Our goal has always been to build careers for life: Vijay Colaco, HR Director, Intel India – Times of India

Intel entered India in the year 1988 with a sales office in Bangalore. 30-year-old in India (24+years as a design and engineering site), Intel has invested over $7 billion in the country to date and continues to expand its R&D footprint. Intel India is engaged in the design and engineering work such as SoC design, 5G network solutions, graphics, software, and platform for the data center, client, and IoT markets serving advanced technology segments AI, 5G, and autonomous systems. The company has 8 state-of-the-art design centers located in Bengaluru and Hyderabad with a total space of 3.7 million sq ft. In addition to engineering programmes, Intel India has been working with the technology ecosystem including industry, startups, academia, and government in the country. In an email interview, Vijay Colaco, HR director, Intel India, talks about how Intel nurtures talent, policies the company has to keep employees motivated; upskilling/reskilling initiatives and more.
Q. What have been the company’s initiatives toward nurturing new talent?
It is not news to the world that the technology industry is currently facing shortage of skilled talent. To combat the ongoing issue and build a future talent pipeline, Intel is focusing on building a strong curriculum for students and aspirants in the technology space, that will emphasize on skilling them in the fields of hardware, software, and manufacturing. We (HR, Business and Technologists) are also working towards organizing ‘Youthathons’ an approach by which we maximize our reach to students across India to build greater awareness and knowledge of the Semiconductor/VLSI industry and emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), etc. It will also showcase our work and demonstrate how Intel harnesses the power of technology to build a better and sustainable tomorrow.
In terms of nurturing new talent, we are always looking at how we can collaborate with numerous external organizations and the academia that will enable us to bring forth women in the STEM sector to become a future pipeline into Intel. Our goal is to take our curriculum into universities, schools, and colleges, and help women to start thinking about STEM-related subjects, and eventually become a part of our workforce in the future.
Finally, Global leaders from Intel are coming together to share their knowledge on products, patents, and technology with our workforce. We are a growing millennial workforce with a lot of youth joining our company. Hosting technical sessions and showcasing the products we are working on provides great exposure and is incredibly inspiring for youngsters who further influence their peer community to make an informed decision as they build their careers.
Q. Attrition rates have been abnormally high in the overall industry. What initiatives have been taken towards retaining talent?
We, at Intel, understand that while pursuing a job opportunity, candidates don’t just look at the monetary benefits, but also at a wide array of factors that can add value to their personal and professional lives and ensure their long-term mental well-being while building their careers. Our goal has always been to create a sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship with our employees. To achieve this, our senior leadership brings forth their immense experience and expertise to help our future employees understand Intel’s vision and create a vigorous roadmap that charts out their growth with a sense of belonging.
We have a strong cultural ethos at Intel, which has helped us in retaining our best talent. Our goal has always been to build careers for life. Since there is no one-size-fits-all formula, the focus has been on creating a dynamic, flexible, comfortable, and welcoming hybrid-working environment that allows employees to deliver to their full potential. As we reintegrate employees, we have shifted the focus from mandating specific days in office to individual accountability where there’s consensus between the manager and the employees on days when they physically need to be in the office. This empowerment has been highly appreciated and in turn we are seeing higher footfall of our workforce, coming back to work. To make it more welcoming for those who have returned to the office, we are extending campus benefits and perks like shuttle services, cafeteria services, and onsite gym access. To build synergies amongst our teams, we start our team meetings in the office, encourage managers to have informal interactions and establish team bonding over team lunches or coffee breakouts. We use this relaxed atmosphere to connect with our employees and reenergize them. This initiative is called #Check-In: Step-In and Step Out.
Though compensation is an important component of retaining talent, it is equally important to excite the employees in terms of the products and the charters that they are working on. Everybody wants to be driven by a sense of purpose where employees in the organisation want to know “How am I relevant to what’s happening at a broader organisation level” or “am I seeing the big picture”. For this, we have encouraged managers to start focusing on working with their teams to cocreate and help them understand the impact of their work in realizing the company purpose and vision.
While this starts with the immediate manager, the influence expands through Intel’s global managers and leaders, both business and technologist, who extend their expertise to mentor our employees. Not only that, we are also focusing on creating ‘Professor Internships’ or ‘Professor Sabbatical Programs’ and are bringing renowned professors to guide and teach the employees.
Q. What are the interesting perks/benefits that are being offered by the company?
At Intel India, we have recently shifted to a system called OKRs (Objective and Key Results) that allows employees, in conjunction with their managers, to self-declare their quarterly goals tied to business and corporate goals, on which they would like to be measured. By adopting this co-creation methodology, we have instilled a new, refreshed sense of purpose and gratification.
Our employees have started witnessing that their work is more relatable to them and how it influences the broader organizational goal. This has nurtured a deep sense of purpose and commitment to execute to standards set by them which in turn has an influence at their business level and further influences corporate goals. We also have a rewards and recognition system in place that ties into OKRs where over achievers both in terms of results and demonstrating Intel’s values are rewarded. Additionally, managers are encouraged to recognize and motivate employees through the course of the year for result orientation and high standards of execution through various means of recognition ranging from recognition points, cash incentives, vouchers, meal with the family, or short-term learning courses to higher education programs. This timely appreciation with a tangible reward has also increased productivity and output. Another interesting offering has been our DOT (Development Opportunity Tool) program. These are short-term (three to six months) opportunities giving the employees an option to expand their entire portfolio to an entirely different field – be it HR, finance, engineering, etc.
Q. Please highlight numerous initiatives/programmes undertaken towards upskilling, reskilling the employees?
We are witnessing a seismic shift in the job market and aspects such as work-life balance, flexible work locations, the culture of empowerment, inclusion, room to innovate, etc. have become important factors that are enabling organizations to attract and retain talent. We have also realized that as much as people want to be invested in their day-to-day activities, they want to continuously keep learning and growing.
Intel is a core technology organization, and for us, the intent is to continuously build technologists across various domains. While the starting point or foundation is traditional education, we have now been focusing on expanding domain expertise through various right skilling or upskilling approaches. We have been encouraging self-learning programs for our employees – a tool-based approach called Learning Pathways, which has topics ranging from AI, ML, IoT, 5G, etc. It also covers areas such as leading in the era of remote work, taking care of our mental health and overall wellness, amongst others. The platform is accessible on non-Intel devices as well so employees can learn anytime and anywhere on their preferred device. We have also partnered with Degreed, a workforce upskilling platform, for our Exponential Learning portal that helps integrate and curate digital content while
enabling employees to connect with other remote learners.
Intel’s Technologists are highly revered and make themselves available to mentor our employees who are interested in expanding their domain expertise. This is done through our Technologist Forums and Mentorship sessions. Each year we host Intel’s Career and Innovation Fair that enables our employees to showcase their innovation and technical expertise, learn from their mentors and engage with the broader Intel community to understand various forums and opportunities to learn and grow.
Employees are also given the choice, in consultation with their managers, to upskill themselves through various short term self-learning technical programs. As a result of these programs, we are seeing that Intel India is leading Intel globally in terms of conversions from technology, management, and people development.
Q. Any other initiatives you would want to shed light on that might interest potential recruits?
To continue the momentum of building a robust workforce at Intel, we are now looking at onboarding veterans and people with disabilities. Intel is also investing in developing the STEM Pipeline for Women, LGBT+ and PWD community and upskilling this talent to be ready for the workforce. We are focusing on developing a curriculum that will be made available for this potential talent pool thereby further strengthening the STEM talent Pipeline.
We also have a dedicated program at Intel called Home-to-Office which is focused on bringing women on a career break, back into the workforce. We coupled this with upskilling opportunities in partnership with VMware Taara for potential candidates to prepare for the interview process and roles they are aspiring for. Our Flagship program called ‘MoMentoring’ provides mentorship for expecting new mothers to help them manage their careers and motherhood successfully.
Wellness has been an important factor that every potential candidate and existing employee looks forward to in a company. To promote the well-being of our employees, we have established the Thrive@Intel program for employees to feel more aware, included, and accepted at the workplace where they can openly seek help without any fear. It focuses on open communications to create awareness about Intel’s wellness resources and mental wellness coaches and provides a platform for employees and leaders to share their personal experiences. We have Mental Health Ambassadors trained to be Mental Health first aiders which helps in creating a peer-to-peer support model that is unique to Intel India. We also provide benefits such as additional wellness days off, Meeting-Free Fridays, Blackout Hours, or no meeting hours for personal time set aside for self, friends, and family to continue to invest in one’s development and support ME time.


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