Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Indian M&A appetite-optimism!! Jobs??

I must confess.

Yesterday when I saw the headlines cursorily and saw Infosys and Capgemini-my instant thought was...WOW!! Capgemini has been wanting to expand its presence in India, picked up Kanbay last year, and now, Infy? Capgemini could double its manpower strength and take on Accenture, EDS, IBM..

For one who grew up in the previous millenium-it sure was a case of the subcontinental hangup!! As I sat down and read the details..did I realise I should get out of the time warp. It was Infy which was rumoured to be prowling after Capgemini -a company more than three times its revenue, and penetrate into the 'consultancy business' and Europe by this move..

An Indian contender is fast becoming de regueur in any deal story overseas. As I read the paper, I also notice Tatas are gearing to capture a bit of Cadbury Schweppes beverages business, and the ONGC-Mittal combine isnt just as yet giving up its quest for presence in the Central Asian republic of Kazhakistan..

But can we look at the perspective from the 'employee' angle?

Typically a M& A means- uncertainty for a large number of employees-atleast of the acquired company! Overnight, the bosses, the power structure, the culture, the career path almost seems fuzzy. Fortunately, in a knowledge driven company, the additional numbers would prove to be the cutting edge-but a whole lot of functions-would perhaps be duplicated. Several people might suddenly see their growth in the organisation stagnated. Some even rendered redundant.

How does this affect the job market??

- there are some high end consulting firms would tailormake solutions for due diligence,systems consulting, operations consolidation, organisation restructuring /transition management.

-opportunities for training professionals?

-recruitment firms would perhaps benefit by the vulnerability of the 'fringe employees'. Some of them could even offer 'outplacement' services to the merged entity-who would be inclined to create a 'humanitarian' image to the whole case.

-options for counselling services?

Am I missing out anything...? The companies benefit by the inorganic growth. Do people?

PS Todays news says the stockmarket pundits love it-both companies sharevalue being north!!. What is the HR person's gut feel? I shall love to hear from the fraternity....

Thursday, June 21, 2007

India biggest job-spinner among BRIC nations: OECD

According to a recent report published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in its Employment Outlook 2007 report, India has outpaced China in creating the maximum number of jobs among the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries.

It also mentions:

- India also had the lowest percentage of jobless people among the BRIC nations.

- the employment to population ratio was also lowest in India at 50.5 per cent. This ratio was in the range of 66-71 per cent in the other three countries.

-In China and India, the rural sector is characterised by excess labour: despite significant rural-urban migration, almost two-thirds of Chinese workers are employed in rural areas and 79 per cent in India.

Understandably, the editorial in Economic Times - sees it as " the glass half-empty rather than half-full"

- According to the NSSO’s 61st round, while employment grew 2.48% per annum, labour force grew even faster at 2.54% per year.

- Today, we are riding high on our demographic dividend, the advantage that a large and young workforce gives us. But this is an asset only if we are able to create employment opportunities for them.

We need to act (read create more jobs) rather than get lulled into complacency by flattering reports, even from reputed bodies like the OECD.

Elsewhere in the world, it is construed as a reality check on the negative aspects of globalisation.

- the divide between high-earners and those at the bottom end of the scale had widened, and feelings of job insecurity had grown more acute.

- Offshoring was enough to fuel insecurity, especially among the low-skilled. The OECD urged governments to resist protectionist responses and instead adapt employment policies to help people move from one job to another with greater ease and sense of security.

Is there a lesson for all of us? One quick glance on who is hiring is enough to give us enough hints? The employment generated is mostly in service sector. And one can notice it is ironically the 'war for talent' one often hears of!!

Are there enough opportunities coming up in agriculture & manufacturing? Would all jobs have a future? What if some of the jobs just moved cheaper locations? Would our people be skilled enough for transplanting their competencies?


Was one hell of a day. I was simply amazed at the way it turned out -So many events happened and I thought I was just crumbling, being torn to pieces, energy being sapped out hour by hour!!

The day started off by a great goof up. A simple click of the button. I was helping coach my colleague draft out a letter to negotiate a better terms & conditions -with a new client we have been interacting with. I wrote out all the arguments on how he should present our case-and instead of forwarding it to my colleague, ooops, the mail was sent right away to the client!!!

Sheepishly dragged myself to office and then came the series of events -

-a candidate who should have joined our client on Monday..and had taken two days time to attend to a personal problem, (He was so unusual himself then...had sounded very cryptic and abrupt- we had sympathised with him...poor chap-somebody in hospital? could we be any way" ). wasnt just picking up his mobile phone despite our desperate attempts.And as it sunk in -that he could be avoiding us, he did pick up the call-after a dozen rings & almost as an afterthought mumbled" I joined another company and so ...."

-an associate from Europe sent in a mail, " you know what, the position we have been working on..Unfortunately the client has come to realize that they ought to prepare more before expanding their business in Hong Kong. Hence the opportunity is not so imminent as we were told. Their scope is to start hiring professionals is around year-end. I hope you can live with such a delay?"

-then came an one-liner from another client -"We have made an offer to him yesterday. He has to decide & confirm". An hour later -in response to the sms, my candidate called back- regretting the offer was in no comparison to three other offers he has bagged in the last week!!!

-the jobsite database we wanted to negotiate for- the guys have hiked their services by 36% over last year-and for a product they had since trimmed off in the new avatar!! ( In a business where one isnt sure of one's revenues, I was banking to keep costs low !&*%) ( Oh..if only the candidate had joined as planned.surely I cd have afforded this-without a blink!!!)

It wasnt even afternoon, and I thought I was getting a headache...or was I sleepy? I actually wanted to hide my head..a la ostrich peacefully unaware of the chaos around!!

Then-came the call from a person we had placed a few weeks back-I had dreaded his call as I had rumours that the project he was hired for..was getting delayed due to some statutory sanctions!! He was just calling to say- 'thanks for the opportunity- I was planning to thank you since the last fortnight, and was too busy to even call you. You know what -there is so much I can learn and the scope is phenomenal- you know-if only one makes things happen..instead of waiting for things to happen! Yes, there was a bit of lull initially-but I have decided to volunteer to do some initiatives!!"

Guess-its all in one's mind?

I read a couple of postings from Marc Andreesens blog . The pieces on personal productivity and the challenges of hiring the right people -are just mindblowing! It isnt surprising why he is so succesful...

An associate from Delhi called up to thank me for some suggestion I had given to him a few months back- he wanted to share his happiness that the formula worked..and I was the first person to know.

Three NRI brothers landed up at my office- we were meeting after 25yrs!! One of them is planning to return to India, and would appreciate my assistance.

An international client -with whom we have been having discussions regarding terms & conditions for almost a month..with translator, interpreter et al, calls in to say -fine " we go ahead- please let me know when can I begin interviewing ?"
At Chennai, of the 4 interviews scheduled -three happened- and hey presto- three offers!!

A close pal of mine has just retured from Europe after a professional stint there-and wants to enquire if I would be interested in tying up with a couple of recruiting firms in London-who are possibly open for tie-ups from India!!

As I walk into my house -my kids rush to me -thanking me for reminding the AMC "uncle"- thrilled that their computer is back into action and they have enjoyed the evening -courtesy Ares and a couple of games!! Their glee is much more than the gloom earlier in the day...

A roller coaster ride?

PS- looking back, what's so special? Its just like any other day of a recruiter!! Did I hear some one say, "life is what happens to you-while you're busy making other plans"!?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Reverse Offshoring!! Indian companies hiring abroad!

In a recent article by Steve Hamm of Business Week highlights that Indian companies are hiring aggressively in the U.S. The reasons he attributes :

-their U.S. expansion plans predate the latest concerns over immigration and jobs.

-It often costs more to ship in Indians on a temporary basis than it does to hire Americans.

-the Indian rupee has risen more against the dollar this year, hiring Americans has gotten cheaper.

-Fierce competition for tech talent in India is pushing salaries there up by 12% to 15% per year, although they remain less than a third of those in the U.S.

I would like to believe that this has been necessary as the Indian software companies are taking the route up the value chain. As cost arbitrage becomes a given decision making point, it is the value add the consultants bring to the table-that is the cutting edge!

To give an example- while in late 90's anyone selling boxes -may have barely made it to a software services firm needing to sell software services. As the market matured, the same position needed some one with prior experience in selling to the 'end customer'. As the "India component' is being more accepted, the same companies now hire Americans in US, and Japanese to penetrate the local market.

Brand building is also another jargon for 'catch 'em young"!! Infosys has been inviting foreign students ( read Chinese, US among others ) for their training program in Mysore -essentially to improve the awareness of the average localite! These trainees are likely to be the 'influencers' when Infy visits these countries in the future -either as prospective employees if not prospective clients for their services.
Interestingly, I recall a presentation made by the HR Honcho of a leading IT major-mentioning while hiring people of foreign nationalities does add to the diversity, and the company had to revamp some of its HR policies to adapt the local practices, the biggest challenge was to convince foreign clients..about 'non Indians' writing code for an Indian company!!
Its all the offshoot of globalisation, and the growing presence of Indian MNCs...the faster we get used to not getting surprised, the better it is -for all concerned :-)!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Taking stock!!

With the posting I made over the weekend, I have completed a hundred postings on this blog!!

Taking stock, it would have been impossible without the encouragement of all the readers, some of them have registered themselves for constant updates, a few others have reminded me that I should be writing more often, and a lot of others who have reached out offline to me, with opportunities for me to improve my effectiveness as a recruiter!!

I reiterate I have loved blogging , and the process of constantly keeping myself updated and put my thinking cap on!!

If I were to look back and highlight some of the more memorable moments, it would be

-the interactions with many a prospective returning Indian, the client enquiries from across the world, and from the handful of fellow professionals from the recruiting fraternity

-a couple of MBAs willing to be employed by Options -as it represented a firm using Web 2.0 tools!!

- being among the TOP TEN blogs among the nominations by

-the video recording by Jim Stroud

In response to some of the comments I have added a list of the HOT jobs urgent requirements in IT, and some of the options in the Non IT industry Non IT industry!

And yes, the biggest thanks will go at this stage to blogging Guru Gautam Ghosh. I have been inspired by many a blogger- some of whom have been linked right on this blog. I shall be failing if I didnt mention my biggest critic- my eleven year old daughter Vandana Vandana who is simply shocked by the singular lack of colour in my efforts !!

Thanks once again!! I shall be glad to have your suggestions on how I could make this blog more meaningful and interactive.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Cheaper Expats vs Indian talent!! No comparison!!

I quote from a blog I just read "Indian executives could be in danger of pricing themselves out of the market with salary demands that are so high they are forcing Indian companies to look to cheaper expatriates to fill senior roles.” It didn’t take long, did it? Part of the problem is the silly practice of setting executive salaries by comparisons with other executives. That’s a sure recipe for constant leap-frogging. This will also be very familiar. "
While the author probably moralises the issue, I am certain the context is just ironically on the
I am glad Sanjeev Sahgal pointed out that it is a factor of the growing market!! To quote " Over a period of time these would get normalized, not to forget most of these position are with Global companies...which simply means that those hired here could be leading other global location over a period of time. With the globalization peaking as years come, the world will be a level playing field and only Talent will win...and get paid."
I am of the belief that the Indian market and its challenges are very unique -and so expecting any global professional to come and transplant the learnings elsewhere -is a sure shot recipe for disaster!!
Be it Coke or McDonalds, or any of the telecom, insurance or consumer durable companies, they have all needed an Indian touch to be able to penetrate into the market. The customs, let alone the traditions, practices and the habits- are so unique to the different regions within India, that one should be looking at the Indian continent as a bunch of heterogenous markets!
As a specialist in hiring 'returning Indians' with global flavour, my own experience has been that those who have had the 'grounding in India' and have been away for overseas experience of 4/5yrs-are more likely to hit the ground running !!
And why should not they be paid their pound of flesh!!?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Some interesting jobs we are handling now!!

Despite my promise last month of trying to post 'pick of the jobs' every week, I somehow couldnt get around to patiently compiling them -after one attempt.

This time around, I have my colleagues Seema, Jyothish, and Sameer chipping in with some inputs on the clients they handle-and so am hoping to be a little more efficient :-)!

Senior Management:

I hope to update the "pick of the jobs' on a seperate blog where in I would try and upload brief writeups of some of the assignments we handle. Hopefully in time, one can generally get the trend of the kind of jobs we handle.

Infact -for some companies -with whom we closely work, & aware of the culture of the company -and perhaps the manpower requirements of the coming quarter, there we can even explore if our client can build a role around the an exciting profile.

For instance, there are some exciting senior management openings for a group of companies specialized & dedicated to serving technology companies. Headquarted out of Chennai and employing about 4000 employees, the group is open to looking at some senior management professionals who can take them to the next level. Should you know of any 'returning Indians' with an entrepreneurial bent of mind, and willing to relocate to Chennai -please do let me know!!

Non IT openings:

As mentioned elsewhere in the blog, there is lot of action in the 'old economy' and 'non IT companies!!

Right now we are working on some senior positions in the Power sector- setting up Thermal power plans in Raipur (Chattisgarh)and Srikakulam -and gas based power plans in Vizag and Kakinada (AP). Openings exist in the design and construction departments, apart from senior key positions.

There are some exciting options in HR , Finance and Sales /product management too-across industries like aviation, pharma, power, and fashion !!You could visit here for a regular update of these kind!

Middle management level IT roles:

These are obviously the faster moving jobs and so one is likely to find less description -to the point of being crisp!

Am looking forward to hearing from you how I can add value better!!

Infosys Non Compete Clause vs Fortis saga

During the last fornight there has been a lot of debate and opinions on the now famous Infosys tactic of asking employees to sign non-compete clause !

It is very interesting to surf around the net, and one comes across a 360 degrees of emotions. The comments range from a cryptic quip from the NASSCOM President "better ways of controlling attrition than bonds" to a very voiciferous Infosys bashing by the younger generation having lots of aspirations, and frustrated employees venting their feelings.

I am sure the truth is somewhere between-depending the perspective you have!!

As a recruiter though, I am reminded of the 'theory of marginal utility' theory of marginal utility that one studied years ago!!

Who needs the other more holds the key to calling the shots...

Probably thats why at entry levels, and the senior levels people are paid significantly higher than they probably deserve -the biggest chunk of middle management a little underpaid to keep them watering for more !!In the organisations of yore and life time employment, the value added by the employer kept in line with the aspirations of the employees!

For the HR person, the challenge is to try and keep this see saw almost even!!

Is it possible that in the instance of Dr Trehan- he and his team was more valuable than the organisation Escorts Fortis hospital? I shall be glad to hear your comments!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hottest Job in India- Coach for Indian cricket team!!

The headlines in almost all newspapers today in India scream " Ford rejects India"

Within TWO days of his being offered the job as the Coach of the Indian Cricket team, Mr Graham Ford has had a "sudden change of heart"!!

I am sure -a lot of fellow recruiters and even hiring managers in corporates -have been at the recieving end of such news..almost on a daily basis!! While we are still finding it difficult to stomach the 'dropouts' we are forever trying to woo new candidates for the roles..with a difference.

Can the BCCI learn from any of the corporate/third party recruiters?

Surely if one were to see the 'attrition' levels, it has been very "BPO-ish"!! People with different shapes and sizes and domain specialisations! We have recently had a New Zealander John Wright, Australian Greg Chappel, and a few part timers ( Ravi Shastri, a bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad, a fielding coach in Robin Singh)

Can some of us do a better job in hiring the best man for the post?

Ofcourse there are a lot of basic questions!

1. do we need a coach at all? After all, if a bunch of 20 best guys can make it to national shortlist, from a country of millions playing and watching cricket, the sheer brilliance and calibre -(totally unnerved by the manipulating politics, regionalism, rumoured corruption, and by just letting performance figures speak for themselves!) -they should be able to stay motivated and perform to their level of competency anyway!!

2. If we need a coach, what would be his role? Teach them killer instinct? Steel them to believe in themselves? Strategise differently-for the players are the guys who go out to the middle and perform , no? Has there ever been a job description made?

3. Would the coach have the authority? Surely he is responsible when things go wrong..but would he have a say in the selection of the Indian probables? Or the final Eleven? How would he even know about the capabilities of the 'thousands of prospects who are sweating it out'? Is there enough Business Intelligence -and a organisation structure of 'talent spotters' at various levels..under 13, under 15, under 17, under 19 levels of cricket..not to mention the performances of Ranji and One day tournaments?

4. Should there be a decent tenure-say three years for the coach-to make a difference..?

5. Do we need a foreign coach? Why not an Indian cricketer -who has made it thru the rungs of the domestic leagues, the district competition, represented the State, and been at the fringe of National teams? Surely he would know the eco system just too well -to tinker around, and help nurture fresh talent to bloom and perform at the highest level!! After all- at the international levels of competition, everyone is just as good as the is the temparament on the day, no?

6. Should a coach be a manager or a leader?

And so on..I am throwing open this case study to my fellow colleagues and would you select a coach for the Indian cricket team!!?

Oops..I am tempted to ask....why not a returning Indian- mate?? The best of both worlds?

After all, only if we know what we are looking for-will we ever find it :-)!!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Forget head hunters, try community networking sites !!

Well..I guess I needed such a headline to shake myself back into action!!

For almost 10days I had typically got into the 'nervous nineties' syndrome most cricketers get they approach a century! It was late last year that I first blogged-and have tried to articulate some of my thoughts almost twice every week-when a pal of mine prompted me and I realised I was reaching blog 99!! Suddenly, for no rhyme or reason, the milestone presented a huge challenge- one is tempted to reach the mark by a flourish- at the same time, there is a deep sense to make it count!!

To rush to the point- I came came across an article online Forget headhunters -which goes on to say how community networking is going to be a threat for headhunters, placement firms, and the third party consultants -and their livelihood;
Personally I have always maintained that the 'happy employee' is the biggest asset for any employer-and the greatest ambassador any company can have. For you cant have a better testimonial that a team of charged employees taking ownership and driving 'employee referrals'!! They are the best judge for the best peers they can attract and align with- and stay motivated. And the only mantra for that is very simple- the right job for the every person and the right person for every job!!

However that is easier said than done. And so, the talent search exercises have always tended to be a multipronged approach - campus hires, lateral hires thru referrals and when there is an extreme pressure- go for external help !We have had innumerable innovative attempts at attracting talent- 'catching them young', job fairs, hiring at churches & parks, and so on.

Earlier in the day, I had read a blog by Jim Stroud set around the premise of 'people interviewing people'.

Some time back I had come across an Indian solution, leveraging on the power of referrals

Web 2.0 is in, and there is bound to be convergence of many different media of attracting talent. Collaboration -not competition, is the solution.

Blogs are increasingly being adopted by corporates to communicate more convincingly than before. Social networking sites like LinkedIn, orkut, ryze, and some others already have large pools of talent- and increasingly better tools for data mining!!

Well, it is time one made oneself more visible on the net-and be hunted :-)!!

PS-am rather relieved to see another commentary-sourcing firms have their role to play :-)!