by Joseph Vijayam
Information Technology is a knowledge industry that relies almost entirely on the knowledge of people working in the industry. If you are setting up an IT company you will need to look for people with skills and experience that are aligned with the services you aim to provide.
If you are unable to find people with the right skills and experience, I suggest elevating the skills of people living in your region by setting up an IT training institute. I assume you are an IT professional and that you would have the skills required to teach. Additionally, you might want to recruit one or two staff members or volunteers who are able to teach IT as you prepare a workforce. IT training in itself can be a profitable business, depending on the ability for students to pay for courses, and you can ultimately benefit from your end product of trained IT professionals. From among this newly trained workforce you can recruit your staff for providing IT services in the long run.
I have seen the rise of the IT industry in India over a period of 30 years. It all began with the establishment of numerous IT training institutes across all major cities of India back in the early 1980s. Some of the same training institutes moved up the value chain in the IT industry and have now become global IT businesses. There is now no dearth of trained IT professionals in India, but it all started with a few entrepreneurs who set up institutes to train people who often ended up working with the same team responsible for their initial training. Some examples of Indian companies which followed this model are NIIT, Satyam (now Tech Mahindra), HCL, and so on.
In terms of aptitude for IT workers, things to look for are mathematical skills, logic and analytical thinking. I personally prefer mathematics, engineering or computer science graduates to other branches of arts or sciences. If it is difficult for you to find college graduates, you might look for high school graduates who excelled in mathematics and physics in their school work. In addition to an aptitude for learning, look for those who have a sense of loyalty. Since you will be investing heavily in terms of time, effort and perhaps money in their training, you need to ensure that there is return on your investment which can only happen if some of the best alumni will work with you after their training is completed.
I recommend setting up a four step process for interviews. First, give a written test involving problem solving using logic and analytical thinking. Second, have an oral interview in which you can assess their willingness and enthusiasm to aggressively learn new concepts and skills. Third, assess their soft skills such as written and verbal communication skills, team spirit, flexibility in work timings, and so on. Finally, put them through an HR interview in which practical matters such as remuneration, length of employment, work hours, job title, company policies, etc. are discussed.
Joseph Vijayam is Managing Director of Olive Technology, a business as mission company based in India and USA that provides IT services. Joseph, manages the company’s overall business planning and corporate strategy. Prior to founding Olive he served as the Chief Executive of Matrix Computer Consultancy in India. He has employed his extensive track record in empowering various for profit and not-for-profit organizations in India and the USA. Joseph is a member of BAM Global Advisory Board and Senior Associate of Technology for the Lausanne Movement.
Joseph serves as a regular mentor for the Ask a BAM Mentor column.
Picture credit: Olive Technology