24 Oct 2016 17:54 IST

“Data analysis, digital marketing are the top skills India Inc is looking for”

Moorthy Uppaluri, Managing Director and CEO, Randstad India

Randstad MD Moorthy Uppaluri talks about new jobs, flexi working and more

Moorthy Uppaluri, Managing Director and CEO of Randstad India, has just finished a rousing talk to B-school students at the MMA annual students convention. As head of India’s top HR services organisation, Uppaluri has a finger on the pulse of the job market in India.

In this interview, amidst the din of the convention, he talks about jobs that are being created in the economy, clarifies the reports of jobless growth, and flexi working. Excerpts from an exclusive interview:

There have been recent report about jobless growth, but what are you seeing?

There is GDP growth, but when we say it’s jobless, it’s not in terms of volumes in all sectors, but job creation in some sectors which are growth oriented. IT and ITes show growth, but it’s not as high as it used to be.

There’s growth in global captive outfits in India, and also in Tier 2 IT companies. Manufacturing and the auto industry too are expanding but the real spurt of ‘Make in India’ is yet to be seen.

Are the youth coming to the market equipped with the skills for today’s jobs?

There are two market forces acting on skills. There’s a lot of demand for automation in monotonous tasks, so there is better quality and reduction in costs.

At the unskilled jobs level, there is pressure. Today, machine learning and automation is taking over some functions, so it’s extremely important for people to continually upgrade their skills and move up the value chain.

There is more work coming into India because of the cost and language arbitrage we have, which leads to a need for a skilled workforce. It’s a wave we need to ride but we need to be thoughtful about which industries and verticals to focus on, and where to fuel the growth.

What are the new kinds of jobs that are being thrown up?

You need digital marketing people. Those days are long gone when conventional marketing was done. Today, there is big data and predictive analysis. We need people who can deal with large amounts of data, glean insights from that analysis and pick trends and intelligence that can influence marketing strategy. So, data scientists are needed.

And the other demand is that of product specialists; specialisation is the name of the game. They have to be specialists in their vertical to provide insights. Being a generalist will not add much value.

So conventional marketers are on their way out?

Conventionally, marketing professionals would get into traditional ways such as feet on street, business development, calling on clients and so on. Today, it’s all digital. How you set your company online; how you expand your reach to millions of customers across the globe, not just in your region. The reach has to be expansive.

The conventional jobs of zonal manager, territory manager and so on will not offer future growth. The tomorrow will belong to an online digital marketer. Digital is the way.

Is flexi working on the rise? What are the trends?

Flex is on the rise, and loyalty is a rare commodity, so the perception of having a permanent job has changed. Nothing is permanent. Previously, flex jobs were at the base of the pyramid, but now, you find flex jobs going all the way to the top. There are part-time CEOs, even!

A start-up may need a CFO and if they can’t afford a top notch person, someone who is in their second phase of their career in their 50s can look to be a part-time CFO in two companies. This way, they too enhance their experience and feel more gratified in terms of the value they create.

How important is HR from a top management perspective?

Very important. Unfortunately, it takes a leader and strategic thinker, particularly in the service industry or knowledge industry where the human element or personnel is 70 per cent of their P&L, to recognise HR’s importance.

While the challenge has been identified and there is attrition, these are your assets (people) that are walking in and out of the gate. Which is why it requires a change in thinking and a transformational approach.

Very often, business leaders are good at thinking about go-to-market channels, services and optimisation of revenues. But that is going inside out. When you go inside to your employee, that requires a transformational approach. If you take the core perspective of making sure your employees are taken care of, then you can be sure that productivity will automatically grow.

For every business, as much as they are focused on revenues and P&L, it is imperative that they take an inward look at how business decisions will impact employee morale and productivity. If they take both outward and inward look, it will do a lot of good as there is a lot of money and opportunity on the table that can be grabbed from India Inc perspective.

We need to expand the pie. Inclusive growth will allow us to embark on higher growth opportunities.

As one of the biggest players in flex staffing, how has Randstad been faring?

We have taken a different approach. We have close to 60,000 workers on our temp rolls, who work across different clients, verticals and wage levels, right from base to the top of the pyramid.

Our strategy this year has been on value-added flex offerings. We continue to do pay rolling; when companies don’t want to do the routine administrative work such as monitoring Provident Fund or Employees’ State Insurance, we do that, but that’s at the base of the pyramid for us.

We are now establishing a presence in sales and marketing, on technologies where clients don’t need to have a bench, and also on talent on demand. So we are devising innovative means to save costs for our clients and are moving up the value chain without focusing on the commodity end of the business.

In Randstad Process Outsourcing, we have seen tremendous success; we are market and thought leaders as more clients want to turn off their recruitment engines and processes, choosing instead to outsource it to us so we become their talent partners.