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Wipro’s five-point
talent strategy is
tightly linked to
the company’s
strategic plan.

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Educating Employees for a



hen Vishwas Santurkar assumed his role as vice president and head of
talent transformation at Wipro 2.5 years ago, after 21 years with the
company, he was given a mandate for change: to ensure that employees
had the multiple skills required to serve customers around the globe in the face
of rapidly advancing technology; to excel in the digital world, as contributors and
learners; and to use advanced technology to reach and train Wipro’s global work-
force of more than 170,000. The talent transformation organization, which numbers
more than 400, adeptly stepped up to the challenge.
Learning has long had a seat at the strategic table at Wipro, helping to set en-
terprise strategy in two essential ways: by training senior leaders about business
strategy during annual sessions that precede strategic planning exercises; and by as-
sessing concomitant talent needs during the formulation of enterprise strategies.
“Assessment of employees’ technical and behavioral competencies for Wipro to
achieve planned goals is a crucial input from the talent development function in
the formulation of enterprise strategy,” Santurkar says. “Further, we work closely
with business unit leaders to identify critical talent needs and the role that they
can play in helping business units succeed.”

PHOTO: STALIN RAMESH October 2016 | TD 75

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The company’s talent strategy has five core need to learn those skills, then work on hands-
elements: on projects to facilitate their deployment.”
• Hire the right talent. Top Gear is an open-source platform used
• Foster a learning environment to nurture for providing hands-on experience. It is in-
and enable employees to be best in class. tegrated with the enterprise social media
• Be fair, progressive, and consistent in tal- platform Yammer, which enables teams across
ent management processes. different groups and geographies to collabo-
• Listen to employees and put feedback rate and learn. Gamification techniques such as
into action. leaderboards encourage and reward key con-
• Encourage diversity and inclusion. tributors. “The open-source aspect ensures
Informed by the strategic plan, the learn- easy integration of technologies and includes
ing organization designs enterprise learning tools for customization. It is a very cohesive ap-
plans based on the talent strategy to deliver proach,” Santurkar says.
large-scale training programs. Learning solu- The Digital Academy was designed to cre-
tions are directed at employees working on ate technologists who can build and deploy
active customer engagements that require Internet-scale applications. Participation
more than 4,500 skills across competency is selective and competitive, via a specially
dimensions. These are supplemented by designed challenge to assess participants’ ana-
capability-building programs and dynamic, lytical thinking, problem solving, and coding
need-based learning initiatives. skills. The rigorous three-month program in-
Although 68 percent of training is still de- cludes curriculums in programming languages,
livered in the classroom by a live instructor, technology, engineering processes, and tools.
programs are increasingly focused on and de- “It is designed to foster entrepreneurship,
livered via the disruptive technologies—social, design thinking, and high performance through
mobile, analytics, and cloud, often with gamifi- its immersive simulation of a real start-up en-
cation thrown in—that have come to encompass vironment with a challenging problem and an
“digital.” They comprise the company’s most aggressive timeline,” says Santurkar. Business
innovative learning initiative of the past year. results have been impressive: The number of
“Our industry is undergoing a transforma- certified “digital-ready” employees at Wipro has
tion in the type of business we are doing and increased by 100 percent.
the technology required to do it. The kinds of The learning organization facilitated the
skills our employees need are changing very growth of that pipeline by equipping sales
fast,” Santurkar explains. “We have a strong and customer-facing employees with new
business pipeline, and need to get our employ- skills. “With a view to creating more sales op-
ees trained quickly.” portunities, differentiating our offerings, and
The learning function has designed and closing more deals by improving sales con-
developed unique programs, including Future versations, we initiated a unique selling skills
Ready, an innovative platform for building course based on the science behind how the
awareness in digital technologies for all brain makes decisions,” Santurkar explains.
customer-facing roles. It delivers weekly The course, “Power Messaging,” uses a blended
Pictured on pages 74-75:
training modules (webinars) on new technolo- learning approach that includes an e-learning
Subrahmanyam P., Chief,
Global Delivery Enablement; gies, company capabilities, and customer course, a two-day instructor-led program, and
Vishwas Santurkar, Vice case studies. just-in-time post-training reinforcement over
President, Talent Transforma-
tion; Abidali Z. Neemuchwala, “Currently, many of our employees are work- six months.
CEO and Member of the Board; ing on projects that don’t require digital skills,”
Saurabh Govil, President, HR;
Bhanumurthy B.M., President
Santurkar notes. “We realized that in order for Jennifer J. Salopek is a freelance writer in McLean,
and COO our employees to be digitally fit, they would Virginia;

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