Marvell, AMD, and Arm reveal their talent strategies in India

Prasanth Aby Thomas, DIGITIMES, Bangalore 0


One of the most attractive factors about India for global semiconductor companies is the availability of talent. According to the industry body Nasscom, the Indian tech sector has a demand-supply gap of 21.1%, lower than major locations such as the US, UK, and China.

However, having a large talent pool and employing the right talent are two different matters. Although there are several engineers in India, finding the right fit, training them, and retaining them is critical.

For many global chip design companies, this is a major priority area to focus on. We spoke to three large companies about this—Marvell Technology, AMD, and ARM. Here's what they had to say.

Talent Attraction

For talent attraction, there are two parts, explained Navin Bishnoi, India Country Manager at Marvell. First, the economic advantage in India allows us to offer great value at a competitive price. Second, the rapid pace of digitalization requires us to scale up significantly.

"We've shifted from hiring college graduates directly to a strong internship program," Bishnoi said. "We bring interns in for six to eleven months, allowing both the interns and us to evaluate if there's a good fit. This approach also helps in creating bandwidth for existing employees as interns start handling some of their tasks, promoting internal growth."

Marvell's India office has one of the highest intakes of interns at the company. Fathima Farouk, HR head at AMD India, said the company has a flagship co-op program, established in 2011, that provides MTech students with hands-on project experience, leading to higher full-time employment rates.

"The company actively engages with regional and national engineering colleges in India to develop industry-aligned curriculum, ensuring graduates are well-equipped to enter the workplace," Farouk said.

Working with academia is a critical factor for Arm as well. The company recently collaborated with the All-India Council for Technical Education on the third annual Inventors Challenge, tasking the future semiconductor workforce to innovate across key growth areas such as AI and build on the skills they have already learned.

"Arm India also engages with key stakeholders including government, academia, publishers, research organizations, and EdTech companies to help close education and skills gaps in computer engineering," said Guru Ganesan, President of Arm India. "For example, we have partnered with more than 2,400 engineering institutions in India to incorporate Arm technology into their courses. Today, Arm is part of the curriculum taught in 96% of the engineering institutes across the country, benefiting 800,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students."

Upskilling and retaining

Attrition levels among techies in India are a concern for many companies. According to Statista, in 2021, the Indian technology industry had an attrition rate of around 21% to 23%.

"There are two sub-parts here," Bishnoi pointed out. "First is upskilling. In India, career progression is often seen as achieving promotions, more money, and more responsibilities. However, we emphasize that not everyone can be CEO, and vertical growth isn't the only path. We encourage understanding that career routes can involve lateral learning and movement. Think of a career as a backpack where you collect skills over time, which then become your toolkit for various tasks.

The second part involves providing continuous learning opportunities. For Marvell, this is where the HR learning and development department comes in, focusing on technical and non-technical needs.

"For example, we need skills ranging from VLSI design to soft skills such as effective communication on global platforms and our team has tailored training programs that can help our people gather the required skillsets," Bishnoi said. "It starts with creating the framework/model for career, which has success profiles, expected results and competencies as each stage of employee growth path (college hire to leader/manager, to executive/fellow)."

The company also encourages peer-to-peer training and provides access to industry literature through platforms such as IEEE. "There are many programs created for different sets of employees," Bishnoi said.

For example, Technical Accelerator Program (to fast-track career for high-performing employees), Step Mentoring circles to enable mentoring across the organization (in both ways as a mentor as well as a mentee), manager labs (for managing high-performing teams), etc."

Farouk said AMD's upskilling efforts include continuous learning sessions on multiple behavioral and leadership topics, immersive one-day manager development programs catering to unique regional needs, and global self-learning opportunities through subscriptions to various industry-renowned learning and research resources.

"AMD also offers global top talent programs for management and technical career paths, such as the Manager Leadership Experience and Director Leadership Experience," Farouk said. "Additionally, the company has implemented internal mentoring programs for aspiring leaders, where they can learn from internal leaders, as well as executive coaching programs for top leadership levels."

Motivating and measuring the results

Perhaps a crucial factor to consider is that employees have varying priorities, which may not always align with those of the company. In many cases, people aren't driven by the need to grow.

Bishnoi pointed out that about 20% of employees are highly self-motivated. The rest vary in their engagement levels. The company's job is to nurture this motivation, offering opportunities that cater to highly driven individuals and those more focused on work-life balance.

Finally, it is important to know if the efforts are making a difference. Farouk said that AMD's talent development efforts are measured by metrics such as employee engagement, internal mobility, and opportunities for career advancement.

"We use a variety of qualitative indicators to capture subjective experiences, such as new joiner experience checkpoints, employee engagement surveys, and health check discussions," Farouk said. "The positive feedback we receive from employees related to our Learning & Development programs, cross-functional opportunities, and overall organizational culture demonstrates the effectiveness of our talent development initiatives."