DXC Technology’s Lokendra Sethi Explains Why India Dominates as the Top Choice for GCCs
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DXC Technology’s Lokendra Sethi Explains Why India Dominates as the Top Choice for GCCs

, Senior Manager - Content, Naukri
, Senior Manager - Editorial & Content, Naukri
DXC Technology
Lokendra Sethi, VP HR – India, DXC Technology

Lokendra Sethi, VP HR, DXC Technology, underscores the significance of nurturing internal talent and discusses India’s appeal in the GCC space because of its vast pool of engineers and skilled professionals. While promoting a virtual-first approach, he anticipates a balanced hiring trend in the IT sector.

Amidst the evolving landscape of the global tech industry, India has carved out a unique position as a hub for Global Capability Centres (GCC). With the country producing a staggering number of engineers annually and holding its own in the competitive tech talent market, the recruitment scenario has seen both challenges and opportunities. Lokendra Sethi, VP HR – India, DXC Technology, provides a pragmatic view of this environment, touching upon subjects ranging from the country’s talent pool to the nuances of building versus buying talent. This Q&A is a window into the considerations and strategies of HR leadership in the IT sector.

Could you elucidate on DXC’s trajectory in India, particularly regarding business growth and the evolution of talent management?

Formed in 2017 from the merger of CSC and HPE, DXC entered the market as a formidable entity boasting revenues north of $14 billion and a global workforce of 135,000, of which 42,000 are based in India. Upon my induction in 2019, I spearheaded a transformative initiative for DXC. Given India’s significance in the global map, our strategic priority was to optimally harness and position talent. In the subsequent four years, two primary objectives shaped our course: firstly, shifting from solely acquiring talent to nurturing and building it from the ground up, and secondly, championing diversity and inclusivity. These pillars, complemented by our dedication to training and technological advancement, have been instrumental in sculpting DXC’s current and future vision.

In 2020, we set a clear goal: increase our female workforce representation from 28% to 40%. By this year, we proudly reached that target. While our initial plans were laid out during 2019-2020, the emergence of COVID-19 posed potential setbacks. However, we adapted, enhancing our operational practices. Today, our training framework stands unmatched. Since the beginning of the lockdown, we’ve wholly adopted a virtual-first mindset. Our comprehensive ecosystem, spanning talent development, leadership programmes, and nurturing employee connections, provides an insight into our corporate structure. I’m prepared to address any specific questions you might have.

Also read: Tata Technologies to tap 1,000 women engineers under gender diversity program

Given DXC’s shift towards internal talent cultivation, was it challenging to align leadership with this focus rather than external hiring?

When our business leadership transitioned in 2019, there was a mutual understanding of aligning strategies with our needs. A people-centric strategy should match the business direction. We aimed to not just hire the best but to be distinctive in the talent landscape.

In our first year, we engaged with 70 academic institutions and secured premier positions in 25. This isn’t a one-off; it’s a continuous commitment. Past experiences emphasise the need for a consistent approach.

Consider our goal of increasing female representation from 28% to 40%. Such a goal demands persistent dedication. Long-term success is the benchmark, relying on alignment among business leaders, HR, and the entire organisation.

While it wasn’t easy to gather diverse perspectives under one vision initially, with leadership consistently communicating this vision, alignment was inevitable. A lot of our effort centred on this clear communication.

How has the talent-building approach influenced your business outcomes?

Business seeks three primary attributes in talent: quality, predictability, and adaptability. Our approach is designed to deliver on these precise expectations. When you cultivate talent, you aren’t beholden to competitors’ moves – you control your own destiny. Venturing onto campuses allows us to mould our future workforce, especially evident during last year’s challenging “resignation war” phase.

While we weren’t immune to the industry turmoil, our focus on nurturing talent, as opposed to purely poaching, stabilised our position. We maintained timely talent fulfilment, optimised our cost structure, and ensured talent predictability – all pivotal for our stakeholders. The broader business community has recognised the merit of our approach. One business leader’s remark resonates with our journey: “Had we persisted with our old ways, we would’ve been caught off guard.” This encapsulates the essence of our strategy’s impact.

How is DXC currently progressing with its talent development and diversity inclusion initiatives?

This year offers a return to some semblance of normalcy, allowing us to concentrate even more on talent development. We’ve achieved 40% female representation, but our ambition doesn’t stop here. We aspire to a gender-neutral workforce. Our strategy emphasises nurturing talent right from the academic stage, with a strong focus on training. Leveraging a virtual-first approach and technology, we’ve honed our process to effectively engage university talent from the initial selection stage.

Last year, we concentrated on cultivating leaders, especially female leaders. Past objectives revolved around achieving specific numbers and defining our purpose. Now, it’s about scaling that talent and elevating them to appropriate roles. Programmes like  SheLEADS@DXC exemplify our commitment. Initially developed in-house and launched during the height of the pandemic, this women’s leadership initiative has expanded globally, with APAC being its most recent addition.

Leadership development isn’t a quick fix—it requires consistent effort over several years. Recognising this, our commitment remains unwavering. Expect us to emphasise this continuity in our approach even in the future. 

The nation’s dedication to education and skill development is evident. Annually, India produces approximately 1.3 million engineering graduates from its vast network of 1,300 to 1,400 engineering institutions. This doesn’t even account for the multitude of graduates from other disciplines.

You’ve placed significant focus on cultivating female leaders at DXC. Do you have a precise aim concerning the number of women in leadership roles?

Setting a specific numerical aim might seem like a straightforward approach, but we’ve intentionally avoided such defined targets. Pursuing strict numbers can sometimes lead to decisions that aren’t in the best interest of the organisation or its employees. Our dedication to gender inclusion and promoting women doesn’t mean we favour one gender over another. We believe in a balanced approach, ensuring both men and women advance side by side. We’re devoted to fostering an environment ripe with opportunity. I regularly stress in our town halls that every single woman in our mid-tier positions, with leadership aspirations, will receive our full support. We’re here to offer the tools and chances they need. The subsequent steps on their leadership path will be for them to take, equipped with what we’ve provided.

What feedback have you received regarding your initiatives to foster female leadership?

Our initiatives have seen participation from numerous senior mid-level women, all of whom have undergone our leadership programme. One of the most impactful outcomes of these sessions is the connections they form with various leaders through these six-month programmes. Through sustained interactions, hands-on projects, and dialogues with us, they often gain better clarity about their professional aspirations. Some women are keen to pursue senior leadership roles, while others find satisfaction in excelling at their current positions. The essence of our approach is to ensure that if any woman aspires to reach the very top, like the CEO position, we are right there, supporting and empowering her every step of the way.

Given your emphasis on training in recent years, how are HR resources and budgets allocated across various functions?

Over the past few years, we’ve maintained an average of 40 training hours per employee annually. Beyond the training hours, we’ve placed a significant emphasis on industry certifications. In fact, in just the last year, we’ve achieved around 70,000 sets of certifications for our employees. While nurturing and cultivating future leaders—both women and men—is crucial, it’s equally vital to fortify the skills of our current workforce. For us, it’s not just about providing training; it’s about ensuring that the skills we impart meet industry benchmarks and can be effectively assessed.

In terms of the GCC boom in India, why do you think India is such a lucrative space for GCC? 

Companies prioritise talent that is skilled, adaptable, and cost-effective. When these three elements converge, it creates an ideal scenario for any firm. Over the past two decades, India has showcased its unique strength in providing such talent. The nation’s dedication to education and skill development is evident. Annually, India produces approximately 1.3 million engineering graduates from its vast network of 1,300 to 1,400 engineering institutions. This doesn’t even account for the multitude of graduates from other disciplines.

Currently, around 5.1 million professionals work in India’s IT sector. To provide perspective, this number stood at around 3.7 to 3.8 million in 2021, indicating a substantial growth of 40-50% in just a span of 18 months.

Economically, India’s competitive pricing sets it apart. On average, Indian talent comes at a more affordable rate than their counterparts in Eastern and Western Europe. The cost is also comparable to several Asian nations. Furthermore, the proficiency in English prevalent among Indian professionals adds to the country’s appeal as a global talent hub.

What’s fueling the recent momentum in this domain?

There are multiple factors that make India an ideal hub for GCCs:

Skilled Workforce at Scale: Corporations aim to have a workforce that possesses not just skills but also the adaptability to constantly learn and evolve. India, over the last two decades, has demonstrated its ability to offer talent at an unprecedented scale. Annually, India produces approximately 1.3 million engineers, stemming from around 1300 to 1400 engineering institutions. This doesn’t even account for the multitude of other graduates from diverse disciplines.

Cost Efficiency: Despite the vast talent pool and the quality of work, India’s cost structure remains competitive. On average, our rates are still more affordable compared to regions like Eastern Europe and Europe. We are competitively priced, even when juxtaposed with some Asian peers.

Rapid Growth in the IT Sector: The sheer pace of growth in the Indian IT workforce is a testament to the boom. 

Language Proficiency: An often-underestimated advantage is the widespread proficiency in English among Indian professionals. This not only aids in smoother communication but also ensures effective collaboration with global counterparts.

The renewed momentum is a result of the amalgamation of these factors, combined with global digital transformation trends and an increasing reliance on IT infrastructures. With businesses recognising the potential and advantages India brings to the table, the country continues to be a hotspot for GCC establishments.

How do you communicate the importance of internal talent development in boardroom discussions, and how do you justify the ROI to top-level management?

Building talent internally, contrary to some perceptions, is economically more viable than frequently sourcing from the market. The transitional costs associated with external hiring surpass those of nurturing in-house talent. By developing talent from within, we ensure a seamless integration of company values and culture, something that’s challenging to achieve with external hires. Our past experiences, like the challenge of having only two out of 10 externally sourced candidates actually join, further emphasise the need for internal talent cultivation. The tangible outcomes from our strategy, visible in reduced average delivery costs and a more cohesive organisational culture, make a compelling case in boardroom discussions.

Also read: Employer Branding: Measure ROI But Also Prioritise Employee Happiness At Work

Besides the 40% women representation, are there metrics showing benefits from investing in talent, like reduced attrition or quicker conversions?

Absolutely. From my experience, nurturing talent in-house results in better quality and engagement. The early career years are pivotal. Training them with our tools and processes from the start leads to deeper organisational commitment. It’s not just about hiring but offering career growth, ensuring longer retention.

In terms of “virtual first,” how does the company approach this concept, its benefits, and future plans?

Our “virtual first” approach doesn’t mean we’re exclusively virtual. It means our default is remote work, but we’ll collaborate in person when necessary. This flexibility means we don’t lose talent due to life events. For instance, while previously women might not have been placed on night shifts, now, with a virtual approach, such limitations have been addressed, creating more inclusivity.

How do you maintain company culture and ensure team interaction?

Primarily, we harness technology to its maximum potential. For instance, our event, DXC Utsav, was conducted online for the past two years and demonstrated remarkable team cohesion. Though we prioritise virtual, it doesn’t exclude face-to-face interactions. Our clarity on this stance prevents confusion and our employees value and appreciate this approach.

Also read: How Work Culture Shift Helped Tilaknagar Industries Beat Financial Stress?

Given the conservatism observed in hiring within the IT and GCC sectors, do you foresee a change in hiring sentiment in the near future?

Recruitment is inherently tied to demand. Currently, I anticipate stability rather than the hiring frenzy we observed last year. Companies will likely focus on cultivating their existing talent, ensuring retention, and further nurturing them. This period will bring more consistency to our hiring processes.

About the author: With over 25 years in HR strategy and service delivery, Lokendra Sethi, has held leadership roles across regional and global markets, especially within the IT and ITES sectors. His experience spans companies like Accenture, HCL, AECOM, and Covansys. Currently, he serves as the VP HR – India HR Lead at DXC Technology.

Registered name of the company & location: DXC Technology India Pvt. Ltd, Bangalore
Year of Incorporation: 2017
Number of employees: ~41000
Name of the key execs:
• Mike Salvino, Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer, DXC Technology
• Nachiket Sukhtankar – Managing Director – India at DXC Technology
• Lokendra Sethi – VP HR – India HR Lead, DXC Technology
Business line: We deliver the mission-critical IT services that move the world.
CAGR of workforce growth in a 3/5 year period: 5.4% for 3 years.
Key HR differentiating factors like diversity, HR Tech, ESOPs:
• We recently achieved 40% women in our workforce, a year ahead of the planned date.
• DXC Technology has a virtual assistant tool called Violet that has been designed to help with different kinds of questions related to HR matters, like payroll, leave of absence, and one-time payments.
• The company has fully transitioned its hiring process into a digital format. This involves finding potential candidates through different channels, particularly employee referrals, using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).


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