Thursday, April 30, 2009

No one knows for sure!!

It has been a very 'happening' fortnight for me that kept me away from blogging!!


"If you are looking for a change, change the way you are looking'' is what a dear pal of mine advocates. And so, I have tried to pack in a few events as diverse as possible, essentially to get alternative perspectives of how people are reacting to the general economic situation.


I attended the Saturday start up meeting interacting with various (and wannabe) entrepreneurs, a twitters meeting -mostly techie youngsters in town (all of them who hadn't been born when I had finished my management education in 1984!!), then an evening with the denizens of Hyderabad in the TED searching for Indian fellows, followed by a function where a French delegation evangelised the need for Indian SMEs/entrepreneurs to explore acquiring businesses in France. Apparently there is close to 500,000 businessmen close to retiring -and would be more happy to sell their equity-not to French competitors whom they had warded off for decades, but to foreigners-who wish to use the gateway to Europe!!


Well, I tried to read a lot of online stuff, listen to the free podcast from BBC, Deloitte insights, Harvard Business, Wharton School, Business week  and so on-and was treated to some exotic theories to describe the state of the present economic turmoil that we all seem to be in -seeming to make even the weathermen more credible than the economists!! 

One thing is clear though. Most organisations are no longer content 'waiting and watching' for the economy to be better, and taking some bold steps to make some drastic changes. It is any body's guess though which of the lesser evils is going to be more effective- 'employee alignment and optimisation ' or giving a section of one's team a year's sabbatical at one-third the salary, and hope for the best!!

Personally, I think, thanks to the sheer dearth of job opportunities in the near future, we will see more people plunging into entrepreneurship - if not freelance consulting assignments -and make things happen!! Most companies have shrunk by stripping off all those "good to have" frills down to the absolutely 'must have' mode, and are preparing for the the next wave of growth....

While a pessimist might believe"due to the meltdown, the light at the end of the tunnel is being switched off ", the optimist in me would like to be convinced that its always darkest before dawn'. )!!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Round up of some hot jobs!

Here is a summary of some of the 'not so confidential' openings we at Options, and our associates, are working on:

Exciting roles in Sales& marketing in FMCG majors handled by associate
Some generic IT openings we have with our clients/associates

* Interviews are over for the role in Construction Chemicals and couple of senior openings in Water Treatment -and so all the rest are still open.

Oh yes, NPA (www.npaworlwide.com) , The Worldwide Recruiting Network, has over 425 recruitment firms across the 6 continents. Even, if you do not find any position that matches your profile, please stay in tune- who knows one of our 1900 recruiters could be working on the dream job of yours!!
Improve Your Odds with Options!
http://twitter.com/achyutmenon

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A quick update

I realise my blog post on Vishu was not concerning any business or recruitment activity!! And so I hasten to file my next post -so that it does!!
Yesterday, I was delighted to get a complimentary copy of the Business World SME White Book 2009-2010! It has an article largely attributed to my quotes on the challenge of Talent hunt by Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in India. The book is a treasure of information and inputs given by experts from various walks of life, and so, I am flattered to be acknowledged there.
Yesterday also happened to be the big day for Tech Mahindra as they were awarded the bid for Satyam. While I am glad it is a landmark event, it is yet another milestone of uncertainty that seems to have pervaded the lives of the Satyam employees in the last 4 months.
On paper, the deal seems to be fair-and the businesses seem to complement each other's offerings. Tech Mahindra has a strong presence in the telecom solutions while Satyam had a broad bandwidth. However, there are a lot of concerns for an average Satyamite:
- will the tainted brand affect the marketability of the resume? Being based in Hyderabad, I was surprised to not to see a single Satyam T shirt donning professional in the past 100 days, even though it was quite apparent that it was all a handiwork of a few creative senior management members!
- Will Tech Mahindra retain a majority of the Satyamites? The integration issues are yet to be publicly addressed, but it is any body's guess that a newly emerged entity would not want to carry excess baggage-of any kind, be it those on the bench or those freshers who were made offers, or even some of the business divisions that were seen as erstwhile new initiatives!! The irony would be the fate of the support services. Even a healthy company in the best of times, would not want duplication of effort....
The next few weeks would see a lot of action.It would be a case study for a generation of management students-in all spheres- entrepreneurism, ethics, business models, managing talent integration issues in a highly volatile environment globally.

Happy Vishu - New year for Kerala-ites


Today is Vishu- a day which signifies the new year for Malayalis!!

A day, we as kids , used to cherish, right thru our childhood as we spent our summers in Kerala. Both my parents had grown up in the suburbs of Irinjalakuda( a sleepy town famous for a Temple for Lord Rama's lesser known brother Bharata) and had a extended family (coming to think of it, one had 7 siblings and the other 11!!), as part of joint families respectively, (guess my grandparents too were among equally populated families!), it was festival time for us kids, spending our holidays with a community of relations -mostly in group activities. In the sixties and seventies, there were no computers or TV-and so all our activities were a function of our imagination-involving outdoor during the daytime, and indoor as the rains came prematurely in the last week of May.


In such a setting, Vishu meant three things- Vishukkani, the saddhya (the feast) and most importantly for us, Vishukkaineetam -token of money given by elders to us kids. One can imagine how much these token amounts added up to, for us kids-with so many elders in the vicinity. Of course, as we grew older, we were quite critical and discerning about the generosity of some of the lesser endowed elders, who would suddenly pretend to be pre-occupied as we haunted them in the tharavadu, our ancestral house :-)!! ( The present generation can relate the thrill to the highly publicised Halloween 'trick or treat' rituals)


Now, years later, we share sms/email ids and e-vishukkaineetams with all folks who seem to have dispersed all across the world-and the younger kids more busy shuttling between tuitions and summer camps to keep them busy and prepared for their adulthood!


May the coming 365 days be the best of our life! Here's wishing everybody lots of love, good health and wealth!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Changing role for Recruiters?


The above ad of IBM is perhaps most relevant for us now in the recruiter fraternity!!

Amidst all the gloom and doom, that pervades the entire world without any partiality, the layoffs and job cuts as part of cost cutting, the sentiment is bordering on 'how to avoid firing'!! One can very well imagine the state of a professional fraternity that revels on 'how to hire'!!

It would be an understatement if I mentioned the hiring numbers are down. In fact this post has been inspired by a repeated query that I often get to hear from well wishers occasionally "How are you managing business"?

Well -trying to adapt & change -like an earlier post I had done!

1. The benchmark or the quality of hires has gone up significantly. Meaning that while the quantity has dwindled, there is a lot of demand for quality professionals-guys who can multi task, and who can operate in an uncertain environment, and stretch. Recruiters who can add value have enough on their order books.

2. Compared to earlier, when companies dealt with a large number of contingency recruiters-who get paid on the basis of a success fee -they are now willing to partner with a chosen firm with a fixed retainer fees and a lesser success fee. They are realising that commitment is 'two way' and so are banking on relationships to ensure a higher strike rate & culture fit.

3. Collaboration Works! More and more recruiters are willing to invest in relationships with fellow and like minded recruiters. For instance, just this week, we have
- completed a set of interviews for a Sales Head for a Canadian company who was referred by an American search firm -who in turn was referred to me by a NPA partner of ours.
-spent an hour on Wednesday, as every week, personally meeting a bunch of ERA members in Hyderabad, sharing notes about HOT candidates and openings!
-met a CIO of a large American firm who is exploring setting up a shared services centre in Hyderabad after a referral from a Big Four accounting firm encouraged my Bangalore associate enrolled me to flank them.
- working on mandates of an associate who works in the niche of FMCG industry-which incidentally is a recession proof domain!!

4. It helps preparing to be a generalist in India-who has a strong network of specialist firms! India is still an emerging economy and different industries are growing are different velocities. It is amazing to study that while the steel industry is a forerunner-of a boom or a bust, there are a lot of industries that lag-and so the effect takes much longer to emerge.

Should you have any doubts- just read about the current bottlenecks & opportunities in Indian infrastructure- I gave up trying to convert and totalling up to a few billion USD apart from a few lakhs of crores of projects due in highways, ports, rail, power & urban cities!!)

5. Working doubly harder even if it means getting only half as much as earlier. We are investing in systems more than before. The automated resume tracking software is being renewed. Updating older profiles. Advertising across the net-beyond job portals -to improve our catchment areas of 'passive job seekers'. Investing more in web 2.0 tools like linked in, twitter and other new emerging tools. Spending more time understanding the 'calling ' of every job aspirant! Evangelising the need for looking long term -despite seemingly juicy offers that could be short term!

My team would vouch that I keep parroting "harder we work, luckier we get"!! I know a lot of people think I am an incorrigible optimist. But then isn't it true that “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” ??

Cheers, have a great weekend!

PS I just read a news item this morning:Chicago Mercantile eyes India entry! Surely they would need people to man the business. Can we hear bells ringing? Anyone in my NPA network who is working with the company in USA??

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Surveys, Salary revision, job cuts, happy employees!

Come April : it is salary review time in India. And prediction time for surveys.

During the last few years we had gotten used to the tempo being set by January itself with the media tom tom about the campus hires being made obscene salaries to the IIM/IIT graduates-and the number of offers an average pass out got. Companies, in a bid to quell the dissatisfaction among the more experienced, scampered around to announce salary reviews -at times even 2-3 times a year!!

This year the mood has been really sombre especially due to the build up of a long drawn out recession and the uncertainty related to the immediate future. In fact most job seekers are quite content to hold on to their jobs - and mentally prepared to accept a downward revision, if that can help!!
So, it was interesting to note India is among the top three countries as a survey on Salary rise rankings for 2009 for 53 countries suggests, even as a quarter of the world's companies, and 40 percent in the United States, plan to freeze salaries this year.
Another article debating salary cuts vs job cuts, draws us to the conclusion that there are no right answers in talent management and it depends on how an organisation is positioned in the turnaround cycle.
Stage 1: Sector and company not doing well; it’s time to cut corners. Ergo, salary freeze
Stage 2:Business in the red. As a first step, organisations look at reduction in salary selectively and then across the board.
Stage 3:Business in the red for a prolonged time. Job cuts are imminent.

And even as one digests the theory, one is enlightened to know 25 Outlook Business-Hewitt Associates Best Employers are finding smart ways to keep employees smiling. Some of the mantras adopted:

-Axe Costs First, Employees Later.

-Redeploy Before You Fire, Communicate to all anyway.

-Keep Investing In Training

-Don’t Rule Out Bonuses Or Raises

Well, what do we do at Options? We get inspired by some of the best practices indicated by the top performers above and follow the dictum “If you take care of your associates/ employees, they will take care of customers, and the customers will come back, and business will take care of itself.” We are pretty bullish -and are giving ourselves a double digit increment across the board:-)!

Cheers!! Here's the popular Bob Marley's soothing "Don't worry-be happy"