Dr Madana Kumar Featured in MDI Magazine on L&D

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Dr. MADANA KUMAR Featured in MDI Magazine – CLO, UST GLOBAL

MDICoverWe had the opportunity to interact  with Dr Madana Kumar, the Chief Learning Officer of UST Global- a leading provider of end-to-end IT Services and Solutions  for Global 1000 companies. Established in 1998 and headquartered in Aliso Viejo, California, UST Global  has operations  in  USA, India, Mexico, Spain, UK, Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore.

With 14,000 employees, UST Global’s growth and clientele  have been impressive. Recently Dr Madana Kumar has won TISS Leap Vault Awards as “CLO Chief Learning Officer Of the Year ” and the team  responsible  for implementing the  learning program  – GAMA has won “Global Learning & Development Team of the Year’ in 2014.Here is a transcript of our chat with him.

The learning program that was implemented by your team garnered a lot of praise and awards this year. Could you tell us more about it?

We have recently implemented an e learning program across the organisation  at various levels. It has been successful on various  aspects. We were  able  to  increase e-learning penetration by 300 o/o by number  of users and e-learning saw an improvement by 127% in terms of number of hours spent by employees on training.

All this was a result of our internal branding and marketing efforts. In  essence   we  were   able   to raise   awareness regarding the  need  for  constantly updating skill sets  for self-improvement.  The awards have only been  a recognition of these  efforts.


What  have  been  the  key drivers behind the  current focus  on  learning and development?

1. Growth

We are seeing growth on 3 fronts: revenue, head count and geographies. In 2013, as opposed  to 2012, we improved headcount by  30%, revenue  grew at 20-25% and  we also entered 10 new countries.   So  you can say  we   are growing at a scorching  pace. Growth requires  that  we are able  to  provide training to  get  into  new  technology areas. Our whole organisation  is driven by  talent.  If  we  don’t  have  the  right people  to deploy, we are lost. We are a knowledge organisation  and  work  on skills   of                   individuals.  So constantly updating these skills is critical.

2 War of Talent

There      are    a     number     of institutions            out    there    that churn out a lot of students area. However  the employability rate is very low in terms of the number of people who could be employed directly. There is a War of Talent to get the cream for your organisation. For experienced professionals also there is a war out there, and companies poach talent from each other. In UST Global, we decided  to  use L&D to overcome this war for talent. Instead of looking (especially in the technology)  out and scouting  for talent, we looked at how we can convert the internal talent to meet our requirement.

3 Profitability & Margins

The third  driver was how can we do things better  while making  sure we do it with lesser costs and lesser defects but in a better way. Other drivers also were customer satisfaction and employee engagement.

In a nutshell, the drivers for LD are not different  from drivers for business.

What are the do’s and don’t that HR professionals should keep in mind while formulating L&D plans?

Keep the  business impact  in mind. Do not  go  with  a readymade catalogue of training  programs. Start with what business problems are we trying to resolve, and then ask, what behaviours are required to solve the problem, and then look for skills that  are required  to demonstrate such behaviour. Finally come to learning/ developmental activities  required for building such skills.

HR should also work on creating the right climate for learning; provide  the  necessary tools, resources  and  infrastructure required  for  learning.  Most  importantly HR should understand  the business priorities and know the trends and thus be able to lead from the front when it comes to proactive skills development activities.

How  do L&D professionals get top management buy  in for the huge investments required for such initiatives?

We in our GAMA team had an integrated strategy to get top management buy-in and to deploy our L&D initiatives.

The strategy is presented below:


How  has the core focus of L&D adapted to current challenges? Urgency/Speed is of utmost importance. We have a turn-around time of 72 hours for L&D needs. Our Performance Consultants find out the needs and we deliver a solution in 72 hours.

Other challenges are cost, because the impact of L&D can only be seen in the long run, and automisation of learning programs.

 – Tanya Mehta.

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