As the U.S. government's criminal probe of Infosys progresses, the company appears to be quietly taking steps to portray itself as being more U.S.-friendly, and more in touch with and responsive to the market where it gets nearly two-thirds of its global revenue, and where allegations of visa and tax fraud are getting increasingly more attention.
India's Business Standard reported last week that Infosys Senior Vice President and Global Head of Human Resources Nandita Gurjar is relocating from Bangalore to Infosys' Plano, Texas, office for a six-month period. According to the report, Infosys Executive Co-chairman Kris Gopalakrishnan said Gurjar "is being relocated primarily to set up a proper HR function in the US and increase the local recruitment."
A subsequent comment piece by Saritha Rai, an India-based columnist for the UK website silicon.com, quoted Gurjar directly:
Being based away from our headquarters and on the ground where 60 per cent of our business comes from will bring a greater strategic focus [and will provide] a ground-level understanding of what areas we need to address as a global corporation.
The move comes as Infosys has reportedly formulated plans to hire as many as 1,500 U.S. workers over the next several quarters. In her piece, Rai made a reference to Infosys and other Indian companies hiring more U.S. citizens, primarily as consultants and client-facing employees, and made this observation:
This recruitment process means Indian companies are tackling the conventional wisdom that Western workers are less productive and unable to fit into global teams. As work becomes increasingly complex, these new recruits are seen as bringing to the table an understanding of the local culture and an ability to engage more effectively with clients.
Having never been immersed in the Indian tech sector, I'm not in a position to verify that the "conventional wisdom" in India is indeed that Western workers are less productive than Indian workers and are unable to fit into global teams. I will say that if you're one of those people whose knee-jerk reaction to that contention is to mindlessly post a lot of hateful, anti-Indian rhetoric, get over it. I don't want it on here, so just take a deep breath and calm down. I would, however, be interested in hearing from anyone with direct knowledge and experience who can provide an informed assessment of whether or not that is in reality the conventional wisdom in India.
I'm also interested in monitoring the internal changes that Infosys makes to position itself more favorably in the eyes of the U.S. government authorities who are conducting the criminal investigation of Infosys' visa-related practices, and to mount a defense against the civil lawsuit brought by Jay Palmer, the Infosys employee and whistleblower whose case prompted the government's probe.
I find it especially interesting that according to a report in India's Economic Times, Infosys has booted out Eshan Joshi, the HR executive who headed its immigration department. Here's an excerpt from that report:
Infosys has quietly replaced a key official handling immigration issues with a veteran specialist from rival Wipro, triggering talk that it may be setting its house in order after being accused of visa abuse in the US.
India's second-biggest software exporter has hired Vasudev Nayak, the former head of the overseas operations cell at Wipro, in place of Eshan Joshi, an associate vice-president at Infosys' human resources division and head of its immigration department, at least three people familiar with the matter told ET.
Joshi, an Infosys veteran of 13 years, is currently on a "sabbatical", said one of them, a company executive who requested anonymity. An Infosys spokeswoman declined to comment on Joshi's employment status. A Wipro spokeswoman confirmed that Nayak has quit the company.
No doubt, Infosys and other Indian companies know they have a monumental problem on their hands. Here's another excerpt from Rai's piece:
For Indian outsourcing companies, hiring non-Indians may be the right move in more ways than one. The visa situation with the US is "becoming sticky", according to Sean Narayanan, chief delivery officer of [IT services provider] iGate Patni.
"Becoming sticky" is quite the understatement. It's also a euphemism for "turning our world upside-down." It will be fascinating to watch Indian outsourcing companies in general, and Infosys in particular, strive to recast themselves as the neighbor across the street.