Swati Agrawal, Director for Talent Acquisition at Lowe’s India, provides valuable insights into Lowe’s India’s growth trajectory, its innovative approaches to talent management, and impactful initiatives that bridge the gap between education and employability in underserved communities
Lowe’s India, the Global Capability Centre (GCC) for Lowe’s Inc., a renowned home improvement retailer, has played a massive role in bolstering its operations since its establishment in 2014. Lowe’s India has experienced rapid talent growth, diversifying its expertise across domains such as technology, analytics, business and shared services. With significant contributions like the development of Self-Checkout counters, space planning in merchandising, and the Lowe’s One Roof Media Network, Lowe’s India epitomises how GCCs in India have become great assets to global companies.
In this exclusive interview, we spoke to Swati Agrawal, Director for Talent Acquisition at Lowe’s India about the transformation of the GCC landscape in India, the increasing demand for niche skills, and the value of GCCs in a digitised business environment.
Can you outline Lowe’s India’s operations and talent evolution in the country?
Since its establishment in 2014 as the Global Capability Centre (GCC) of the US-based Fortune 50 retailer, Lowe’s Inc., Lowe’s India has notably expanded its presence and talent base in the country. Marking its rapid growth, it inaugurated a second office in Bengaluru in 2022 and currently boasts over 4,000 associates across various domains. This centre has been instrumental in introducing key innovations, like the Self-Checkout counters and the Lowe’s One Roof Media Network, underscoring its pivotal role in enhancing Lowe’s global retail operations.
How has the evolution of GCCs in India been influenced over the years?
India’s important role in global business transformation has driven significant growth in the GCC landscape. By 2025, NASSCOM predicts the presence of over 1900 GCCs, with a market value of $60 billion, highlighting the continuous trust in India’s potential. This surge is attributed to a robust connection between industry and academia, abundant engineering talent, specialised digital expertise, and global leadership grooming. With their expanding roles in decentralising, diversifying, and digitally transforming organisations, GCCs are now pivotal for strategic business expansion.
What specific skill sets, and expertise are in high demand within GCCs in India?
India has always been a significant destination for tech talent however, a recent Quess Skills Report 2023 indicates a consistent rise in demand for specific technology skills even across non-tech industries that are going digital. At Lowe’s India, we have seen an increase in the demand for skill sets like ERP, Java full stack, data analytics, cloud, and infrastructure management. We hire niche tech skills related to artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, cyber security, DevOps, robotics process automation (RPA) and so on. In addition, we have been expanding our business services teams in 2023 and have hired significantly for non-technology skills such as merchandising, inventory and space planning, marketing and so on.
Imagining a future where candidates can experience virtual onboarding, learning modules, and real-time project simulations within the metaverse is quite feasible. The efficacy of these innovations will depend on their practicality, cost implications, and the readiness of technological infrastructures.
Why is India, particularly Bengaluru, a preferred location for GCCs like Lowe’s?
India’s allure for GCCs stems from its vast, quality talent pool, characterised by adaptability and a unique problem-solving approach. As tech giants initially led the GCC wave in India, other sectors are now exploring its benefits, driven by advancements in AI and machine learning. Recognising Bengaluru’s potential, Lowe’s GCC has successfully tapped into its rich talent and conducive innovation ecosystem, driving meaningful collaborations and fostering sustained innovation.
As projected by an EY report, the total number of new GCC setups is going to jump to 115 every year from the current 70. Do you feel this will escalate talent competition?
The anticipated surge in GCCs will undeniably amplify the quest for top talent. An organisation’s success in talent acquisition hinges on its culture, remuneration, growth prospects, and overall employee value proposition. A holistic approach, rather than isolated efforts, is vital.
Lowe’s strategy focuses on a holistic and inclusive environment where employees engage in groundbreaking projects and foster their careers. With comprehensive plans ranging from career development, wellness, and rewards, to inclusivity programs like Bring-Her-Back and Do-It-Herself, we aim to ensure our talent not only stays but thrives, while also integrating women returning from breaks seamlessly into the workforce.
Given the recent statement that Lowe’s India is investing heavily in AI/ML and AR/VR for products, how is this technology wave influencing HR?
Lowe’s India is embracing AI and related technologies even in its HR domain. We’ve integrated both human intuition and data-centric methods for crucial tasks such as talent management, custom learning modules, recruitment, and performance evaluations. RPA (Robotic Process Automation) has been implemented in several HR operations, showing tangible benefits. Our recent innovation, Amara, a virtual HR assistant, serves as a continuous feedback mechanism for our team members. It can anonymously gather feedback, ensure personalised interactions, provide instant engagement metrics, and conduct sentiment assessments. Currently, Amara is operational in India.
Considering Lowe’s ventures into the metaverse, can you see its application in hiring processes?
Certainly, the metaverse and immersive technologies could revolutionise aspects of HR, notably in recruitment. Imagining a future where candidates can experience virtual onboarding, learning modules, and real-time project simulations within the metaverse is quite feasible. The efficacy of these innovations will depend on their practicality, cost implications, and the readiness of technological infrastructures.
How do you foresee the evolution of GCCs in India, and how is Lowe’s India positioning itself to meet these upcoming shifts?
GCCs in India are likely to emphasise innovation, capability expansion, and revenue contribution in the coming years. This will translate into a heightened need for top-tier talent acquisition, retention, and workforce upskilling.
At Lowe’s India, our strategy hinges on fostering a profound understanding among our associates about our business dynamics, the challenges our US customers face, and the solutions we’re aiming to provide. We’ve launched structured learning initiatives like Retail 360 to inculcate a holistic understanding of the industry, market dynamics, and cultural nuances. Our diverse learning platforms, including Associate Learning Programs (ALP), People Leader Orientation (PLO), and specific leadership experiences for managers and directors, are designed to cater to various organisational levels. Moreover, our unique programme, The Lowe’s Compass (TLC), encourages associates to scout opportunities across the company.
Central to our ethos is cultivating an inclusive, diverse, and respectful organisational culture. Through our four main Business Resource Groups (BRGs) – PRIDE, Women, ABLE, and Generations – we aim to champion diversity and inclusivity. We’ve also redefined our insurance benefits to resonate with an evolved definition of “family,” making it more adaptable to individual needs.
How does Lowe’s India’s GCC drive talent development and promote skill enhancement in the region?
Lowe’s India is committed towards skilling underserved communities in India, and we are investing $1 million over the next three years in mobilising upskilling programmes for the youth. As part of our CSR program, our initiatives are aimed at bridging the gap between education and training and helping the youth become employable. Our initiatives provide training in technical, vocational and core employability skills, promotion of work-based learning, counselling, and career guidance and identifying programs that lead to job placements. Some of our initiatives along with our NGO partners include:
- Coding classes for 800 students from government schools in Bengaluru
- Employability skill training for 2,250 underserved youth along with LGBTQ community members
- Environment, health and safety training for 500 construction workers across Bengaluru
- Higher educational support for 600 girl children across Karnataka
- Coding for girls, digital empowerment and quality education in government schools of Rajasthan
- Digital upskilling of rural agri-based women entrepreneurs and artisans in Karnataka
- Skilling programme for LGBTQ+ community members
- Setting up of solar unit plants for 13 government schools in Bengaluru
- Setting up of mini Science centres/STEM labs in 10 government schools in Bengaluru
About the author: Swati Agrawal boasts nearly 20 years of expertise in executive search and optimising hiring processes. She has worked with global search firm Egon Zehnder and Indian e-commerce giant Myntra, part of the Flipkart Group
Registered name of the company: Lowe’s Services India Pvt. Ltd.
Year of Incorporation: 2014 in India
Number of employees: 4000+ associates
Name of the founders: Carl Buchan & James Lowe were the founders of the company (read more here)
Name of the key execs:
Ankur Mittal, SVP, Technology, Managing Director of India
Mohith Mohan, Vice President – Head of HR & Corporate Operations
Mayur Purandar, Vice President, Enterprise Architecture
Amit Kapur, Vice President, Data & ML Platforms and Data Governance
Manasvi Sharma, Vice President, Technology
Reena Sofiya, Vice President, Merchandising
Business line: Our global capability centre in Bengaluru, with 4,000+ best-in-class associates, delivers value-driven services across technology, business services, shared services and analytics.
CAGR of workforce growth in 3/5 year period: We grew almost 100% in the last 3 years
Workforce pie across departments (in %): 70% in engineering, 30% in business services and shared services.
Key HR differentiating factors:
-The current gender diversity ratio at Lowe’s stands at 33%
– Lowe’s Business Resource Groups (BRGs) serve as company-sponsored, and associate-led resource groups focused on creating an inclusive culture.
1. Women Empowered BRG: The focus of this BRG is to help Lowe’s India become the employer of choice for women by creating a culture that attracts, develops, and retains the best women talent at all levels.
2. ABLE BRG: The focus of the ABLE BRG is to position Lowe’s as a workplace of choice for the PWD community and gain a competitive advantage to increase workplace diversity and productivity.
3. Pride BRG: We strive to develop an LGBTQ-inclusive workspace that provides a supportive, nurturing platform for professionals of all genders to feel safe and thrive professionally.
4. Generations BRG: The focus of this BRG is to embrace generational experiences and perspectives to help associates work together and better support inclusion across the organization.
– We have an Employee Stock Purchase Program to enable associates to participate in the company’s financial success
– Flex-Ben: a flexible benefits insurance program that provides associates an opportunity to design their own Insurance Plan based on their unique needs.