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Why India’s Mphasis chose West Yorkshire for tech hub

IT services firm Mphasis is moving more service delivery to the UK with around 1000 tech recruits planned for Northern England

India-based IT services supplier Mphasis is creating 1,000 tech jobs in West Yorkshire as part of an operating model which integrates into the university network and enables flexible working.

Increasing demand for locally provided IT services has driven the company’s strategy to reduce the proportion of its services delivered to Europe from India, leading the firm to invest in regional hubs within Europe.

West Yorkshire is one such hub location. New recruits, which will come from the wider Northern region, will serve the operation centre in Leeds, either remotely or in person.

Mphasis, which traditionally uses global delivery centres in India, is building these hubs with strong relationships with universities.

Started by ex-bankers to take tech to the finance sector, Mphasis went on to the “muscle behind” the Indian operation of one of the pioneers of IT outsourcing, Electronic Data Systems (EDS), Anurag Bhatia, head of Europe at Mphasis, told Computer Weekly.

The company was formed in June 2000 after the merger of the US-based IT consulting company Mphasis Corporation and the Indian IT services company BFL Software. In June 2006, EDS took control of the company and operated it as an independent unit. HP then took over EDS in 2008 and, by 2016 – when HP broke up – Mphasis went alone.

Today, under the ownership of private equity company Blackstone Group, Mphasis, which already has significant business in the US and Asia, is building up its European customer base.

Bhatia said 1,000 new IT staff for its support operation in West Yorkshire will take its UK workforce to around 1,700. In total, Mphasis has 37,000 staff, with 6,500 in Europe. Bhatia added that the plan is to become a “local partner” to its clients in Europe – around 50% of the company’s European business is done in the UK, with its European headquarters in London.

“We have a European hub and spoke model with delivery centres in the UK, France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Belgium, and the Netherlands, with global delivery centres in India,” said Bhatia.

“Our services are evolving and the split between what we could deliver globally and what can be delivered locally is changing with more demand for services delivered locally.”

Bhatia said that around 30% of services are now provided near customer sites, compared with 10% in the past. This has meant significant local hiring.

West Yorkshire was chosen by Mphasis for its major investment due to an attractive talent pool at universities in the region and surrounding areas, as well as lower costs than London.

“We chose West Yorkshire for a combination of its large talent pool and price points,” said Bhatia, adding that the London region was becoming expensive and being there meant competing for talent with fintechs and tech startups.

The company began investing in its delivery centre in Leeds two and a half years ago with a business process outsourcing (BPO) operation to support the London markets and specialist insurance marketplace.

Although the hub, or “regional mothership” as Bhatia described it, will be in Leeds, its work is not just limited to the West Yorkshire city, but the Northern region as a whole. “We decided to make a big bet on the Norther Powerhouse,” said Bhatia.

Through remote working policies, introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic, the hub’s reach has been expanded.

“Now you have to look at how the hybrid model is going to look, because essentially you have to decide whether you get people into the Leeds centre or cast a wider net to get access to good talent and work on a hybrid model,” said Bhatia. “This was the thinking behind our recent announcement of our commitment to West Yorkshire.”

The company set out the tech skills it wanted, which included professionals with experience and qualifications in data science, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and cyber security. It then mapped that against the talent pool coming out of universities.

To this end, it expanded beyond Leeds and looked at other universities in the Northern region, including those in York, Newcastle, Lancaster, Liverpool, and Sheffield.

Bhatia said: “We cast a wider web to see if we could better align with the career development of more students of IT and graduate hiring programmes, to bring in more talent and then put them through our learning and development programme to get them ready for our clients’ needs.

“When you start to marry skills needs with what the universities are focused on ,you start to create [talent] pools that you can tap into.”

Mphasis is at the beginning of the recruitment programme, putting in place the necessary foundations. “You have to put the rails down for the ecosystem before the engine begins. For example, the partnerships with the universities are moving along well,” said Bhatia.

He said that when the UK operating model is complete, the company plans to replicate it in other parts of Europe. It already uses this model in India and Canada.

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