WITH $12.3 BILLION IN 2021 REVENUE, SHI CONTINUES TO GROW AND INNOVATE

 April 14, 2022  Esther Surden0cloudentrepreneurshipInnovationNewsNJ Tech CompaniesNJ Tech Peopletech entrepreneurshipTech for BusinessTech Workforce

If you travel down Davidson Avenue in Somerset, you’ll find the global headquarters of SHI International Corp., a hardware, software and IT solutions provider.

The company’s origins date back to “Software House” — the $1 million reseller acquired by Thai Lee and Koguan Leo in 1989.  To say the company has grown since then is an understatement.

In 2021, SHI, which is a privately owned company, brought in $12.3 billion in revenue, growing 10% over 2020’s revenues. The company’s momentum was particularly strong in the second half of the year (up 14% over the second half of 2020), and it continued into January, SHI said in a press release.

Recently, SHI changed its branding, introducing a new logo and repositioning itself to make customers aware of the broad swath of offerings it provides. The company has about 2,000 employees in New Jersey, at both its headquarters and its integration centers. SHI employs more than 5,000 people worldwide.  

In 2021, the company hired more than 500 solution engineers and continued to invest in its Stratascale (Austin, Texas) division, which provides business transformation through consulting services. The company launched Stratascale in November 2020.

NJTechWeekly.com spoke with Ed McNamara, director of communications and marketing at SHI, about some new directions the company is taking and how it thrived during the pandemic. Our conversation starts here:

ES: SHI came back like gangbusters during the pandemic. How did you manage this?

EM: I think the most important thing was that we were mostly prepared internally. There was a good bit of planning and a good bit of good fortune. We have two warehouses / integration centers, Ridge and Knox, named after the streets they reside on in Piscataway.  The Knox one had been opened for years and the Ridge one came online in 2019. As you know, for the first four or five months of the shutdown there was an increased need for hardware sales, so having that increased capacity benefited us, so we could help our customers as they moved their people to remote locations.

We flipped the switch for our own employees in March of 2020. We were very much an in-office company, whether we are working here in Somerset or its down in Austin, Texas, or in Milton Keynes, in the U.K., our top three office locations.  We believed in that model for collaboration and training and several other reasons. We went from being an in-office company to a work-from-home company over the course of a weekend. Between Friday and Monday, 94 percent of our employees went from in-office work to remote work.

We were prepared because, about 18 months before this, a couple of bad winter storms had knocked out our New Jersey office’s ability to be there for our customers. Thai Lee, our CEO, decided that we couldn’t tolerate the office disruption, and she decided that everyone would have the ability to work remotely at a moment’s notice. Everyone was equipped with laptops and mobile devices to be able to support remote work. During the shutdown, we just had to make some adjustments on the IT side to scale up in terms of our virtual private network to handle a greater capacity over a longer period of time.

The 6 percent of our employees who could not work remotely should not be overlooked. They were in our integration center and were warehouse employees. They did a massive amount of work, sometimes working double shifts to accommodate all of the IT needs of our customers. They were what kept our customers going through the lockdowns. Our customers all over the world were part of that.

ES: What were your most in-demand items during the various stages of the pandemic?

EM: Laptops, monitors, docking stations, you know, anything that you would see if you looked around that you would need to create an a remote office.

The logistics was the hard part, and where we could make the most impact. For example, a financial company with 1,000 employees in New York used to have everything shipped to their New York address. With the lockdown, suddenly these items had to be shipped out to individual employees. You might ask, “Does that make a difference?” And it really does. Shipping pallets of equipment is very different than shipping individual monitors. We were able to do very well with this because we were able to meet our customers’ needs.

ES: What do you think is the main reason SHI has been so successful?

EM: At SHI we always point back to our very loyal customers. We have customers who have been with us for years and decades. It’s not always the case. We do get new customers coming on board. But our long-term customer IT needs have increased, and as our relationship evolves with these customers, we continuously refine what is available to them. When we opened our Ridge facility, it was in response to new opportunities. Customers who might have just been coming to us for Microsoft Volume Licensing now are using us for rack and stack, configurations, and delivery, for example. Also, we are expanding now on an international level in a way we haven’t done before. That has helped us find new customers, and was one of the reasons for the rebrand.

ES: What were some of the other reasons behind the rebrand?

EM: The rebrand was not just about finding new customers, but also about getting existing customers who have known SHI for 20 years to recognize that what they knew about SHI 20 years ago is not necessarily what SHI is now. And we really wanted to invite people to take the opportunity to really look at us in a new light, which just so happens is our marketing tag line. And we had our third logo for 20 years or so. We are now on our fourth logo and we are saying, “Hey, if you’ve known us for a very long time, we invite you to take a look at us and see what’s different.” It’s not just the brand, it’s the offering.

Also, in 2020, SHI established Stratascale, located in Austin, Texas, which brings a consultancy-first approach to helping organizations rapidly adapt in response to business changes and challenges through technology innovation.  We call this “digital agility.” As a wholly owned subsidiary of SHI, Stratascale’s researchers, technical advisors, consultants and field service professionals integrate with SHI’s procurement, implementation and managed-services capabilities, giving customers access to an integrated end-to-end partner for their business transformation journey.

ES: What is SHI’s relationship to New Jersey?

EM: Our headquarters is here and we are staying here. We are also expanding outside of New Jersey. We have about 1,300 employees in Austin, at Stratascale. You know, 2022 is our 14th year in Austin. We’ve been in the U.K. for 20 years, and we continue to expand in the U.K., and we are putting an integration center there. We will also be expanding on mainland Europe, and will be creating an integration center there, as well. We need to continue to support the integration needs for our hardware and software customers, both in Europe and in the U.K., in particular. We will need to put the employees close to the customers.

ES: Is SHI back to the office in its locations?

EM: New Jersey is back two days a week, and we just started coming back in. In Austin, as well, it’s also generally two days a week. We think that for a very long time going forward there will be a hybrid model — sometimes at home, sometimes in the office. We still think that there is a big benefit to our employee base in terms of collaboration among teams, learning and training of all employees, but especially training of employees that are recently onboarded. And we’ve always felt that there was a lot of energy and enthusiasm and positive learning opportunities for people to be in the office. So, being back two days a week feels right.

This article originally appeared in NJ https://njtechweekly.com Tech Weekly, Esther Surden, founder & publisher, and is republished here with her permission.

Austin-based LoveSeat recently raised $7 million led by Bessemer Venture Partners (Philly angle)

Tom Paine

Actually, the concept that would become LoveSeat was hatched in
Philly back around 2013 by Wharton grad and TicketLeap founder Chris Stanchak and his wife Jennifer Stanchak, who was one of the earliest employees of Venmo, which was founded in Philly. The couple moved to Southern Califomia and formally launched LoveSeat, which was in the business of finding, restoring and reselling vintage furniture.

Although the vintage business could be fun and profitable, it was limited by the difficulty in obtaining inventory and was hard to scale. But the Stanchacks in the process found a more attractive business to pivot to: purchasing almost new furniture and other household fixtures that were returned to stores within a company’s return policy. Stores or online retailers have little use for the returned product. It often ended up in landfills.

A key to making the concept work
was use of live auctions to sell product. This model dictates that live auctions be locally based (which also eliminates shipping costs), though that may slow the pace of expansion.


After the pivot, LoveSeat showed margins and unit growth potential strong enough to get the attention of top of the line VCs, such as Bessemer. That firm is known for its Bessemer Cloud Index, which tracks the performance of publicly traded cloud computimg ventures. Love Seat was more of a hybrid, combining physical and virtual elements; the company has built a SasS app to help manage the business.

The investment round included participation from angels who had backed the venture previously, including DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg.

LoveSeat will use the funds to round out its senior management team and expand its physical locaions with an initial concentration on Texas.

But Chris Stanchack told me in a phone interview that he wanted to give a shoutout to people in Philly, which fits into LoveSeat’s longer term expansion plans.


	

CHICAGO, March 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) is excited to announce that it has acquired GF Data, the leading provider of middle-market transaction multiples and other deal data. The acquisition will provide additional benefits to ACG members as well as grow GF Data contributors and subscribers going forward.

“This is a company that fits squarely in ACG’s wheelhouse,” said Tom Bohn, ACG’s President and CEO. “GF Data’s unique, proprietary research methodology provides objective, transaction-based clarity for mid-market dealmakers – a key component of ACG’s membership. This acquisition is truly an example of ACG living its mission of driving middle-market growth through M&A.”

Founded in 2006, GF Data provides aggregated data and analysis to subscribers through electronically delivered reports and access to its valuation database. Data can be filtered by NAICS code, total enterprise value, revenue, EBITDA and more. Acquisition details are provided anonymously by more than 250 private equity firms through a secure online interface. To date, GF Data has tracked more than 4,000 transactions valued between $10 million and $250 million.

GF Data recently expanded its coverage to deals valued at as much as $500 millionand will be adding this data to its M&A,LeverageKey Deal Terms and Industry Drilldown reports. These quarterly reports provide users with more than valuation multiples. A variety of detailed exhibits parse the data by deal structure and lender type, and provide granular insight into financing and deal terms for PE platforms, add-ons and SBIC-backed acquisitions.

“In ACG we found the ideal partner to continue to build GF Data as ACG’s membership is really the lifeblood of GF Data – the data providers and subscribers to the product,” said Andrew T. Greenberg, GF Data’s CEO and Co-Founder. “With ACG’s reach and audience we believe they’ll be able to continue to grow GF Data and further develop our proprietary research model.”

More than 5,000 deal professionals — including investment banks, private equity groups, lenders and debt providers, accounting and valuation firms, law firms, family offices and institutional investors — use GF Data’s benchmarks for their own deals and when advising clients.

“Our model ensures that customers receive trustworthy, accurate information taken from real transactions — not estimates or extrapolations,” said B. Graeme Frazier, Partner and Co-Manager of GF Data.

Going forward, GF Data will become an integral part of ACG’s content strategy and membership experience, providing a standardized baseline of deal terms. ACG is excited about continuing to work with Andy and Graeme to integrate that platform into the ACG universe.

“With the acquisition of this subscription product, ACG members will see greater clarity into purchase price multiples, and more importantly, greater clarity into other key market terms through GF Data’s proprietary research,” said Bob Dunn, Managing Director of GF Data.

About ACG
We Drive Middle-Market Growth

Founded in 1954, ACG is the premier M&A dealmaking community with a mission of driving middle-market growth. ACG’s 

NJTW NEWS: DAVID SORIN AND OTHER MCCARTER TECH PARTNERS HEAD TO BROWN RUDNICK; APPRENTICE GETS $100 MILLION SERIES C 

David Sorin
David Sorin of Brown Rudnick | file photo

Home »  Around New Jersey »  Emerging technologies »  entrepreneurship »  Innovation »  News»  NJ Tech People » NJTW News: David Sorin And Other McCarter Tech Partners Head To Brown Rudnick; Apprentice Gets $100 Million Series C

 January 25, 2022  Esther Surden0Around New JerseyEmerging technologiesentrepreneurshipInnovationNewsNJ Tech People

[This article was taken from NJTW News, an NJTechWeekly.com newsletter. Sign up for it here.]

Sorin And Colleagues Leave McCarter & English

  • Boston-based law firm Brown Rudnick, which has a significant presence in New York, is the new home to the venture capital and technology practice of David Sorin and several other partners from Newark-based McCarter & English.
  • Sorin was the chair of the Venture Capital Group and Emerging Growth Companies practice at McCarter.
  • Known for his championship of the New Jersey tech and entrepreneurship ecosystem, Sorin has served as attorney and advisor to many local startups, and he helped found the New Jersey Technology Council, now TechUnited:NJ.
  • Sorin, Scott Smedresman, Jared Sorin, Joseph Ferino, and Matthew Uretsky, along with their associates Ken Franklin, Morgan Jones and Thomas Rezach also joined  Brown Rudnick, where they focus on emerging growth tech and tech-enabled companies..
  • Sorin told us that  Brown Rudnick hopes to open a small office in Princeton in the near future.

Pharma AR/AI Startup Apprentice Gets $100 Million

How the Apprentice team has grown! A partial team photo. | Courtesy Apprentice
  • Jersey City-based Apprentice, founded in 2014, recently raised $100 million in a Series C round, led by new investor Alkeon Capital Management.
  • Apprentice found great success during the pandemic as the pharmaceutical industry transformed processes to produce mRNA vaccines.
  • This was the first large-scale application of cutting-edge cell therapies that require a profoundly different production process, the company said.
  • The company’s intelligent cloud platform integrates augmented reality, voice recognition, and artificial intelligence into wearable, mobile, and desktop devices to offer a virtual collaboration application and a robust manufacturing and lab-execution system, the company said.
  • Congratulations to Angelo Stracquatanio III, cofounder and CEO, and cofounders Gary Pignata and Alexandra Buttke.

This article originally appeared in NJTechWeekly. Esther Surden, Editor & Publisher, and is reposted here with her permission.

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Blue Bell-based Tx3 Services acquired

Tom Paine

Tx3 has 35 employees according to LinkedIn. Founded in 2011, its been a partnership with Jason Tepfenhard as general partner. Tricensus management indicates its been working with Tx3 for quite some time. One thing that’s clear is that Tricentus is close to SAP, though the prime investors appeared to have been Wipro and Insight Ventures.

Tricensus, a well-funded cloud-based software testing business that raised $172 million a few years back, has made a string of acquisitions lately. Its most recent, announced yesterday, is Blue Bell-based Tx3 Services, described as ”Devops for Life Sciences. “

Tx3 works with clients to hekp them keep their systems and data in compliance.

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with Tx3 for sone time.

Tx3 Says it works with custoners to

keep thwir dara & ststemd in regukariry compliance.

Friday inight is my

EPAM dives on war uncertainty

Tom Paine

EPAM Systems this morning withdrew its guidance for the firsr quarter and full year 2022 ”due to heightened uncertainties and regional impacts resulting from military actions in Ukraine”.

Newtown-based EPAM Systems, whicb has significant chunks of it workforce in Russia and Belarus as well as Ukraine, is down a stunning 47& at mid-day (NYSE:EPAM)

This is a very successful, muti-billion dollar company listed on the NYSE.

Over the weekend, EPAM CEO Arkadiy Dobkin issued a statement that included the following:

“With over 14,000 people in Ukraine, we are for the first time in the middle of real civil and humanitarian crisis, in the middle of the war with tens of millions of people in danger. We do know everything firsthand, in real time. And despite the unity of practically the entire world against the aggression, we are seeing a catastrophic loss of life happening as we speak. 

At this point, we are doing absolutely everything we can to save, help and support logistically and financially Ukrainian EPAMers and their families. We are doing it through a network of tens of thousands of volunteers, and with help of all our regional support teams in locations across Europe and EPAM global. And we will continue to do so relentlessly.

Today we stand United in support of the people of Ukraine and against all forms of aggression against them. The war must be stopped NOW.”


dbt Labs raises $222M in Series D funding at $4.2B valuation led by Altimeter with participation from Databricks and Snowflake

The Series D funding round is the latest in a series of milestones solidifying dbt’s position as the industry standard for data transformation in the cloud

dbt Labs

NEWS PROVIDED BYdbt Labs 

Feb 24, 2022, 09:15 ET


PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — dbt Labs, the pioneer in analytics engineering, today announced that it has raised $222 million in Series D financing at a $4.2 billion valuation. The round was led by existing investor, Altimeter, with participation from existing investors Amplify Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, and Sequoia. New investors participating in the Series D include Coatue, Tiger Global, ICONIQ Growth, GV, and GIC. Three strategic investors representing leaders in the shift to the cloud – Databricks, Salesforce Ventures, and Snowflake – also participated. No new board members are joining the team.Continue Reading 

dbt Labs
dbt Labs

Demand for dbt is driven by the industry-wide shift to cloud-based data platforms like Snowflake, Google Bigquery, and Databricks. Over the past two years, dbt has emerged as the industry standard for data transformation in the cloud. dbt enables data teams to transform data in-warehouse, and deploy analytics code following software engineering best practices. This new way of working, known as analytics engineering, has been pioneered by dbt Labs alongside the global dbt Community of more than 25,000 data professionals.

The new round of funding will allow dbt Labs to build the next layer in the modern data stack. “As dbt has become accepted as the industry standard for data transformation, our most forward-thinking community members have begun musing publicly about the future of the modern data stack and about dbt’s role in it,” said Tristan Handy, Founder and CEO of dbt Labs. “As a data practitioner, I could not be more excited about our product roadmap: an open layer to define an organization’s single source of truth, accessible via every BI and analytics tool.”

Investment from the leading cloud data platforms is the latest milestone solidifying dbt’s position as the accepted industry standard. Notable milestones from the past year include:

  • Community growth: The dbt Community now includes 25,000 data professionals, 12 dbt Meetups in 8 countries, and more than 9,000 companies using dbt.
  • Customer growth: dbt Labs increased annual recurring revenue by 6x in 2021, growing to a customer base of 1,800 accounts including JetBlue, Nasdaq, Lendlease, Dunelm, and Canva.
  • User conference growth: dbt Labs hosted the largest global conference dedicated to analytics engineering with more than 7,000 attendees. Coalesce 2022 is scheduled for October 17-21.
  • Deepened partnerships: The number of partner products supporting data transformation workloads with dbt increased by 2x in 2021. dbt Labs added integrations with partners including Firebolt, Materialize, Microsoft, Rockset, Starburst, and Teradata, in addition to existing integrations with AWS, Databricks, Google Cloud, and Snowflake products.
  • New use cases: dbt Cloud APIs now powers more than 25 enterprise applications delivering solutions across categories of business intelligence, operational analytics, data discovery, data quality, and data governance.

“The data industry is converging around unified cloud data architectures supporting machine learning, data science, and business intelligence use cases,” said Jamin Ball, Partner at Altimeter. “dbt is uniquely well-positioned for this future. dbt provides a transformation framework suited for the needs of data engineers, data scientists, and business analysts–multiple users with multiple use cases working from a single knowledge layer.”

“Like the dbt Labs team, we believe that all data users should have access to the same powerful tools and workflows used by engineers,” said Ali Ghodsi, CEO of Databricks. “With Databricks SQL, we’re now enabling data warehouse workloads. And with dbt, analysts are able to access Databricks machine learning and data science capabilities. We’re looking forward to deepening our partnership with dbt Labs over the coming years as, together, we expand what’s possible in the modern data stack.”

“The work the dbt Labs team does to help analysts create and disseminate organizational knowledge aligns with our mission to help our customers easily find insights, make better decisions and thrive in this new data-driven world,” said Francois Ajenstat, Chief Product Officer of Tableau. “We are excited to see dbt Labs innovate the ways in which data is accessed, transformed and analyzed.”

“Snowflake and dbt Labs share a common vision of data democratization. We see organizations unlock the power of their data when more people are able to participate in analytics processes,” said Christian Kleinerman, SVP of Product at Snowflake. “By deepening our partnership with dbt Labs, we offer joint customers the ability to solve their business problems in a simple, scalable, and secure environment using the power of the Snowflake Data Cloud.”

“We are looking forward to enhancing our data strategy with dbt,” said Summer Collins, Head of Data and Growth Capability at Vodafone New Zealand. “We are undertaking a large digital transformation project in New Zealand to migrate to a modern platform and framework. Working with dbt greatly helps our speed of development, collaboration standards, and data quality.”

For more information, visit: https://www.getdbt.com/

About dbt Labs
Since 2016, dbt Labs has been on a mission to help analysts create and disseminate organizational knowledge. dbt Labs pioneered the practice of analytics engineering, built the primary tool in the analytics engineering toolbox, and has been fortunate enough to see a fantastic community coalesce to help push the boundaries of the analytics engineering workflow. Today there are 9,000 companies using dbt every week, 25,000 practitioners in the dbt Community Slack, and 1,800 companies paying for dbt Cloud.

EPAM: Great earnings, but a storm warning

Tom Paine

Newtown-based EPAM Systems reported its 4th quarter and full year 2021 results on Friday. 2021 revenue was $3.758 billion, up 41.3% year-over-year. GAAP Diluted EPS was $2.40, an increase of 64.4%, and Non-GAAP Diluted EPS was $2.76, an increase of 52.5% year-over-year

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of its IPO, EPAM (NYSE:EPAM) has continued its strong performance (aided by a snapback from Covid-19 delays), which has led to a current market value of $25 billion.

EPAM’s business model is built around deploying mostly Eastern European talent to deliver systems solutions primarly for Western European and US customers. EPAM operates at a higher level of strategic engagement than some other large outsourcers. and this is reflected in the more attractive margins it earns.

Arkadiy Dobkin, a Belarus native, founded EPAM in 1993.. As the company’s CEO, he has successfully guided EPAM through the political currents of Eastern Europe. But it could be tested to a greater extent this time due to current Russian threat to Ukraine. In a 2020 regulatory filing, EPAM stated that 22% of its workforce was based in Ukraine and 15% in Russia. In adddition to its workforce, EPAM also has important physical assets (such as data centers) in the two countries.

EPAM has 54,000 employees, of which only about 350 are in the greater Philadelphis area.

EPAM shares are off about 30% since last Fall. Some of that is likely due to the general tech stock malaise, but some of it is due to EPAM’s geopolitical situation.

EPAM Systems EPAM : “We too well remember 2014 and 2015 and then 2020 as well,” Arkadiy Dobkin, CEO of the software-consulting company, said Feb. 17. “In 2021, to navigate this situation, we continued something which we started actively implementing since 2014, both organic and M&A-based efforts to improve our geographic talent diversification and to do it without any degradation in the quality of our delivery.”

Philly tech employment trends

Employees. Total. Phil

CMI Media. 915. 434

Phenom People. 1501 386

Frontline Education. 812 209

Boomi 1390 313

Qlik 2698. 230

Gopuff. 3637

EMoney Advisor. 667. 373

Dbt. 205

Piano 520 56

Source: LinkedIn

This is not a scientific survey of Philly Tech employers; it’s missing the very largest & some of the up & comers.

I’ve relied on LinkedIn’s fiilters to obtain figures on how many employees of the Philly firms are actually local. (I can’t swear these breakouts are always acccurate. And I simply couldn’t find local breakouts for a few including GoPuff.’)
But on the whole, it’s surprising that so few employees are actually locally based.

I wanted to report on how strong EMoney Advisor (sub Fidelity Advisor) & CMI Media Group (sub WPP) have
become since buyouts by out of town
Firms a few years back. Frontline Education is one that’s often overlooked locally.

Boomi is in a curious position. Split between Chesterbrook and San Francisco, it was always Dell’s (implicit?) commitment to keep Boomi’s headquarters here. Now that Dell no longer owns it, who knows? The natural pull is towards Silicon Valley, but new CEO David Meredith. is a Boston guy and might establish yet another base over time up there.

Vivek Ravichandran of TCS,
Vivek Ravichandran, Head of Talent Development for TCS in NJ | Screenshot by Esther Surden

TCS to Hire 1,000 More Tech Professionals in New Jersey. Where Will They Find Them? How Will It Work? Vivek Ravichandran Tells Us

TCS TO HIRE 1,000 MORE TECH PROFESSIONALS IN NEW JERSEY. WHERE WILL THEY FIND THEM? HOW WILL IT WORK? VIVEK RAVICHANDRAN TELLS US

 February 16, 2022  Esther Surden0Around New Jerseycomputer sciencecybersecurityEmerging technologiesHealth TechInnovationNewsNJ Tech CompaniesNJ Tech PeopleTech for BusinessTech jobstech trainingTech Workforce

When Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), whose Edison Business Center serves more than 100 customers in New Jersey, announced that it would bring 1,000 more jobs here and increase its STEM investments in the state, we wanted to know more. The company already has 3,700 employees in New Jersey.

We spoke with Vivek Ravichandran, the head of talent development for TCS in North America. Ravichandran is based in New Jersey.  His primary responsibility includes ensuring that adequate tech and soft skills are imparted to TCS employees in North America. He also actively works with graduates from colleges and oversees their hiring.

Here are some of his insights:

ES: Why is TCS increasing its hiring in New Jersey?

VR: New Jersey is very important to TCS. We have a big customer base in the New Jersey/New York region. As far as employees go, we have many who are based in this area. Most of our employees are high-tech professionals. We see a lot of demand in areas like cloud, AI [artificial intelligence], machine learning—these kinds of skills that the industry is leaning towards. I believe we will be hiring a lot of Java developers and people who possess modern digital skills.

ES: Do you think TCS will be affected by the tight hiring market for tech professionals in New Jersey?

VR: We see a very strong interest from the talent pool to apply for the jobs that are available in TCS.  I think this is because of the very strong brand that TCS carries. Also, the company looks at people as its biggest strength. A testimony to this is the fact that, even during tough times like now, our attrition rates are probably among the lowest in the industry.  Also, when I see the number of applicants for each job, I feel confident that we won’t be afflicted by the talent shortage.

But what gives me even more confidence is our ability to train these people. Let’s say we need you to have 10 skills, and you have seven or eight and you’re reasonably good at them, we are confident that we can absorb you, give you enough skills, bridge that gap without any problem and make you an asset for TCS to go deliver to our customers. We have a very clear understanding of the skill inventory that a person needs to have, so that they can contribute to the delivery of our projects to our customers.

People who come into the company have access to a plethora of learning resources, any course on LinkedIn Learning and any course on Udemy. Apart from that, we ourselves have a bunch of AI-driven learning platforms. All of these together today can give you a curated AI-driven learning journey, custom made for you. Let’s say we need you to be a data scientist. Based on the skills that you currently possess, our systems can actually tailor the learning path for you and say, “Hey, so today, from where you are, this is what you need to do to be the data scientist that I want you to be.”

ES: Making training available is one thing, but many of your employees actually complete their courses. What’s special about what you do?

We’ve broken this down into small nuggets that you can do in a short time. We call it “micro learning.” You can even consume 10 minutes, 15 minutes a day for five months, and go through this learning journey. We meet people where they are.

We did a lot of number crunching and figured out that people who have consistent learning patterns — such as logging online 20 minutes each night before bed — learn way more than people who have sporadic learning patterns. So today the system focuses on bringing you to the learning platform so that you will at least spend 20 minutes a day. It is gamified to incentivize this. Those who learn consistently receive currencies called miles and credits that we give out. Sometimes we’ll increase the number of “miles” they can earn. They can exchange these for quantified benefits that are defined by the company in its employee rewards and recognition framework. So, we have primary incentives, our ability to enable career growth for people who learn these skills and secondary incentives such as the “miles.”

ES: Why does the company have such an elaborate employee training program?

These mechanisms drive our ability to be confident that we can hire people en masse, train them, retrain them and make them fungible. We can train them for a position today, and tomorrow if I need them to learn something else, I can be confident that this person won’t become redundant. I have a machinery that can transform this person from a one-dimensional person to a multidimensional person, which I can use across the whole company.”

ES: TCS is one of the few tech consultancy companies we’ve run across that hires out of college. What universities in New Jersey do you look at most? And how are you able to do this?

We hire from a number of New Jersey colleges and universities, including Rutgers and NJIT. While hiring out of college represents just a fraction of our hires, it is very important to our strategy. This workforce is a very, very important workforce for us because it helps us reskill a lot of our middle level employees to upgrade their jobs.

Ten years back, if you needed to run a mainframe development project, you might need 100 mainframe architects to run that project. But today, it can be run by a few architects. There is an increased need for generalists, people with adequate depth of knowledge in more than one skill. So, these fresh graduates have picked up many of the skills we need as part of their curriculum, and it gives us a strong base to help them pick up adjacent skills. When the new graduates come in, a lot of people who have been in similar roles for a while and have acquired contextual knowledge are able to move up. They’ve been in the ecosystem, and they’ve been learning. So, they are qualified for higher-level jobs. The fresh graduates can come into their vacated places.

For anybody coming in, we invest about 12 weeks of immersive hands-on learning across skills where we have demand. It could be cloud, it could be full-stack development, it could be AI, it could be machine learning, it could be data analytics. We have a bunch of these streams in which we run 10- to 12-week immersive hands-on clinics. We believe that these recent graduates can absorb learning like a sponge and also bring in new perspectives.

ES: Talk to us about how TCS strengthens the STEM ecosystem in New Jersey.

We have two flagship programs that foster innovation and career readiness. TCS’ go Innovate Together (goIT) program, a STEM training initiative, fosters digital innovation and career readiness. This program has impacted over 42,000 students in the U.S. and Canada, including more than 870 students in New Jersey at 25 unique events in 2021. Overall, more than 2,900 students in New Jersey have engaged in goIT programming, through teaching curriculums and other programs, such as CSEdWeek and STEM Career Accelerator Day. In August 2021, TCS also celebrated the culmination of a month-long goIT STEM Camp with the Edison, New Jersey, Board of Education, with 350 students participating. 

 TCS’ Ignite My Future in School, a pioneering, transdisciplinary program for K-12 education, helps educators embed computational thinking into core subjects such as math, science, language arts and social studies. Since its launch in 2017, Ignite My Future has reached 26,300 educators and 1.55 million students across North America. To date, we have partnered with more than 375 school districts and nonprofit partners. In 2021, TCS supported New Jersey teachers and students through two TECHademy events, which are professional development sessions for educators from school districts across the state. 

 The TCS goIT and Ignite My Future in School programs are open to any schools that are interested in participating. TCS relies on a variety of channels to reach educators: word of mouth among teachers in our network, proactive outreach, government relations initiatives, TCS employee volunteer programs, and proactive engagement by our own employees. Since TCS has a particular focus on students traditionally underrepresented in STEM careers, we do research on states and cities to see which may have the greatest need and/or have new laws or mandates around computer science standards..

Esther Surden is Editor & Publusher of NJ TechWeekly. This article, which first appeared there, is republished here with her permission.

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