HCL Corporation on Thursday entered the business of skilling by launching HCL TalentCare, to make graduates employable. Roshni Nadar, chief executive and executive director, spoke to Surabhi Agarwal. Edited excerpts:
This is the group’s third diversification from its core technology business after education (Shiv Nadar universities and schools) and the recent foray in health care (HCL Avitas). What is the overall vision of the group?
We have within the technology companies over 100,000 employees. Over the years, we have successfully nurtured, trained and developed many people who have become leaders within the industry in various fields. So, we have been in the business of people. This was the next derivative of that.
It took us almost 35 years to realise what we can do in other areas as well. Talent is the third strategic focus area. If we look at the mandate of the prime minister or the government, the focus is on these strategic areas for economic growth. And, the market is developing in a way that there is a lot of demand. It was a very exciting space for us to get into. That’s really been the driver for this sort of strategic investment.
What we do in education is obviously on the non-profit side but we train only a handful and we know those who are the best and the brightest get placed. And, we know there is a huge gap. This gave us the confidence that HCL TalentCare is a business model that will work. There are so many students who apply to our education institutions and don’t get through. So, we know they are not getting skilled.
So, you are employing learnings from your other businesses into the new venture?
Yes, being in technology for so many years, we know there is a gap that exists there. Like Mr (Shiv) Nadar was mentioning that when they go from bench to bill, there is a huge gap. It could be a year or eight months but it is a cost to the company, whether it is HCL or similar peers in the sector. Such gaps also exist in banking, financial services, insurance and also in health care — we know that by having entered that business recently. So, it seemed like the right fit.
How is the health care venture coming up, and the schools?
RN: The health care venture is doing well. We have multiple clinics in and around the National Capital Region (NCR). It's still in small stages but a very long-haul process. As far as the Foundation is concerned, the schools are growing, multiple-fold, every year. The sheer demands of getting them industry-ready are the same, whether you are doing it in the universities or in HCL TalentCare. So, I think we can leverage both, since we are coming from an education DNA and now foraying into skill (development).
Your initial target is training 20,000 people in the next three years. What's the reason for this conservativeness?
PS: We don’t only have the responsibility of skilling. We are also assuring that you will get a job. If I was saying that I want to create labs in the country for skilling, I would have taken 200,000 people. But I have to skill them, train them and make them job-ready in the six or nine months that they spend with us, in meaningful levels of companies, not just pick the box and I got you a job. We believe we have a very large responsibility. But, HCL as an organisation has always scaled up its ambitions. And, as we lend the HCL promise to the 100 per cent placement assurance, we have to deliver.