How Sapient creates ‘unicorns’ of its workforce


The company ensures that the workforce acquires multiple talents and stays future ready.

For millennials, who form a larger part of the workforce today, the regular pay cheque is no longer the sole motivation to stay at work. They need a meaningful purpose to continue what they are doing.

Sapient, a Publicis Groupe company, has realised , quite early, the need for specialised talent—a workforce which can simultaneously wield multi-faceted skillsets. It not only provides a meaning and purpose to its employees, but also makes all efforts to ensure that the workforce is future ready.

Sapient prefers to hire unicorns — professionals who exhibit hybrid skills.

“The industry refers to such talent as the ‘Pi’-type, but we, at SapientNitro call them the ‘X-type’,” says Prashant Bhatnagar, VP- hiring and staffing, SapientNitro, India.

“These individuals can shape today’s innovations and break the boundaries of what’s possible with technology and creativity. They solve real-world problems,” he adds.

What Bhatnagar is referring to is digital transformation enablers, who develop short-cuts in the services industry, and facilitate mobile check-ins, app-based ordering systems, and mobile checkouts for hotels or in the retail space.

The first set of talent that the company hires comprises specialists in interactive technology, but whip-smart individuals who want to become ‘creators of experiences,’ or develop and create immersive user experiences. They are individuals looking at opportunities to work with cutting-edge technologies that redefine how brands connect with consumers.

The second set of technology talent that the company prefers to hire consists of the ‘curators of next-generation digital experiences’. These are individuals fascinated by future system architectures, translating client requirements to systems designs, working at the intersection of creative and content storytelling through the language of technology.

And the third and last set of technologists that the company prefers to hire comprise ‘omni-maestros’—that is, those who enable seamless customer engagement, connected experiences and integrated commerce in an omni-channel environment.

Prashant Bhatnagar

The company ensures that not just the new hires, but also the current workforce doesn’t follow silo work culture. This is why Sapient Nitro guarantees that its employees get the requisite opportunity to cross-skill across various domains and languages and expand their expertise beyond just one area.

“They are steeped in red hot-industry sectors and trends, such as mobile commerce, big data, Internet of Things, and social commerce,” says Bhatnagar.

Many of its technologists are made to attend its CMTO University (Chief Marketing Technology Officer University), which is a year-long intensive programme that bridges the gap between technologists and marketers and helps both to compliment the skills of one another.

The company has also changed its hiring strategy and experience for the candidates.

For instance, Sapient has moved away from making a plain, old job offer to provide what it calls an ‘offering’ – a career path filled with opportunities and tools to help talent reinvent themselves.

And for the existing workforce, it has moved from the annual ratings and rankings of performance management to a programme called ‘Enabling Your Potential (EYP)’.

“This is a transformative shift towards more personalised experiences created through coaching and ongoing conversations. The emphasis is on growing and developing our people and the reinforcement of behaviours consistent with our culture,” asserts Bhatnagar.

The creative technology company has also embraced an ‘agile’ approach of thinking, crucial in today’s disruptive and fast-changing world. Its in-house innovation lab serves as a place where technologists can experiment with the technologies of tomorrow.

The company strongly believes that the power of change lies in the right people and growth-oriented mindsets.

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Prajjal Saha is the editor and publisher of HRKatha, which he founded in 2015. With nearly 25 years of experience in business journalism, writing, and editing, he is a true industry veteran who possesses a deep understanding of all facets of business, from marketing and distribution to technology and human resources. Along with his work at HRKatha, he is also the author of the Marketing White Book. Thanks to his extensive experience and expertise, he has become a trusted source of insight and analysis for professionals across a wide range of industries.