This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with top-echelon and renowned professionals. In this blog, I interview Srikantan Moorthy: International Top-ranking Business and Technology Leader, Industry-Leading Visionary Innovator, Global Executive, Vice-President and Head of Research and Education, Infosys Technologies Ltd., Founding Director IP3 Global Industry Council.
Srikantan Moorthy - known as Tan to friends and colleagues - is a Vice President and Head of Education & Research (E&R) with Infosys. Tan has more than 25 years of experience in the Information Technology based Professional Services Industry. He spent 12 of those years working in the US during which time he gained hands-on experience in strategy formulation, operations management and talent development.
Tan started his career as a software engineer and has worked on a variety of computing platforms, both systems and applications programming. Tan has played multiple roles including those of a General Manager for a division and Client Partner working with Fortune 500 clients. During his tenure at Infosys, Tan has managed client delivery for a large business unit managing client projects worth over two hundred million dollars with a team of more than 4000 people.
As head of Education and Research at Infosys, Tan's primary responsibility is talent development through competency building. The residential 23 week training for fresh engineers joining Infosys is a key program run by Infosys E&R. Over 15,000 fresh engineers go through this program every year. The certification program of E&R is aimed at renewal of competencies of experienced professionals in the organization. More than 200,000 assessments are conducted annually as part of this program. Infosys Campus Connect, which is also run by E&R partners with over 400 engineering colleges in India, provides interventions to raise the employability of graduating engineering students.
Tan has a passion for people development and has been involved in the competency development initiatives at Infosys. He is part of the Infosys Competency Council. Tan is also a member of the Professions Board, Professional Development Committee of ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) and is on the board of IUCEE (Indo US Collaboration for Engineering Education).
In 2010 Tan was elected as a founding director to the Global Industry Council (IP3-GIC), and was invited to present at an IP3 panel forum at the World Computing Congress on computing professionalism and certification. "The Panel discussion will connect senior ICT luminaries from around the world to give their views on professional certification." As quoted from IP3 on the Global Industry Council: "Global Industry Council Directors are specially nominated and invited to serve within the UNESCO-sanctioned body as internationally recognized luminary executives, thought leaders, and visionaries and for their strong history of providing substantive contributions to global business, industry, society, education, and governments." "IP3 is establishing the IP3 Global Industry Council (IP3-GIC) as the principal forum within which leading ICT employers can engage with IP3 and influence the development of the global profession, identify and agree-upon standards, and nurture continuous improvement in alignment of those standards." "It is the intention that IP3-GIC will be a prestigious organization comprised of recognized thought leaders from major organizations (both private and public sector) with acknowledged experience and expertise in information and communication technologies, and that an invitation and a subsequent seat will reflect the global third party validation that is only possible through a 50 year old body with UN roots."
To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link
Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
Tan talks briefly about Infosys, its roots, vision and mission.
Tell us more about your vision and objectives behind your current roles? What do you hope to accomplish and how will you bring this about?
"....My role involves raising the competencies of every individual who joins the firm....In addition, I have a role to play in influencing the educational ecosystem in India to bridge the skills gap between students coming out of academia and the needs of the industry...."
How would you like the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) education programs and resources to evolve over the next three years?
"....As the world's largest educational and scientific computing society, ACM plays a significant role in providing educational programs and resources....With the evolution of technology, ACM can provide its rich content in a variety of forms (multimedia-based classes, podcasts, e-books) to the global audience...."
What are the highlights of the current ACM offerings for ongoing professional development for computing professionals?
"....Element K® courses (offer educational content in a variety of ways that are relevant to the busy professional), virtual labs, and online books make ACM the preferred destination for the working professional who is interested in continued learning...."
What can be done to upgrade the employability of recent graduates?
"....I would classify the skills gap between a recent graduate and the needs of the industry into three areas: critical thinking and problem solving, communications, and teamwork...."
What can be done to update the employability of early career, mid-career and end career computing professionals - what are the differences in the education programs?
"....All three categories of professionals should consciously recognize the need for continuous education....Early career professionals - focus on gaining depth in a specific area....Mid-career professionals - focus on gaining horizontal competencies (what are now called t-shaped competencies)....End career professionals should focus on sharpening their skills in various leadership dimensions...."
What attributes does Infosys look for when hiring people?
"....Learnability....Integrity and a sound value system....Our guideline: 'powered by intellect, driven by value'...."
How does Infosys attract the right people?
"....The recruitment process involves a test at the entry level, while at the experienced individual level it is through an interview process....In all cases it's about interacting with the individual...."
Retention can be a major issue so what can you do to retain people?
"....For us retention is through 'adding value' to our people. We look at it through three dimensions:....economic....educational....emotional...."
How do you handle upgrading of skills?
"....Keeping the competencies of our people current and relevant is a key focus area for the firm....We look at interventions that help people understand and then we assist them with the knowledge that they've gained. The competency development part is integrated with performance management so that there is a holistic approach to skills development in the organization...."
What specific competencies and skills are in high demand by region?
"....Technology....Business domain....Processes....Soft skills...."
How will this change in three years and then five years?
"....The core of this may not significantly change but I think there will be a need for individuals to deepen their problem-solving skills to be able to apply their knowledge in the context of the changing world situation...."
What are the best resources to keep computing professionals upgraded?
"....Become members of professional organizations (like ACM)....Leverage what is available through these organizations....Network...."
What specific education programs did you implement in the past?
"....In the past most educational programs were instructor-led classrooms, today it is more blended learning...."
What will education programs look like in three years and in five years?
"....I think educational programs will undergo a drastic change in the next 3-5 years and technology will play an increasing role in education delivery. The paradigm will shift from attending a class in a designated place to 'my place' and from a predetermined time to 'my time' and from the educator's place to 'my place'...."
How do educational needs differ for outsourcing companies?
"....Professionals in outsourcing companies need to have depth in their subject matter and a consultative mindset. In addition, a collaborative working style, coupled with cultural sensitivities, and above all, a client focus...."
What must organizations do to be successful?
"....Successful organizations are those that pay attention to all their stakeholders: clients, employees, investors, vendor partners, governments of the land they operate in and the community at large...."
Over your long and distinguished career, what are your top lessons you want to share with the broad audience?
"....All my experiences have reinforced my belief that having a value system and following it is critical, irrespective of the situation....The ability to execute is as important as the ability to come up with new ideas....Constantly evaluate one's belief and competencies and reinvent oneself to stay relevant.....Working well in teams requires empathy and the ability to understand the context of every individual...."
Can you profile what is needed for IT professionals to be successful in today's agile technology-driven climate?
"....The integrity of the IT professional is very critical....Competence....Skills to communicate....Ability to work well in teams....Ability to demonstrate passion and commitment for the work to be done....Diversity of experience will be critical to be successful in the long run...."
Please make predictions for the future, their implications, and how business executives and IT professionals can best prepare?
"....The number of people who have access to the internet and social networks will double over the next three to five years and this in turn will have a large impact in the way business is done....Computing will become more pervasive....The collective conscience of human beings will go up significantly about the impact of our existence on the world around us and all of those will have an impact on how business is done...."
What do you see as the three top challenges facing us today and how do you propose they be solved?
"....The digital divide....The impact of climate change and resource usage....Our vulnerability to human and natural threats...."