India Poaches U.S. Executives For Tech Jobs
http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB1109 ... 08,00.html
THE WALLSTREET JOURNAL ONLINE
For Tech Jobs
By JAY SOLOMON
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
February 22, 2005; Page B1
NEW DELHI -- For 12 years, Doug Bettinger was a senior finance
executive at Intel Corp., working at the U.S. computer-chip maker's
offices in Silicon Valley, Arizona and Malaysia. In November, the
37-year-old jumped ship, becoming chief financial officer of
Bangalore-based call center operator 24/7 Customer.
"The growth India is experiencing is crazy," says Mr. Bettinger, who
now splits his time between 24/7 Customer's offices in Los Gatos,
Calif., and Bangalore. "There are lots of opportunities there that you
couldn't get at Intel."
Mr. Bettinger is among a growing number of U.S. and Western executives
being poached -- not to mention well-paid -- by Indian technology
companies trying to globalize their software and outsourcing
businesses. In recent months, Indian businesses have hired dozens of
executives from companies including Electronic Data Systems Corp.,
Deloitte Consulting LLP, McKinsey & Co., Accenture Ltd. and Ernst &
Indian software giants and other Indian outsourcing companies are
becoming more profitable as demand for their low-cost services
increases. Tata Group's Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys
Technologies Ltd. and Wipro Technologies Ltd. all have had annual
revenue growth of around 50% in recent quarters and are hiring
thousands of new workers each quarter.
Such growing financial clout is allowing Indian companies to woo
Western executives -- especially with higher salaries. "Six or seven
figures are often involved, and equity is also in play," says Rohit
Ambekar, an Asia-based partner with Morgan Howard Worldwide, a
Stamford, Conn., executive search company.
Headhunters working for Indian companies say their clients have to pay
a premium to attract U.S. talent due to their companies' lower
profiles and limited track records. In one recent case, an Indian
company offered an American executive a base salary of $350,000 plus a
potential bonus of $2 million over two years to join its U.S.
operations, according to an executive with knowledge of the deal. The
executive's salary at his U.S. company was $300,000 annually plus
stock options equal to around $1.2 million over four years.
U.S. companies, meanwhile, say they are competing aggressively with
Indian companies for both talent and market share. EDS has nearly
3,000 workers in India focusing on software development and
back-office duties, and expects to add 2,000 more this year. Intel
says it is growing its research and development facilities in India
and has been investing in Indian companies through its Intel Capital
unit in a bid to boost its business in Asia.
Many Indian businessmen say these Western executives can help their
companies penetrate overseas markets and help put in place systems to
manage their growth. "Doug comes from a company ... where he's seen
scale," says P.V. Kannan, chief executive officer of 24/7 Customer,
who hired Mr. Bettinger. "Only a limited number of Indian executives
have this type of experience."
Mr. Kannan says his company is close to making an acquisition of a
call-center operator in the U.S., which could more than double his
company's revenue to around $100 million. 24/7 Customer is also adding
2,500 workers in the coming months and expanding into Europe and Asia.
Bombay-based Patni Computer Systems Ltd. is another Indian company
aggressively hiring Western executives as it tries to expand in the
U.S. and Europe. Patni, like many Indian software companies, started
posting strong growth in the mid-1990s by supplying low-end software
products and services to multinationals such as General Electric Co
But little attention was paid at that time to developing Patni's name
outside India. Today, Patni has offices in 26 countries and a U.S.
headquarters in Cambridge, Mass. Early last year, the company hired
business consultant Bill Budde from EDS in an attempt to compete with
the Plano, Texas, company and others that provide software and
services to the global insurance industry. Patni also recently hired
former Motorola Corp. executive Tony Viola to head its North American
marketing operations as it seeks to become a $1 billion company in
sales. Last year, Patni had net profit of $58 million on sales of $327
Mr. Budde and Mr. Viola today lead peripatetic lives. The 44-year-old
Mr. Budde describes his office as "wherever my laptop sits" as he
shuffles between the Indian cities of Bombay, Noida and Madras, and
Patni's U.S. offices, trying to increase the company's U.S. presence.
The majority of Patni's nearly 10,000-strong work force remains in
India, with only 250 employees in the U.S.
Mr. Budde says Patni is more nimble than large American consulting and
software companies in responding to client's needs. He says much of
his six years at EDS was spent dealing with bureaucratic issues and
colleagues, rather than clients. "Now I can focus on what we do well,"
Greg Young, formerly of Australia's telecommunications giant, Telstra
Corp., is among those businessmen Mr. Ambekar recently placed. In
December, Tata Group, India's second-largest conglomerate, named him
the chief technology officer of its telecommunications arm. The
42-year-old says he received a "very complete package" -- including
housing and transportation -- and the opportunity to oversee the
attempts by Tata Teleservices Ltd. to win a sizable share of the
Indian companies are recruiting at a time when Western workers are
worried about losing their jobs at U.S. companies as their positions
are outsourced overseas. In recent months, companies such as Accenture
and International Business Machines Corp. have hired locals in
developing countries including India as they seek to reduce costs to
compete with the likes of Infosys and Wipro.
Indian companies are now offering a degree of job security that's
harder to come by in job-short Silicon Valley. "There's never been a
better time to be hiring," says Stephen Pratt, a San Francisco-based
executive who left Deloitte Consulting last April to head Infosys's
new global consulting arm in Fremont, Calif. Mr. Pratt has helped
Bangalore-based Infosys recruit more than 70 executives. "We're
hungrier than other firms."
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