Startup City Magazine

Nurturing Engineering Talent is the Key to Long term Success of the Businesses

By Kartik Subbanna, VP - Engineering, Riverbed Technology

Kartik Subbanna, VP - Engineering, Riverbed Technology

Headquartered in the U.S., Riverbed Technology is the leader of application performance infrastructure proffering the complete platform for location- independent platform.

Q. Can you give your views on engineering talent existing in India, especially when we are talking about digital revolution?

Ans: We are in the midst of digital revolution in India, with the quest for transformation and disruption dominating nearly every sector of the economy. India’s startup ecosystem is thriving, challenging the status quo, and forcing established enterprise leaders to seek disruption within their own organizations, lest they be disrupted themselves. As the country embraces a digital future, the demand for skilled engineering talent in the IT sector has reached a near-zenith. And talent demands have evolved. Technical skills must be complemented by business and social skills. Adaptability, risk-taking and the ability to think from a broader business perspective have become imperative.

As a result, the legacy mentality amongst IT companies that once viewed a candidate’s potential based on credentials alone is giving way to one that places a higher value on the candidate’s ability to apply fundamental engineering principles to solve real-world problems. In other words, an increasing number of companies have realized that having the good grade didn’t give you the skills to be a good employee. This is especially true in the digital era, where IT has become an enabler of business strategy, demanding IT teams to understand both the technology landscape and the business implications of technology.

Q. What should young engineers consider when sorting through the ‘clutter’ of job opportunities – from startups to IT giants?

Ans: It’s a great time to be in the engineering field – there are opportunities available today that were unheard of even a decade ago. From the growing number of tech startups to thriving IT leaders, each has their own appeal.

The guidance I give to young engineers is to look for a culture that values collaboration and learning, a herd mentality counts. Innovation can come from anyone, regardless of title or location. Look for opportunities that allow you to collaborate across teams, products and geographies. Ask potential employers how they’ll support skills development. Is it integrated into business process? Roles that provide opportunities to develop problem solving and critical thinking skills should be prized.

Q. How corporates can play a key role to groom the next generation of engineering talent?

Ans: IT companies have a tremendous opportunity to lead a change. We can learn a lot by taking a page from the playbooks of India’s ‘IT talent innovators’ - those like Infosys, for example, that took the bull by the horns and made a business case for nurturing engineering talent. These companies hired differently, made a business case for skills development and championed their own internal training programs. They worked to remove siloes between engineering teams in order to develop the skill sets critical to ensuring their long-term business success.

At Riverbed, we’re chartering new territory too; bucking the Indian tendency towards a more hierarchical business culture, in favor of one we believe drives greater innovation through openness. For example, as a global team, we created an internal competition, based on the popular TV Series Shark Tank, which encourages our engineers to present their own breakthrough solutions to key business challenges. It’s become a valuable platform to spark new ideas and solve some of the toughest problems our customers and engineering teams are actually facing.

Q. What are your views on retaining engineering talent in an unsettled environment?

Ans: Retaining and nurturing engineering talent is about more than offering free lunch, a full-time barista, or whiskey on tap. It’s about creating a culture that values collaboration and learning, ensuring that team members feel that they’re more than just a cog in the wheel. Facilitating a culture of innovation not only leads to new ideas and products for new markets, and ultimately, to more growth. But it also develops the problem solving and critical thinking skills that today’s rapidly changing IT industry demands of our engineers.

Q. How important is people strategy for an organisation in the digital age?

Ans: The digital revolution is reshaping the way we live our lives and the way we work. As business strategies undergo a fundamental re-think, so must organization’s people strategies. They need to hire for the future as much as they need to hire for today. Today’s organizations need to ask: Which roles will be automated? What new roles will be needed to manage and run emerging technology? What skills should the company be looking for, and training their people for? Where will we find the people we need?

But more importantly, organizations need to be sure that the business is fit to handle the uncertainties of the future. Whatever technological innovations are ahead it’s the people that will make the difference between eventual success and failure. That’s why organizations need a people strategy for the digital age.

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