Industry ready recruits and industry-academic alliances are the buzz words of the day. At the Swami Dayananda College of Arts & Science, Manjakkudi we have embarked on one such initiative recently.
Geetha Anantharaman who played an important role in setting up the BPO (business process outsourcing) unit of Wipro at the Swami Dayananda College campus in 2011 is now spearheading a Version 2.0 initiative along with Sri. S.V. Vijayaraghavan in the same premises.
The new programme ‘Academics to Business’ was recently unveiled at a function at the Swami Dayananda College of Arts & Science, Manjakkudi.
Conceived as a bridge course, the focus is ‘industry readiness’ and course components include understanding the corporate sector, interview process that includes tips on interview preparation and group discussion. The programme also focuses on harnessing professional competencies and computer skills to enable new recruits to be more effective and productive from day one in the organisation “We have just rolled out the course and the focus is on English language and communication skills and overall personality development,” says Anantharaman.
The programme is designed with a practical orientation with tips on likely interview questions and topics for group discussions. “We tell students how it’s important to research a company fully before going in for an interview etc.” The programme is targeted at final year students and eventually it will cover 2nd year students too as they get two full years to get ‘industry ready.’
Through such initiatives, we have tried to stall migration to cities. Brain drain reversal is often used in the context of Indian origin researchers, doctors and engineers living in the west. But what’s noteworthy is that brain drain is happening all the time in the country when people move from villages to cities.
A physical technology enabled backward integration is possible in villages. Migration to cities can be stalled if youth from rural India bag decent jobs in their own hometowns.
The Wipro BPO centre located at Manjakkudi is a testimony to that. It is the first rural business process service unit up by Wipro Technologies. The company employs 130 people in day and night shifts and 90% of the employees are graduates from the Swami Dayananda College of Arts & Science, Manjakkudi.
The beginnings to that were in 2007 when college authorities found it difficult to lure companies to come to a village for campus placement. The SDET (Swami Dayananda Educational Trust) management under the guidance of Sri. VA Raghu, advisor to the TVS group decided to start a BPO (business process outsourcing) company in the region.
Several IT companies were approached and Wipro decided to do a feasibility study. The ground work for the report fell on the shoulders of Geetha Anantharaman who was employed with the company at that point of time. Recalling the events that led to Wipro moving into the hinterlands in southern Tamil Nadu, Anantharaman says they started with focus group discussions where they had detailed interactions with students on their aspirations. Based on the interviews and other statistics, the feasibility report looked promising.
It was time for delivery and the HR (human resources) head of Wipro and other officials from the department decided to visit to the village. The college authorities were equally receptive and provided a building for Wipro to move its staff there. “We decided that we would shift the work of an international client (a US based retailer) to the proposed BPO. We then sounded out our client in US who seemed very positive to the whole idea. And when a senior official from that company came down to India, we made it a point to take him to Manjakkudi and show our office,” recalls Anantharaman.
When the Wipro BPO operations commenced operations in Manjakkudi in 2011, 50 roles (finance related work of the US retail client) were shifted to Manjakkudi from Chennai. “The layout of the Manjakkudi office like security and compliance were all done to Wipro BPO standards,” says Anantharaman. This was followed by walk-in interviews and 70 college graduates from Manjakkudi and neighbouring regions were issued offer letters.
In phase II, another 50 roles were moved to Manjakkudi with the training, HR and leadership support being continued to be provided out of the Wipro Chennai office.
It is a proven fact that technology has been a great leveller in societies like India and we have enabled a brick and mortar technology presence in the rural hinterlands.