'We hire based on the complexity of work'

Written by Shreya Roy | Shreya Roy | Updated: Aug 15 2011, 09:06am hrs
Having acquired several technology companies with an India focus in recent years, California-based Synopsys is expressly upbeat about the quality of R&D work coming out of its India operations. India has a really sophisticated design expertise, says Chi-Foon Chan, president and chief operating officer of Synopsys. Synopsys is engaged in providing technology solutions used to develop electronics and electronic systems. It supplies the electronic design automation (EDA) software that engineers use to design, create prototypes for and test integrated circuits, also known as chips. It also supplies software and hardware used to develop the systems that incorporate integrated circuits and the software that runs on those integrated circuits.

Synopsys India (SI) is a world-class R&D centre of Synopsys Inc. The company has presence in three cities namely Bangalore, Hyderabad and Noida. In a conversation with Shreya Roy, Chan talks about the companys expansion plans, further acquisitions, collaborations with academia, and the quality of design talent available here. Excerpts:

What is the contribution of Synopsys Indian operations in your global R&D

India has a really sophisticated design expertise. It has evolved from just a support function into being the leading design team in the world for Synopsys. It started very small here, almost 15 years ago, and now there are close to 1,500 people across three centres, with a lot of R&D and customer support. In the last few years, we have acquired quite a few companies, which have a significant percentage of their work in India. In 12 months, we acquired a company called CoWare, which has a facility in Noida. We also acquired a company called Virage Logic, which also has a facility in Noida. They are all design tool companies.

You mentioned India has a sophisticated design team. How would you rate graduating engineers here Do you find that they meet global standards

We tend to focus on the tier I universities, and some very good tier II colleges. After that of course, there is a lot of internal training, spending time with scientists in the US. And there is of course some targeted lateral hiring that happens. However, of the150,000 engineers who graduate every year, a very small percentage is actually employable for us straight out of school.

Compared to other more developed environments, what would you say is the diffe-rence in India

Students graduating here are not completely ready because there is not a lot of interaction with the industry. Generally, they are just as bright, or better. But you rarely see someone at the freshman, or sophmore level working in a corporate set up. Whereas in the US, by the time you are a senior, you would have spent a considerable time being trained within the industry. They have a little bit of experience by the time they are through with their masters.

Synopsys has always had a focus on industry-academia partnerships in the US. Do you have similar collaborations in India

We work very closely with universities here too. We have touched close to 250 universities, who have faculty that can teach design. We give heavily discounted support through our tools, which are ordinarily very expensive. The second part of it is through targeted research with specific universities. One example would be IIT-Kharagpur. The other arm of what we do is through the government. We also pick up students for internships through these.

What are your expansion plans in India going forward

We are a product and intellectual property company. In terms of manpower, we never set a goal. We dont want to recruit in large numbers. We will hire based on the complexity of the work needed going forward. That being said, if we find a good engineer, we will take him on board; irrespective of whether there is an immediate requisite or not.

You have been quite active with acquisitions, buying out companies with a large India focus. What are you expecting in that area going forward

We are not looking at anything in particular in India right now, but it would typically be smaller technology companies. We acquire either to access technology we did not have before, or to support technology we are already in. We recently acquired some IP companies. For example Virage, which is a leader in embedded memory, was acquired for $300 million last year.