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Interview

‘Value’ has always been at the core of our people strategy. Over the years we have rolled out several initiatives focused on improving overall team member experience. Though it continues to be a key focus, we are now looking to further differentiate this value and extend it beyond our employees to also benefit their families and the community at large.

Introduce yourself and tell us about your organisation  

I am Sundar Narayanan, EVP and chief people officer at Virtusa, and I have been with the company for nine years. The miscellany of human interactions has always fascinated me, and working with people from diverse and multicultural backgrounds continues to be my passion. I’m constantly amazed by the contours of what is possible with people when provided with the right level of direction, clarity and empowerment. With consistent and industry leading year-over-year growth, we have been able to offer a vast array of opportunities for our team members to spark their career progression at Virtusa. 80% of our key leadership positions are fulfilled from within, and this is a direct reflection of our ‘People’ value.

Virtusa is a global provider of digital strategy, digital engineering and IT services and solutions that help clients change and disrupt markets through innovation engineering. Our ability to combine deep digital engineering and industry expertise, with our proprietary processes, gamified toolsets, adaptors, and accelerators, enable us to spark change and unlock new value.

Every Virtusan is empowered to innovate by challenging the norms. This spirit of cooperative disruption drives every contributor to think beyond today and build collectively for a better tomorrow. Agile in thought and transparent in action, our organization is innately driven to find a better way through passion, innovation, respect, and leadership.

What do you think defines an organisation as a top employer today?  

The ability to truly reflect core company values and purpose in its people strategy is what would set an organization apart as a top employer. By mirroring what the company stands for, you are building a culture of trust and transparency that allows employees to personally experience these intrinsic values.

Keeping people at the heart of every initiative, and doing that sincerely, goes a long way in building such an ecosystem. A top employer needs to commit to providing an environment that fosters continuous growth and empowers team members to stay relevant through upskilling and cross skilling opportunities.

A top employer is also defined by its ability to create a sense of shared purpose. By translating organizational strategy and mission into work that is personally meaningful to employees, you inspire them to strive harder towards achieving the common goal.

Tell us about a recent initiative that you have instigated within your organisation that you are most proud of?  

At Virtusa, we place a lot of importance on providing faster and more empathetic responses to employee needs. This can only be enabled by providing a reliable and transparent platform for employees’ voices to be heard and their needs addressed proactively.

We recently liaised with an external partner to conduct a company-wide global engagement survey called ‘In My Opinion’ (IMO). The survey independently measures the happiness score of employees by evaluating 7 key drivers including prospects, development, engagement, trust, life, relationship and rewards. The results of the survey provided a comparative view of strengths and areas of improvement for every geography and business unit, against the overall company benchmark.

The survey participation was overwhelming and it has been able to accurately capture the sentiments of employees on a global scale and tell us their pain-points and sources of joy. The comparative study has also helped us identify best practices that can now be standardised and rolled out company wide. We are currently mobilising numerous focus groups to convert insights from the study into actionable outcomes. These groups will ideate, plan and implement people programs specifically focused on improving the platforms for engagement and development.

What is the next objective in your organisation's journey to keep improving the employee experience?  

‘Value’ has always been at the core of our people strategy. Over the years we have rolled out several initiatives focused on improving overall team member experience. Though it continues to be a key focus, we are now looking to further differentiate this value and extend it beyond our employees to also benefit their families and the community at large.

We have rolled out a tech-powered sustainability program to provide employees the opportunity to invest their time and skills in socially responsible activities. The program aims to use Virtusa’s technology capabilities and expertise to pursue ‘tech for good’. We have identified a few areas for the initial roll-out of the initiative- a TeachReach program powered by the Virtusa Open Innovation Platform (OIP) wherein employees can apply their technology skills for socially beneficial projects, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled entrepreneurship portal for universities to nurture new ideas into reality, and a gamified corporate-level environmental stewardship program.

What is the biggest challenge facing your organisation today and how are you planning to overcome it?  

One of the biggest challenges we face is to stay relevant in the wake of constantly emerging and disruptive technology advancements. Given the rapid pace of evolving technologies such as Cloud, there is an ongoing need to proactively train and up-skill employees to enhance their readiness for new challenges.

‘Virtusa Academy’ institutionalizes learning to accelerate capabilities and enable growth from within. We also partner with specialised industry leading institutions to train and upskill our team members proactively. Our deep technology focus and rich engineering culture underpinned by our Open Innovation Platform has been a key enabler for learning. These platforms allow employees to explore and test their domain competencies using synthetic data-sets from various industries.

Our enterprise-class gamification platform is another. For example, Gamification is increasingly used in workplaces, with Gartner reporting 40% of Global 1000 organizations using Gamification to motivate and encourage positive behaviors. Yet, up to 80% of gamified efforts fail to meet business objectives. Virtusa has made Gamification real within the enterprise by using AI-powered leaderboards to continuously reset and outpace performance benchmarks to create a culture of cooperative disruption.

Therefore, by providing employees the right platforms, tools and resources, we are actively addressing this challenge and are already seeing positive outcomes.

How will your organisation have to adapt to meet the changing future workplace?  

The future of work is transforming right before our eyes and we need to embrace this change quickly to stay ahead of this revolution. One of the immediate changes we foresee is a shift in mindset regarding where work gets done. With tech-enabled collaborative tools and platforms bringing the world closer together virtually, people can work from practically anywhere. Distributed and agile scrum teams are quickly replacing traditional working models. The skill profile of a technologist is transitioning from ‘T shape’ to ‘Comb shape’ with deep expertise in multiple areas. Our training engine is calibrated at the right speed and velocity to support this shift.

With digital technologies paving the way forward, it is also important to invest in the latest technologies to provide a superior experience at the workplace. Introducing smart apps to manage interactions (request time-off, view pay-slips, complete appraisals, etc.), and offering BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to work programs, are some of the many ways in which we can offer a strong and differentiated employee experience.

Flexible working hours is a change that has already set its wheels in motion- more and more employees are benefitting from flexible schedules that allow them to effectively balance work and personal time.

 

This interviewee was kindly introduced to us by ‘Top Employers Institute – the global authority on certifying excellence in employee conditions.’ Their organisation is certified as a Top Employer.

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