Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Homecoming Blues

"In reality, it is harder for Indian returnees — in some ways, they have changed too much and in others, the country they left behind has changed while they were away."

Ms Ranjini Manian, in her latest column in Business Line, takes a peek at the niggling concerns of NRIs returning to India, and suggests tips to handle some of them!
-"The colonial hangover still exists. As an Indian expatriate, I get less attention than a white expatriate."
-"I’d like to be seen as ‘just another qualified guy’ and not the ‘foreign-qualified bloke’. How do I get my Indian team to see me as ‘one of us’?"
-"It’s a myth to think that working in teams comes naturally to Indians. How do I make them see the larger picture and make them work towards that?"
-"In India, rank and title determine the kind of response you get. How do I go about making sure that people listen to me without a fancy handle?"

Ms Manian has been associated with the relocations domain for over 16yrs and so, it was an interesting experience to note that the demand for consulting, is not just from expats, but also for RNRIs (returning NRIs).

Personally, I found it a revelation as, it was just over the weekend that I was trying to reflect and articulate my impressions on the 'quality of returnees' over the last year and a half!

A look at the number of resumes one has been exposed to -of those aspiring for jobs in India, the velocity has significantly changed in the past 2 quarters!

While the database I am exposed to - mostly in the senior management level professionals desirous of relocating in the near future, is not a true representative sample of the trend- the data I analysed from a leading job portal was pretty suggestive!!

There has been average of 75% increase in the number of NRI registrations on their portal for opportunities in India from the US alone-quarter on quarter in 2009! While a quarter of them are below the 4yrs experience, it is indeed intriguing to note that over 40% are those with over 8yrs of experience in industry!! ( Majority of them of course from the IT, with a small trickle from the Pharma and Financial services domains).
Looking back over the last 12 months, there have been quite a sea change in the quality of returnees. While one would usually expect the impact on the employers, the extent of the damage caused, due to (lack of) business confidence, on the psyche of the employees is often not documented!

One should also be appreciative of the fact that often the decisions to returning to India-are pretty time consuming-and so there is generally a lag by the time the intention is converted to the act of the movement.
Looking back as a recruiter, there were 3 distinct phases:

-Prior to the fall of Lehman brothers, I noticed quite a few dropouts as some chose to stay back in the US itself and passing over offers from India. A lot of it -had to do with the property prices going southward. Typically a professional with 10-15yrs exp-would have had most of his lifetime savings locked up in property, and as the prices went lower and lower, most chose to postpone their decisions to return.
(Among the 'green card' segment, (also likely to be double income families), the solution was for one of the parents to move back to India-with the kids-while the other stayed put back in the US-hoping for better times to return.)

-Post Lehman till first quarter '09, saw the return of the 'onshore' employees-typically the H1-B person who was grounded back to the parent office in India, as clients started tightening up belt. The supply in India of 'internationally experienced' professionals significantly increased. Companies started cherry picking- looking at candidates-who in normal cases they wouldn't have had access to!!

- In the last couple of quarters-the hot skills have changed!! Cloud computing, social networking seem to be buzz words. And suddenly people who have 'prior proven track record' in developing such solutions are being sought.

I sign off hoping that the recent announcement of US having got out of the recession mode-will signal off lot better sentiments...in the near future!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As you write this, you seem to be making an assumption that people are moving back only after getting laid off. I know of many people, majority of whom moved to the US and spent 5+5 years waiting for green card and US Citizenship who are now ready to move back after having acquired that. It is not about leaving a door to the US open, but also because people have a lot of investment in retirement accounts, etc. that they need to have some legal right to return to the US later without having to apply for visas. Your points about the skill set are definitely interesting. Thanks.