Tesco’s Sanjay Dora on Why Tier 2 and Tier 3 Cities Have Emerged as Talent Magnets for GCCs in India
Interviews, Magazine

Tesco’s Sanjay Dora on Why Tier 2 and Tier 3 Cities Have Emerged as Talent Magnets for GCCs in India

, Senior Manager - Content, Naukri
, Senior Manager - Editorial & Content, Naukri
Sanjay Dora, COO, Tesco Business Solutions & Site Lead – Tesco Bengaluru

Sanjay Dora, COO, Tesco Business Solutions and Site Lead – Tesco Bengaluru provides an in-depth perspective on the strategic decision behind the organisation’s establishment in Bengaluru, highlights the growing significance of Tier II and III cities for GCCs, and talks about the company’s proactive measures towards talent attraction, innovation, and fostering a diverse, inclusive work culture

Global Capability Centres (GCCs) have increasingly recognised the value of consolidating operations in areas with a rich talent pool, robust technological infrastructure, and cost advantages. Bengaluru, often referred to as India’s Silicon Valley, has been at the forefront of this movement. Tesco, the UK-based retail giant, is among the companies that acknowledged this trend early on, establishing its operations in Bengaluru in 2004. Dora, with his vast experience in global business services, engages in a detailed discussion with All Things Talent to shed light on this journey. Excerpts of the interview are below.

What factors influenced Tesco’s decision to inaugurate its capability centre in Bengaluru in 2004, and how have the centre’s skill demands transformed over time?

When Tesco chose Bengaluru in 2004 for its capability centre, the city’s vast talent reservoir, cost efficiency, and burgeoning status as a tech powerhouse stood out. Benefits like an English-proficient populace, a strategically advantageous time zone, progressive government policies, and an atmosphere ripe for innovation made it a compelling choice. Initially, our centre was rooted in technology, emphasizing core technical proficiencies such as Java, C++, and Database Management. However, over time, we branched out, incorporating web development, mobile apps, cloud, and data analytics. This broadening horizon also meant diversifying into customer service, finance, HR, and domain-specific functions like Property Management and Legal. As the digital frontier kept advancing, so did our demands: AI, ML, robotic automation, big data, cybersecurity, and domain mastery became paramount. Equally essential was our ability to perennially recalibrate our talent strategies, ensuring we stay abreast in a ceaselessly advancing tech and business world.

As the momentum for GCCs intensifies this year, there’s a noticeable shift towards Tier-II and Tier-III cities. What attributes of these cities make them pivotal destinations for GCCs in the talent landscape?

Their competitive edge comes from economical living and affordable real estate, complemented by a burgeoning reservoir of skilled professionals groomed by upgraded educational platforms. With diminished talent competition, a superior equilibrium between work and personal life, and formidable regional employee loyalty, these cities are becoming magnets for GCCs.

Moreover, organisations are tapping into the unique local language proficiencies and eclectic viewpoints these cities offer, paving the way for enriched customer interactions and groundbreaking innovation. The combination of governmental incentives, tax concessions, and escalating digital infrastructure is making remote collaborations seamless. Augmented by infrastructural advancements and economic progression, these cities not only stand out as quintessential business venues but also serve as catalysts for societal transformation by amplifying employment opportunities and community involvement. A forward-thinking approach sees companies partnering with local academies, crafting talent pipelines primed for the challenges of tomorrow.

Also read: Easing Appraisal Anxiety: Transforming Workplace Culture for Better Mental Health

Is Tesco considering establishing additional centres in these cities?

Currently, we have a presence in four international locations, forming a cohesive network of Global Hubs. Our transition to a hybrid work environment supports a dispersed team, reinforcing business stability and aiding in the recruitment and retention of talent, thus promoting nimble growth.

How has the GCC landscape in India transitioned over the years, and which specific skill sets have emerged as indispensable within these centres?

Over the years, the GCC landscape in India has metamorphosed, influenced by a blend of India’s cost-effective, adept workforce, strong technological foundations, government incentives, and its role as a preferred offshoring epicentre. As this ecosystem evolved, there’s been a surge in demand for specialised skills, ranging from software development, data analytics, and cloud computing to more niche areas like UX design, artificial intelligence, and domain-specific expertise in sectors such as finance and retail. Simultaneously, the benefits of establishing a GCC in India compared to other global locales are multifaceted. Beyond just the talent pool, India provides a unique mix of digital prowess, cost advantages, geopolitical stability, and a vibrant start-up atmosphere, distinguishing it from counterparts like the Philippines, China, Poland, and Ireland.

How are emerging technologies shaping Tesco’s hiring strategies, and what measures does your organisation employ to attract and retain talent in this dynamic market?

At Tesco Business Solutions (TBS), new-age technologies are at the forefront of our hiring strategy. They not only streamline talent acquisition but also infuse data-driven insights, enable AI-powered evaluations, and facilitate virtual interview platforms. In the evolving marketplace, harnessing these technological advancements is paramount to attracting and retaining top-tier talent.

Our Employee Value Proposition (EVP) stands as a testament to this, offering a blend of competitive compensation, industry-leading benefits, and clear career development avenues. Beyond these tangible assets, TBS’s defining attribute is its culture, where colleagues are celebrated and placed at the very core. Our emphasis on diversity and an empowering environment ensures everyone thrives both professionally and personally.

This commitment has led TBS to be acknowledged by the Shared Services and Outsourcing Network (SSON) as the World’s Best GBS in 2023, underscoring our dedication to both performance and people. Moreover, our award-winning 15-acre green campus in Bengaluru not only champions sustainability but also offers a rejuvenating space for our colleagues, further highlighting our holistic approach to employee well-being and growth.

GCCs in India are poised for another evolutionary leap. A robust value proposition, increased AI integration, and an amplified role of data science and analytics will be paramount. These centres will transition into global entities, acting as seamless extensions of their parent organisations.

What initiatives are taken to foster a collaborative and inclusive work culture?

Our investments in this vision are manifold — from diversity and inclusion training to revamped hiring practices, and from dedicated mentorship programs to nuanced recognition systems. We actively urge colleagues to broaden their horizons by participating in cross-functional projects, a step that further cements their professional advancement.

But our commitment goes beyond mere words. Our policies have been meticulously crafted to reflect and promote this inclusive approach. This includes provisions such as insurance coverage for same-gender partners and those in live-in relationships, comprehensive adoption policies, support for gender reassignment surgeries, a creche policy for working parents, and enhanced insurance coverage for our specially-abled colleagues. Through these initiatives, we’re not just crafting policies — we’re reshaping our organisational culture to be truly inclusive.

Also read: Building Resilient Workforces: Insights from Smitha Yadav, Head HRBP at CDK Global India

Can you provide examples of successful innovation and knowledge transfer initiatives between your unit and global teams?

At Tesco Business Solutions, our unyielding pursuit of value generation permeates every aspect of our operations. It’s not just a goal; it’s our very essence, our DNA. This passion has culminated in the development of groundbreaking solutions over the years. From pioneering a top-tier Contracts and Commercial Management capability to introducing an avant-garde Cash Monitoring application, we have consistently stayed at the forefront of innovation. Further, our suite of Enterprise Analytics solutions empowers our business leaders, providing them with the insights they need to make intelligent decisions that spur revenue growth, enhance margins, and bolster cash generation.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the workings and employee dynamics of GCCs in India, and what future trends do you foresee for these centres, given the evolving scenario?

The ripples of the COVID-19 pandemic have been deeply felt in the operations and employee dynamics of GCCs in India. This unprecedented challenge nudged us into a comprehensive reevaluation of our operating models, and business resilience strategies, and hastened our transition to a more formalised hybrid working environment and digital transformation. But it wasn’t just about operational shifts; it also brought to the fore the pressing need for addressing the well-being of our colleagues, the significance of reskilling in a volatile environment, and smarter workforce planning in the face of uncertainties. At Tesco Bengaluru, we recognise the indispensable role our colleagues’ families play, and we’ve taken steps to celebrate and integrate them into the larger Tesco family fabric.

Peering into the future, GCCs in India are poised for another evolutionary leap. A robust value proposition, increased AI integration, and an amplified role of data science and analytics will be paramount. These centres will transition into global entities, acting as seamless extensions of their parent organisations. At Tesco Business Solutions, we’re not just adapting; we’re leading. Our primary aim is to transform into an end-to-end experience-centric and decision-driven organisation. Accelerated AI adoption and a commitment to continually upskill our team in emerging technologies are just a few ways we’re future-proofing our operations.

Also read: Future of GCCs Hinges on Optimising Human-Machine Collaborations: Mitun Chakraborty, Carelon

How does your GCC integrate with and elevate local talent development and upskilling initiatives in India? 

Aligning with Tesco Group’s refreshed purpose in 2021, “Serving our customers, communities, and planet a little better every day,” we’ve honed our community engagement, directing efforts towards critical issues paramount to our stakeholders. A cornerstone of our approach is championing a brighter future for children, ensuring they’re equipped with the skills and resources for tomorrow’s challenges.

Underpinning this vision, we’ve pioneered initiatives to uplift the local community, emphasising the empowerment of young individuals. A standout example is our collaboration with the Magic Bus India Foundation. This endeavour, tailored for the youth aged 18 to 25, focuses on inculcating customer-centric skills among the underprivileged. By facilitating placements across sectors like Retail, BFSI, ITES, Hospitality, and Healthcare, we’re not merely offering them employment opportunities but arming them with the competence to make a substantial difference in their lives and those of their families. The success of this partnership is evident, having mentored 1000+ young individuals and successfully placed over 800 in customer-oriented roles, subsequently enhancing their family’s economic stability.

About the expert: With over 25 years of expertise, Sanjay Dora has excelled in spearheading Global Business Services and BPOs in India and the Philippines, while driving large-scale digital transformations. He’s renowned for adeptly managing P&Ls and leading high-calibre teams across varied environments.

Registered name of the company & location: Tesco Bengaluru
Year of Incorporation: 2004
Number of employees: 4500 colleagues (India)
Business line: Tesco in Bengaluru is a multi-disciplinary team serving our customers, communities, and planet a little better every day across markets. Our goal is to create a sustainable competitive advantage for Tesco by standardising processes, delivering cost savings, enabling agility through technology solutions, and empowering our colleagues to do even more for our customers.


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