Infosys – The Organization
In 1981, a small team led by NR Narayana Murthy and his wife, started ‘Data Basics Corp’ a small time on-site software developer company. The company was later renamed as Infosys.
During its initial years, Infosys struggled to get projects due to lack of reputation, inadequate infrastructure, and government regulations. But the determination of the promoters and their full involvement got them their first order which they completed successfully in time.
Exports increased over time and Infosys set up a Software development center in Bangalore, India. In 1987, it established its first international office in California, US. In 1988, Infosys bagged its first major order from the Reebok and in 1989 bagged another major order from Digital Equipments based in the US. The year 1991 was a significant year in the history of Indian business. In the Union Budget that import tariffs were reduced, taxes were rationalized, and exports were encouraged. Other reforms introduced were free-market pricing of Initial Public Offering (IPO) and relaxation in restrictions on foreign exchange, etc.
In 1993, Infosys successfully completed its IPO. By 1995, Infosys had become the fifth largest software exporter in India. In 1996, it set up its office in UK and then in Canada in 1997.In 1999, Infosys achieved annual revenues of US$100 mn. In the same year it earned the highest level of certification, CMM Level 5, conferred to only a few companies in the world.
It was the first Indian company to be listed on NASDAQ in 1999. In 2001 and 2002 it was rated as the ‘Best Employer in India’ and ‘India’s most respected company’ by leading Indian business magazines. In 2006, Infosys Technologies Limited was one of India’s biggest IT companies and provided IT services, solutions, and consultation globally. By the year 2006 it had over 49,000 employees worldwide.
By 2006, there were close to 50,000 Infoscions (employees of Infosys). Getting a job at Infosys was tough as it admitted only 1% of applicants. Out of the total number of applicants, Infosys short-listed only top 20% of students from premier colleges, universities, and institutes.
Infosys in its history had hired many people from different engineering fields who exhibited a high aptitude for ‘learn-ability’ and preferred them over those computer engineers who could not solve problems beyond their technical training.
The short listed candidates underwent a rigorous selection procedure, which involved a series of aptitude tests and interviews. The aptitude tests were significantly tougher and very few candidates cleared them.
The successful candidates were invited for a personal interview. Candidates were judged mainly on their analytical abilities, learn-ability, and communication skills. The selected few candidates were then given job offers.
Need for Training
The dynamic nature of the software and IT industry requires its workforce to upgrade frequently in technology and skills. Companies were focusing on continuous training and development of their employees, which also helped in the reduction of attrition rate.
At Infosys, every new recruit underwent approximately three months of training before they were made billable to clients.
The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) rated Infosys as the world’s best in employee training and development and conferred ‘Excellence in Practice Award continuously for three consecutive years 2002, 2003 and 2004. The award was conferred for its ‘Global Business Foundation School.’ It was a program for all fresh engineering entrants to Infosys to equip them for the challenging software career ahead of them. The program ran around the year and was implemented over several global centers across the organization.
The Global Business Foundation School comprised of generic conceptual courses, platform specific courses, mini projects for application, and an end term project tailored from real life projects. In addition to technical courses, fresh entrants were also exposed to courses on communication skills, interpersonal skills, customer interaction etiquettes, management development, and quality systems.
In 2005 Infosys established ‘Infosys U’, one of the largest corporate training centers in the world.
The ‘Global Education Center’ was set up in 2005. It was one of the biggest corporate training centers in the world. The Global Education Center would run a 14.5 week residential program, which would impart generic and work specific training in technology areas, along with soft skills and leadership programs to freshers.
The center had 2,350 rooms spread across the campus, 58 training rooms, 183 faculty rooms, state-of-the-art library and a cyber cafe. The center had the capacity to train around 15,000 freshers in one year.
The Training Program
After the new recruits joined Infosys, they were taken to Infosys U for a 14.5 week training program. At Infosys U, the freshers were welcomed in Infosys by NR Narayana Murthy through an audio visual presentation. The initial days of the training program, freshers filled forms and learned the values that drove Infosys. During the entire training program, new recruits were trained to work or program different tech applications.
The library had an online database of Infosys case studies to help the recruits. The trainers generally imparted training in hard skills through lectures on the concepts and theory for a few hours and then allowed the recruits to work independently and build their own applications for the rest of the day.
While the training program focused mainly on technical skills, the freshers were also trained in soft skills. There were separate rooms and faculties for soft skill training. Training was imparted on global etiquette, comportment, importance of body language, public speaking, improving interpersonal communication and team-building. The various methods used included, asking the freshers to perform skits, going through several ‘what-if’ scenarios and to practice smiling in front of the mirror.
The campus provided best of food to at an affordable price. Among other options, the campus had the retail outlet of the pizza chain ‘Domino’s Pizza’ where both Western and Indian varieties of pizzas were available. The pizza could also be ordered while the employee was working, but the Infosys culture discouraged working during lunch. The Infoscions believed in taking break during lunch and socializing.
The center had an ‘Employee Care Center’ to facilitate all round development. The employee care center offered recreational facilities such as a gymnasium, a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, bowling alley and a meditation hall. It also had an international-class cricket ground and a multipurpose ground with a six-lane synthetic track, which housed basketball, volleyball, squash, and tennis courts. The campus also housed an auditorium, which had a seating capacity of 1,300 people and three multiplex theatres with a capacity of 150 seats each. The freshers had to work for eight hours every day and at the end of the training program, the freshers had to pass two comprehensive exams before proceeding further. About 1% to 2% failed in the exams.
Infosys U also served as the opportunity to interact with Infoscions working in countries other than India. In 2006, Infosys U had the capacity to train over 4,000 freshers at a time and had expansion plans of increasing the capacity to 10,000 by 2007.
Infosys is amongst the few companies, which actually practiced what it preached.