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We are hiring 200 sales people onsite for better growth

Wednesday, 16 April 2014 - 9:25am IST | Agency: dna

Outgoing Infosys CEO, SD Shibulal spoke to Beryl Menezes post Q4 results about his decision to retire early, changes to Infy 3.0, and steps to stem attrition. Excerpts...

Can you shed some light on the reason for your early retirement and your post-retirement plans?
It was important for me to give the clarity of my plans, since the nomination committee had started the search for a new CEO. I chose January, because it's better to retire after the last Board meeting, rather than in the middle of the quarter in March, which doesn't make sense. As for post-retirement plans, thinking is the first act towards planning for retirement, and I haven't acted yet.

Despite expecting a drag on growth continuing till fiscal 2015, you mentioned certain investment measures that are being taken to ensure growth...
We are continuing our journey on 3.0 strategy, which has three parts to it. Firstly, we are focused on winning large outsourcing deals – there we need to make investments in increasing productivity, automation, creating re-use, new solutions, having a sales force that is capable of winning such large deals. Secondly, we are hiving off products and platforms as a separate unit, and once we do that we have to make some investment towards building and enhancing the current portfolio. Thirdly, we are investing in sales – we are recruiting 200 people from the best universities across the globe. They will take time to yield results. While this will increase the sales bandwidth, it's a huge investment. Then we are investing in high performers, we are giving them variable compensation, fast-track opportunities, we are investing in training and retooling our people – so there is a wide range of investments we are making. We have factored all these investments into our guidance of 7-9% for this fiscal.

Any expectations of a guidance revision in case growth picks up, given that management maintains the de-growth in Q4 was quarter-specific?
While we have stopped giving out quarterly guidance, guidance is a statement of fact, and if the fact changes, guidance will change – so if we see better opportunities going forward, our guidance will change. But taking everything into account so far, we have guided for 7-9% for this fiscal.

Does this include a revision for the India rupee guidance of 5.6-7.6%, considering an expected improvement in deal flows, going forward?
India makes up barely 1% of our revenues. It keeps fluctuating and there is no secular trend, and while we are actively engaged in India (we are now participating in government and private sectors), the base is very small, so quarterly fluctuations are immaterial.

Any concerns about rupee appreciation, going forward?
Even this quarter the rupee appreciated and we have operated in every spectrum of the rupee. In case appreciation is gradual, we can handle it. In case it is sudden, especially at the end of a quarter, we may find it difficult to handle.

Wage hikes at 6-7% for offshore were lower that 6-8% last quarter. Any reason for this?
This wage hike has been given out after nine months – so theoretically, in one year, we have given two wage hikes, so it's pretty good.

What are you doing to ensure matching skill-sets and any colour you can provide on increased onsite hiring, given paucity of H1-B visas?
Our utilisation is 76%, which means our current staff available for immediate deployment has become lower – we need to increase this. We are investing in training, setting up an academy; we are doing a variety of things so we can re-skill our people on the bench and utilise them for our clients. We are not seeing any H1-B visa pressure at this time, our visa utilisation is pretty healthy, but we are recruiting 200 people in sales from onsite, which is a big investment for us, we are also looking at recruiting local talent onsite wherever required.

NR Narayana Murthy mentioned that 15-16,000 freshers would be hired for fiscal 2015. Is this on track?
Yes, it is on track.

What steps are you taking to lower attrition, which is at an all-time industry high of 18.1%?
We are doing many things; we have given two consecutive wage hikes and promotions at all levels in April, we have restructured compensation structure, have created a fast-track programme where high performers can climb the ladder faster, we are investing in training and re-tooling.

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