A MANDATORY artificial intelligence (AI) community of practice, introduced in January this year, awaits all CGI India employees. For the 48-year-old C$14.3 billion IT and business consulting services firm, this is critical to ensure every employee understands and speaks the same language when it comes to AI, says Sarika Pradhan, vice president, human resources, Asia-Pacific. CGI designs strategies for responsible use of AI as one of its services.

In addition to the AI programme, the company has in place about 10 communities of practice. CoP refers to a group of people who share a common concern, a set of problems, or an interest in a topic. These bring together practitioners and subject matter experts from emerging practices and are designed to build on the company’s internal expertise, aimed at supporting challenging delivery scenarios. The company, which provides services, including business consulting, IT outsourcing and management, enterprise resource planning, cybersecurity and digitisation to clients across sectors such as banking, insurance, oil and gas, manufacturing, retail, transportation and health, also offers leadership master-classes for skill enhancement of employees. All employees are required to undertake 40 hours of learning every year.

“The talent pool is limited in the market and there are lots of companies vying for the same talent. We have built CoPs to attain industry expertise which helps us in supporting proofs of concepts, request for proposals and proof of value. We also focus on portfolio offerings, industry connects, ecosystem development, people and competency, innovation and artefacts,” says Pradhan. Additionally, CGI India, which posted a 11.1% YoY rise in total revenue in FY23, also runs an ICE (innovate, collaborate and evolve) programme. It evaluates and supports employee ideas, which are brought to the company’s innovation council, comprising of executive leaders and technology experts to recognise and fund innovative ideas. Employees are encouraged to submit ideas and vote on the proposals of others. Selected projects are invited to pitch their ideas to CGI experts and winning projects are funded.

“HR’s function has become very important in all that we do, more so in the IT sector, where it’s all about talent, how well you can retain talent, how you are skilling and upskilling employees,” says Pradhan, who leads the HR function for CGI’s India, Philippines, and Malaysia operations, which collectively employ over 20,000 people.

CGI is working on building resilience by focusing on mental health and wellness via initiatives such as the Oxygen Portal, an interactive platform where employees can access a services, including wellness-related webinars and articles.

The company, which employs 50% women at the junior level, says it has put in place a women leadership programme — R.I.S.E., focused on promoting high-performing women employees to leadership roles. According to Pradhan, 25% of women employees in the programme have moved up in their career path so far. Currently, 36.5% of CGI’s employees are women, 22% are in senior leadership roles. The company aims to increase the share of women across functions and levels by 5% every year.

The company is also working to make its policies contemporary and future-ready. HR policies governing maternity, paternity and adoption leaves are evolving keeping in mind the needs of the younger generation of employees, as well as evolving regulation. In learning and development, too, CGI is customising its offerings. “We have different channels of learning — master-classes, VILT (virtual instructor-led training) and self learning,” says Pradhan.

For senior leadership roles, CGI has in place a succession planning process and ensures there are two-three candidates ready for such roles to avoid having a vacuum in the organisation. “We believe in grooming talent from within. If I take the example of the APAC SBU (strategic business unit), six of our seven SBU heads are internally groomed,” she says, adding, the company has multiple partnerships with academia, including Ivy League institutions, for certifications and courses that help senior leaders move forward in their career.

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