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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

September 21, 2011 at 4:30 PM

Indian tech giant comes to Redmond, hiring hundreds

One of India’s largest tech companies is setting up a major facility next to Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, where it plans to hire hundreds of engineers over the next two years.

HCL Technologies is investing $4 million in its Redmond “Global Delivery Center,” where it’s going to develop and test software for customers including Microsoft and Boeing.

The company pledged to create 400 jobs over two years. It already has 40 employees, so it will be adding at least 360 engineers and business managers. Its offices are on Northeast 31st Street, near the Azteca restaurant alongside Highway 520.

Washington state is embracing the company and pledged $200,000 to help train employees for jobs at HCL. Gov. Chris Gregoire was scheduled to attend an opening ceremony today, but was diverted by the Tacoma teacher strike.

In a prepared statement, Gregoire praised the company.

“We appreciate that HCL has recognized the value of Washington, which is home to an established business climate, highly trained technology professionals and an excellent quality of life,” she said in a news release.

HCL Technologies has about $3.5 billion in sales annually. It’s a subsidiary of HCL, a company started as Hindustan Computer Ltd. in 1976 to manufacture calculators and computers and is now a global player with 85,000 employees in 31 countries and annual sales of about $6 billion.

Although Indian outsourcing companies continue to do most of their work for clients at offices in India, many have invested in facilities close to major customers where they can provide direct support and collaboration with clients.

Sometimes called “near shoring,” this practice is also intended partly to blunt criticism of outsourcing by creating jobs in the U.S. when the country is struggling with widespread unemployment.

“The prime reason is we want to be operating closer to customers so our ability to offer value on complex programs is high,” said Sandeep Kishore, executive vice president at HCL’s U.S. headquarters, near San Francisco .

HCL has opened similar centers around the world to handle complex projects, including one in North Carolina that opened in 2008 and centers in New Jersey and Brazil that came in 2009. Earlier this year it opened a center in Guadalajara, Mexico.

About 80 percent of the North Carolina workers were hired locally and the rest were transferred from other HCL operations. Redmond should see a similar mix, according to Kishore.

“We believe that 80 percent of the people will be hired locally; 20 percent will come from other HCL centers,” Kishore said. “We’ve seen that as pretty consistent.”

Most of the jobs created in Redmond will be for engineers, including specialists in computer science, electrical engineering, communications and software engineering. The company also plans to hire “several” business managers with master’s degrees.

Wages at the U.S. centers are “market competitive,” he said.

The company expects to hire many of its local workers directly from college. It’s working with universities near its delivery centers to train and recruit employees.

Locally, the company is working with Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University and the University of Washington — including its Tacoma and Bothell campuses, Kishore said. Students may do internships with HCL in their senior year.

HCL has worked with Microsoft for years at different levels. It’s a computer-maker partner, engineering partner and system integrator that builds on Microsoft platforms.

Rich Kaplan, Microsoft’s vice president for customer and partner advocacy, weighed in.

“We understand that the advancing technologies and their swift adoption have created disruptions in the market. The collaboration with HCL demonstrates our commitment to developing new technologies (such as large scale data management, cloud computing and mobility) that are redefining the technology landscape,” he said in the release.

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