability.
Digital dexterity, creative problem-solving, and adaptability in the face of ambiguity will be the three essential qualities for any recruit — fresh or experienced.
In the post-pandemic era, what does the ideal upskilling/learning strategy look like?
The ideal learning strategy must be based on the reciprocal commitment between the company and its employees, where the connection between learning and progressive business needs or professional growth opportunities is clear enough for employees to make it a priority. It must be based on a continual assessment of skill gaps, and be underpinned by future-focused business, domain, and technology skills. Equally important are people and platform skills necessitated by virtual working. The pandemic has underlined the benefits of a “learn anywhere, anytime” approach to delivering quality learning at scale. The strategy will have to make sure that the employees are provided adequate time and avenues to enhance their skills and acquire new ones without having to make an either-or choice between learning and work deliverables.
I think Indian youth today are as competent and innovative as their counterparts anywhere. India is a powerhouse of talent that can be made industry-ready with structured training and learning approaches, progressive career charters, equitable policies and practices, and greater industry-academia collaboration.
Tell us about the Mindtree EDGE program and how it would develop employability?
Developing future-ready technology talent is critical for India to sustain its competitive advantage in the digital era and reinforce its reputation as the global hub for technology talent. Mindtree EDGE is our contribution to that pursuit. It is a unique learn-and-earn program that we have launched for BSc and BCA graduates in collaboration with BITS Pilani, one of India’s leading institutes of higher education. As part of the program, we will hire fresh B.Sc. and BCA graduates and provide them a fully-funded opportunity to pursue an MTech degree in Software Engineering from BITS Pilani, while working on cutting-edge client projects at Mindtree. This work-integrated MTech program covers the full stack of technologies and competencies required to accelerate in the software industry today. It marks a golden breakthrough for graduates seeking to advance their skills and build high-growth careers in the thriving technology industry while helping us build additional supplies of in-demand technology skills to meet the needs of our rapid growth.
As we have recently seen the rise in attrition specifically in IT companies like Mindtree, L&T, Tech Mahindra, How the mindset is changing in the youth workforce? TCS, Infosys, Mindtree dole out 100% quarterly variable pay to cut attrition, what are these skills for which companies are offering money?
Attrition in the IT sector is an indication of the high demand for its services. On our part, we are building upon our unique value proposition for Mindtree Minds with a highly engaged, people-centric culture aligned with their aspirations. Consistent with industry standards, we have adopted the equity compensation approach, over and above the fixed and variable components, and have already implemented two salary increments this year. We’ve also disbursed more than 100% variable pay to Mindtree Minds in appreciation of their exceptional contribution to the company’s growth and business resiliency through these trying times. Engagement is much more than monetary benefits. Our focus, therefore, is also on driving a sense of belonging, inclusivity, connectedness, and partnership, based on clarity of purpose. Our constant endeavour is to provide Mindtree Minds with cutting-edge work and growth-oriented career paths, learning opportunities, and the best rewards for the right performance. Our growing roster of global clients and cutting-edge work positions us well to fulfil their career aspirations.