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Corporate Dec 21, 2012

Indian tech companies on a hiring spree in the US

By Uttara Choudhury

New York: India's information technology companies are seeing robust growth on a year-end IT spending wave and are stepping up hiring in the US to beef up their workforce.

Midsize Bangalore-headquartered software exporter MindTree Ltd said it aims to hire more Americans to staff four or five software-development centers that it plans to set up in the US over the next five years.

With the US presidential elections out of the way, there are expectations of a year-end budget flush as corporations spend more on IT systems, compliance and technology change management.

"Our old customers have been giving more work to us. We also have new clients approaching us since everyone is now sure about how the next four years are going to pan out from the compliance perspective," said Lalit Dhingra, president, NIIT Technologies.

NIIT Technologies president Lalit Dhingra wants to be closer to US clients and is hiring US graduates. Photo courtesy NIIT

NIIT Technologies, which focusess on insurance, financial services, travel and media, has scooped up nine new customers and has been hiring to service US-centric projects. It has 7,730 people spread out in development centres in India, Atlanta and Augusta. In September this year, it acquired US firm Sabre Holdings' Philippines Development Center for an undisclosed sum.

"We have been hiring in the US to build on high-end capability. We need software engineers to look at very complex algorithms. We find the right people here," said Dhingra.

"We are building a global delivery model which gives our customers cost-effective solutions and quality. In the last 12 months we have around 160 people running projects in Atlanta and Augusta," said Dhingra, who visits local universities like Georgia Tech in Atlanta to groom engineers for technology jobs.

Delhi-based NIIT Technologies posted a revenue increase of 34.8 percent over the same period last year for the quarter to September, on the back of US operations recording the strongest growth.

The hiring also comes for some Indian outsourcing companies as they are faced with tougher US visa rules that have made it difficult to relocate Indian employees to client locations in the US to carry out technology projects.

In a twist on outsourcing, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. (TCS), India's largest software exporter by sales has been shipping computer work to small-town America. It has built 50 offices in the US to be near its biggest customers. It plans to hire 2,000 US employees in the current fiscal year that began in April, some 400 more than last year. Infosys Ltd also added around 2,000 employees in the US in 2012.

In 2008, TCS opened its biggest, $20-million delivery and software development center, tucked away on 220 wooded acres in Milford, a suburb of Cincinnati, in Ohio. In September this year, it followed it up with a new TCS Solutions Center in Minneapolis in Bloomington, Minnesota.

"These facilities represent TCS' latest investment in the US market as we seek out ways to better serve our customers here," said Surya Kant, President of TCS' North American, UK and European operations.

Most of TCS's new coders in Ohio are fresh from the nearby universities of Kentucky, Cincinnati, Purdue, Ohio State, and TCS offers them interesting work with a booming company.

The Ohio facility is also aimed at securing what some major Indian service providers are chasing - defence and avionics work, which can only be done in the US by American citizens or green card holders.

TCS is also making a renewed push to win outsourced government contracts in countries such as Britain and the US, despite the din over taking potentially sensitive public-sector operations offshore. According to the Financial Times, TCS closed a deal last month with the Disclosure and Barring Service, part of Britain's Home Office which conducts criminal records checks, the third UK government department to become its client.

Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chief executive of TCS, told the Financial Times that his company aimed to more than double its public-sector revenues, to over $400 million, during the next five years.

by Uttara Choudhury

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