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Experience Not Required with Ravi Kumar of Infosys

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What do Larry Ellison, Ellen DeGeneres, Anna Wintour, Warren Buffet and Michael Dell have in common? 

Other than fame and massive wealth, what’s a key differentiator that sets these folks apart? Maybe Ravi Kumar, the President of Infosys can give you a hint…

“We have started to hire at Infosys without degrees and land people on an apprenticeship even if they don’t have degrees, even if they’ve come from community colleges with an associate degree, or they have been in a traditional industry and want to do a mid-career shift,” Kumar says.  

But the decision to transform its talent pool is not the only unusual approach that Infosys has adopted. Infosys is flipping the enticing hiring process on its head and it’s potentially jeopardizing its business model in the process. On this episode of Business X factors, Kumar explains all the bold pathways that Infosys is following and what ripples it will cause in other industries.

Main Takeaways:

  • Degree Not Required: Thanks to technology, the nature of work is constantly and rapidly changing. Employers need to keep up and so do employees, who should be focused on life-long learning rather than achieving a singular degree. There are going to be more roles at the forefront of data and the A.I. economy, and the skills needed could be taught to those without college degrees if companies are willing to put the effort and investment into them. And if that investment is made, there will be a reward because there is often a greater retention and loyalty element when people without a college degree are given opportunities to train and get ahead in their careers. 
  • Opportunity Before Passion: “Follow your passion” is a phrase often repeated but it could mean that people become close-minded to new potential areas of interest. Being overly narrow and committed to one area could also lead to missed opportunities and if this is not where your talents lie, lead to frustration. Think of life as a series of opportunities to develop several passions and you may enjoy a new opportunity more because you are good at it.
  • Rising Tides Lift All Boats: Sharing technology or know-how may seem to go against the principle of competition in business, but by sharing information, more innovation can happen quicker, from which all companies and customers could benefit.

 

Key Quotes:

“With the digital transformation happening at a rapid pace, the life of skills is shortening… Why do you need to be in this linear model of education and work? Why couldn’t you actually blur the line between education and work? Why would you need four-year degrees because skills are short-lived? Why wouldn’t you build lifelong learners in K-12 schools, identify them and hire them with the hypothesis that you will continuously teach them new things and blur the model of education and work?”

“We’ve created an A.I. model and we work with a company which does A.I.-led hiring, where you look for traits of people and using those traits, you extrapolate the kind of jobs they do, they can do, and then you build a bridge to equip them with skills, and then you hand-hold them to create the experiential learning.”

“The biggest risk I carry on my model is we invest $20,000 upfront on every new employee we hire through this model. They could finish the training and walk away. But I’m betting on myself that they will not.”

“The underserved communities don’t really know these jobs. So, when I go to a community college in the U.S., even if my compensation structure at Infosys is 30% to 40% more than what the others pay, in community colleges, nobody is applying to our jobs because they don’t know what a cybersecurity job is. They don’t know what a data operations job is.”

“If this becomes mainstream, large enterprise companies like ours can actually tap into a consortium of education, academic institutions, and companies like Infosys coming together to power and transform education for the future. It’s a trillion-dollar industry which is up for disruption. EdTech companies are focused around up-skilling existing people who are in the same space, but nobody is focused around radical reskilling from spaces which are not tapped into.”

“If every company across the world is going to become a technology company powered by data, A.I. and cloud, why would they outsource technology to us? They would in-source it. And when they insource it, we want to help them in-source. It’s very counterintuitive if I look at it in a very myopic way — it will look like I’m cannibalizing my own revenue, but the reality is that’s the future.”

“For the first time in history, developers in the non-technology industries are going to be more than developers in the technology industry. If we take the global GDP, 10% is the tech industry. And 90% is traditional industries. That 90% is employing more developers today then the tech industry.  It’s never happened before and that’s because all of them are becoming a technology company. All of them are becoming technology industries. So shouldn’t we be in that business of enabling them rather than outsourcing from them?” 

“You’ve heard from many leaders that you should choose your passion. I’m not one of them. I actually look for opportunities and create passion around those opportunities. That’s what I am good at.”

Bio:

Ravi is President at Infosys. In this role, he leads the Infosys Global Services Organization across all global industry segments, driving digital transformation services, consulting services, traditional technology services, engineering services, data and analytics, cloud and infrastructure along with enterprise package applications service lines. In addition, he oversees Infosys Business Process Management (BPM) and is Chairman of the Board of Infosys BPM. He also oversees Infosys business in Latin America, Japan and China. He is the Chairman of the Board of Infosys Public Services and oversees the Consulting Services Subsidiary of Infosys. Ravi oversees Infosys’ acquisitions Kaleidoscope, Guidevision, Simplus, WongDoody, Fluido and Brilliant Basics and Chairs the Board of the Hitachi-Panasonic JV in Japan. Ravi also oversees the alliances organization and the global partner ecosystem at Infosys.  In addition, Ravi is championing and pioneering the localization initiative and building technology and digital talent pools in the U.S, Europe and Australia for Infosys to drive creation of new and Digital Technology and Innovation Centers by collaborating with clients, the local state governments and academic ecosystems. He is also Chairman for Infosys Foundation USA focused on computer science education in K12 Schools in the U.S.

Previously, Ravi was Group Head for $1B Insurance, Healthcare, and Cards & Payments unit, where he drove client services, demand generation, next-generation service offerings, game-changing innovation, and a world-class delivery organization to support clients. He has also led the global delivery organization in the Manufacturing industry group. Spanning a global clientele and other new incubating engines, he built the global Oracle and CRM practices for Infosys. Under his leadership, the Hyderabad Development Center, with 22,000+ employees, won the Infosys Excellence Award for the Best Development Center five years in a row from 2010 – 2014.

Ravi has over 19 years of experience in the consulting space, incubating new practice lines, driving large transformational programs, and evangelizing new business models across industry segments. He has played diverse roles across organizations within the CRM space for Oracle Corporation, building a next-generation CRM practice at Cambridge Technology Partners. He has also worked on process and technology transformation for the unbundling of Indian State Electricity Boards at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Ravi started his career as a nuclear scientist at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center.

He is on the Board of Governors of the New York Academy of Sciences, Member of the Young Presidents Organization(YPO) Manhattan Chapter, Member of the International Advisory Board of Fudan University, Shanghai, Chairs the IT & Business Services Workforce Council for the Governor in the State of Connecticut, Member of Skills Consortium of the World Economic Forum(WEF), Fortune CEO Workforce Redesign Group and many other industry forums.  He regularly attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum Davos, actively writes about digital transformation, future of work, reskilling, talent transformation in the Harvard Business Review, Knowledge@Wharton, Forbes and other top tier publications.

Ravi has a master’s degree in business administration from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar, India.

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Episode 13