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Experience Not Required with Ravi Kumar of Infosys

How Infosys is building a different kind of talent pool and why a new type of hiring will be the way of the future

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

What do Larry Ellison, Ellen DeGeneres, Anna Wintour, Warren Buffet and Michael Dell have in common?

Other than fame and massive wealth, what’s a key differentiator that sets these folks apart? Maybe Ravi Kumar, the President of Infosys can give you a hint…

“We have started to hire at Infosys without degrees and land people on an apprenticeship even if they don’t have degrees, even if they’ve come from community colleges with an associate degree, or they have been in a traditional industry and want to do a mid-career shift,” Kumar said.

The idea of creating a new metric when looking to hire talent is a bold approach for Kumar, who comes from a traditional educational background. So, how does Infosys buck that tradition and measure potential in a new way when the company is hiring new talent?

“What we’ve done is, based on our experience of hiring in the past and learnability as a skill, we have created an A.I. model and we work with a company which does A.I.-led hiring, where you look for traits of people and using those traits, you extrapolate the kind of jobs they can do and then you build a bridge to equip them with skills and hand-hold them to create the experiential learning,” Kumar explained.

But building out an A.I.-led hiring process is no easy task and it’s not cheap, either. But Infosys is committed to this hiring approach, and the company invests heavily on new employee training, which Kumar admitted is a risk.

“We invest $20,000 upfront on every new employee we hire through this model,” Kumar said. “They could finish the training and walk away. But I’m betting on myself that they will not.”

Kumar is also betting on the fact that Infosys’ approach toward hiring for skills rather than degrees could become mainstream and open new opportunities for the company to become an education disruptor.

“EdTech companies are focused around up-skilling existing people who are in the same space, but nobody is focused around reskilling from spaces which are not tapped into,” Kumar said.

This is not the only unusual pathway that Infosys is shaping though. The company, which is known for outsourcing, is prepared to flip the switch and actually help other companies start in-sourcing.

“If every company across the world is going to become a technology company powered by data, A.I. and cloud, why would they outsource technology to us?” Kumar asked. “They would in-source it. And when they insource it, we want to help them in-source. It’s very counterintuitive if I look at it in a very myopic way — it will look like I’m cannibalizing my own revenue, but the reality is, that’s the future.”

The mainstream is still catching up to this idea, and Infosys is not backing down. Kumar likes to challenge the status quo and is willing to invest in even more counterintuitive ideas.

“One of the things I’m very passionate about is to double-dip on the hypothesis and the assumptions behind an idea, an incubator, and start to validate those assumptions,” Kumar said. “Start to question those assumptions and start to actually build new operating models.”

To hear more about how Kumar and Infosys are navigating the future of work and how the company is leading the way in a world where everybody is becoming a technology company, tune into Business X factors.

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