Varada Hasyagar, Head – Delivery Excellence of Risk & Compliance, Discusses His TCS Journey
Some of today’s renowned TCS leaders joined the organization as novices straight out of the classroom. They came from far-flung areas in India and were in awe of the Tata group that was and still is a nation builder. Varada Hasyagar, Head-Delivery Excellence, Risk & Compliance, belongs to this league of veteran TCS leaders. Overcoming his initial apprehensions, Varada focused on his many roles and made the most of the growth opportunities that came his way. Having scaled his way up, he pauses and looks back to reflect on his fascinating journey in technology. We caught up with Varada as he fondly reminisced his formative years as a professional, the turning points in his career, and his collective experience at TCS.
Q: Hi Varada, we’re guessing that you have settled in and adapted to the new normal and the TCS work-from-home model.
A: Great to have this discussion. Yes, I and my loved ones are fine and have learned to adapt to the new normal. For me, TCS Secure Borderless WorkSpaces™ (SBWS™) has been a key to align with the new working model. Initially, it was a bit of struggle as the days used to be a little chaotic with no proper timings/breaks. But with SBWS™, things have now been sorted and my days are better organized. I have settled into a new routine. I save at least two hours of daily office commute, and I use this time for introspection, physical fitness and spending time with my family. Having said that, the one thing I really miss are the in-person interactions and meeting with the team, and our informal cafeteria discussions.
Q: Spending over 28 years at an organization seems like a lifetime. Is being a TCS employee a way of life for you?
A: Absolutely. Yes, being a TCS employee over the years is a way of life and an integral part of who I am. It feels incredible to have grown alongside TCS that is globally recognized as one of the most favored employers.
TCS had approximately 4,000 employees in 1992 when I joined. We are now over 450,000. From day one, my TCS journey has been exciting, challenging and fulfilling. This journey has helped me build and shape my career
Q: Through all these years, you must have seen the changing landscape of IT and the way TCS has adapted to it. What has your experience been?
A: Yes, there have been huge changes. Earlier, the IT industry predominantly consisted of Architecture Development Method (ADM). Outsourcing infrastructure services and cloud were beyond imagination. Over 50% of the work used to be delivered from client premises – onsite. Compare that to the present scenario – where everyone is considering cloud as the first and foremost option. TCS has always been at the forefront of innovative and efficient business models – whether it is the Global Network Delivery Model (GNDM™) that was conceived years ago to enable delivery from offshore/near shore centers or the latest SBWS™ that is enabling remote working among other things.
Q: What is the secret to 28 years of a sustained and fruitful partnership between TCS and you?
A: Well … I could go on and on. I believe that if the first choice one makes turns out to be the best one, it paves the path for many such choices. Now, when I view this perspective in the context of TCS, I can vouch for its genuineness as I have experienced it firsthand.
TCS likely has the maximum number of industry veterans across various domains and technologies. Naturally, there are several benefits that come with the cross-industry functioning and innovation best practices. Additionally, the TCS talent force has an unmatched contextual knowledge coupled with expertise in trending and emerging technologies. Armed with this potent combination, TCS enables future-readiness of global enterprises. So, some of the world’s best transformational work is happening right here.
When you collaborate with the world’s best talent, your workplace is transformed into an avenue for learning where a plethora of options open out to scale higher. I have the freedom to experiment to evolve and to enrich. This freedom has boosted my decision-making ability, growth and development. I don’t think the learning or the elevation at this scale would have happened elsewhere. Hence, I never thought of switching to go elsewhere.
Q: Apart from the learning, growth and development opportunities you mentioned, what are the other factors that make TCS an employee-friendly place?
A: As a subsidiary of the Tata group, TCS has inherited the globally renowned Tata philosophy. Although TCS business models have evolved with changing times, it has always subscribed to a strong value system, vision and mission that places societal wellbeing above all else. The employee-centric and community welfare approach has been integral to TCS’ growth story. Additionally, several welfare initiatives such as TCS Maitree, TCS Cares - for mental wellbeing-, TCS Fit4Life, and TCS Purpose4Life have been introduced for employees and their families. These and the professional opportunities are just some of the reasons why TCS is among the most preferred places to work at, globally.
Q: The COVID-19 pandemic has not been kind to many organizations. How do you think has TCS coped?
A: In the past, TCS scripted many a success story even in the face of adversities; the current pandemic is no different. The way TCS connected and aligned with the community, its employees, clients and partners is commendable. It continues to support the critical functions of over 1,000 organizations across the world to keep them up and running. This is a testament to the fact that TCS is adaptable, purpose-driven, and resilient.
Q: Describe the highs and lows of your TCS tenure and how it has shaped your persona?
A: My first assignment was a blend of IT and analytics. Analytics, then, was a nascent concept and enterprises were into its experimentation and early implementation. This is yet another reaffirmation of TCS being strategically ahead of the game. I was given complete leeway to develop mainframe code, analyze the output, and communicate recommendations to the customer. Being my first project, I fondly remember all that I did for it.
In my next role, I could hone my technical as well as insurance domain skills by performing a triple role i.e. as developer, designer and analyst, in India and UK. I felt empowered when both TCS and the customer believed in my abilities.
Following this, I owned the delivery for a customer as a program manager. I feel satisfied and proud to have contributed to developing a module (Java Code Generator) that is used till date as part of a TCS product, MasterCraft.
The turning point in my career was in 2008 when TCS created a strategic organization structure. I was elevated as the Delivery Head for a large UK account. Setting up the IT Infrastructure from scratch and migrating all the applications into the newly built infrastructure was a great learning experience.
As Global Delivery Head, I was involved in delivering services both in Infrastructure (Data Centre Services, Service Desk, etc.) as well as Application Development & Management space for our customer’s UK and US business units. The highlight of the experience was ramping up over 1,500 employees with an Integrated Command Center, and the project going live in about approximately three months.
Yet another crucial milestone in my career is my current role with the TCS Cloud Infrastructure unit that was formed in 2018. I was instrumental in formulating unit strategy and defining and standardizing processes across the unit. Apart from this, I was also responsible for finalizing the roadmap for tools, identifying opportunities for automation and so on. I was also involved in onboarding several customers and engaging with them at the onset of the sales cycle till the completion of delivery.
Q: By virtue of being a TCS employee, do you participate in social work and giving back to society?
A; Absolutely. TCS and TATA have instilled the importance of CSR activities in thousands of employees like me. Several years ago, we had taken our clients to an orphanage for specially-abled children. They continue to send an annual contribution to that orphanage. This is just one example, I also actively participate in charity via TCS’ Fit4Life initiative.
Q: Any parting words for our readers?
A: In our lifetime, we often reach crossroads in our career where we have multiple options to choose from. These decisions could well be career game changers. Hence, we need to make well-informed choices after carefully weighing the pros and cons. Collaborate, embrace change, pursue relevant and futuristic learning, and be empathetic with everyone in your quest for excellence and success. I wish you well.