iMerit’s mission of “human-empowered computing” finds a natural reflection in our Learning & Development (L&D) programs that involve a novel combination of expert human facilitation and technology-enabled personalization and scale. The skilling structure forms the core of the company, which is growing rapidly across domains and geographies.
The L&D journey of an iMerit impact employee generally begins with our non-profit partner Anudip Foundation. Anudip mobilizes youth from disadvantaged communities for an iMerit-specific skill development program, IMPACT. While many of them have had high school and college educations, they often lack exposure to digital technologies and do not possess the interview and presentation skills to find a corporate job. IMPACT is 3-month program is designed by iMerit’s team. It covers digital literacy (basics of computer use, internet and productivity/office tools), logical reasoning, English comprehension, and workplace readiness.
Students then appear for iMerit’s Entrance Test, with written and interview rounds, before being offered a trainee position. Once within iMerit, the trainee comes under the L&D structure, headed by Chief People Development Officer Anindya Chattopadhyay. In the course of his career he has worked with thousands of young learners and helped them find livelihoods in cutting-edge areas like AI and IoT.
Anindya shares some of his insights and learnings from iMerit’s skilling journey in this Q&A series spread across three parts.
Q: What does your typical day look like while working with learning and development with iMerit?
There are three types of days that I have. One is when I am engaged in planning & strategy sessions for the present as well as for the future of iMerit. The other one is with the people in whatever center I am in. I frequently visit different centers. So when I’m in any center, I am with people, trying to understand the skill gap between our requirement and the individuals’ existing skills. I try to find out where exactly they are lacking and to find out how the person will accept and follow a disciplined way of skilling. I always prefer promoting a self-learning attitude, so I try and understand how I can develop that by proactively working with them and helping them understand how they can skill themselves. And there is a third kind of day where sometimes I visit Anudip centers to identify potential candidates for iMerit.
I always prefer promoting a self-learning attitude, so I try and understand how I can develop that by proactively working with them and helping them understand how they can skill themselves.
Q: How do you assess new candidates and their strengths?
iMerit works with a combination of people: some with a nominal background in computer and general knowledge skills and others from the industry with some experience of the processes that iMerit follows or the businesses iMerit works with.
Now when I visit any Anudip center and try to find potential candidates, I focus on three fundamental skills that a person should have. The first one is that the person should be able to think logically and reasonably. This is something I always emphasize. With the presence of the Internet and the vast world of information, logically differentiating between noise and valuable knowledge is very important.
Next, I try to see if the person has a vision for next-generation work. I give them certain examples, and see if they are interested in knowing the background. One common example is e-commerce, which is available everywhere. How does the person see e-commerce, as a user, and how they decide between products, based on the prices, brands and so on? When they start giving these inputs, it gives me an idea that the person would be able to understand the importance of quality, before entering any information into the iMerit database because he’s already aware of the outside view as a user.
The third thing that I try to see is their eye for details. People observe a lot of things but a lot of people cannot really identify whether they have seen each and every object in that particular frame or not. I want to see how strong their memory is. I show a picture with multiple objects and ask if they’ve seen particular objects in it. These observation skills are very important in our kind of work because we require accuracy in detail-oriented tasks as we help machines to learn.
iMerit works with groups of people who may not have worked with computers or in a corporate workplace. But they may have certain different skills, which I do not neglect. I try to bridge the gap between skills they have and the skills iMerit needs.
iMerit works with groups of people who may not have worked with computers or in a corporate workplace. But they may have certain different skills, which I do not neglect.
For example, in our Metiabruz center, many of the contributors earlier worked with fine Lucknow chikan embroidery. In chikan, each piece requires a very good eye for detail and fine skilling, as that style is very precise. If someone comes with that background, I consider them a fantastic resource for iMerit because the person has that precision needed, in a very different way maybe, but it can be converted.
Q: What is the process of bridging the gap between the skills they already have and those needed for roles at iMerit?
I’m continuing with the example of data annotators with embroidery skills. Metiabruz is a center of excellence for Computer Vision. So when a person enters iMerit and starts working as a key point, semantic segmentation, or pixel annotator, that particular eye for detail is very useful. The only thing that the person now would need to understand is how to use the tool. The tools they used earlier were very simple and learning to work with the computer and mouse would need a little time. The other area is receiving instructions. They may have received instructions in their native languages but now the language is English, and this requires a fair level of training. With these two, and their original skill sets, they are ready.
(The Q&A is continued in Part Two, where Anindya discusses the skilling process and the latest iterations being introduced within L&D )