S&P Global Managing Director Talks About Company’s Role in Pakistan’s IT Sector

S&P Global Managing Director Mujeeb Zahur has said that technology is driving economic growth and shaping the modalities of work and this will only escalate.

There is a shortage of qualified IT graduates and experts in Pakistan, creating a gap between supply and demand, though S&P Global has been fortunate to have a strong pool of applicants and lower-than-benchmark turnover and recognizes the importance of addressing this issue, he added.

With more than 10 years at the data company, Mujeeb currently leads S&P Global operations in Pakistan, the Philippines, and Argentina. He is responsible for executing on organizational strategy at the three sites, in close collaboration with leaders in Data/Content, News & Research, Technology, Client Support, Sales, and Account Management, among other functions.

In support of S&P Global’s commitment to diversity & inclusion, Mujeeb serves on the executive committee of the US-Pakistan Women Council, which is a US State Department initiative aimed at empowering women in the workplace and developing entrepreneurs.

Before coming to S&P Global’s predecessor organization, SNL Financial, Mujeeb was head of a US-based BPO firm’s Islamabad operation.

Recently, he had a conservation with the team of ProPakistani, below is the excerpt of his interview:

Please tell us with a brief account of yourself and your organization?

It’s been an excellent 11 years with S&P Global now. I am looking after S&P Global operations in Pakistan, the Philippines, and Argentina with our vision to power the markets of the future through industry-leading data, analytics, and insights. S&P Global is a leading provider of a wide range of services including independent ratings, benchmarks, analytics, and data to the capital and commodity markets worldwide. Our diverse client base varies from asset managers, banks, broker-dealers, hedge funds, and other financial institutions, as well as governments, regulators, and other organizations.

In support of S&P Global’s commitment to diversity & inclusion, I also serve on the executive committee of the U.S.-Pakistan Women Council, which is a U.S. State Department initiative aimed at empowering women in the workplace and developing entrepreneurs.

How do you see rising demand for human resources (HR) in the local as well as global IT industry?

Technology is driving economic growth and shaping the modalities of work and this will only escalate. As data becomes increasingly important and design in technology becomes a key competitive advantage, demand for IT professionals with specialized expertise will continue to rise. There is a shortage of qualified IT graduates and experts in Pakistan, creating a gap between supply and demand, though we at S&P Global have been fortunate to have a strong pool of applicants and lower-than-benchmark turnover, we recognize the importance of addressing this issue.

We have therefore partnered with universities to develop the next generation of IT talent. We work closely with higher education institutions, to identify and nurture the creative and competent students who will drive the industry forward. This collaboration is essential for the long-term success of the IT sector and the broader economy. Another key best practice being used globally as well as now in Pakistan is the setting up of focused bootcamps in specific skillsets which look to create employable resources in 4-6 months training periods.

Which specific skills are in demand, in today’s IT industry?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is transforming the way we work, with new technologies and trends reshaping the job market and the skills that are in demand. In the IT sector, expertise in areas such as machine learning, big data analytics, the Internet of Things, software and hardware development, blockchain, data sciences, cloud computing, and cybersecurity is highly sought after. More specifically, at S&P Global as well as other tech companies, we see demand for Salesforce Developers, Full Stack developers, and Cloud engineers.

In addition to technical skills, it is also important for IT professionals to possess strong communication, project management, analytical, and critical thinking skills. These qualities are valuable to adapt and innovate.

What is the ideal role of organizations, universities, and the government, to promote IT education in Pakistan on a long-term basis?

To effectively place IT graduates in the industry and support their professional development, the corporate sector, higher education institutions, and the government need to work together and align their efforts. Higher education can involve industry partners in curriculum development to ensure that students are learning relevant skills, similarly, research projects based on actual problems from the industry can provide excellent insight and solutions. The industry, in turn, must provide scheduled internship and apprenticeship programs on a regular basis. Knowledge sharing and mentoring by global experts must be looked into.

The government also has a key role to play in promoting industry-academia collaboration and implementing policies that support the growth of the IT sector. For example, prioritizing university rankings based on placements/entrepreneurs, funding boot camp programs for quick and effective employability training, etc. By working together, all stakeholders can contribute to the sustainable development of the IT ecosystem and help IT graduates succeed in their careers.

At S&P Global, we run a program called EssentialTech for our colleagues to provide them with the tools to up-skill themselves and take on more complex assignments and new roles within the organization.

Again, we actively engage with universities through career fairs, open houses, and recruitment drives, and provide students with opportunities for growth and mentorship. We run a mentorship program for women where employment and STEM skills are a key focus and will be completing 20,000 mentorships by the end of 2023.

How do you see IT and IT-enabled industries as an effective area to reduce the unemployment rate in Pakistan and export ICT services?

The importance of technology and digital literacy cannot be overstated, and countries like Pakistan must prioritize the development of the IT sector to remain competitive and build a sustainable future. By strengthening the technology and digital capabilities more job opportunities can be created and the country can better connect with the global economy.

There are 1300 captive offices in India, and around 300 in the Philippines, all leveraging the tech talent in these countries. Pakistan has less than 10! There is a lot of opportunity for us to create jobs, get FDI as well as increase our exports by focusing on this area.

What are the opportunities in your organization for capacity building and career growth?

S&P Global’s ‘People First’ strategy and a relentless focus on creating a high-performance culture that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive, allow us to attract top talent in every market where we operate around the world.

Besides global opportunities and flexible mode of work, the most impactful proposition for anyone joining us, in my opinion, would be the opportunities for skill development that we provide to our people through investments in various platforms such as Linked Learning, tuition reimbursement programs, tech certification sponsorships as well as leadership development programs. We also take pride in being aligned with our People First approach, our market competitive compensation, and benefits combined with our hybrid/flexible work model make us a premier choice for top talent.

How different is your organization as the employer of choice, to provide a dream job to IT professionals?

S&P Global’s ‘People First’ culture, striving for excellence and relentless effort to provide skill enhancement opportunities to its team members make it a top choice for best-in-class talent across the globe. Team members are provided with ongoing support and are encouraged to have regular career development conversations with their people leaders.

The company also offers strong monetary and non-monetary benefits including, Recharge (unlimited time off), maternity, paternity & adoption leaves. Internal mobility is strongly encouraged and a lot of investment has been in designing career paths that people can use to move into various roles and functions within the organization. This has resulted in S&P Global filling 40% of its positions internally with people who are interested in exploring new opportunities within the company. This commitment to people development and support reflects the company’s belief that its people are a valuable asset and key to its success.

How unique is your company in contributing to the development of the local and global IT industry?

S&P Global is the 3rd largest IT exporter in the country. As a leading exporter as well as one of the largest employers of skilled workforce, especially in technology areas, we continue to work with academia as well as the public sector to create an impact locally. We provide regular training opportunities to graduates and provide real business problems to students so that they can get hands-on knowledge and skills. More broadly, S&P Global is considered a market leader in providing technology-driven data, research, and analytical solutions and products to its customers around the world.

How can professionals and students upgrade their skills to meet the rising demand of the IT industry?

It is important for students to regularly update their resumes and to build a strong portfolio that showcases their skills and accomplishments. One way to do this is by obtaining certifications and diplomas from reputable online institutions and including them on their resumes. Additionally, students should prioritize research and writing, targeting top-rated publications and journals to publish their papers. In addition to technical and professional education, it is also important for students to focus on their soft skills. Ultimately, a combination of technical expertise and creativity is necessary to address the growing demand for user-friendly technology and design in the modern world.

What is your advice for IT students in particular and other students in general for pursuing a career in the IT industry?

Bordering on three main tangents, the students and new entrants must build agility as a skill set. This allows them to develop expertise in multiple areas and gives them diverse exposure. They need to be relentless in enhancing their skillset. Technology upgrades fast so reliance on one degree is not enough. Research needs to be continuous and familiarity with tools like Salesforce, cloud, Data visualization tools (Power BI, Tableau), etc. essential.

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