April 2013 | Raghunath Kale

Walking the talk at TCS's Seven Hills Park

The infotech giant’s Cincinnati campus not only delivers breakthrough solutions for enterprises, its community initiatives are a trailblazer as well

The magnificent Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) campus at Seven Hills Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, stands surrounded by 223 acres of lush woods. The green site was selected by S Ramadorai, then managing director of TCS, and his executive team in 2007 after exploring several potential locations for setting up one of the company’s biggest centers in North America. Seven Hills Park, the last stop of the day, was the site they liked best.

One morning when TCS associate Kurtis Taylor was driving in to work through the tree-lined campus, he realized that there were no walking trails in the woods. In the spirit of enterprise, he started arriving early, bringing an axe along to manually cut out a trail. Soon his work was noticed by a senior and he was asked to submit a business plan on how a trail would help TCS. The work progressed and today there is a four-mile long ‘leadership trail’ that allows people to enjoy the natural features of the campus.

The story of the leadership trail is a good example of how the TCS Cincinnati campus looks beyond business to a more holistic ideal of corporate responsibility. There are as many enriching community stories that emanate from this campus as there are successful IT projects.

The facility opened its doors in March 2008 and quickly became TCS’s primary center for software development in North America. There are nine Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Cincinnati and more than 350 Fortune 500 companies have a significant presence in the region. Over the past five years, the 650-seater campus has created immense value for TCS’s customers as well as the community, and it has brought the company closer to its high-value North American clients while boosting the job prospects of youth from local universities.

Good corporate citizen
At the inauguration of the campus in 2008, the then governor of Ohio, Theodore ‘Ted’ Strickland, said: “TCS has been a good corporate citizen in Ohio for many years and we are excited that it has decided to make this significant long-term investment, making Ohio home to the newest and fastest-growing sectors of the economy.”

The Cincinnati facility helps TCS gear up for growth with innovative solutions that optimize business outcomes. One such innovation (in collaboration with SAP) is the SAPV or Visual Enterprise that is creating animated instructions for manufacturing customers on plant floors and maintenance environments.

This technology now helps manufacturers increase enterprise efficiency across the board. Another exciting project in the works is the development of an application that will improve the speed and performance of genome analysis and help in cancer detection (this is powered by SAP’s HANA in-memory computing offering).

As with all TCS centeres, there is a constant commitment to delivering excellence and this has led to the facility gaining a solid reputation. Some time back, the team was approached by a large retail pharmacy client for a project after its technology partner failed to deliver. With a 16-week deadline, time was short, the task was huge and the holiday season was around the corner. The TCS team took on the challenge, which also involved recruiting and training 40 new associates. The assignment meant countless dinners and sleepless nights in office and time away from home even at Christmas, but in the end the task was accomplished.

There are other big TCS stories that go beyond the business landscape. One such innovative initiative is the GoIT program, which works with high school students to increase their interest in careers in the areas of science and technology, engineering and mathematics. Since its inception in 2008, GoIT has helped some 7,000 students in and around Ohio.

Associate Bethany Axe talks about the impact of this program: “I see a lot of enthusiasm from students, some with little or no exposure to technology; when they leave everyone is enthusiastic about going into technology. Parents often tell us how happy they are that we are teaching the children something of value and teachers are constantly pursuing us to help out with their classes.”

Avenues for students
Word about the free community initiative has spread to Midland, Michigan and Columbus, where TCS has conducted summer camps. The biggest impact of the GoIT program, according to Ms Axe, has been its ability to open up new avenues for students.

An example is Jacob Ralph. “I first met Jacob through some family friends in Cincinnati,” says associate Bryan Werwick. “At that point, he had created some of his own games and software on web-based platforms but wanted to get further exposure in real-world business. I invited him to attend the GoIT program and he signed up. With the skills he already had and his newfound business knowledge, Jacob found a business opportunity that has launched a successful career. He is now the co-owner and software development manager of his own company, Diamond Profile LLC. At the age of 18, Jacob and his company have already signed lucrative software development projects.”

Another example of how strongly rooted the facility is in the community is the annual blood donation drive involving associates and volunteers. Says program manager Greg Asher: “We have saved many lives with the blood donated from this facility.”

The green TCS Cincinnati campus today represents the best of Tata and TCS values — the value that is placed on customer and employee relationships, the commitment to excellence and the connection with the community. Cincinnati is where TCS has blazed a great trail.