How Samsung R&D Centre maintains a ‘learning while working’ culture

The Company offers long-term and short-term learning journeys, from time to time, to upskill the employees

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Samsung R&D Centre, Bangalore (SRI-B), which is one of the largest research and development (R&D) facilities for Samsung outside Korea. Over 10,000 researchers are working at different R&D facilities in India located in Noida, Bangalore and Delhi, who provide R&D support to Samsung. The researchers at these centres work on various technologies for the electronic consumer-products company, from developing technologies in the area of communications and multi-media, to Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for various Samsung products. Additionally, the Centres are also involved in developing technologies for the India-focussed products for the Company.

Since things have been changing and there has been need for constant upskilling, Aloknath De, SVP & chief technology officer, SRI-B shares that the employees at SRI-B go through upskilling programmes in various areas, such as advance communication skills (for devices and mobile phones), signal processing, AI, cloud skills and making of data platforms.

Long-term & short-term courses

Employees go through multiple long-term and short-term Centre of Excellence (COE) programmes, from time-to-time, for which the Company has tied up with other institutes.

One such course is a three-year MTech programme for the employees, where the focus is primarily on AI, business analytics, data science and other advanced communication skills required in the field. For this, the Company has collaborated with the International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore (IIIT-B). This initiative was started in 2014 and since then, 172 employees of SRI-B have undergone this programme in six different batches.

Another such programme is a PHD and M.tech in computer science, for which the Company has collaborated with IIT-Madras and Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

“We mentally prepare all employees for the learning journey well before it starts”

Aloknath De, SVP & chief technology officer, SRI-B

Apart from these long-term courses, which are by and large developed by the institutes and their faculty, the Company also offers short-term courses lasting nine to 10 months. These are very company-specific programmes that fulfil the niche skilling needs of the Company and are tailored for SRI-B. These programmes are designed at the COE and functional levels.

“For these short-term programmes, we collaborate with the professors and fine tune the learning content to fulfil the specific learning needs of our research centres,” reveals De.

For time-to-time upskilling, employees at SRI-B go through classroom type trainings. Most of the time, as De shares, the professors and faculty visit the Company’s campus to take classes. On and off, employees visit the campus for examination and project submission. However, since 2020, everything has been managed online owing to the pandemic-related restrictions.

Selection process

For all these programmes, employees are selected basis their past performance in the Company and their tenure. To undergo these upskilling programmes, the employees have to be at least four years old in the Company. Additionally, the selected employees go through an entrance exam held by the institute, and the ones who pass the same become eligible for these programmes.

Clearly, as De says, “SRI-B has a learning culture of working and studying at the same time.”

Handholding & support

Of course, the employees need some handholding to help balance their priorities. After all, they are juggling a full-time job and long-term studies. Therefore, De shares, “we mentally prepare all these employees for this journey well before it starts”.

The managers of all the employees who are selected to be part of this learning journey, are specifically told to allow them time in case they need to meet specific deadlines, and even go easy on them during performance reviews if possible. The Company regularly interacts with pass-outs from previous batches, who mentor these employees throughout their learning journey.

For meeting continuous learning goals, SRI-B has tied up with various e-learning providers for computing skills, which the employees may require to revisit and continuously develop.

Leadership skills

It is not just technical skills that SRI-B wishes its employees to build. It also wants them to become great leaders, for which it has tied up with the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B). This is a five to six-month learning journey.

Most of the tech talent, which comes to SRI-B, is a mix of campus freshers and lateral recruits for niche and advanced skills. As per De, many of the employees working at the R&D facilities are pretty much tenured. They have been working for the Company for a very long time and constantly require upskilling.

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