Performing through diversity: How does diversity enable TAIGER to thrive in challenging times?

2020.06.15

Sooi Yung

PERSPECTIVES

A diverse work culture is the status quo in organisations today. Studies show that the proportion of ethnicity and gender represented in a company is correlated to a higher chance of success be it attracting quality talents, employee satisfaction and commercial gains. It is becoming increasingly clear to TAIGER that diversity is not a nice sentiment but a competitive advantage.

Diversity’s value in developing AI

In Segovia, a beautiful medieval town located on the plains of Old Castile, near Valladolid and the Spanish capital, Madrid, sits one of TAIGER’s R&D center of excellence. Everyday, Tietuo, a software engineer, walks down the cobbled Segovian streets to his office. He is an NLP software engineer. His job is to teach software how to read and produce chinese language for document extraction softwares and search engines that TAIGER builts for global banks and financial institutions, who are servicing chinese customers living, studying and working abroad and require softwares that can search, read and process chinese documents.

Segovia is a UNESCO world heritage city that is seeing a new emergence of tech investments by its local government.

“With cross border operations becoming the norm for MNCs today, we work with many banks and financial institutions that are increasingly requiring software that is capable of facilitating high value processes like loan applications, customer enquiries and credit checks in their client’s native languages not just the national language. We saw it as a strategic imperative for us to have an ethnically diverse R&D nucleus in Segovia,” said Dr Guillermo Infante Hernandez, Chief Technology Officer, TAIGER.

“Working at TAIGER is both instinctive, being raised here in Spain, as well as interesting, because not only can I see the direct impact of my work, I work alongside colleagues from all over the world and their outlook and perspectives to me are enriching,” said Tietuo who has recently expanded his portfolio.

For Dr David Noël, who moved from Grenoble, a city in the French Alps to Segovia to lead a team of researchers in the R&D department, it was about the pursuit of AI that drew him.

“I’m attracted by the open-minded culture and progressive approach in building AI here that really feeds my curiosity. We explore groundbreaking technologies and integrate them into cutting edge software,” said Dr David who was also a lecturer previously.

Building tech’s future, all experiences matter

While ethnic diversity is a key ingredient in developing market-inclusive AI, so is experience-diversity. The average age of talents in TAIGER is 28 years old, 25% lower than technology companies in the US according to Statista.

“Work and life experiences have no age ceiling. You can be young but your life experiences could have given you a broad and interesting perspective of the world that would be beneficial to understanding customers’ experience for example. We value that as much as a veteran with years of know-hows. Together, it forms a formidable culture between doing things ‘tried and tested’ with ‘hunger for more’ in areas like software development to business development,” said Andrea Lopez Martin, Recruitment and people operations manager based in the Madrid office.

A big part of experience diversity can be seen in the short meetings and frequent collaborations in TAIGER. 58% of meetings are less than 35mins long and 7 out of 10 of them involve more than 4 departments.

“One of the reasons we found out why we attract talents from big brands like IBM, Microsoft, Google, Citibank etc. is because talents here are empowered. They can get their hands busy on high value and high impact work and see results very quickly,” said Henri-Christian Hartloff, SVP, People and Business Development at TAIGER.

Can’t automate inclusion

While hiring for diversity might come easy with an aggressive hiring quota for some companies, it doesn’t automatically create an inclusive and collaborative culture. Making sure people can work together effectively requires intentional planning and careful calibration.

“In 2020, the people team conducted about 10-12 stay interviews. Of all the responses, the single common factor provided as feedback by the interviewees was that they experienced a high level of collaboration and team-work within and across teams at TAIGER. This a huge win for us as collaboration and team-work are behaviors known to lead to a high level of inclusion, trust and discretionary efforts. Not to mention, these are outcomes that many companies chase and invest very heavily to make happen. From an organisational standpoint, we are integrating a ‘culture of feedback’ across all people processes e.g. performance management, engagement, innovation etc. The underlying philosophy of the culture of feedback is to promote the idea that our employees are here to ideate, collaborate and contribute to the overall success of the company. This we believe will create a sustainable environment for inclusion and organizational excellence,” said Srikanth Chandrashekhar, Director of people operations.

Growing in momentum

As the world experienced a global economic crunch brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, TAIGER welcomed 20 new young talents, representing 8 nationalities. These talents are based in Spain, Singapore and the United States, and will be part of the R&D, business operations, strategy and marketing teams.

“Having lived, studied and worked across half the world, I’ve experienced firsthand the importance and impact of a diverse talent pool, in an inclusive culture. It is a competitive edge now brought to the fore in these pandemic times. This will continue to be in our DNA here at TAIGER,” said Dr Sinuhe Arroyo, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of TAIGER.

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