Training engine is run in two parts – soft skills and hard skills

In an exclusive interview with BW People, Arif Khan, CHRO, Sasken Technologies, talks about the importance of upskilling of the employees, HR myths of lateral hiring and technologies at Sasken.


1. According to you, why should a company cater to nurturing both soft and hard skills of an employee?

In a market where finding good talent is challenging, organizations have to ensure that their employees are reskilled as per the organization’s requirements. It is difficult to go out and hire people just in time. Therefore, a talent building strategy needs to be in place and having a solid in-house engine to reskill engineers for deployment is, therefore, a necessity. Organizations need to a have a talent strategy for the long term in order to sustain and scale in the dynamic market. Companies need to ensure that they have dynamic internal systems to map their current/prospective demands to the talent-readiness within their organizations.

2. What is Sasken as a company doing to re-skill its employees and differentiate them from other employees in today’s competitive industry landscape?

At Sasken, the training engine is run in two parts – soft skills and hard skills. While we conduct regular trainings for soft skills, the technology training has its own way. After a thorough analysis we decide on intake of N and N-1 skills to be hired. We hire people with N-1 skills and add them to our R&D Practice teams where these employees are allowed to work on building solutions and offerings. When the same solutions and offerings become a customer engagement we deploy the team in the same engagement.

We also have an internal assessment methodology called the KenMAP. It is an internally developed, robust proficiency assessment framework. KenMAP has granular assessments to measure proficiency from basic or entry level engineers to experienced system/solution architects. Using KenMAP helps hire, train, and classify our talent pool in competency groups. As a leader in product engineering services, we have crafted a mechanism to ensure the skill fungibility of our talent pool. This gives us the freedom to hire talent that is not specifically tied to a customer need.

3. Are there any new innovative ideas related to re-skilling employees that Sasken is working on currently?

We are trying to come out of the conventional way of looking at engineers. Industry measures engineers by their TRE (total relevant experience). At Sasken, we are trying to get away from number of years of experience and instead get aligned to what KenMAP level the engineer should be at. We have a dedicated capability team that works with the engineering teams to help the engineers level up in this framework.

4. Are there any HR myths of lateral hiring that you feel need to be exposed in today's global market?

A basic myth about the lateral hiring is that a person with high experience can do better than the one with less experience. While experience is important we tend to go easy on the competency side of an engineer. Industry needs to move away from measuring experience to measuring competency/proficiency instead. We need to look at the capability of an engineer than the number of years s/he has worked.

5. Can you tell us more on Sasken’s unique Technical Competency Framework? How has this simple process helped impact the organization’s employees and talent teams?

Sasken’s Technical Competency Framework is a framework that defines the structure for the technical competencies in terms of domain and supporting technical and non-technical skills required by an engineer to perform the job. The framework ensures that technical competencies are based on and aligned with Sasken offerings that are defined and updated periodically by our Business Lines and Practice Groups.

We hire employees with fungible skillsets so that they cut across all the verticals we serve. For example, an employee with expertise in connectivity technologies can work on projects in various

verticals such as Automotive, Industrials, Devices, etc. This ensures that they get challenging and exciting projects from time-to-time. Employees working right from the conceptualization phase to the productization phase of a project gain significant experience compared to their peers in the industry, which could, otherwise, have taken them a long time to gather.

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