Thursday, November 24, 2011

Jobs in India- Emerging global hub for 'invisible' innovation

It is a little uncanny that my last post -which was about 4 weeks ago-had also featured Thomas Friedman.

This time, it is triggered by the book  India Inside:By Nirmalya Kumar & Phanish Puranam as they presented the same at ISB, Hyderabad earlier this evening-which they admit was inspired by Tom Friedman's book "The World is Flat"-which alluded that innovation will continue to keep the West economically supreme, with the "more sophisticated tasks being done in the developed world, and the less sophisticated tasks in the developing world-where each has its comparative advantage".

The authors pointed that much of the substantial innovation that took place- has been invisible, and went on to dwell on the research with some of  "R&D work done in India-but for the global customers"-has been world class-and is poised to grow to a next level!

I personally was intrigued to be enlightened to the concept of the 'sinking skill ladder' that they elaborated!

What is a skill ladder? The idea that to do highly sophisticated innovative work, you need to have done less sophisticated work at some stage in your career. Imagine being the partner at a consulting firm without having been an associate, an investment banker without having been an analyst or the head of a clinical research team without having done any “bench-work.”
The work that the juniors do in each of these cases may be fully separable from the work that the seniors do; indeed the junior could be somebody sitting in India. However, in each of these cases, the seniors will continue to have a deep understanding of what exactly the juniors do because they have been juniors themselves at an earlier stage of their careers. Without such knowledge, arguably the seniors could not do their own jobs effectively.
A problem lies ahead: Western companies are blocking their talent pipelines. Without that route, how will tomorrow’s senior leaders emerge? Unless they have grappled with this question, it seems facile to say that companies in the West can “move up into higher-value-added services” and leave the “low end” work to their counterparts in Asia.
In some sense, the problem for managers of companies from the developed world is less complicated: they can move the next rung of their R&D, and even their headquarters, to where it can be done more effectively and efficiently. However, disconcerting questions for policy makers in developed countries will remain.
My take away on the implications of the kind of jobs that will be on offer in India!!?
1. There are over 600 global R&D Centres of MNCs in India- that are already following the delivery model where innovative and creative tasks are increasingly being off shored to India. And these have been across different industry domains- automotive, telecom, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, ...
2. MNCs are transforming composition of their global leadership teams as R&D and markets move to the East.
(The HBR abstract of the article is a must read!)
3. The increasing opportunities are more Indian IT services companies invest in building their specific practices -to provide 'outsourced product development' to smaller companies in the West
4. The growing Eco-system in the start up ecosystem-is enticing some of the 'experienced' professionals to embark on entrepreneurial ventures...
For specific opportunities, please feel free to reach me out offline !

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