Sunday, December 23, 2007

Options-now a part of a Worldwide Recruiting Network!

I am glad to mention that earlier this fortnight -we, at Options Executive Search have become the first NPA member in India.
NPA is a 51 year old Worldwide Recruiting Network that connects premier independent recruiting firms located throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and the Americas.

Around the globe there are almost 400 companies, bound together with a common set of protocols, ethics and state of the art technology. This will, I believe, allow Options to use additional resources from selected partners to assist with client assignments and in placing candidates –not just in India, and but across the emerging & developed countries across the World.

I am very convinced the next decade will see a lot of global migration of professionals- as businesses grow beyond geographies-and this alliance will get us some better insights to the local practices!

As a member of the Executive Recruiters Association of India for the last 4 years, I have been fortunate to interact with other consultants and business owners on a National level. We have had some informal exchanges between some members, and the NPA experience should see us formalising many more relationships.

Going forward, I am confident we can add value, commitment and passion to the hiring needs of our clients- by helping more professionals find the opportunities they are best suited for-not just in India-but now globally too!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More jobs for Returning Indians

Spiralling Re drives Indians abroad back home is an article, among the most emailed articles published in Economic Times this week. There is a quote attributed to me -and so, it wasnt surprising that I have been getting several phone calls, not to mention emails, specifically referring to the article- over the last 48hours. Interestingly, these have been more from well wishers of those perhaps residing abroad-wanting to know more about the trend!

Well, I think Mr Anto Joseph of Economic Times has summarised the action so well, that it is best one read the original!

A summary:

-Until now, it was predominantly the IT sector that drew Indians from abroad. Now, it’s the retail, infrastructure, pharma, financial sectors, engineering, hospitality and real estate.

- Many mid- and large-sized foreign companies that are setting up offices in the country are looking for Indians with international experience for their top jobs.

- Thedeepening talent crunch in the Indian market is spurring an unprecedented reverse brain drain.

However there is a caveat too..

“Different working culture abroad with less working hours, better infrastructure and absence of taxation hassles are still a driving factor for foreign countries,”

Happy reading!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Increasing demand for Research Scientists in India

During the recent weeks, I have been receiving enquiries for returning/returned Indian profiles in the R&D space.

If a European major Nycomedwanted post doctrates in Medicinal Chemistry in India, a Chinese conglomerate Fosun Pharma wanted professionals to be based in China. A friend of mine indicated that Dupont is looking to hire over a hundred PhDs in the next 12 months for their Knowledge Centre @Hyderabad- and these would range from doctrates in entomology to polymer chemistry -across basic sciences. There were also some feelers from Guatemala and Israel!!

The mystery however seems to unravel as the latest issue of Business World gives more insight.

-Over $ 10 billion has been invested in India by the World's best corporations for R&D investments in India in the recent past. This figure could double by 2010.

-The coming decade will see India's ascendancy marked by stupendous growth, but also the destination in areas such as wireless,low cost cars, semiconductor design, biotech and nano-technology. The cutting edge science and technology initiatives will see even expat researchers wanting to work in India.

--According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), there were 8836 Indian academics in the US in 2005-06.

-A creative research atmosphere is breathing life into many beneficiaries.

The Indian R&D ecosystem is now spawning sub-systems:

-start-ups. eg Texas Instruments (seniconductor design), Avesthagen (Biotech). Some professionals who have worked here, have gone on to start innovative startups funded by the venture capital community.

-contract firms like Wipro has provided product engineering services ( to Lockheed Martin, Boracade, Cisco etc) while Biocon has pioneered some work in ustom research in molecular biology and biologics.

-Joint Ventures with Universities eg IISc, IIIT closely working with Philips, HP, Siemens, Motorola, Nokia etc.

-Vendors like Trane India, ETA engineering providing products and services for AC systems and lab proccess applications and support facilities like Ge's Bangalore based John F Welch technology Centre ( JFWTC).

If you are presently looking for a global career in Research, you will be thinking about being in India now!!

Friday, November 23, 2007

A rich blog by a returned Indian...

I owe a treat to my blogging guru Gautam Ghosh for this posting.

He pointed me to this blog written by Mr.Vikram Chachra, an entrepreneur who has recently re-located back to India from NYC- a record of his observations of life in India as he re-settles in his homeland.

To quote GG, also an XLer like Vikram, it is a "must read" as " there are personal, social and emotional responses to moving to India that he blogs about, as well as the economic implications that he blogs about. Also about stock markets, rising real estate boom etc etc.Lots of pictures too !"

I am sure it would help set expectations for those aspiring to return to India-and perhaps discount/validate the media hype.

Happy reading!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

India Knowledge@Wharton-Report on Return to India

Here is an article prepared by India Knowledge@Wharton forwarded to me, by my pal Ratna Reddi!

Am sure quite a few of us will find it very insightful.

"The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE), a network of Indian entrepreneurs, estimates that 60,000 IT professionals from the U.S. have returned to India.India Knowledge@Wharton decided to take a different approach toward exploring this phenomenon. Rather than a statistical overview, we chose to take an in-depth look at theexperience of one family and view it as a microcosm of a larger trend.

Writer Shoba Narayan was born in India and came to the U.S. as a student. She settled down in the U.S., became a citizen, wrote for publications such as Time, Newsweek, Gourmet, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and authored a book, while her husband Ram had a successful career on Wall Street. After 20 years in the U.S., the family moved back to India in 2005. This is their story.As you read it, remember that it is being retold tens of thousands of times"

It is a 23 page report -happy reading!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Back after a breather...

Habits form easily.

Just as 'doing something' becomes a habit, it is surprising how 'not doing' also can get addictive! My last posting on the blog was almost 3 weeks ago..and there were a series of events that happened to take up my personal time, and even as I was realising I must post something meaningful, pressure mounting on me, it was really a revelation that quite a few well wishers started calling me to check if everything was alright :-)!

So here is an attempt to shake off the inertia and get back into the blogging mode.

Ah yes, one of my pals wanted me to highlight (especially for those who read my posts on the reader), that I have been posting some of the plum -not so confidential pick of the jobs that I have been working on. Actually I had included a widget on this blog, which would surely enlighten those readers who log on, about the typical and almost generic kinds of opportunities that me, and a few associates of mine, handle!

The period also saw me evaluating quite a few 'applicant tracking systems' to enable a better online resume management solution-and improve my firm's efficiencies. It is really shocking to note that there is indeed, a very few choices -in India, of state-of -art technologies for this recruiting domain- which is indeed booming, and attracting a whole new generation of tech savvy professionals- and most of whom are owner managed- with less than 50 employees.

Especially when it is increasingly becoming difficult to get the 'right people', and technology can help in automating some of the mundane tasks, and help improve productivity, I was really intrigued that we didnt have too many "Indian " focussed products for the SME market. Am sure there is a great market for a decently priced product -and more so, if introduced on a subscription based model for a profession that gets rewarded on success mostly. Zoniac, Cbiz, Resumer Opus, Hirecraft, 3i's Veda are some of the more prominent players, and Taleo is threatening to come in..So hopefully things will change in future.
Perhaps it also had to do with my mother being hospitalised last week, but spending long hours thinking about the medical profession and its impact -over time, I couldnt but resist crystal gazing into the future of the recruitment industry, and the career paths for a recruiter!
To me, a recruiter today is 'the family doctor ' who existed in India, about 3 decades ago. No matter what the illness, we had a doctor uncle or aunt, who was very familiar with the family, the lifestyle, the generic diseases they suffered from -and so often even talked us out of being sick, just being around!!
Then came the age of specialist docs, who began by setting up a nursing home in the neighbourhood- having a polyclinic inviting some of the other colleagues to complement the skills and treat 'out patients'- but soon ran into problems relating to 'technological obsolescence' and infrastructure bandwidth. Ofcourse, the 21st century has seen the growth of corporate hospitals, and keeping in sync with the outsourcing theme-even medical tourism and telemedicine are growing by leaps and bounds.
Are we going to see a similar evolution in the transformation of the recruiter?
Traditionally, we had recruiters expanding by having multiple locations across the country.In the Indian recruitment world, we have seen the biggies eg ABC, MaFoi, Peopleone- have all gone to become ' global corporates' by being part of world wide firms-there are a whole lot of others being wooed by VC firms and PE firms with a lot of passion-and a lot of tier 2 and tier3 firms thinking of forming alliances to stay abreast/ get to the next level & continue to add value!
I am tempted to draw parallels from the consulting, accounting, or legal firms -which have been part of a more matured industries...and predict, there is room for a lot of worldwide networks of small recruiter firms..who would retain their own personal identity, strength of their networking and relationship management skills, and have the 'localised' yet 'personalised human touch' that manage 'intimate aspirations of career growth'-which no software or large firm can replace!!
Technology has been helping compress time, distance, efficiencies and to use a ciche'- geography is becoming history!!
And as Google announced Open Social earlier this fortnight, I am left wondering whether all the jobsites today -will become a la classified advertisements, and the world will be taken over by applications that leverage on interpersonal networks!
Are we ready for the change?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Where to tap

Last evening I was trying to explain my profession - to a potential recruit and his family - the travails of being a headhunter!!

Its a life like any other..lots of ups and downs. Rather to be honest, more lows than the contrary. One has to be constantly on the alert..for we are all dealing with human emotions. Patience, persistence, ability to manage uncertainties-overwhelmingly more than the research, learning, interpersonal skills-and all other adjectives!

Infact -one of the hiring tests I use for my sudoku!! Any person who has the temperament to 'keep trying till we get the right solution' gets thru the first screening level.

And yes, its all about relationships, and meeting experts who are more knowledgeable than you. Day in, day out -you meet people.And ironically, every person you meet is either a potential employee or a hiring manager :-)!
You have to constantly back your instincts..for you do not have any clue which of your assignments will eventually fructify into a succesful placement. There are many a misses, but the sweetness of the "hit" or the "fit" is really remarkable.
Often -it looks very easy -almost as if it was foregone conclusion. And that even creates a general perception is that we consultants are paid lavishly. Some time back, one of my senior colleagues in the business sent me this note...which perhaps sums up the role of a consultant.

Ever heard the story of the giant ship engine that failed? The ship's owners tried one expert after another, but none of them could figure but how to fix the engine. Then they brought in an old man who had been fixing ships since he was a youngster. He carried a large bag of tools with him, and when he arrived, he immediately went to work. He inspected the engine very carefully, top to bottom.

Two of the ship's owners were there, watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away. The engine was fixed! A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for ten thousand dollars.

"What?!" the owners exclaimed. "He hardly did anything!"

So they wrote the old man a note saying, "Please send us an itemized bill."

The man sent a bill that read:

Tapping with a hammer ........................ $ 2.00
Knowing where to tap ............................ $ 9998.00

Effort is important, but knowing where to make an effort in your life makes all the difference.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Changing Workplace in India- Moral responsibility of HR!!

An article on "cause related branding"-written by a pal of mine,Kartikeya Kompella provoked me to try and reflect on the changing workplace in India.
I didnt have to look too far into the recent past to see the HR parallel in corporate India. While most of the headlines have been reserved for the Fortune 500 firms opening, and expanding their operations in India, there have been, albeit very few, instances of some companies changing tack-once they realise all isnt hunkey dorey.
Some of us in the fraternity have been providing career transition services to those handful employees, whose roles have become redundant (thru managed seperation) overnight- and help them acquire the resilience to bounce back from the setbacks.
I personally think-with the kind of dwindling ratios of succesful joint ventures, and the aftermath of mergers & acquisitions, there is a need to address the human side -more conciously. I think HR professionals have to pay more attention to the hiring processes, so that they can prevent the need later on for finetuning the cases for re-deployment, re-engagement, re-direction, and ofcourse premature retirement!
Is the HR fraternity -presently focussing on attracting and retaining talent- setting apart some time to pre-empt such occurances (of sudden discovery of redundancy) and increase retention? While we have accepted the Western values -are we oblivious to the fact that there could be some mishaps on the way-especially in this game of high reward-which should be followed by high risk?
Isnt it in the gambit of the business entity, or more specifically the HR professional, to ensure that the most valuable resources are alternately capable of adding value?
Would someone address the need for a better 'work-life balance' and the need for a less stressful working hours? We in India-seem to work across time zones to keep in sync-is it sustainable for long periods..year on year?
Kartikeya refers to a few situations where Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has enabled an interesting way of creating a wonderful win-win situation wherein the brand gets business benefits from its CSR activities, thereby encouraging greater investment in CSR to get greater business benefits.
Do we see a day, soon in India, where HR firms would advocate good health, and sponsor NGOs that do pioneering work in health services??
Itsn't just about CSR and about brand building- the need of the hour is corporates moral responsibility.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Is India's offshoring industry losing its shine?

It is interesting to note that a recent study by has provoked some interesting insights.

Some of the points addressed revolve around news reports of some firms pulling back their teams in India. Here are some of the observations:

1. The fixed costs of the captive units model are very high when the requirements are for about 30-50 people. Most companies that have pulled back-are in this category -as most have overlooked the softcosts associated with managing remote team.

2. The companies best positioned to sustain their outsourced operations in India are those that have large teams or those with specialised products or services that can command premium pricing.
3. An interesting model that seems to be gathering momentum is Outsourcing for Outsourcers-or by partnering with third party outsourcers. The magic word here is TOB - transfer, operate and build- ie a third party firm absorbs the captive unit's employees on its own payroll, and takes over its projects. The example quoted involving a total of 120 employees, indicates the firm has cut costs by 10% to 20%, improved performance by 20% to 50% and cut attrition from 50% annually to less than 20%.
Personally I think it is yet to too early to generalise. In any maturing market, the fittest survive! I think we can see a lot of innovative models that are likely to emerge from these pain points..that will give long term solutions.
In some of the IT companies, we already see a fair amount of recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) happening already-with a partnership mode prevaling over the previous'vendor management' approach.
I also know of a few professional outfits run by HR firms- that leverage on the wealth of industrial experience a third party firm can provide- for an amount equivalent to a junior management's annual salary.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

India Inc needs 700 CEOs & 3000 CXOs in the next two years….

The latest issue of Business World has an interesting article based on a survey by a Top ten executive search firm EMA Partners Internationals (EMA) -which estimates a severe shortage of top level executive talent!!

The study indicates that the financial services, manufacturing & engineering , and the healthcare industries account for almost 45% of the shortage. Retail, real estate, IT, auto & Travel amount to the next 30&-and the Energy, Services , Pharma & Biotech account for the rest.

The primary reasons for driving the demand for high calibre talent :

1. the surging economy that is fuelling corporate growth,

2. the high attrition at middle & senior levels drying up the pipeline of leaders who could replace them,

3. Many senior level executives striking out on their own as entrepreneurs.

The article goes on to touch upon some of the attempts of the large business houses to address this vacuum;

- creating leaders internally ( eg the Tata Administrative Services, Hindustan Unilever, RPGoenka group )

- growing your own leaders ( eg the Aditya Birla group, ICICI group, Mahindra & Mahindra group)

I cannot resist adding one more source !!

- Those with international experience-be it the ‘returning Indians ‘ or the expats keen to have an India experience- this is a great time to look at Options in India.

However, the larger issue –is to ensure how the potential leaders are more likely to stay-and perhaps creating a pipeline of leaders. The only alternative is to for company to have a sound Employee Value Proposition- ‘ companies should create individual development as part of the corporate culture’!

Yes, for the business owners and the Board - there is another challenge they could address –to ensure enough..empowerment for the leaders!!

In the Indian context, there is a fear that a CEOs role is almost 70% execution and tactical-only 30% involves serious strategy –which today is mostly the prerogative of business owners –as well as globally managed companies ..

Is it in the ambit of the HR professionals to sensitise the various stakeholders about the transition required??

Friday, October 12, 2007

Dupont setting up R&D centre at Hyderabad

Dupont is setting up a R&D centre in Hyderabad- one among its sixth outside of the US

The DuPont Knowledge centre will focus on basic research, application development and other knowledge services including IP management.

The company operates in the following businesses in India

-agriculture and nutrition,
-coating and colour technology,
-electronics and telecom,
-performance materials
-and safety and protection products.

Good news for all those aspiring returning Indians...who wanted opportunities outside of IT & ITES sectors! Especially for those who are aware of PhDs who have specialised in molecular biology, bio-informatics and polymer synthesis-please stay tuned!!

It is likely to provide employment for about 300 scientists at the centre and it will be fully operational early next year.

India, career hub for young expats

After middle and senior level foreigners making it to India young professionals who are at the beginning of their career to flock to the country, whose work environment throws them a huge challenge, both professional as well as personal.

The gist of the article:

- around 20,000 to 30,000 expatriates are believed to be working in India.A popular Indian jobsite has over 110,000 profiles of foreigners job seekers registered on the site indicating the (high) level of interest in India.

-Foreigners come to India from South East Asia, Eastern Europe, and Continental Europe and America among other countries for not just the openings in the IT and ITeS sector-but also the emerging industries such as retail, hospitality, manufacturing, analytics, infrastructure, and pharma.

A couple of my clients have been hiring East Europeans and have actually found them to be more career conscious and feel their loyalty is higher. Considering the high attrition -at times due to misguided aspirations of the Indian youth, some of the employers have preferred to employ referrals of these expats-as their longetivity seems more assured!

With increasing globalisation, and use of web 2.0 tools, oflate I have noticed an increased interest in the "Indian magic"-notwithstanding the difference in culture, and perhaps the lack of a structured framework as yet- to enable the smooth transition.

The challenge for the HR fraternity is to proactively address the sensitivities involved in hiring and engaging such employees -not just on the basis of the hygiene factors like money, and look at softer issues as career growth, future, security-while also giving enough freedom for the professional to perform at the optimum level.

Personally, I am very convinced, the next decade with see a lot of global migration of professionals, and those with multicultural and multinational exposure -are the ones to watch out for. You can be sure these expats-would be ambassadors for Indian companies in time to more Indian MNCs go global!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Rupee Appreciation calls for Human Value Appreciation

Diwali this year is unlikely to mean crackers for many Indian professionals - especially for
the ones pampered by the half yearly performance appraisals of late!
Some of the comments by experts:
-"The IT/ITeS players are hit by the double whammy of US subprime crisis and rupee appreciation. It has never been such a bleak scenario. "
- "Several companies are also cutting down their monthly recruitment drive by nearly 35-40%."
-"Indian IT firms that earn bulk of their revenue from global BFSI clients are expecting cost cutting moves internationally will have a trickle-down effect in India as well. A concerted effort will be taken to reduce wage bills by reducing mid-term salary hikes or rewarding a handful few"
-"The middle and senior management professionals have much a wider performance-linked incentive system and hence a smaller hike will translate into higher savings for the company. As a result, several senior people may look for newer jobs and the market is likely to be flooded with CVs"
Personally, we can feel many Indian companies have either frozen their hiring or reduced the pace of their hiring. This is primarily because of the 12-14% increase of costs in India than estimated at the beginning of the year. Clients no more look for people who are just tech savvy.
Praveen Pantula,a HR professional with rich recruiting expertise says " Companies would need to look for the value add a person brings on to the table in terms of the domain expertise or the business aptitude a person is having. You can’t afford to have developers, testers, SMEs separately. Companies are looking for people who have all the skills. A business aptitude at the top of all the skills will definitely be an added advantage."

"When your profit margins are shrinking, you cannot afford to make more number of lateral hires giving the advantage of higher salaries. In the coming years, one need not be surprised if the campus hiring percentages dominate lateral hiring. Even NASSCOM talks about trimming salaries in IT industry. If India has to remain as the capital of services, our Educational system has to strengthen the curriculum with Business relevant courses as well."
Boy, is it a wake up time for all of us??

Monday, October 01, 2007

Setting expectations for India bound professionals

In the recent past, I have come across two articles that revolve around the increasing trend of professionals looking to India.

1. The six qualities for India bound expats needed for the person to succeed.

Personally, I think these are apt for professionals going to any foreign country-as one really cant classify them as only "Indian centric" issues.

2. Written by an Indian based in US-but having a very good pulse, highlights five, nay, eight
top reasons for IT professionals returning to India !

I am inspired to try and expand the horizon, beyond expats and IT professionals -to a larger canvas of all professionals bound to India for professional & personal reasons. It is also pertinent to the large section of those who have gone to the US in the late eighties & early nineties for higher education, have stayed back for citizenship-and now looking eastward.

I wish to play the devil's advocate and try and list down some of the 'wrong reasons' to come back to India !

- Salary as the primary motivation to relocate.

It is amazing how each of the 'aspiring' returning Indians are aware of atleast one in their peer group-who has come to India with a dream offer. Great role. Wonderful pay. Relocation. The works. But thats how it gets "legendary"-because there are more exceptions than the rule!!

My own take - please concentrate on the role on offer, the scope for growth within the company, and a due diligence of your employer's commitment to the India component of business. Am sure once this is the driver- the salary wd fall in the general band-take or give 10% this way or that way.

-Opportunities galore

Opportunities exist in plenty for a variety of skills. There is an acute shortage of middle and senior management professionals. For those already in the senior executive cadre, and those participating roles in the strategic decision making internationally, there is likely to be a dearth of roles -as they are still the bastion of the core management team.

In contrast, as of now, the relative sizes of companies in India are smaller-and so there is a future for those who wish to be handson, grow with the company-and manage the challenges thereof.

-Managing people

The Gen Y is increasingly ambitious, aggressive, and seeks instant gratification. As a manager in India, there is a need to understand them, in order to manage their aspirations better. There is a need to harness the sheer raw talent.

In a matrix organisational stucture, your being away in a remote location has its own dynamics. Those familiar with the Indians -will know there is a premium (fancy) for titles & designations.

-The Forty hour week.

While there are a lot of MNCs and Indian companies-across industries -who have adopted the "5 day working " mode-its rarely as simple as that. With increasing globalisation, most middle managers are reporting into superiors/clients who work in different time zones. There are no guesses to keep track of how many conference calls and meetings actually happen during the "Indian time zone of 9am to 5pm"!!

-The grinding commute to work.

It isnt Mumbai or the metros where you spend an hour and half commuting one way to work. Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune-all are increasingly becoming notorious for the longer time being spent in traffic, simply as the cities are building infrastructure to keep up pace with the burgeoning businesses.

And yes, please come to India -for the same reasons you went abroad.Look at long term opportunites-not just a myopic view of the offer in hand. The work place is throbbing with energy, state of the art technologies, bright youngsters, ...

Its a great place for building a career. And the timing is just right...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Rs 1 crore- plus salary a year for over 500 CEOs in India

A report in today's online edition of Business Standard attracts attention.

While the article doesnt elaborate on the source of the study-it summarises:

1.The top layer of India Inc – executive directors and above – rewarded itself with a 32 per cent pay rise in the last financial year (2006-07) while raising the salaries of its employees by 22 per cent.

2.The shower of riches created 174 new crorepatis, pushing up the number of corporate managers earning at least Rs 1 crore a year to 508 from 334 in 2005-06.

3.Of the 508 crorepatis, 17 are from newly-listed companies while 26 joined their companies last year.

4.The compensation package of 93 managers has more than doubled. For 81, it has increased between 50 per cent and 100 per cent.

5. Overall, 50 top executives from pharmaceuticals, 44 from information technology, 26 from constructions, 23 from auto-ancillaries, 22 from hotels, 20 from telecommunications, 17 from engineering, 14 from cement and 13 from banking drew over Rs 1 crore in 2006-07.

Personally, I think this represents more the trend of the the rising salaries over the last couple of years-while taking the numbers with a pinch of salt.

While the article gives details of the promoter CEOs -which are obvious, I personally feel the professional managers in the category are much more than the few hundred indicated in the study.

A study by American Express earlier this year quoted over 7lac HNIs (high networth individuals ) with an investible surplus of over Rs 50lacs. Am sure, while there are a lot of businessmen, and those who inherit riches, there must be a significant set of people who have made by sweat equity and salaries...

One thing I am not doubting - surely it seems to be a great time to be in the job market, no?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Twenty 20 international cricket & random thoughts

Late last night, I happened to watch the first match of first international Twenty20 World cup cricket. For a spectator, it was just action packed sport as they were runs galore- unbelievable batting by West Indian Chris Gayle and very interesting to see how the South Africans were to retort. The match summary is here .

For once, I didnt feel guilty as I just spent a little over 3 hours to watch my favourite sport :-)!

Analysing the specific match, here are a few highlights

- Despite Gayles massacre of 117 runs in 50 odd balls, West Indies just cdnt keep up the tempo once he was dismissed.

-There was drama in the first over of South Africans batted-Their captain Smith broke his hand and they had scored just one run. It was sheer leadership on show as he kept the team interests above his personal discomfort and put back the team on momentum within a few overs, and one could see the tables turned immediately on the Windies.

-Windies bowling got wayward-and in the first ten overs, they had bowled 18 wides..and extra 30% of deliveries, and dropped 3 catches under pressure.

It left me thinking- on the first principles-and compare with the business environment.

-after all its a team game and one single performance isnt good enough to tilt the balance.
-one had to do all the basics right -despite the length of the game.
-its the temparement which eventually mattered as the conditions were similar for both teams.
-leadership matters!

Yes, I somehow felt the Twenty20 was loaded in favour of the batsman

-the bowlers just could not afford to make mistakes. A 'no ball' -meant a 'free hit ' of the next delivery for the batsman-with no chance to get out-but score at will -with an unchanged field.

-the odds that ten wickets would fall in a 20 over match are very much lower -and so the risk that batsman can take -was significantly higher than the other versions. ( Perhaps they should deduct 10 runs for every dismissal to put the pressure back on the batsman in such games :-)!)

Any take away for us HR professionals here? Especially in the context of the news report
Microsoft backs cricket to woo Indian employees?

1. Life long employment in companies is like traditional Test cricket. Are purists outdated?

2. The last two decades has seen people jump jobs every 2-3 years. (a la one day cricket match which has beena sponsor's delight ?).
3. Is the future going to be loaded in favour of people seeking instant gratification?

The challenge for the HR is to be aligned to business demands-while still making the players enjoy and bring delight to the various stakeholders.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ageing -and employment opportunites

I have always wondered why in India-especially in the corporate world and the government -do we have a 'retirement age' of 58 or 60yrs -as the case maybe!

My pet theory-is to attribute it to the 1950s-when perhaps the average life expectancy was perhaps around 60yrs. And so, one had the benefit of pension for some years after retiring -to tide over those last years-without having to work fulltime for a living.

However, in the 5 decades since, thanks to technological advances -better medicines, lesser epidemics, I guess, now the life expectancy has gone up by atleast 15yrs.

My question then..why retire at 60? Why not at 70?

Take a case of our politicians- most of the present generation are upwards of that magic figure! So are some of the leaders of the best known business families. Lawyers, Doctors and all those self employed too-seem to be able to carry on..

I just happened to see a note claiming "104 is the new 80" - just to quote in context :

In the USA, the number of "producers" supporting "retirees" is going to drop by 50% by 2025 and halve by 2050. In Japan, the country will move from 2.3 "producers" supporting 1 "retiree" today, to 1 "producer" supporting 3 "retirees," over the same period. Care to guess what that is going to do to welfare spending?

Small wonder then that discriminating on the basis of age is now illegal in several countries, including the United Kingdom. It borders on criminal to force somebody out of the productive sector of society while that person is productive, knowing that person is being condemned to penury in old age as a result. Besides that, the competition for mid level and senior talent is such that it is debatable whether firms can afford to lose productive, talented senior professionals either.

On those professionals, it also places the burden of ensuring that they stay sharp and current, both in intellectual acuity and in terms of keeping up with technology and other new developments. It is inevitable that firms are going to move more to performance metrics rather than age. After all, if one's performance is up to scratch, who really needs to care about age?

Wouldnt retaining ageing talent be more economic?

So is it time to review other myths?

If the average 'work life' is going to become 50yrs and more, would career planning take a different connotation? Already, within fast growing economies, the concept of life long employment is passe' as most people end up doing changing jobs once in 2/3 yrs -and perhaps change their career atleast a couple of times.

With the age of the 'free agent nation' , would professionals be more loyal to themselves , instead of companies?

Companies are already open to concepts like virtual working, telecommuting, flexi timing, temping...whats next?? I shall be glad to hear from you!
Would those in their 50s and 60s be more acceptable for certain jobs..especially since GenY is very choosy about what they want to do?

ERA conference- Aligning recruitment to retention-the take away

Its a little late in the day to summarise-some of my pals called me up and sought an update, especially since they thought I had harped on the ERA conference for almost a month !!

Let me try and make it short.
1. Attendance of 450+ delegates.
2. A well chiseled out program schedule.
3. Execution of the program, confined to the allotted time. No time overrun.
We had some impressive presentations by the speakers. For those interested , here is the link to the detailed presentations.

As a delegate, some of the take aways, I wish to remember from each of the speakers -are as below:

Mr Moorthy Uppaluri of Microsoft -in his key note address, used the Porter's model to provoke the audience to conciously think of an "Employee Value Proposition" as the career anchor-to address the retention issue. Needless to say-it is a great challenge-considering that different people have different expectations from their career!

Dr Susanta Misra of Motorola then delved into the analytical mode-by getting into the first principles- by brealing down the attrition rates to the age of the employee within an organisation. I would surely recommend that all refer his presentation-as he described differential treatment to be given to 'infant mortality', and 'early exits' than for those in the system for more than 3yrs..where he prescribed job rotation as a prevention mechanism.

We then had a flurry of presentations from Mr Ajit Isaac of Adecco People one, Mr Oussama Mansour evangelising the need for psychometric testing, and a panel discussion -consisting of leaders from 4 different industries - Mr Thyagarajan of Maytas, Mr Venugopal of Reliance Retail, Mr Shravan Kumar from Ocimum Bioscience and Mr Roy Gilbert of Google- all elaborating on the changing needs and demands of the talent pool they individually are responsible for. Mr Muralidharan of TMI -the moderator, had come prepared with 7 different case studies which were to have been analysed by the panel-but for want of time, we had to settle for a steamy interaction -from the two operationally driven sections of the audience!!

Mr Michael Sweeny of UBS had flown in from Hong Kong to make his presentation-and I particulary liked his hypothesis -"emotional drivers such as one's relationship with one's manager and the pride in one's work have four times greater impact on the discretionary work effort than the rational drivers such as pay and benefits have "!!
I guess it all boils down to creating an outstanding ecosystem where great works gets done. That in itself -would be a great magnet to attract the best- and ensure they remain !! As a HR person, we do sure have a long way to ensure the right ambience....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Attrition- the emperors new clothes?

I have been getting a lot of comments that I am stuck, like a broken record, on the "retention" bug-for almost a fortnight now. One can probably attribute it to the ERA convention coming up at Hyderabad next weekend .

Perhaps, it has to do with some of the observations I had during the same fortnight one has seen several retention strategies being rolled out. Maybe it needs to be looked at -at a more holistic manner than it has been treated of late.

1. Just yesterday I met a entrepreneur pal of mine -who till a few months ago was tearing his hair trying to figure out how to motivate his star employee- (whom he had promoted him late last year as a reward for loyalty and exceptional performance -but the person was just not able to scale up!). He was beaming - Since the time he let go the "star" a couple of months ago, he has been able to find a couple of imports- who came into the company with a fresh air, and have triggered off a series of events -which has enabled the company get on to the next level!

For a growing company, is retention indeed the panacea? Shouldnt we be looking beyond the surface?

2. There were several reports of companies in India hiring expats as a knee jerk rection to reduce attrition.

I would like to think that expats are best fits-when you wish to build the right culture a la Cisco and when one needs new technologies.

Infact I would anyday back a returning Indian -who has had prior Indian experience before going abroad- as a better bet as he would be able to bridge the ethos much better.

3. India Cricket League and its effect on BCCI .

As employers one does feel that prevention is better than cure! I think we get enough hints of unrest -from dissatisfied team members -before they actually venture to look out for options. Most often companies prefer to bend over backwards to appease such people-just as they put in their papers after getting juicy offers from elsewhere.

Dont doctors amputate -to restrict gangrene?

4. I came across an intresting comment on a blog post by Anurag Ashok today correlating the hiring plans to Peter Principle where in the author rightfully so, questions the wisdom of both the employees and employers falling prey. He thinks aloud

It is akin to the correction in the stock market and will be good for the economy, but while the correction lasts, there will be a lot of bankruptcies and loan defaults and trauma. Maybe there is a second chance, or maybe not – who knows ?

Arent there times when letting go (of the disgruntled/incompetent) - is a better strategy to retain the remaining talent in the company-lest it sends the wrong signals?

I shall be glad to have your comments...on what could be a healthy(?) level of attrition that a company should have.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Retention Strategy - Career a la carte

In line with the upcoming ERA conference at Hyderabad , I am tempted to continue on the "retention" theme for a couple of more posts.

Late last week, there was an article highlighting the attempts by India Inc's conglomerates to recruit and retain the best talent, by offering their people a buffet of career choices.

The article focusses specifically on L&T, Mahindra & Mahindra and the Tata groups leveraging ability to straddle across diverse sectors as a talent bait -'so that they don't get trapped in one company -as they could still stay in the group if they are excited about some new sector".

One can so easily see the USP now..action in the HOT sector. Most bright peope want to catch the tide -on the way up- of a sunrise industry!

It was interesting to note, about 2 decades ago, the emphasis was more on a career -and not just the role or a job. Hindustan Lever -HLL then had the most prestigeous management trainee scheme that promised a meaty grounding in the area of one's specialisation. A marketing professional could expect to have alternate stints in the field (sales) and then the corporate (brand management, promotion ) etc -so that one had a well rounded career.

In the seventies and the eighties, it was the DCM Shriram group -which probably prepared the 'best managers' - some of whom -stayed on in the group to take positions of highest responsibilities, while a several of them strayed away from the group, climbed the rungs of most top MNC and Indian companies. The tactic then- the group had two streams of trainees- one the Management Trainees -MBAs who would grow into Unit head positions possibly within 10yrs of experience -as distinct from the 'executive trainees' who were bright graduates who would rise to the head of departments in a similar period.

Instant gratification now?? Time will be the best judge -which is a better diet!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tryst with Destiny-India @60 yrs

There is a patriotic flavour in the air today!

As India celebrates the 60th anniversary of Independence, my thoughts are drawn to Mr Jawaharlal Nehru .

Well..yes, India has come a long way-and is "shining" now.

My dreams for a better India?

- the teaching profession attracts the best of people. For they are the builders of the future generations, and so ought to be paid the best salaries -in schools and colleges.

- the premier education institutes ( IITs, IIMs, Law Schools, et al) talk about the startups they have incubated -instead of the placement salaries. After all, their raw material is the creme de la creme, and the training/orientation is of the highest order-isnt it ironic today they all join the ranks of corporates whose systems are in place?

- channelise the youth and their energy to more constructive purposes than being cybercoolies working at odds with their bioclocks.

-use our prowess in software and consulting skills to ensure better sharing of natural resources among states, throw up solutions better than the obsolete 'bandhs/strikes'.

Simple. Doable. And urgent.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Job Satisfaction - most effective long term retention strategy

A recent Assocham survey predicts that job satisfaction is higher among middle level employees in India than those at the helm of affairs or those at competitive entry level positions.

The reasons?

Middle positions = Higher job satisfaction and quality of life

* Working hours which do not entail long shifts and spill overs after official work hours

* Lesser accountability and chances of being ‘hauled up’

* Greater flexibility to structure one’s working day

* Management has modest and more realistic expectations

* Greater opportunity for availing leave

* Clearer lines of reporting and debriefing

In contrast, Senior positions = More tension and stress

And the factors that led to their plummeting job satisfaction included

- their longer working hours have no defined ceiling. Most often clock in more than 60 hours of work/week compared to the mandatory 40-48 hours precedent in Europe& U.S.

-their overall accountability made them answerable 24X7 to not just one boss, but multiple bosses who went beyond plain and simple hierarchy.

- higher targets to achieve with expectations which most felt were unrealistic,

-the absence of a personal life and the inability to balance their priorities.

This led to frequent job changes, health problems and a distressed personal life.

Rising divorce rates in the IT sector are also attributed to Financial freedom, lack of time at home, and stress.

Is there a lesson for business leaders and HR professionals in attracting and retaining talent? Can we think of solutions before it is too late?

The labor arbitrage advantage that gave rise to the country's tech industry and booming economy is probably declining faster than many of us anticipated even a few years ago. The wage differential with the West is fast disappearing anyway!

So while business leaders are trying to learn how to create a culture of innovation to gain advantages through business-model innovation, supply-chain innovation, should not some of us in the HR fraterity be thinking of improving the internal (employee) customer experience??

ERA's conference- Aligning Recruitment to Retention-Hyderabad on Sept 1st

Come September, and its time for a National Conference at Hyderabad.

The theme of the 3rd National conference being conducted by the Executive Recruiters Association ( ERA ) is "ALIGNING RECRUITMENT TO RETENTION-the way forward".

Aimed at CEOs/Business leaders/Senior HR professionals and the recruitment fraternity, the full day conference is being held at ITC Grand Kakatiya Sheration on 1st September 2007.

An array of very eminent leaders from the Indian industry would be addressing issues of concern to their specific industries. The highlight of the day is a panel discussions from experts from across the HOT sectors today- Infrastructure, Retail, Biotech, IT /BPO-who would debating on the causes and remedies for aligning recruitment to retention.

The detailed brochure is here. Please feel free to reach the undersigned for registration details.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Salaries in India : Overseas Options

It is indeed a catch22 situation that I am in-as a recruiter!!

Over the last few months, I have been bombarded with questions -from a lot of prospective returning Indians-about the salaries in India..and their true worth. My economic theory of the UN's PPP theory in the past- is no longer convincing for most-who can quote references of atleast a couple of their acquaintances, who have picked up some kind of dollar equivalent salaries! Yes, I maintain there are but a limited number of such examples...more exceptions, I brushed off!

The media too loves to go gaga! Just read a sample and one wdnt know whom to really believe?

So the only resort for me was- to get back to the basics and explain to each one willing to listen..look here are my clients-these are the openings that I am working on -and an indicative range of salaries they have proposed!!

Freeze. The tables are turning!!

Coming to the point, the last few weeks I have been working some overseas assignments-for which Indian professionals were being sought!More specifically -a Director level position in a pharma company in China, a product manager in Muscat, a few insurance professionals for a leading MNC bank in Middle East -and a printing & packaging company in Dubai.

As the offers reach finalisation, the expectations of most Indians residing here - regarding the overseas offers is just mindboggling! When most of them factor the opportunity cost of going away from the Indian action, add the savings potential, my clients seem to realise that their budgets arent just enough to attract even the average performers out here.

Lest you think I am not angling for the 'right profiles', just have a look at the reality- Mr Rupee bullies Indians in the Gulf .

-Weakness of the dollar has dragged the value of Gulf currencies to which it is pegged. As a result, Indian workers' salaries are nearly 30 per cent less in terms of rupee than a year ago.

-With another 15 per cent dent due to high livings costs, the salary of an average Indian in the Gulf remains the least attractive among the Asians. (Housing rates have gone up by 30 per cent in Riyadh, Jeddah, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Doha, while Dubai has seen an unprecedented 50 per cent rise as demand for housing has been growing by leaps and bounds.)

And as I sat down to articulate my thoughts, here is a mail from a pal of mine..a Kelloggs alumnus asking "If I find a good role am very open to India. There is so much activity now in India that I am thinking its worth exploring options there. Here in the US its all about cost cuts and low growth....

What do you think.....thoughts ? "

Well..what do I write?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Job Search in India-poor recruiter empathy

Among the mails I recieved this week, there were these comments:

"I haven't gotten any response to my last email and am wondering if you would be able to help me. "

" I have put my resume on Monster and Naukri and do get lots of email but, surprisingly, no recruiter follows through"

"I would like to provide 1 to 2 months of notice to my current employer. So, I would need ~2 months to join in India"

"In US, typically if we do not get response to an email within x hours, or a phonecall within y hours, it is understood that the person isnt interested to deal with you"

Well, I am not trying to justify why we Indian recruiters behave the way we do. Infact, in response to one of my earlier posts I had received a lot of offline comments, and so I thought I shall share the learnings in this post.

I have just replied to one of those mails as below:

"I can surely empathise with you..your experience with me -is perhaps no different from all the other recruiters who havent got back after the initial interest.

Surely we can assist you..but I guess we will have to work on a definite time line and agenda.I guess we shd have a phonecall and take this ahead-Am travelling tomoro. So anyday -(other than Sunday) between 5pm and 10pm IST is okay for me-with a prior intimation.

From a recruiter perspective -here are the observations:

a) most of the recruiters in India work on contingency search basis..that is we get paid only if the person recommended by us-joins the company. Since your resume is already on the jobsites, the hope that I would have for success -would be pretty low. Moreover, most corporates also have access to the popular jobsites..and eventually wd deny us the payment-indicating they have your resume in their database :-)!

b)you havent indicated any date of returning to India. Perhaps you do not have any compelling reasons to come back to India-and so are waiting for an offer while still in the US. In such a case, no recruiter wd really stretch out-and spend time on your profile-when there are likely to be similar profiles already in India.

I know its a catch 22-unless you know about opportunities, and people know about your availability, how wd these interviews happen?

Here are my suggestions:

1.Instead of actually posting the resume on all popular jobsites, try out the 'alert' or 'agent' feature each of them provide. By indicating a bunch of key words, like the location, level, salary, skillsets -you can create an alert-and each time a similar job is uploaded on the site, you will get an email indicating the opportunity. You then visit the jobsite and check if it interests you-and then apply for it specifically. This way you can control the circulation of your resume too

2. Plan a India trip-for perhaps 10 working days- purely dedicated for a job search. Indicate these to the recruiters you are working with..and the companies you are applying to, and see the difference. It would also help you to line up a few interviews, and help you meet the prospective employer at their workplace..and perhaps have a first hand exp of the Indian work environment- And am sure, even if the salary ranges offered by the companies are drastically different, you can weigh them-more comfortably

Can I hear from others -who have returned to India, or those who have plans to return, fellow recruiters, both from the corporate and third party kind-on how I could address the situations better? Am I being totally self centred, and missing out on the larger picture? I shall be glad to hear your comments, feedback, views, brickbats, sure I will take it as constructive criticism and change my perspective.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Retention -best way of Attracting Talent!!?

Does media reflect the aspirations of its readers? Or is it that the readers get influenced by the media?

A classical case of the 'chicken or egg' syndrome?I find a stronger correlation between a sensational news and the trigger among professionals to look for greener pastures :-)!

Late last month there were news reports of 4 financial services experts being snapped by India Infoline at an obscene joining bonus of 11crores each!! While this stirred up a lot of envy and awe, there were quite a few pals of mine who called up to check if it was indeed a practice in the industry now!! One philisophised..these were more the exceptions!!

But when there was a report about ''sign on bonus for middle management professionals', I got a flurry of enquiries of people-wanting to know if they are being underpaid! They were quite happy in their jobs-doing well-had just got a whopping review -better than the last few years...but there was this nagging feeling-'hey! whats the market like?"

In that context, it was enlightening to read about the views from the other side of the table-the corporate!! There seems to be a lot of method behind the madness!

Infact in the last 24hours I came across two blogs-one by the legendary Marc Andreesen's. His mantra for retaining great people boils down to

-the quality of the people they're working with,
- the interestingness level of their projects, and
-whether they are learning and growing.

And so he advocates " retaining the magnets!! In a technology company, if you bear down and focus on retaining the great architects and managers, retaining everyone else -- the junior programmers, the product managers, the user interface designers, the salespeople, the sales engineers, the marketing staff, and so on -- will be much easier. "

I was more impressed by the ‘inside out ‘ approach by a fellow Hyderabadi professional- Suresh Anubolu- a person I have known for a few years-both as a third party recruiter and now, in the last few yrs-in the corporate avatar!!

In his debut effort in blogging , he reflects on the Generation Y –their characteristics, ways of attracting them, and retain their interest and attention span –with some outstanding analysis.

The concepts of creating employment value proposition, increasing ‘touchpoint situations with the company’ . fostering strong workplace relationships, ..are really worth implementing. The challenge is to ensure alignment of the environment-that ‘leverages the benefits of Generation Y-while still not alienating the rest of the workforce’!

Welcome Suresh to the world of blogging- we do hope you can spare more time than the monthly bulletin you promise !!

PS- one take away from both blogs..both the authors estimate the role of the ‘recruiter’ as paramount :)! Are you are working with the right recruiters??

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sourcing vs Selection!!

It is interesting to note the media hailing the Prime Minister of UK Mr Gordon Brown as being better than Mr Tony Blair, and the fresh air of promise that the President of France brings in Mr Nicolas Sarkozy .

In India, we have been seeing the politicisation of the President's post-even as the runup to the finalisation is getting into a crescendo. Admittedly, the welcome lady presidential candidate, has already a foot in the mouth - for an editorial to question aloud

"What is not understandable, however, is how on earth did they manage to pick out of a country of one billion people the one candidate who, as each day passes, appears more than vaguely unsuitable for the high office?"

We in India, already know the imbroglio relating to the selection of the coach -and its possible
effect on the Indian cricket team ! As you sow, so shall you reap, right?

The "sourcing strategy" is perhaps the key to all selection.

The more diverse you cast your net, and a bigger funnel will help if the process of shortlisting can be then done on merit.

But when decisions are taken -that could affect future generations, it is really disturbing! In a recent article about reservation in St Stephen's college Delhi , the views of Mr Sanjeev (Naukri) Bikhchandani's views are most telling!!

To build a great institution you need visionary leadership and great commitment at the start. Once the institution earns a reputation it naturally becomes a magnet for talent - both student and faculty. It then becomes a virtuous circle: a good college attracts good students and good teachers, and together they perform well academically and further enhance the reputation of the college; this thereby attracts even better students and teachers, and so it continues.

The college then becomes even better because it is good - a positive spiral, a snowball effect, a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. Sadly more and more great institutions in this country are falling into the hands of people who don't understand this.

Isnt it equally applicable for corporates? Why not for the Government? Is it too late to change the tarnished image of Indian Politics? Can a self made accomplished ciitizen be given a chance -and change the entry into it by inheritance??

Surely, recruitment is no rocket science...!! Shouldnt the emphasis be on sourcing AND selection??

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!!