The Indianapolis tech scene experienced some high-profile M&A activity this past year — including the sales of Interactive Intelligence and T2 Systems — and the $500 million acquisition of global cloud services consultancy Appirio by India-based Wipro certainly belongs on that list.

The big question that arises with any acquisition is how will it impact local operations, company culture and the collection of tech talent here in Indianapolis? While there is often a perception that the acquired company will lose its identity or go away altogether, Appirio executives say they are planning for and already executing on doing the opposite. Appirio is accelerating in Indianapolis.

Steve Pruden

Steve PrudenVP, Strategy & Partnerships

“We were acquired by a much larger public company and our CEO Chris Barbin laid out our goals of taking the number one market share, having the number one Net Promoter Score (NPS), and becoming the number one ‘Best Place to Work’ globally,” said Steve Pruden, vice president of strategy and partnerships.

“It’s a big, global aspirational view and to have those three things anchored here in Indianapolis is unique. It’s also very positive for employee engagement and talent attraction for Indianapolis and the region.”

As an offer of proof for the company’s local acceleration, Pruden pointed to Appirio’s top-notch talent recruitment program for new graduates called Ascend, which is billed as the “ideal way to onboard new hires.” Ascend gives new grads a broad and deep understanding of how Appirio works and gives them context for their jobs and decisions made by the company. The program is specifically designed to fight “brain drain” by identifying and recruiting the best talent Indiana has to offer and keeping them engaged with Appirio.

In 2016, Appirio doubled the size of its Ascend Program recruitment class, attracting the most diverse class to date in both gender (37% female) and minorities (32% minority). The new hires came from seven different universities in the greater Indianapolis area and region. Notably, many of the new hire offers came after the acquisition announcement.

Kate Jovanovic, an Ascend Program recruit with the 2014 class, describes working at Appirio as more than a dream job; she says it’s practically a fantasy come to life.

“With Ascend, Appirio has done a tremendous job of integrating new hires — not only with regional offices and global teams, but also with the company as a whole. One thing that amazed me was how much the company cares about their employees. On the first day, I got to meet and interact with the CEO, Chris Barbin, and the CIO, Glen Weinstein, both co-founders of this amazing company. Now, how many companies do that? They are important, busy leaders in the company taking time out of their hectic schedules to get to know us on a deeper level, rather than just knowing they hired a bunch of new folks.”

Appirio Ascend Program new grads and staff join CEO Chris Barbin for some Duck Pin Bowling in downtown Indianapolis this fall.
Appirio Ascend Program new grads and staff join CEO Chris Barbin for some Duck Pin Bowling in downtown Indianapolis this fall.

Of course, the true test of success for any recruitment or employee engagement program is in retention, and Appirio’s achievements there are undeniable. Since first beginning the program in 2013, the company has retained all but one of its Ascend Program participants — just one single employee equalling a 95 percent program retention rate.

“Surveys show 77 percent of recent graduates staying less than a year in their first jobs out of college, but at Appirio we’re keeping essentially all of our college recruits,” Pruden said. “Ascend Program employees have also directly delivered nearly $8 million in billable work, and that’s with about a third of them working in non-billable roles.”

The entire 2013 Ascend Program class has been promoted at least once by July of 2015 and one has been promoted up another level to Sr Consultant in the past year.

The Journey to Indy and Forward

Appirio first announced it was moving its global headquarters from San Francisco to Indianapolis in August, 2015, with the commitment to invest nearly $10 million and create 522 jobs by 2020. To date, Appirio employs 170 workers in Indianapolis with an additional 1,800 at offices in San Francisco, Dublin, London, Jaipur and Tokyo.

The Indianapolis office was opened in 2012 and rapidly grew around a handful of key personnel. The booming tech community and business-friendly environment were initially identified as key reasons for the move to Indianapolis, and the low cost of living and steady stream of qualified applicants proved to the company that the city was the right place to grow.

Appirio received the Tech Company of the Year Award during TechPoint’s 17th annual Mira Awards honoring the best of tech in Indiana.
Appirio received the Tech Company of the Year Award during TechPoint’s 17th annual Mira Awards honoring the best of tech in Indiana.

WATCH VIDEO of Steve Pruden accepting the Tech Company of the Year Mira Award and Inside INdiana Business interview.

“If Act I of our journey was our genesis here with the Indianapolis office and Act II was our headquarters establishment and global success, then Act III is our partnership with Wipro and increased expansion to achieve our goals of being the world’s number one cloud consultancy and the best place to work,” Pruden said. “We are extremely proud to be doing this from Indianapolis as the global headquarters of a subset of such a powerful parent in Wipro with the resources to support us and ensure our success together.”

Appirio is currently hiring in a variety of areas including for the Ascend Program. Jobs with the company are posted on the TechPoint Job Board and additional information is available through the company’s Tech Directory listing.