Indian service provider Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS) has launched a new customer experience (CX) hub in Barranquilla, Colombia.
On July 18, the company formally held its inauguration, which was attended by HGS’ Group CEO Partha DeSarkar and various Colombian government officials, of a center that now employs more than 150 workers and expects to surpass 300 employees by the end of the year.
Photo: Partha DeSarkar, group CEO of Hinduja Global Solutions, cuts the ribbon on the company’s new facility in Colombia. (Credit: HGS)
HGS Senior Vice President Tushar Sharan sat down with Cognitive Business News Executive Editor Loren Moss to discuss the commitment HGS has made to Colombia, and why the global firm bet on Barranquilla’s talent (and sunny climate) for its new plans for growth.
Loren Moss: First, congratulations to you and HGS on opening this Colombia facility. My understanding is that you guys actually started operating last year, but have now held the official inauguration of your Barranquilla facility. Could you elaborate on that and explain the process or the opening?
Tushar Sharan: We actually had a presence in Colombia for a while, through our subcontracting partner. But we started ourselves last year — around the end of the calendar year — when we came to Colombia, took up a space to start operations for a customer of ours. That led to the existing plan to really move to Colombia. It’s when we took up the call to really have an onsite building and started to go through the whole process of building the site and getting all of that done.
The site actually became ready a month ago, and we were trying to finalize a date for us to have a formal launch. That’s what we did last month when we formally launched the site in the presence of our executive director and the chief executive officer, Mr. Partha DeSarkar, along with some government officials from the mayor’s office and from ProColombia.
Loren Moss: Colombia obviously has several big cities. Bogotá and Medellín get a lot of attention as well as Cali. On the Caribbean coast, Cartagena is famous because of its history and tourism. But you chose Barranquilla. Why specifically did Hinduja Global Solutions decide to open this location in Barranquilla, Colombia?
Tushar Sharan: There are a couple of reasons. One, we were a much larger company earlier, and half of our portfolio was bought over by a private equity firm, which is called Baring. At that point in time, all we had was them as a presence in Colombia, in Barranquilla, with the subcontractor that I spoke about earlier. So that was one reason.
The second reason is that, when you do a survey in terms of the English level across the whole country of Colombia, the level of English of Barranquilla has been ranked the best among all of the cities. Higher than Bogotá, Medellín, and Cali. Those cities have higher populations — so they have a larger resource pool — but the quality of English that we get out of Barranquilla is also top-notch.
So those are the two key reasons why we started in the city and have a big presence here.
Loren Moss: What kind of services are you offering now from Barranquilla? What kind of services do you potentially think that you can offer from the Colombia location?
Tushar Sharan: Currently, we provide customer service, sales, and L1 technical help desk services. All three of them are actually what we are providing today from Colombia.
The few customers that we have already are from IT or from a different industry, and the pipeline is growing. We are also seeing a few more customers coming in that are going to be more customer service driven. By the end of the year, our customer service piece, I see growing bigger than what we are at today.
Apart from the services offered, we also are looking at multilingual capabilities. We are offering services in Portuguese, Spanish, and English.
Loren Moss: Tell me about your employment goals. Are you fully staffed now or are you still hiring? What’s the capacity of your location?
Tushar Sharan: We are in a ramp-up stage right now, and we continue to hire. We’ve reached a head count of 150 employees, and the plan for us is to be 300-plus by the end of the calendar year. There are some more new means, big ones, and if they keep coming at scale, I see ourselves continuing to grow and hire — at least for the next six to eight months before we start stabilizing.
From a capacity standpoint, right now, we have signed for one floor in the building that we are in at around 180-odd seats. We’ve just taken up or signed a lease for another space in the same building, and the construction has started. So we’ll be adding around 100 more seats in a month or so. We should have close to 280-300 seats available.
Loren Moss: How long have you been there in Barranquilla? How do you like the Barranquilla lifestyle?
Tushar Sharan: Personally, I have been in Colombia for the last four and a half years. I was largely based in Bogotá with my previous company, and then moved to Medellín and then to Barranquilla. The first time that I came to Barranquilla was actually last year.
I saw a complete change of weather, from Bogotá to Barranquilla — one of the first things I noticed when I came out of the airport. Like I said, I also noticed it is very evident that the level of English that we find here, and across the board, is a lot more near-native.
What we also learned — and this also came from our CEO — is how we are seen by the locals, by the employees. The kind of commitment — the kind of energy and motivation — that we see in our current set of employees is very enriching. It is very nice to see them all fired up and energized.
We are seeing growth. They are seeing themselves grow. They are seeing their company grow. and they are all the more motivated to keep doing better each day. I think that feeling of all of us working together — trying to grow the company and create more jobs — is one thing that I see across the board, across all of the behavior.