5 Signs That Infosys’ Halo Effect Is at Work in Rhode Island
When Ravi Kumar, president of Infosys, recently spoke at GPCC’s Economic Outlook Luncheon, he shared the company’s progress in creating a design hub and hiring hundreds in Rhode Island. The direct impact of what Infosys is doing in the state is clear: creating jobs for Rhode Islanders. It’s also important to consider the indirect results—or halo effect—of bringing new businesses to our state:
1. Jobs beget jobs. The types of tech service jobs that Infosys is hiring for in RI normally have an impact of four to five jobs downstream. That is because the new hires are often people just entering the job market, which means they will need housing and have other economic needs that didn’t exist before. And because these are relatively high-paying positions for entry-level workers—he told us the ballpark is $60,000, plus a signing bonus and year-end incentives—consumerism is higher than it would be for lower-paying jobs.
2. A workforce that is trained to succeed. When Infosys made the announcement last year that it would hire 10,000 tech workers in the United States, Ravi knew there wasn’t enough tech talent in the market to reach that number. So the company went back to its roots—its foundation of education and learning. It had faced a similar dearth of tech talent in India, where for two decades it hired talent that was in school or newly graduated and then ran a finishing school to make them production-ready for tech work. Now in the United States, Infosys is following a similar model, taking talent from schools and putting them through several months of training to prepare them for production work in tech services. Ravi believes that every corporation should run an eight- to 12-week apprentice program. The U.S. has largely forgotten apprentice programs, he says, but Infosys believes that talent has to be trained or created, not traded.
3. More fruitful partnerships with academia. To bridge tech-talent skills in the U.S., Infosys has signed up with schools around the country, including RISD. Through this process, it has discovered the untapped potential of the community college ecosystem. Around 50 percent of students in the U.S. are enrolled in community colleges, and yet very few corporations are focused on them, said Ravi. To build a model to create a bridge for Rhode Island’s community college students to go for their four-year degree as they work with Infosys, Infosys is now in active conversation with CCRI. And the company has already hired 25 community college students and has been extremely pleased with the results. Ravi believes this program is going to be a game-changer that can be replicated nationally for community colleges.
4. Employees ready for positions in globally relevant fields. In the last two decades, tech services has moved from a client-centric to a global delivery model (work is broken into pieces and sent to offshoring destinations, such as India). That has made it necessary for companies like Infosys to evolve operating and business models along with its clients, and to be able to co-create, co-innovate and be co-located. By building a tech-talent pool in Rhode Island, Infosys is training and employing the state’s residents in globally relevant fields in which their expertise will serve them both today and tomorrow.
5. Impacting local communities. In its Rhode Island operations, Infosys is committed to sourcing locally—it has signed off on the Supply RI program, a statewide initiative to connect local suppliers with Rhode Island businesses. It also wants to have a positive impact on the local communities at large by investing in K-12 teachers and students. Last May, for example, the Infosys Foundation USA’s Pathfinders initiative at Indiana University-Bloomington funded training for 600 teachers from across the U.S. As it kicks off operations in Rhode Island, Infosys plans to open up the foundation to make a similarly tremendous impact on local communities.
Laurie White is president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. Read her other Rhode Island Inno contributions here.