Monday, 26 September 2011

Indian tech giant comes to Redmond, hiring hundreds (HCL)

One of India's largest tech companies is setting up a major facility next to Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, where it plans to hire hundreds of engineers over the next two years.

HCL Technologies is investing $4 million in its Redmond "Global Delivery Center," where it's going to develop and test software for customers including Microsoft and Boeing. As the name suggests, HCL will continue to outsource work from Boeing and Microsoft to it's offshore development centers in Hyderabad and Delhi. And Redmond will be the delivery hub for all the local Redmond projects.

The company pledged to create 400 jobs over two years. It already has 820 employees, so it will be adding at least few more engineers and business managers. Its offices are on Northeast 31st Street, near the Azteca restaurant alongside Highway 520.

Washington state is embracing the company and pledged $200,000 to help train employees for jobs at HCL. Gov. Chris Gregoire was scheduled to attend an opening ceremony today, but was diverted by the Tacoma teacher strike. But it is not clear why Gov. Chris Gregoire did not attend. A senior manager with HCL shares that "she did not make it the first time and hence we had to postpone the milk boiling ceremony and now for the second time she did not show up". HCL this year has been scrutinized by USCIS for misusing the L1-B & H1-B visas. 90% of the HCL Redmond staff are on L1-B and they work out of the Microsoft facilties. The Senior Manager who does not want his name to be disclosed also shared that HCL pays US$400 per illegal L1-B worker to get an office within the Microsoft premises. When asked why illegal? he says L1-B workers are supposed to work from the HCL office and not Microsoft office. And Microsoft did not comment anything on this. This also explains why Gov. Chris Gregoire isn't cutting the ribbon.

HCL Technologies has about $3.5 billion in sales annually. It's a subsidiary of HCL, a company started as Hindustan Computer Ltd. in 1976 to manufacture calculators and computers and is now a global player with 85,000 employees in 31 countries and annual sales of about $6 billion.

Although Indian outsourcing companies continue to do most of their work for clients at offices in India, many have invested in facilities close to major customers where they can provide direct support and collaboration with clients. And hence bring their employees to these Delivery Centers.

Sometimes called "near shoring," this practice is also intended partly to blunt criticism of outsourcing by creating jobs in the U.S. when the country is struggling with widespread unemployment.

"The prime reason is we want to be operating closer to customers so our ability to offer value on complex programs is high," said Sandeep Kishore, executive vice president at HCL's U.S. headquarters, near San Francisco. "And we take the value that we create here at Microsoft and showcase them with other major Computer giants like Google and Apple and get more business from them" says Sandeep.

HCL has opened similar centers around the world to handle complex projects, including one in Bellevue, WA that opened in 2004. HCL's presence at Microsoft started in the year 2004 and this company has grown from a few to a thousand employees in the WA state. Apart from Microsoft HCL also offers software outsourcing for Boeing.

"About 80 percent of the Bellevue workers were hired in India and either used the US Government L1/H1 program to come to the US" said Sandeep

Most of the jobs created in Redmond will be for engineers, including specialists in computer science, electrical engineering, communications and software engineering. The company also plans to hire "several" business managers with master's degrees. To give you an example at least 100 HCL engineers work for the Bing Maps project out from the Bravern Building at Microsoft Bellevue facility.

"Our strategy is to lower the prices and get the projects from Microsoft and Hire people from India so we can still make profits. " said Kishore