Thursday, February 17, 2011

WYSIWYG? More than meets the eye?

It is that time of the year with the media going ga-ga over the "Hot market with Cool jobs"!

One cannot miss seeing the euphoria in the news, views & reports on the booming salaries-all across -from campus placements to CEO compensation.(Indian CEOs at par with global peers).

We, as all of us recruiters will confirm, are seeing a huge deluge of mandates. Many firms are looking to hire afresh and putting on some muscle, back again-after having lost both fat and muscle when they cut headcount in the last couple of years.

The general bonhomie inspires a lot of casual enquiries from most professionals wanting to keep tab of their 'contemporary' market value.

Even as people are preparing for the celebrations, I wish to take a pause!

The flip side: the real world?

Let me share an observation

a) The flyer of a "* most promising B-Schools in Asia" on the windscreen of my car is perhaps a tell tale sign of the times.

Last night, as I got back to the parking lot after being enthralled by a Russian Ballet troupe at an "international festival of dance'-there was this flyer. Innovative way to catch one's attention-especially since it was perhaps an elite 'invite-only' event-with a lot of corporate bigwigs and a segment of 'who's who in Hyderabad' -and a great cross section of decision makers -both from the demand & the supply side.

Surely there must be better ways of marketing a classy 12 page-glossy multi colour brochure listing out the heritage of the governing board, 'international accolades', insight into the curriculum/ core faculty/course structure, and a few endorsements from some esteemed recruiters...? Or is it hard sell?

b) and a couple of conversations I have had in the last 3 days-this week!

-One expressed his disappointment of the 'available crop' of the pass outs of a world class global B School (GMAT scores of about 700 and average 5yrs of experience) where there they had visited last week for lateral hires. True, the company had got a slot only on the 'day 3' when the cream was apparently already picked by the early birds. "The quality of the talent wasn't just inspiring. And in cases of a fit, the salary expectations were just not in sync with the value they could add".

-The HR head of an India development centre of a global software company is under pressure to ramp up headcount before the March end-lest the HO isn't convinced about the long term ability to attract, and retain global talent -and jeopardising the long term growth visavis other global ODCs in the organisation. Considering that most competitors have enforced a notice period of 2-3 months before a person can be relieved, the option is 'to hunt for those restricted to already serving out notice period with their present employers'!

c) It is interesting to read this week's issue of Business World on the issue of 'runaway salaries'.

Based on analysis of data of 2,601 companies sourced from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) for the period 2005-10, sales of companies grew at an average of 53.6 per cent. and, the average compensation paid to employees grew faster at 58.8 per cent.

Is it not a Catch 22 situation. If a company wants to be competitive it has to pay well. With the talent shortage, doesn't it make sense that one has to pay well -not just to stay in the same place-but also to get ahead!

While on the supply side, it is disturbing to see the impact of the professional global B schools in grooming 'industry ready" managers, focussing instead on 'higher salaries & an impressive placement record' -for better brand equity- it is shocking to see the sheer lack of imagination in terms of investment in creating a talent pipeline from the demand side (the employers)-often giving in to short cuts as the easier way out.

Somewhere-the pieces don't fit in.

One would have thought that if the last three years were marked with chaos, complexities, confusion, with the year 2011 promising to be the time for confidence-we could expect some more clarity regarding the road ahead!!

As of now, I am a little disappointed-that most of our HR fraternity are still in a time warp. Juggling around with tactics-putting a band aid here and attending to a puncture there!! Still hung about 'cost of hire'. Or the source of the resume? Content with carpet bombing and selecting 1 out of 40-50 profiles one screens..

Come on, isn't it time to grow up? Will what got us here- help us navigate through the next few years?

-accept that it in the intellectual economy, the 'employee' would make the choices based on her/his career aspirations...and so it is imperative to build a model to help better career management as a magnet? To farm or grow talent for those perennial skill sets- instead of poaching & JIT? Unlike best practices in the manufacturing industry -we aren't managing commodities..we are dealing with a bundle of human emotions, abilities & aspirations-who are increasingly beginning to exercise their mind!

For one, can we shift the sourcing mindset to looking at more holistic hiring solutions?Shift the focus from 'cost of hire' to 'quality of hire'? Time to go beyond 'cut and paste job descriptions handed over' to qualifying competencies required to succeed?

Or is it that I am being too cynical? Am I missing something? I shall be glad to be enlightened.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Faster than one can manage?

I give up trying to keep pace!!

In the last 4 weeks since my last post, so many events have happened-that even before I got around to trying to understand, assimilate and articulate my thoughts about the 'important historic event', something else equally exciting happened to make my observations outdated..within days ;(!!

Let me explain. Let us just take the IT industry in India in isolation-it almost seems like some folks have taken their new year resolutions very seriously, considering the changes in the leadership scene alone. Wipro replaced two at one stroke. Infosys has apparently announced a change of guard. Microsoft has lost two of their most visible leaders in India. iGATE and Patni are integrating their act together. It is interesting to keep track of all these, as even as these happen, Cognizant led by the youngest of them all...shared that they had indeed grown at 40% last year-much more than their own expectations!!

And this-almost coming on the heels of the worldwide announcements in leadership changes in Apple, Microsoft and Google!!

Well, I am not even trying to speculate on the latest hot news (as of yesterday, I must admit!) the Microsoft pact with Nokia-and its possible impact. As a close pal of mine-an industry veteran put it, it is perhaps a little too late for either of them to have come together to match their wits with Apple & Google in the smart phone domain.

Is it that our lives today depends on what is happening globally-more than ever before? No news is any longer regional, right? For instance-surely Nokia's dumping the symbian platform to get on the Windows bandwagon-will affect a lot of start ups worldwide, not just in India, who have been sweating over developing applications for the mobile world! I would not even like to wager the effect it could possibly have on scores of programmers who would feel they chose to hone their niche skills.

In such a dynamic environment how does one plan one's activities? Here is what I have attempted to change my tack:

1.I have begun to depend on twitter-as my window to the world. And almost a ploy to buy time before the next blog post, I have begun to curate some of the information of interest to me-and possibly for some of my contacts in the ecosystem. So, here is a link to my new widget "The Achyut Menon Daily" that keeps a tab!

2. Most of the jobs that we, at Options are working on-are listed here

3. Things that keep me occupied on a weekly basis appear on my linked in status message!

( I shall be glad if you could share with me your suggestions-and solutions- as to what helps you keep yourself abreast-so that I can adopt the best practice too!!)

Meanwhile, here are a bunch of positions/mandates that keeps me awake these days. I shall be glad to provide more information if it helps you give me pointers to professionals who would be interested, willing and excited to be moving on....

-Managing Director of Overseas Sales for Software solutions. Someone with a strong exposure to telecom solutions. Role based in Korea. Person needs to extensively travel to US & Europe.

- A Leadership role in Client /Creative Servicing for the Singapore office of an international design firm. The emphasis is FMCG and packaging.

- A Sr Vice President for an International firm in the business of research, insight & consultancy. Based in Kolkota, the role would required a person with a proven track record in management consulting/strategy and brands.

- A Country Manager and a couple of Director Sales positions for MNC firms in the telecom space-that need professionals to spearhead their entry/expansion into the fast growing Indian telecom space. Someone with a proven track record in handling relationships with the operators and the major SI players in India-will fit the bill. Roles based in Delhi/Mumbai.

- A Sales Director to handle a MNC in the homeland security business in India. We are on the look out for senior professionals with exposure to handling solutions for the intelligence agencies (eg RAW, CBI, NSG), the Police, etc. Role based in Delhi.

- A host of openings across the US for SAP consultants across different domains/ modules- with at least 4 lifecycle implementations. Role involves extensive travelling to customer sites across the 2/3rd of the country.

- Senior roles in technical customer engineering services based in Bhopal. The client, a leading graphite electrode manufacturer is looking for Electrical Engineers with experience in maintenance/operations of Electric Arc Furnace-who can travel extensively to the customer sites and live up to customer expectations.

- A Corporate Planning/Strategy consultant in the Infrastructure space-to be based in Hyderabad for a leading business group that wishes to leverage on the utilisation of the land banks.

-A bunch of management consultants with experience in one of the global firms- to help a UK MNCs captive BPO drive business transformation /migration across their global divisions. Mumbai based.

-And should you be still reading, Renault Nissan is looking for engineers for their shift operations as the car manufacturing picks up. Logitech is expanding its strength at their Centre of Excellence for mobile applications. All roles based in Chennai. Novartis is looking to entice SAS programmers from US to hire for their Hyderabad centre.

Time is flying by. Why don't you mail me at [email protected] and let me know when I can alert you? Or better still, follow me real time on twitter @achyutmenon

If we can't stay abreast-let's at least stay in touch...