India-based leaders steer the wheels of global tech

India is no more just the back office or the cost centre of the global tech industry; it is increasingly becoming a country where global leadership of multinationals are based, with teams reporting to them from across the globe.

Technology and banking giants such as IBM, Accenture, SAP and Goldman Sachs among others have several new reporting and controlling positions based out of India, industry experts said.

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As more international companies widen their operations here, especially with the expansion of global capability centres (GCCs), this trend will only strengthen, they said.

Global snack and beverage maker PepsiCo is also firming up plans to elevate several senior executives based out of India, which will see reporting from global teams, people aware of the development said.

For Accenture, at least five senior global positions are now in India including its chief strategy officer Bhaskar Ghosh.

IBM has recently appointed Sudheesh Kairali, the architect of (IBM’s artificial intelligence and data platform), to lead the data and AI team at IBM based out of Kochi.

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SAP has Dharani Karthikeyan heading the engineering for analytics from Bengaluru.

“Dharani is the global engineering lead for our analytics products, and she’s based here in Bangalore,” SAP CTO Juergen Muller said. “There are teams in Germany reporting into Dharani, there are teams in Canada reporting into Dharani… So, there’s no artificial ceiling where you can only get to a certain level and then that’s the end unfortunately… Many senior leaders for the company are actually based in Bengaluru,” he told ET.

Viswanathan KS, vice president (industry initiatives) at industry body Nasscom, said, “There is increasingly more trust built in India over the past five years with the leadership roles focused beyond mere delivery and back-office functions. This aids the parent organisations to leverage more from India.”

New types of roles including chief customer officer, discovery officer, etc are being created here, he said. “There is higher confidence, more stature and increased ownership of end-to-end responsibilities and strategic advisory positions developed from here,” Viswanathan added.

Other global roles in India at Accenture include Senthil Ramani, global lead for data & AI, Kaushal Mody, chief assets and solutions officer, and Arundhati Chakraborty, global lead – delivery and business transformation operations, in Bengaluru, besides Mahesh Zurale, global lead for advanced technology centres global network and lead for advanced technology centres in India, based out of Pune.

“A significant portion of our clients are coming to India right now… The numbers are in double, triple digits,” said Ramani, who moved from Singapore to Bengaluru over two years ago. “And then the supply part is here… India to us is like the nucleus, so ability to go out to the market and come back here to constantly match the demand supply (talent). And to keep the friction as less as possible between demand-supply (talent) and that’s my job,” he said.

According to Dinesh Nirmal, senior vice president for products at IBM Software, the technical talents here like Kairali can help create multiple new talented people to create more innovations and India has that technology advantage.

“I would say generative AI, data and security are the three areas we’ll see a lot of new talent coming out from here,” he said.

Goldman Sachs’ global chief operating officer of engineering Gunjan Samtani is based out of Bengaluru.

Last year, the US investment banking giant promoted its largest ever batch of around 35 executives across Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad to managing director roles.

“We promoted the biggest MD class here… There are many global functions or leaders with global responsibilities that are anchored out of here,” Samtani told ET in an interaction recently. “In many ways, the state of maturity has led to the nature of roles, the kind of people that we look for these roles and lastly, the inversion of responsibility in these roles, to not just be in support of global teams, but you are the global leader,” he said.

Industry body Nasscom has projected about 5,000 global digital leadership roles present in the country in 2022 to grow four-fold to 20,000 by 2030 with the rise of GCCs in the country.

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