Should I keep working, or go back to school?
It’s a question that many of those who are stuck in a career plateau ask themselves, and it’s a tough one at that. On the one hand, taking time off to hone your skills can lead to new job opportunities, higher salaries and more engaging work — on the other hand, you risk losing your steady stream of cash inflow in the short run.
But technology services and consulting company Infosys believes that you shouldn’t have to choose between learning and earning. In fact, last year the company announced plans to hire 10,000 American workers and open four new Technology and Innovation Hubs across the country, which will teach cutting-edge subjects like artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing and more.
“One of the things in which we take immense pride is our ability to train our employees,” says Rajesh Ahuja, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at Infosys. “It’s not a competency which we’ve just developed now — this was the vision of our founders.”
Through this latest hiring and training initiative, the company expects to make a larger impact in the U.S. than they ever have before. Their ultimate goal? Equipping American workers with the skills of tomorrow.
We spoke with Ahuja to learn more about Infosys’ unique training program, what they’re looking for in employees and how you can join in.
Glassdoor: Last year, Infosys announced its plan to open tech and innovation hubs across the U.S. and hire 10,000 American workers — that’s a huge initiative! Can you talk a little bit about the motivation behind it?
Rajesh Ahuja: The technology services industry is going through some significant changes, the biggest one being that technology itself is changing quite drastically. The headline you often see is that it’s changing because of artificial intelligence, but that’s only one part of it. With agile, DevOps, the cloud and so on, the methodology of delivering services is going through a transformation. The second big change is that technology has become very important to the business world in general. It doesn’t matter which industry you’re in — technology has become critical rather than just a support function, and the way companies want to engage with service providers like us is different. Lastly, the narrative around global mobility has changed, and it’s not just in the U.S. It’s happening across the world.
When we looked at all these factors, we realized we had to start looking at a combination of global talent and local talent, and look at some of the ways in which we can be more suited to the next few years of evolution in our industry. And we thought one of the best strategies was to increase the localization in the U.S. However, as we went through the process, we realized that the bigger picture was the skill shortage and how to make the world more ready for the skills of the future. There’s this constant paradigm of training and re-training that has become a bigger narrative than just localization.
Glassdoor: How does your program plan on filling in the gaps of the global skills shortage?
Rajesh Ahuja: One of the things in which we take immense pride is our ability to train our employees. And it’s not a competency which we’ve just developed now — this was the vision of our founders. We have 700 full-time educators who work with us to develop new engineering curriculums and impart that knowledge to our employees globally. What’s new is we’ve taken a deep look at our content and our ability to constantly train and retrain people, and we’ve launched an industry-leading training platform where we are looking at each individual’s needs from their perspective but also from the larger perspective of the skills of tomorrow.
It’s a combination of online classes, classroom education and dedicated specialists employees can refer to. We’re partnering with some of the largest education platforms around the world — LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Udacity — and bringing their content to our platform so that our employees get the best learning experience possible. We’re going to open a large training facility out of Indianapolis, and we expect that hub to really be a focal point for American workers to join our corporate university. We’re not just talking from a globalization perspective of hiring and supplying locally — we’re also talking about upskilling and reskilling at a large scale to build the local labor market.
Glassdoor: Besides the one in Indianapolis, I know you’re going to be opening technology and innovation centers in North Carolina, Rhode Island and Connecticut. How did you choose these locations? And what will the campuses be like?
Rajesh Ahuja: We chose these locations based on a combination of three factors. One is talent availability and the potential for us to grow more talent. It’s also about where our clients are and how we can serve them better with a local hub. And last but not least, we look at how engaged we can get with the local ecosystem: universities, the local government, etc., which allows us to become a part of the larger community.
One of the things which we have really adopted is using design to promote innovation and collaboration. Working in any large organization tends to get a bit siloed, so we’re trying to instill a concept of boundaryless thinking with open spaces and technical areas where people can design and work in a deliberate environment. There’s a lot of encouragement to try new things.
Glassdoor: What kind of candidates are you looking for? I heard that candidates don’t even necessarily need to have a STEM background.
Rajesh Ahuja: Absolutely. We’re looking for a mixture of talent, people who are experienced and have been working in the industry and folks who want to work with us. We also look at candidates through a multidisciplinary perspective, so we have STEM graduates, we have college graduates and now we are also expanding our program to those with associate’s degrees or who came from community colleges. We want to bring people on board who have two strong skills: the ability to learn and the willingness to learn, and we are very confident that if they have those two skills, we will be able to teach them the fundamentals of programming or databases or anything else.
Glassdoor: What is the interview process like? Are there any interview questions you ask in particular?
Rajesh Ahuja: It’s mostly a traditional interview process. However, for more specific positions, there could be a more involved selection around concepts related to a certain skill or what they are going to study. From an interviewing perspective, Infosys believes in understanding the details of the work the candidate has done, whether it was a school project or for their job. The set of questions you’ll typically get in an interview are around whether or not you can explain what you’ve done, how it went and what you think you could have done differently. It’s about critical thinking and the ability to analyze.
Glassdoor: What makes Infosys such a great company to work for, and what’s your pitch to anybody considering applying?
Rajesh Ahuja: We are a company that truly believes in each individual learning and growing with the organization. We provide not only the opportunity for people to come and do a job, but a platform where they’ll learn and grow forever. And the kind of work we do with our clients is phenomenal. Typically, you will get to work on projects that are very important and very cool. And the third would be it’s a great team — people work very effectively with each other here. We are very cross-cultural, we are very genuine and it’s a good working environment.
Glassdoor: Your Head of Innovation compared Infosys to a startup. What’s it like to balance the innovative mentality of a startup with the scale and resources of a large, multinational organization?
Rajesh Ahuja: It’s great, because your work is not limited by what’s given to you, or what’s being requested by a client. You have the ability to ask for more and do more beyond the given. Each individual is asked to think about how they can create value to the client they are serving, which could be better software, better output or less effort required. Our employees come up with ideas and concepts which our clients have never thought of, and these are clients which are large multinational corporations while we are a tech company — we allow our employees to work in small teams to deliver better value. Infosys allows you to push the envelope on things all the time, and you’re only limited by your tenacity, your resilience and your ability to think of more.
Glassdoor: Technological changes bring with them changes to the labor market — new jobs are created, but traditional jobs sometimes die out. For a lot of people, that can be scary. What would you say to those people who look to the future with fear?
Rajesh Ahuja: I think the essential skill that can give everybody the ability to participate in the labor market is learning. If you are continuously able to learn something new, you will stay relevant. Just look at software programmers: what people were programming five years back has changed already. I would encourage every individual to learn something new, especially because learning has become easier — there are enough internet resources, video tutorials and individuals available to help you out. But each individual will have to come out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves much more.
Glassdoor: It sounds like Infosys has a lot of exciting things on its radar. What are you personally looking forward to the most in the next few years with the company?
Rajesh Ahuja: A few things. One, the whole digital transformation which is happening across the tech industry is magical, and seeing how deep that digital transformation will really take us is extremely exciting. And when I say digital transformation, I mean digitizing the core of an enterprise, or the way we use services — not just how we consume services. Infosys expects to play a big role in that. The second is how some of the technology of the future will improve our day-to-day. Life is going to become simpler and better by using technologies of the future like artificial intelligence, machine learning and more, and I’m excited to see how companies like us can play a part in making the products that impact the world. And finally, the whole dynamic around how skills and work will change, and how we will reimagine and reinvent the roles of our current employees as well as future employees is another very exciting thing.
Want to become automation-proof, and get paid to do it? Apply to open Infosys jobs here!