Bangalore-based outsourcing giant Infosys is hiring – in Bellevue.
The company plans to add more than 100 new employees as part of a big U.S. expansion in anticipation of growth resuming in 2010.
Altogether, Infosys plans to hire about 1,000 people across the U.S. over the next 12 to 18 months, according to Chief Executive Kris Gopalakrishnan, who is in town for Microsoft’s CEO Summit this week and who sat down for an interview before making a presentation there.
Already, 14,000 of the company’s 104,000 employees are based in the U.S.
It remains to be seen whether the hiring will blunt concerns about outsourcing during a time when the U.S. is spending billions to create and preserve jobs.
But Infosys isn’t trying to score publicity points with the jobs as much as finding more people to work with its big customers such as Microsoft.
“We believe business will be there if we add capabilities, more services and solutions to our portfolio and increase the business volume with the existing customers – that’s how we see growth coming to our business,” Gopalakrishnan said.
Since it was started in 1981, Infosys has grown to become one of the top three outsourcing firms in India, where its stature is comparable to Microsoft’s.
Gopalakrishnan said the CEO Summit is “a good way to network with the leadership in the industry, especially in times like these.”
“It’s important to understand and get to know different perspectives, what everybody thinks,” he said. “A lot of impact and influence is because of the collective thinking of people, right? If everybody believes things are going to become better, they do become better.”
Gopalakrishnan also is hoping the gathered executives will have insights into what fundamental changes will result from the downturn. To figure that out, you need to distinguish between the greed that marked the financial meltdown and innovations that were happening, he said.
“If you look at the Internet boom, everybody jumped in, many of those companies got funded, lots of money was poured in,” he said. “Of course many of those companies failed, lots of money was lost but some good things happened – some companies emerged very strong, became the leaders in that space. In telecom, the same thing – a huge amount of money was spent creating bandwidth. A lot of us are benefiting from that.
If there was no expectation of higher returns, that money would not have been spent. Because of the higher returns, a lot of people jammed in, a lot of risk is taken, but I think everybody benefited out of that. Then there was a period of consolidation, a lot of players dropped out. A few companies survived and it goes on.”
“I think we need to figure out what is the role of regulation in this and how we can manage it better.”
Has the recovery begun in India?
“Very early stages,” Gopalakrishnan said. “I hope it is sustained and picks up. The difference with the U.S. is in the U.S. it has gone from 2, 3 percent in GDP growth to approximately zero, about a 3 percent decline. India has also declined 3 percent – it’s gone from 8 to 9 percent growth to 5 percent to 6 percent.
On the positive side it’s still 5 to 6 percent growth, but the decline is similar, actually.”
How concerned is Gopalakrishnan he about U.S. perceptions of outsourcing, especially now that the country is spending heavily to create new jobs?
“I’m concerned,” he said. “It is a very important question to be addressed. There is a short-term and a medium- to long-term issue. Short term, it’s about job losses and what are the right things to do. Medium to long term, you need to focus on the underlying causes, the underlying issues related to that.
If we talk about our industry – if we look at medium to long term – there will be shortages of people in this industry for multiple reasons. If you look at the people coming into this industry, it has been declining in developed countries and increasing in developing countries.”