Financial services has always been very strong for HCL Technologies in Australia. It also has strong relationships in travel and transport and is focusing on utilities, mining and oil and gas.
The Australia and New Zealand region grew about 12 percent last year for HCL Technologies, where the country's third-largest software exporter has had a presence since nearly 20 years.
It has offices in all major Australian cities, and recently opened a new one in Adelaide. Employing around 3,300 people, the region has over 60 customers with key relationships with companies across sectors like financial services, retail and consumer products, manufacturing, energy and utilities, travel transport and logistics, government, mining and telecom.
The Senior Vice President and Country Manager for HCL in Australia & New Zealand, Michael Horton, spoke to Moneycontrol about the future prospects in the region and challenges.
Q: Is there any segment that you look at or a particular vertical that you focus on?
A: It is spread out of all verticals. Countries like Australia and New Zealand are fairly small, particularly population-wise, in comparison to India. We have close to 20-25 million people in the country and the economy is quite large.
Q: How has the change been since last 20 years for HCL specifically, in your experience?
A: Well, I can’t speak about 1998 as it was a long time back but a lot of things have changed in between. The particular change has been about how we deliver. More recently, the delivery model has been shifted to more large verticals for which we ensure support. So there is a more agile delivery format now.
Q: In the last couple of years, has there been a need to find more local talent in general in the world. Is enough local talent available at a certain degree or enough skilled talent in the Australia and New Zealand region?
A: We are working to bring staff on shore or to work off shore within the contracts. So, it’s a real mix. Now we have the Adelaide office. Most of the employment has come on shore in Adelaide as we are hiring graduate or freshers from local universities.
So, that’s a part of the significant change from where the company would have been 20 years ago. We are seeing much more blended work force developing
Q: Why have you opened a new centre in Adelaide? Do you have a lot of industry or customers there?
A: We have offices in every major city except Adelaide. We have been able to win a contract with an organisation called Elders. Besides, we have been able to go forward and establish an office in Adelaide which is quite a significant news for HCL Australia . Because, it has been quite a few years a major player has set up a new office in the city.
The city comprises 1.2 million people and the government here is very proactive in diversifying the Industry. Besides, they are quite welcoming in terms of new technology coming into the market and to support their local blokes.
Q: Which verticals are you are more focused on in the region?
A: Financial services has always been very strong for us in Australia. However, we have grown a good sort of trust in travel and transport. We are focusing, in the coming years in utilities, mining and oil and gas. Though we can look to expand beyond this as well.
Q: What are the challenges you are facing in the current environment in the region?
A: I think the main challenge is in terms of staff fulfillment. The country has got a small population. We just have 5,000 IT graduates available which is quite a tiny number, much lower than the number of people required. So we are always looking for talent.
Q: Does HCL have training centres in Australia for the employees that you hire?
A: Not as such. We obviously do have training for our staff if they require. We rely on the local talent from the universities. We also reskill our in house staff.
Q: So, across job levels, where do you see the needs for the employee to get more skilled?
Q: It’s across all levels. A lot of customers are moving toward digital practices. We usually start our engagement with our customers in mode 1 areas which is supporting the traditional IT mode and which we try to move to Mode 2 and Mode 3 offerings, for which we have to reskill our staff and transform our working model.
Q: Are your global partnerships, such as the one with IBM, helping you in the region?
A: Yes. Definitely.
Q: Also, are you looking at acquisitions or partnering with local startups?
A: Nothing specific, but we definitely look around at the options available. We are open to evaluate options which can benefit and make sense to our customers.
We do partner with local companies. There are different local companies in different regions that partner with us. And we have some strong relationships with them.I think what important to HCL that from the Australia region is, we are growing very well and ranked very well. It is a niche region with many opportunities.