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Tech Mahindra upbeat about Malaysia, will double talent pool within three years

AvantiKumar | Jan. 27, 2014
The Indian IT services giant, which is tapping expanding sectors such as smart automotive, MLM, financial services, engineering, travel and logistics, plans a major digital enterprise lab at its Malaysia global centre.

Ram_Ramachandran - Tech Mahindra modified

Photo -  Ram Ramachandran - Head, Enterprise Business, ASEAN, Tech Mahindra.

Indian IT services giant Tech Mahindra said it is confident of continued expansion of its Malaysia Global Solutions Centre, which includes plans to double the local talent pool within three years to more than 1200, and add a major digital enterprise lab by tapping the rapidly expanding sectors such as multi-level marketing (MLM), financial services, engineering, manufacturing and logistics.

Speaking in Kuala Lumpur recently, Tech Mahindra's head, enterprise business, Asean, Ram Ramachandran said the Malaysian Cyberjaya complex is staffed by 600 employees, and is the company's largest global development centre. "Malaysia as a very important component of the company's activities in the Asean region [of six countries] and reflects the comparative buoyancy of the Asian region when compared with developed regions."

"Indeed, Malaysia is at the top in the region in terms of investment and aspirations," said Ramachandran, adding that the initial investment in Malaysia took place at an especially challenging phase in the company's history following its acquisition of Satyam.

He said the Cyberjaya centre's daily functions, which include serving global and local customers, also attracts global projects into Malaysia. "The fundamentals introduced by the Malaysian government make this viable, and is supplemented by the multilingual support from the local talent pool, which in my view has continued to improve in the last 10 years."

"This knowledge pool is improving continually and adds to the attractiveness of Malaysia as a services destination." said Ramachandran. "However, while the location allows us to focus on markets in neighbouring countries and other developing markets in the Middle East and Africa, we also acknowledge Malaysia itself is an attractive unique market itself."

 Islamic banking, MLM, and disaster recovery

"The telecom, banking and financial sectors continue to be prime markets for us, and the local knowledge pool around Islamic banking is especially in tune with this. In Malaysia, the financial sector constitutes about 55-65 percent of business for us, compared to a global average of 25 percent," he said. "Other solid sectors include manufacturing: despite the shift to China, the manufacturing segment in Malaysia continues to be significant and experiencing something of a resurgence."

"The Malaysia government's initiatives in Johor also augur well for the logistics and travel sectors in general, both from local and regional perspectives," said Ramachandran, adding that the company is also delving into the smart automotive sector.

"One interesting subset of the retail industry is the explosion in Malaysia of multi-level marketing [MLM] with Malaysian firms rapidly penetrating markets such as China," he said.

"These factors are driving our repositioning of Malaysia as a major centre in the region for us," said Ramachandran, adding that the Malaysian global centre's current work is across different service lines, disaster recovery [DR] support, application development, business process outsourcing [BPO] and knowledge process outsourcing [KPO] to more than 20 global customers.

Tech Mahindra's head, global delivery centre, Cyberjaya, Sudhir Dhar said Malaysia also has the advantage of competitive data centre services costs when compared to the increasing cost of such services in neighbouring countries like Singapore.

  The people secret, the digital enterprise

Dhar said the company's partnership approach with the host country included the commitment to inculcate skills among local talent at its 15-acre campus in Cyberjaya. "We work with local universities such as MMU, APIIT, and Taylor's College to help give preference to local talent, which makes up 70-80 percent currently of our workforce here and includes the intake of about 120 fresh graduates."

"Our cultural ecosystem also includes a dedicated training setup to continually allow skills intervention and career development. This has helped us maintain a very high talent retention rate," he said. "If expatriate talent has to brought in to Malaysia, we do this as part of a knowledge sharing exercise so that local staff benefit. Incidentally, many Malaysian staff are now also part of our global expat rotation programme, open to all staff who have relevant and needed skills to offer to projects around the world. We hire for good not just for a single project."

Tech Mahindra Malaysia's country manager Michael Ang, a Malaysian, said Tech Mahindra's shift of approach on building an ecosystem staffed by local talent was a shift from the practice by some Indian organisations of bringing in significant numbers of expatriates into countries like Malaysia.

"In addition, the company is open to allowing staff to take advantage of global opportunities within the company," said Ang. "One of our CEO initiatives is a shadow board to encourage young leaders to form mini-companies - or incubators - with definite business plans including profit and loss responsibilities."

"This is to encourage a sharing of innovation between generations," added Tech Mahindra's Ramachandran, adding that one of the current six mini-CEO projects was a 32-year old running an IT MBA programme with a French engineering university.

"Looking ahead, we plan to delve deeper into the mobile revolution, Digital Enterprise, and intend to open a Centre of Excellence for Digital Enterprises here in Malaysia in the next two quarters or so," said Ramachandran. "This is to tackle the fast emerging trends of big data, mobile adoption while delving into the balancing of security and privacy."

Part of the Mahindra conglomerate, Tech Mahindra (TechM) operates in 54 countries with 86,000 employees generating annual revenues of more than US$2.6 billion.


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