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How Virtusa Corp. Is Filling The Talent Gap In Analytics By Training Professors First

How Virtusa Corp. Is Filling The Talent Gap In Analytics By Training Professors First

For our next interview on understanding analytics hiring scenario in Indian companies, we got in touch with Krithivasan S who is the associate manager and lead for India Campus Hiring at Virtusa Corp. It is an end-to-end digital transformation and IT company providing cost-effective solutions using technologies like data analytics and internet of things.

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In his current role, Krithivasan is responsible for the end-to-end gamut of campus hiring function for the company in India. He also takes care of corporate branding, mentorship and maintaining university relations through innovative initiatives.

Analytics India Magazine: What does the analytics hiring scenario Indian companies look like?

Krithivasan S: Analytics started picking up around 2016 and today you name any company, analytics is largely accepted and companies are hiring analytics professionals across all the verticals such as  BFSI, e-commerce, life sciences, pharma, telecom, travel and hospitality, and others. In India, there is a wide scope and a humongous need for analytics professionals, and it is going to grow big.

AIM: What does the analytics hiring scenario look like in Virtusa?

KS: In analytics, we hire professionals for all levels starting from raw fresher to the senior-most people. We have started an independent practice called the data management practice and a separate artificial intelligence practice for which we are recruiting analytics professionals. Our current team size is around 100 and we plan to reach about 500 professionals in the next one year. The expansion would predominantly happen in India, but there are some offshore positions too.

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AIM: What are the typical skills that you look for while hiring analytics professionals?

KS: As we aim to reach the target of 500 professionals, there are quite a few analytics openings in our company currently. We are looking for complete hands-on professionals with an understanding of machine learning languages like R, Python, knowledge of deep learning, Spark, Tensorflow etc. They should be strong with coding programming language. Additional skill sets include NLP and deep learning. Predominantly we look at the base of R and Python, but if they have additional understanding, there is nothing like it.

AIM: What are the challenges that you face while recruiting the talent in analytics and AI?

KS: We are recruiting from business schools and I have noticed that they are all fascinated towards AI and data analytics. But the biggest problem is that most of the applicants do not have strong programming skills. Especially when you are looking at management courses, there is a huge challenge. There should be a high level of coverage of programming languages in the curriculum for business schools as well. The students at colleges only have bookish knowledge. This is the biggest challenge currently with the education system, which ultimately affects us.

AIM: What are the various initiatives that companies or educational organisations can take to increase the talent flow?

KS: At Virtusa, we have an interesting model where we are identifying institutes and bringing their professors to our office and putting them through a 45-days immersive learning program. It is a quick refresher course that lets them get their hands dirty to analyse and understand use cases in a practical way. We let them work with data, analyse it and come up with a solution based on their understanding. With this programme, we aim to sort the issue of faculties not having enough exposure in the industry. We train them for 45 days in our office, and once they are back in the colleges, they can start mentoring students in a more effective way.

We also give internships to students based on project assignments where they work remotely at their college location and submit it back, following which we mentor them for improvements. This eradicates the need for training them upon their joining. These models have been successfully running in engineering colleges and we are now partnering with B schools to deliver a similar program.

AIM: How has been the response to this initiative? Are professors open to learning under this program?

KS: Honestly speaking, the first few days were not that easy. The faculties come from different school of thoughts and it is difficult to break it down and tell them that bookish knowledge is not going to be enough. The kids are getting smarter and they have to catch up with them too. It was difficult to convey them that if you are going to train the students and get them certified, you need to be good enough too. Though first few weeks were challenging, they slowly got the importance of it.  

AIM: When did Virtusa start with this initiative and how has been the response?  

KS: We have been running this initiative for data scientist and students for about two years. However, we recently brought this 45-days immersive learning program for training professors in the field. Earlier we have been doing this only for a week or two, but now have expanded it for 45 days. The response has been great till now.

AIM: What advice do you have for professionals who are looking out for analytics jobs in India?

KS: They should first understand that this is not a job where you come, sit and go away. This requires for them to sit for a longer duration, and interpret the data. Analytics is all about data. They should have a lot of interest towards statistics and should be able to visualise and interpret data. They should be able to build a lot of domain expertise and keep participating in a lot of hackathons. They should come up with a lot of innovative things to stay up on the leaderboard. Continuous upskilling in languages like R and Python is absolutely necessary to survive in analytics profile.

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