Roughly six months after New York-based Genpact set up shop in Bentonville, expansion is already underway.
CEO Tiger Tyagarajan was recently in Bentonville to discuss a new digital retail hub for the global professional services firm. He said around 550 Walmart employees transitioned to Genpact in late November, taking over some of the finance and accounting services of the retailer’s corporate operations. Genpact has recruited another 150 employees to the region as part of a long-term commitment to both Walmart and Bentonville.
Tyagarajan said Bentonville is the center of gravity for retail, but he’s learned the region offers so much more. He said it begins with the people. After spending time with the local team, Tyagarajan said he’s confident this is the right place for the company’s new digital retail innovation hub.
“The local team brings energy with their desire to drive change in their world and add value to their customers and end-users. This is a longtime journey for us,” he said.
Genpact has digital innovation hubs across the country that focus on various services. Tyagarajan said the hub in Palo Alto, Calif., has an emphasis on new technologies, while the hub in Stanford, Conn., focuses on financial innovations. There is a hub in Dallas equipped to serve several key customers in technology.
“We have been searching for quite some time to build a digital innovation hub that serves the retail ecosystem. To bring data science to that industry. Fifteen of our team leaders from around the world have already located to Bentonville to help push the initiative forward,” he said.
Genpact has vowed to work with the University of Arkansas and the Bentonville School District’s Ignite Professional Studies program, which combines technical training with professional development and business education, to help support the next generation of data scientists that will be needed as the retail transformation continues.
“We believe in planning for the long term,” Tyagarajan said. “We plan to leverage the talent here working with the chamber and schools to build the next generation of talent.
“We serve seven industry verticals in our business and consumer goods/retail is one of them. The others are banking, finance, insurance, high tech, life sciences and large manufacturing. In all of these, our objective is to use new technology to change the way work gets done. To leverage data for analytics, to leverage data to get more predictive in the way decisions get made in order to drive value for our clients. The end goal is to make customers of Genpact more competitive and improve the experience for their customers.”
As digital technology is radically changing retail, Tyagarajan said the company’s insights regarding digital tech is married up with its clients’ industry knowledge, and layered on with Genpact’s deep understanding of processes and the AI machine learning, robotics and other tech applications.
“When all of these things are mixed together you can really change the way work gets done and outcomes get cleared and value is created,” he said. “To do this well you need to find places where you can bring together this talent, apply new technology and ways of thinking. And some of this will be done by us in Bentonville on behalf of our growing list of retail and CPG companies.”
Tyagarajan said the innovation hub for retail will also experiment with the supply chain for consumer goods in addition to logistics, trade promotions and technology for retail, as well as the accounting services already located in the region. He said the team of leaders recruited from Genpact globally include people with expertise in other verticals who will look for ways to integrate and grow the retail innovation hub.
Jymmy Soare moved his family to Bentonville in November from Romania, where he spent the past 12 years. He runs operations for the Northwest Arkansas Genpact hub.
“When I had the chance to come to America, my wife was all for it,” he said. “We didn’t know anything about Bentonville, but our two sons ages 8 and 10 already love it here.”
He said the talent acquired from Walmart is top notch, and the family loves the food and quality of life they are finding in Northwest Arkansas.
Nitin Bhat also relocated to Bentonville to run processes for Genpact. He has worked all over the world, most recently in Sydney, and prior to that in Latin America and India. Bhat said he jumped at the chance to come to the new hub so he could be on the ground floor of an effort that began with the Walmart partnership but has the potential to be much more.
“This is something to be proud of later,” Bhat said. “I wanted to do something unprecedented, so it was easy for me to make the move professionally. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see two of my greatest personal passions are so easily satisfied here — cycling and craft beer. I had no idea Northwest Arkansas offered these two amenities in great abundance.”
Tyagarajan said the company is in the process of acquiring property to build its offices in Bentonville. He expects the project will move forward by the start of 2020. He declined to give any specifics, only to say the facility would provide growing room for the company’s existing 700 employees and more in the future.
When asked how he planned to recruit the talent needed to grow the Northwest Arkansas hub, Tyagarajan said Genpact recruits with its culture, and he expects to be able to fill the hub with cross-functional talent that is a mix from local to global recruits. He said there are many opportunities for professional growth with a global innovator like Genpact, which is why he had no trouble getting 15 industry veterans to relocate to Bentonville from hubs in Chicago, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and India.
“These are people who have been there and done that in other places with other problems,” he said. “Now the group is working with the team we acquired from Walmart, and they are already building new solutions for Walmart and the industry. As we continue to do that, we will add clients. We will build many solutions by the team here that can serve the retail industry. That is why we will work with the university, because our journeys are not one- or two-year treks.”
He said the first step of growing the Northwest Arkansas hub will be to do work that can attract other customers that can be served from the local efforts. The skills needed in the workforce include data science, supply chain, AI, machine learning, robotics and accounting.
“We believe in building bilingual, cross-functional talent. Bilingual meaning they are fluent in accounting and perhaps supply chain or some other discipline. It’s when you have people who understand multiple areas you get the most magic,” Tyagarajan said.
Editor’s note: The Supply Side section of Talk Business & Politics focuses on the companies, organizations, issues and individuals engaged in providing products and services to retailers. The Supply Side is managed by Talk Business & Politics and sponsored by Propak Logistics.