upGrad appoints Venkatesh Tarakkad as Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Mumbai, 1st March, 2024: upGrad, one of Asia’s largest integrated learning, skilling and workforce development majors has named Venkatesh Tarakkad as the first Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Venkatesh led Finance, Inventory, and strategic initiatives at DealShare and assumes his role at upGrad effective March 1, 2024.

He will be responsible for overseeing upGrad’s domestic and global financial strategies, encompassing a broader spectrum of areas such as investor relations, business finance, corporate finance, enterprise/accounting controllership, financial planning and analysis, risk management, tax, and treasury functions.

Venkatesh Tarakkad - Picture

Previously, he helped companies build and scale their financial operations, established compliance and Governance frameworks, automated processes including ERP implementations, managed acquisitions, led funding rounds and took a company public. He’s held numerous leadership positions across other notable brands like Ecom Express, TCNS Clothing, Siam Makro Thailand, Metro Cash & Carry and Coca-Cola India after starting his career with Ernst & Young in the early 90s.

Commenting on his appointment, Mayank Kumar, Co-founder & MD of upGrad said, “Venkatesh is a seasoned enterprise leader, and his appointment marks a strategic leap forward in our growth journey, both in India and globally. We’ve laid a rock-solid business foundation so far, built and scaled our offerings, and as we strive for global leadership, his operational excellence will ensure a robust credit profile, end-to-end compliance, and transparent corporate and financial governance within the upGrad ecosystem.” Venkatesh will be based out of upGrad’s HQ in Mumbai.

With this key appointment, Rohit Agarwal – presently leading finance operations, will maintain a crucial role within upGrad’s ecosystem, extending his responsibilities globally to lead operations in all regions outside of India.

upGrad Harnesses AI to translate Certs & Bootcamps into vernacular languages

Bengaluru, 22nd Feb 2024: upGrad, one of Asia’s largest integrated learning skilling and workforce development majors intends to enhance its product diaspora by translating popular Bootcamps & Certs into vernacular languages using AI for freshers and working professionals. “Presently over 40% of upGrad’s learner base in India is from Tier 2 cities and beyond where regional languages are more prevalent compared to English,” highlights Asheesh Sharma – President, Certifications and Bootcamps, upGrad. Recognising this opportunity to improve the communication and the learning experience, the skilling major has identified Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Bengali languages in phase 1 to ensure the brand penetrates deeper across every eligible household in the region.

The company aims to combine pedagogy with strong human interventions in the form of counsellors and buddies who could speak local languages further making it accessible and convenient for learners coming out of the vast national diaspora. Focusing on regional insights and demand, the catalogue will include courses in Engineering, Data Science, AI, Cloud Computing, DevOps, UI/UX, and Agile Project Management where upGrad has a strong foothold already, while Phase 2 will target Cybersecurity, Blockchain, Product Management, Business Analyst, and ITIL, with foreign languages like Spanish and Chinese. Over 5 lakh learners have been enrolled in the past with the most demand coming out of Bengaluru, New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Odisha, Pune, Chennai, and Kolkata among others.

Utilising an in-house tech tool, counsellors will address inquiries related to one’s education, background, interests, and career aspirations to ensure effective guidance and decision-making. Aligned with GOI’s ambition of fostering cultural connection and cognitive development amongst India’s youth, this approach aims to bridge the gap between accurately selecting the right program/domain and achieving one’s desired career goals. “Most scepticism today is fed inorganically and needs stronger course correction. Online is an incredible tool that has come a long way from being a VC tool vs. an interactive and immersive format that’s hands-on and accessible at any given point. Considering that only 7 to 8% of graduates in India are deemed employable, our objective is to substantially elevate this figure by providing millions with some initial support or springboard to get closer to their career aspirations,” said Sharma while talking about the business objective.

The company invests significantly in AI-related developments internally and the onset of FY25 marks an important growth and transformative year for the brand. “We’ve already deployed AI across our operations much before it became the buzzword for building on to learner engagements, we are now taking it a notch higher by harnessing its impact into our curriculum and teaching. There’s wider acceptance and a sense of openness amongst professionals of all age groups,” he added.

The company may also extend these services to its Enterprise arm soon to further personalise corporate training sessions making them accessible to all strata. India being the HQ, the brand has witnessed 100% YoY growth in overall enrolments and further claims to double down its annual active learners in the next 1 year.