We continue our discussion on the challenges of human resources, and then move on to discuss business strategy. Selco has developed quite well to date by offering unique services and customized solutions. However, they now face the difficulty of hiring strategic thinkers who can continue this model for such low pay. The need to productize their offering is a key enabler for future growth and scalability.
SM: Your biggest challenge then is the human resource piece to scale all of this. If you are looking to do an additional 200,000 systems, it seems the real issue will be the management scaling. HH: Very true. I also see that the people who come into interviews are very good at one aspect, but they are one-dimensional and that is a problem. I have a very hard time getting people who can think in terms of technology and financing.
SM: You are really looking for strategic thinkers. You are going to have to find more productized solutions so people at that level don’t have to do that type of thinking.
HH: I am sure we are going to have to make that sacrifice.
SM: A lot of companies have scaled, and nobody has scaled by requiring strategic thinkers at the lower levels who can design solutions on the fly. To scale you have to productize. Even in custom software, there is plenty of reusable code. Let’s switch gears. You have told me that you had 6 individuals in your IIT energy engineering class. Where did they go? HH: One started Daksh, and sold it to IBM. He did his Masters in the US in solar energy and then he ditched it. He went back and got a second Masters at Stanford in Solar, and Ditched that too. The other did his PhD, and I would say he is partly still in energy but he has effectively done an algorithm to maintain the cold chain in supermarkets so you do not have to physically be present to correct it. The other has joined CitiBank. One other guy works on the military base in Cape Cod.
SM: I just wanted to get a comparison of where people with your background end up. It looks like you are putting your training to good use. HH: When I went back to IIT last year, all 26 seats in energy engineering went to software. There is an extreme shortage of energy engineers.
SM: Not just energy, but all engineers. Metallurgy, Architecture, Civil Engineering, Materials Science … everything else. India soon will only be able to write software … the sucking sound of software, at the cost of all else! HH: It is scary. There are young kids who can speak a little bit of English, and rather than building on their fundamentals they go to the call centers. Can you imagine trying to hire someone who has spent five years in a call center? They have no experience of anything.