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Master technology first; be a manager later, says Infosys

Praveen Bose & Bibhu Ranjan Mishra  |  Bangalore 

Infosys Technologies has decided that its staffers must have at least six years of having worked on responsibilities before being asked to head a project.

This is the latest move in a process that began 18 months earlier, after clients had complained that its project heads didn’t seem to have enough of technological skills. That, in turn, was because of the industry’s high growth and also the pace of attrition (employees quitting) in the sector. 

So, many employees were being given managerial responsibilities within three to four years of joining. However, from last month, all freshers joining the company will have to compulsorily stay focused on for the first six years of their career. After this, they will have to choose to either grow vertically as a techie or take up managerial responsibilities.

Infosys says this new strategy, termed 'iRace', aims to re-map the skills of its software professionals and offer them roles based on their current level of experience and technological know-how.

It appears to have already had some adverse effect, for a section of employees in the junior and middle levels are understood to have resigned.

"Because of the high growth in the industry, people were being given managerial responsibilities within three to four years, making clients return to us and complain about the lack of their technology skills. We have now re-mapped the efficiency of our employees, as a result of which some high performers have been mapped upwards, while others have stayed in their previous positions,” says Nandita Gurjar, Group Head for Human Resources.

By doing so, we will be able to meet the clients' requirements in a much better manner, she adds.

To make the task smoother, Infosys has created 25 career streams. An employee who does not wish to take up managerial roles but stay focused on technology has to identify positions like technical architect and technical lead till he goes up the ladder to become the Unit Technology Manager (UTO), a position the company has created now. Henceforth, all 13 business units of the company will have UTOs, who will directly report to the chief technology officer (CTO) of the company.

Infosys started the exercise almost 18 months earlier, following an internal assessment by consulting agency, Mercer. Based on the results, the company decided to implement what Gurjar terms a 'role structuring'.

Industry insiders concur that when the IT sector was booming and demand was high, people with very little experience were being given roles of project managers or technical leads, as it was difficult for the company to get experienced people. However, with the greater supply of trained resources, especially in the wake of the economic recession, most Indian IT companies are busy redefining the roles.

"We have seen people becoming project managers with less than six years of experience, whereas in most global companies, especially product companies, project manager is a big role. A person who manages projects in those companies should have at least 14-15 years of experience, which helps him handle multiple projects and customers at a time.

Besides, when a person becomes a project manager in six years, this ends his chance to learn on technology platforms," says a person who works as a project manager in an Indian IT services company.

At the end of the second quarter in the present financial year, Infosys' headcount was 105,453, including 97,594 software professionals.

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First Published: Fri, November 13 2009. 00:15 IST