In a conversation with All Things Talent, Yash Mohan, Head HR, APAC, BNY Mellon talks about the company’s talent growth in India, hiring boomerang talent, and various employer branding initiatives to attract and retain employees.
Can you give us an overview of the overall employee presence in India and APAC?
BNY Mellon, as a company, is in two core businesses – investment services and investment management. We have a setup here in India, that is spread across two locations – Pune and Chennai. Through our different businesses, like BNY Mellon International Operations, BNY Mellon Technology Group, and Pershing India, we have grown. Therefore, these are the three companies that helped us start up here in India; as of now, we have about 15,000 employees working on the ground. With these companies, our product categories include asset servicing, issuer services, markets, treasury services, and some areas of investment management.
Primarily, we are an Operations and Technology Center, which is the largest in terms of the overall number of employees. These segments make up a sizable share and collaborate with all of our business units. They, therefore, exist as a consolidated entity while offering a variety of products to various business groupings. And these products—asset servicing, issuer services, markets, and treasury services for investment management—are the ones I just mentioned.
NASSCOM released a report last year that said the opportunity for India in the GCC market has increased dramatically over the past two years, especially since Covid. How have the past several years been for you? And what role does India play in terms of supporting global businesses?
India is fast becoming a preferred destination for many of these large financial institutions. And that is what the NASSCOM study makes clear. Because of this, almost all financial institutions are present in some way or another in the country.
India is also going through this phase of a demographic dividend, where it has a large number of young workers. Companies come here to tap into talent capabilities because these educated, young people can contribute effectively across operations, technology, and business service.
We’re based in Pune and Chennai, and one of the other big tech companies that are setting up shop in Pune is Microsoft, which is establishing data centers. Apart from that, we see other companies leveraging different metropolises: Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Bangalore. Therefore, we’ll continue to see this growth where the firms are leveraging the power of the talent that is available here on the ground.
We will source two types of talent: one from campus who will be brought in and trained on specific business processes, and they will be a part of a globally integrated process. Then there are other sets of people who come with experience. In both cases, what we look for, or what we need, is financial acumen.
Could you tell us about the skill base that BNY Mellon is looking at in the country?
We generally don’t classify whether it’s process or KPU driven, but I can give you an idea. Technology is definitely one of the key skills that we have here in India. And we’re looking at all kinds of developers, including full stack, front end, back end, and so on. As a result, that’s one of our core areas. We have knowledge areas that can spread across data skills, quant skills, and financial skills. Then we have a team called the operations team, which helps us operate our day-to-day business.
But these processes are a core and integrated part of our business model. So they would help us in servicing our clients and delivering the products and services that we have contracted with the client. In addition, we have corporate staff groups that help us set up and run our groups in India, which are spread across finance, human resources, and general services, among other things.
You have highlighted the skills you hire for more on the tech side. What are the mass skills for you?
We primarily hire in Java, full-stack, data science, QA, and production services roles. On the business side, we have roles that relate to funding accounting, financial reporting, and custody bonds, amongst others. As a result, these are like the hot skills that we hire from the market. And this is more commonly referred to as hiring professionals, people with experience, or laterals. In addition, we also hire from campuses.
A certain proportion of our workforce comes from campuses, and we have a very well-structured campus early career program. We try to bring our campus graduates to spend time with us and learn with us, because we are at the intersection of business, finance, and technology, even as a bank.
Several other global banks have their custodian services and fund accounting services, like assets under advisory, in the country as well. Does India offer any kind of uniqueness and talent compared to other global markets?
The talent that we normally hire goes through the upscaling process. So, we will source two types of talent: one from campus who will be brought in and trained on specific business processes, and they will be a part of a globally integrated process. Therefore, a process or the business starting point, maybe in the US, is turned over to India. And that’s essentially making sure we’re serving the clients around the clock.
Then there are other sets of people who come with experience. In both cases, what we look for, or what we need, is financial acumen. And so many of our candidates that we hire, for example, for custody work or accounting or tax work, come with domain backgrounds. So, they would be mostly postgraduates or MBAs, Chartered Accountants, as we do a lot of global work.
As a result, we may be supporting different geographies across the globe. And when we bring in these talents, they bring either that acumen by way of education or, in the case of professionals, the experience of having worked in certain geographies or supporting certain geographies working out of India.
The company currently employs approximately 15,000 people in India; what will be the number of employees for APAC regions?
India is so important to our business that it is considered a region in and of itself. Therefore, we call India an independent region. The rest of Asia Pacific has approximately 1300 employees. Outside of India, it will be around that figure as well.
Can you throw some light on BNY Mellon’s employer branding initiatives? And how did these help you retain and attract talent?
It’s very important for us as an organization to make sure that we understand what our employees want, and our focus is to first be calibrated in terms of what they are thinking or what their feedback is. We have certain management tools. One of them is called Peakon. It’s a continuous and always-on listening platform, it sends out bite-sized surveys to all our employees, across the company. It effectively breaks down a large engagement survey into a series of questions that are sent out to employees on a periodic basis. The employees have the opportunity to respond to them about how they’re feeling, and they can provide feedback in an anonymous manner.
So they can leave a comment, they can chat with their managers or their senior managers anonymously, and managers can respond to that. As a result, we are able to build a close connection with our workers. We are also able to keep tabs on the various sentiments across a range of indicators, from learning to growth to careers to work life—we kind of get a pulse. And that then helps us create our engagement strategy and follow it through.
One of the most important things that our company does is make sure that we spend a lot of time with our employees so that they can relate to, understand, and even contribute to our firm’s strategic vision. We do this through employee connect sessions, town halls, recognition programs, coffee and connect sessions, employee resource groups or business resource groups ERGs, etc.
Another very recent initiative is a program called BK shares. This is a global program and BK is our stock symbol on the New York Stock Exchange. Because we were the first bank in the United States, we were given the ticker BK. So, the BK shares are an equity award being offered to eligible employees worldwide. And this award will be given to employees who would not otherwise be eligible to receive equity within the company. When you give equities and RSUs, it’s at a particular level and above.
But this program is being extended to all employees so that every employee has a way of participating in the commercial success of the enterprise. Think of it as inclusive growth. And then, in turn, benefit from the company’s growth. This way, everybody is a shareholder.
We have also come up with 16 weeks of parental leave, which is irrespective of the path to parenthood, a caregiver leave for 10 days, and inclusive health care policies. Our inclusive healthcare policies are LGBTQ-friendly. We offer insurance coverage to employees, their spouses, and children, but also to parents, and parents-in-law. We have insurance coverage for emotional well-being support, and coverage for anybody thinking of gender transition, hence, it’s very futuristic or forward-looking. In terms of policy, we have income protection support for any major illnesses, which include organ transplants, many kinds of renal failure, etc. And then we are one of the leading firms to offer top-up and flex plans for our employees.
In addition, for mental well-being, we have our employee assistance program and campaigns that help and reiterate the message to employees that mental health is important, and that they should care for themselves. There are Mental Health First Aiders that are available across the organization for our employees. These first aiders are the employees who are trained to help and support their colleagues.
We worked very hard to create a well-curated Job Library, which helps our employees identify different career paths. It may not be in the same business vertical, but they can move sideways or laterally, whichever way they want to move in another function. We’ve transitioned learning into bite-sized learning. Therefore, there are a host of learning opportunities that are available at employees’ fingertips and their convenience. We’re trying to create this learning ecosystem, and also help them with any avenues that exist outside the company.
We also spend time in our talent marketplace, which is powered by our AI-enabled recruiting engine. If I have to summarize the retention initiatives, and these are also relevant for talent attraction, is binding our employees to the strategy. Bringing them along the journey, BK shares, connecting with them, creating that sense of belongingness, giving them industry-leading benefits, giving them flexibility, taking care of their wellbeing, and investing in them through learning and growth. So, these are the key initiatives which I think will remain front and center for the years to come.
One of the very unique concepts we are creating is a shadow leadership team. It would definitely give us a pipeline that we can consider for future leaders. It’s basically to help us connect with the younger generation and connect them to matters or issues that matter to us as a company.
Apart from attracting new candidates and retaining existing employees, do you rehire former employees?
We refer to returnees as boomerang talent. Boomerang talent is a talent that leaves us and then comes back. Out of our total hires, I would say about 10% of candidates are boomerang employees who return to BNY Mellon and that’s a sizable number. Returnees in other companies range from 3 to 5%. And we then get feedback from the returnees in terms of the focus that the environment has on these initiatives that I just spoke about, and what brought them back to the company.
One of the initiatives that you have is the DEI Academy. Apart from women’s inclusion, is there anything more being done to promote LGBT inclusivity in the workplace? What is your long-term goal?
That’s a great question. We were discussing with our employee groups how to make DEI more relevant in India. Our focus has expanded to building other forms of diversity. That’s why we refer to it as a collective form of diversity, which also includes people with disabilities. For that, we’ve created an employee resource group called HEART. It is employee-led, managed, and governed. We try to hold our agenda on people with disabilities and how to integrate them into the workforce. We give them the right training and the right support.
The other one, apart from people with disabilities, is about generational diversity. It is all about bringing generations together and collaborating with each other. One of the very unique concepts we are creating is a shadow leadership team.
We have the LGBTQ plus network called PRISM in our company. It’s in our business resource group, which creates or looks to create a supportive environment for colleagues who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. It also has forums or events, like the Coming Out Day, if you’re comfortable about coming out and sharing your personal journey.
And then lastly, we also focus on veterans i.e. people from the armed forces. We want to increase representation in all these areas, whether it is people with disabilities, autism, neurodiversity, LGBTQ, etc.
The Shadow leadership team is still in the works. Will this be one of your areas of creating a pipeline succession pipeline as well, with the younger workforce in decision-making positions?
It would definitely give us a pipeline that we can consider for future leaders. But then, this is just one of the elements of exposure for them. It’s basically to help us connect with the younger generation and connect them to matters or issues that matter to us as a company, things that are important and are driving the business; it gives them understanding and appreciation. It also fosters inclusion between different generations. When they return to their communities, they will share what they learned from the experience.
As per our research internally, we found that Chennai and Pune have better skill development matrices, which means that the companies are investing in them. Since BNY Mellon has a presence in both these cities, what have you experienced in terms of talent availability?
The interesting part about the Indian workforce is that it is very mobile. People working in Mumbai can come and work in Pune. At any given point in time, the workforce always has a lot of opportunities. And when you are looking outside, of course, employees seek opportunities that leverage experience, and are likely to consider better compensation proposals. But as a company, for compensation, we benchmark ourselves against the industry. We use our strategic partners, and pay a market equivalent based on our ability. And that’s been our compensation philosophy.
Besides compensation, employees do consider other things – flexibility, work-life balance, company investment in ESG capability, environment, social governance, great opportunities, etc – those things are equally important.
About the Author: In the role of Head HR APAC, Yash Mohan leads core HR initiatives, strategic business planning, talent management and development, talent acquisition, organisational design, performance and rewards, and employee relations for the region.
Year of Incorporation: BNY Mellon was formed from the merger of The Bank of New York and the Mellon Financial Corporation in 2007 and was incorporated on 1 July, 2007. In India, BNY Mellon established a wholly-owned subsidiary in Pune in December 2004. In September 2012, the operation expanded to Chennai.
Number of employees in India: Over 15,000 employees in the country
Key Executives in India:
o Sudish Panicker, Managing Director and Head, BNY Mellon Operations, India
o Nitin Chandel, Head, BNY Mellon Technology, India
Business Line: BNY Mellon is a global investment company dedicated to helping its clients manage and service their financial assets throughout the investment lifecycle.