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India Is A Very Important Market For AMD: Dr. Kiranmai Pendyala, Corporate VP & COO, HR, AMD

Dr. Kiranmai Pendyala, Corporate Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, HR, AMD talks to BW Businessworld about employee engagement, HR policies and company’s views about India as a marketplace

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How do you see India as a market place and what are your hiring intentions in India?

India is a very important market for AMD – both as a consumer base for our products and as a center for our R&D work. Currently, we have a team of 1300 plus employees in AMD India, and they are largely engineers. Our engineers are equally distributed between our Bangalore and Hyderabad centers.

We hire about 300 people across various levels in a year. Of this at the entry level, the plan is three pronged. We take about 20 students under the Co-op program and about 50 students for our three to six-month internship program. In addition, we recruit about 80 NCG (New College Graduates) straight out of campus. So that’s about 150 entry level recruitments. We have tied up with more engineering institutes this year and increased the numbers for Co-op, internship and NCG. So, we are looking at about 200 entry level hiring and another 100 or so lateral hiring.

What policies do you adopt to retain the best talent in the industry?

We firmly believe what our founder, Jerry Sanders said, “People first, Products and Profits will follow”. This sentiment is ingrained in our DNA. We invest heavily in our employees to ensure they are proud of being an AMDer and get the right opportunities to learn and grow with us.

We have a ‘Dual Career Ladder’ approach to meet the career aspirations of our employees, wherein they can choose individual contributor positions or organizational positions, based on their interest, business need, and their competence. Employees are more engaged when they see that their managers are concerned about their growth and provide avenues to meet their aspirations. The approach also eliminates the promotion of employees to positions they are not suited or aspire for. More importantly, it reinforces the importance of creating a work environment where every employee adds value each, in his/her own way.

We also believe that employees must feel invested in our growth. To ensure this, we follow a four-pronged approach:

* Sharing the ‘Big Picture’– This allows the entire workforce to learn the long-term vision for the company, envisioned by the leadership

* Translating and sharing the blueprint of the ‘Big Picture’ – We provide employees a detailed Year-on-Year (YoY) product roadmap and the anticipated RoI (return on investment) that the company aims to make

* Divulging the blueprint to various teams – Teams across various geographies have discussions on market share, expected returns, the competitor landscape and the valued impact of technology innovation in solving roadblocks of tomorrow

* Identifying and drafting ‘champions' to lead ‘powerful conversations’ –This helps us drive the needed change with positive energy by entrusting employees who have a passion for problem solving

How can one make technology more relevant to bridge the skill gap in different professionals?

Re-skilling is an ongoing activity at AMD India and at the very center of our employee value proposition. Close to 40 percent of our existing employees undergo re-skilling to help them adapt and adopt design thinking and state of the art tools and technologies to design, build, and sell our innovative products. This is also critical because India is a R&D hub for AMD.

We organize regular boot camps and host trainings under two pillars – Technical Leadership Programs (TLP) and Leadership Development Programs (LDP), to strengthen the skill sets of both units. In addition to in-class room trainings, employees have always-on, free access to thousands of e-learning programs from SkillSoft and These allow AMDers to study a variety of subjects at their own pace from project management to communication skills, six sigma, human resources, finance, accounting, sales, marketing, operations, and hundreds of other topics.

What are the recent trends in employee engagement?

Employee engagement practices are changing to keep pace with the changing demographics and psychographics of the millennial workforce. We have to look at innovative ways to source, develop and reward talent. The interventions are happening on two fronts.

Firstly, for a generation hooked on to internet and smartphones, organizations are deploying digital tools to create a seamless HR experience and improve organisation communication. We have connected our employees across the globe, irrespective of hierarchy to an internal ‘AMD Connect’ platform, which allows employees to tell their personal and professional stories via photos and blogs and results in increased productivity, collaboration and trust.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly HR leaders are beginning to rethink the established notions of productivity and loyalty by studying and understanding the aspirations of the modern workforce. We are introducing qualitative feedback which highlights the strengths of an employee while holding the light on the opportunities and the support being offered by the manager, team and the culture, for the employee to further enhance his/ her value at AMD.

How important is work flexibility in rewarding employees other than cash rewards?

When employees are given even a small degree of flexibility at work, the employee has significantly better job satisfaction, stronger commitment to the organization, and most importantly - lower levels of stress.

At AMD India, we offer policies such as flexi-time and telecommuting options, as well as encouraging annual vacations. An on-site gym, indoor games, Zumba sessions, a shuttle court, annual sports competitions among various functional teams, as well as regular team outings and celebrations, also add to the fun at the workplace. This ensures that employees are able to attain requisite work-life integration, while being able to innovate, which is a core cultural trait of our organization.

Are there any disruptive HR policies that you have recently adopted?

We believe that none of our employees should have any fear in voicing ideas. It’s important for innovation-led companies like ours to facilitate a system where employees believe that every idea has its own value. Without that, no innovation would happen and we would not be able to continue providing cutting-edge technologies to businesses and consumers.

At AMD, we conduct Ideathons, where the employees come up with an idea which they can showcase to all major sites across the globe. It helps us in two ways, we get to tap into high potential talent and employees get an opportunity to meet leaders from different business verticals across geographies. We also have AMD Innovation Fund, where employees can present their ideas, proof of the concept and apply for the fund to realize their idea.