Friday, May 25, 2007

Smart city @ Kochi..a tall order?

As a Keralite, I have been making more than an annual visit to Kochi and the surroundings for almost 3 decades now. The last few years has seen a sea change in the skyline and the ambience around Kochi-with most traditional landmarks giving way to the modern commercial complexes with fa├žade that could compete with a business district in any of the metros!

In the past, Kochi or Ernakulam as it was popular then, meant three main roads- and a hoste of retails shops on both sides-almost entirely textile and gold merchants-almost packed by visiting NRIs making up for their time away from home and family.

Today, as you drive into the city, you are overwhelmed with huge buildings towering over the coconut trees one normally expects-and an obscene number of large hoardings selling dreams of villas, and well equipped apartment buildings with swimming pools, gym, club house and the works..if possible, on the banks of the backwaters! The city has stretched about 20-30 kms in the suburbs of Alwaye, Tripunithura and beyond –with a host of new bypass roads that have come up in the last few years and the airport which was pushed away from the heart of the city.

The buzz can be attributed to

1.Three mega projects, the Vallarpadam International Container Terminal (VICT), Petronet's LNG terminal and the Smart City, were expected to lead to 200,000 jobs while related projects like the bunkering terminal, single point mooring (SPM) and new hotels would add to demand for apartments.

Smart City is a planned technology park , modelled on the lines of the Dubai Internet City, and expected to create over 90,000 jobs in the Information Technology and allied sectors. The infrastructure of the USD 350 million project would be commissioned by the Technology and Media Free Zone Authority of Dubai. Once completed, the park, with over 6.1 million sq ft of built up space, would become one of the largest IT parks in the country.

2. Kerala governments tourism initiative of projecting “God’s own country’ –has seen a lot of promotion of heritage locations and the tourist attractions –backwaters (Allepey, Kumarakom), hills (Munnar, Thekkady) apart from places of religious interests.

3. Private enterprise-there are a horde of resorts who have cashed in on the prospects of medical tourism-with retreats across the state promoting ayurveda, and spas primarily affordable only by foreigners!

Will Kochi deliver ??

A state known for its high literacy rates –will have to hope that its well informed and intellectual people will transform themselves into being ‘service oriented’ and perhaps, find more creative ways to protest other than the strikes/ sammelans –that seem to be a weekly affair affecting productivity.

Here is a great chance for Kochi to live upto Nasscoms promise as 2nd best destination for IT & ITES (after my adopted hometown Hyderabad !!) -and trigger off an all round development in the other old economy sectors too.

I am hoping my sceptism is misplaced! Am sure a lot of professionals who are presently employed elsewhere in the world, would love to return to their home state -and create more wealth and jobs !!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Key success factors for doing business in India is a blog I have been following recently and find very resourceful.

The author is a prospective returning Indian- proposing to start his own business in India-and has embarked on a 30 part story, "as a reference point for those who are planning to start a business in India or those who have just started out or for those who are just interested in knowing."

The first one of the set has a detailed McKinsey report as the base.

Just have a peek at the forthcoming topics;
  • Key Indian values: common denominators in a diverse nation
  • India’s communities abroad
  • Understanding key business groups in India and the parallel, underground economy
  • Outsourcing customer service operations to India
  • Offshoring: setting up your own operation
  • Understanding Indian leadership and decision-making styles
  • Building an effective multi-cultural work team
  • Hiring and retaining key talent in India
  • Navigating the regulatory environment in India
It promises to be a good read for anyone wanting a macro perspective about managing a business in India-and I would like to believe the depository of knowledge would benefit anyone looking at leveraging a career in India.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Indian IT Services & Second generation outsourcing- will the nature of jobs change?

Last evening I was reading what Steve Hamm of Business Week was commenting on ‘how the Indian IT companies could stand out..and count! As of today, most companies revolve around cost arbitrage and the quality of service.

What he dwelt was almost the theme of this year's Nasscom leadership summit was about-where a lot has been written about the deliberations..on how the Indian IT services companies have to innovate in order to stay ahead. To quote John Hagel

As an alternative, these companies could take their emerging skills in partnering with technology product companies and apply them to building talent networks to mobilize and leverage large numbers of more specialized service providers. The real power would be to master the techniques required to accelerate the development of talent across such a distributed network of partners, thus creating stronger incentives for partners to join the network.

Almost on cue, I recalled my interaction with a senior management professional- a key member of G B Prabhats Anantara Solutions -who was evangelising the potential of second generation outsourcing –where in Anantara will create a network of consulting firms and suppliers, including companies with capabilities in multiple technologies such as Java and Microsoft. It will get orders from clients and outsource the work to a set of vendors.

And if this is indeed the future, who is going manage this transition?

Would we need professionals who have had experience –both with domestic experience and international exposure? Should the emphasis be professionals –who can handle the dynamics of onshoring and offshoring? They could be managing small teams instead of managing the batallions they presently need to motivate? Would the emphasis change from fighting attrition to managing the client?

I shall be delighted to hear from you….

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Returning to India? Top picks of the week in IT jobs

Ever since Gautam Ghosh encouraged me to start blogging, about 7 months ago- I have been trying to put together, whenever I can, my impressions about the hiring scene in India- setting expectations about what to expect while looking for jobs in India-and perhaps some of the trends happening across industries! It has been a learning experience –for one gets instant feedback –thru phonecalls, and emails I get in response to the comments I make here.

I must confess I have often had the writers constantly at odds on what to post about!!

My colleague Seema who is based in Dallas, Texas- has been in touch with a lot of Indians in US-who are keen to explore opportunities in India-and obviously has a good feel of the emotions related to the uncertainties and the lack of transparency in the whole process..and perhaps the pace at which we/our clients react-and so has been goading me to write about the typical jobs one can expect –for middle and senior management professionals in the IT domain..

So here is my first attempt to list some of the hot jobs we have with our clients in IT software/Hardware……Top 5 jobs this week…

1. Engineering manager- Bangalore : EM will plan and provide resources for and directs activities in engineering function to meet schedules, standards and costs. Ideal candidate will have 10+ years experience with a Masters degree/ Ph.D. , experience in technical management, system software or biomedical instrumentation research and development

2. Development Manager- Bangalore : A Leader in managing the offshore development team…For this position we are looking for computer science graduates or post graduates with 10 + years experience managerial skills and strong in object oriented programming –java/C++

3. Test Manager- Bangalore/Hyderabad- A key leader in designing, implementing, executing and maintaining test strategies for the new and existing products. Candidates with proven track record in developing and implementing successful quality strategies with 10+ years experience. Engineering degree in CSC or equivalent preferred.

4. Project manager- Hyderabad- Candidates with 10+ years experience in software development and operations with expertise in core java and J2ee technologies, Graduates or post graduates from top institutes/universities preferred.

5. Senior Circuit design engineer- Bangalore -Ideal candidate will have 9+ years experience with experience in full custom circuit design and proficient in logic design. Professionals with Electronics or computer Engineering degree preferred.

Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions. We shall be glad to fill in..with any details you may want –

Look out for this space in the future for more openings…..

PS- these are indicative pointers at best. Our clients would already be looking at some candidates, as I write-and some of them would have completed multiple rounds of meetings. Most of these positions would need people to be onboard within 12 weeks at best in India!!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Senior Management positions in India- Non IT space!!

Among the most common questions one gets from ‘returning Indians’ – is that almost all openings seem to be for IT professionals and only IT/ITES!!

Well –actually there is a lot more happening in the non IT industry-and considering the width of the term –there is a tremendous variety of jobs across middle and senior management-across industries. And so I am considering writing about some of the mandates that we are presently working that there is a little more clarity.

As a recruiter –focussing on people of Indian origin working abroad, and locating for career opportunities in India, or willing to relocate to India for exciting senior executive positions, we network with a bunch of similar minded recruitment firms, across 10 major cities in India- in a bid to improve our reach and penetration. Most people returning to India- want to ideally move closer to their hometowns, while still working in their domains-and so, I feel it is imperative for me to leverage on the relationships some of my professional associates have- in order to give the aspirant –not just an idea of the Indian job market, but also his/her own prospects visavis his contemporary colleagues, but also to have a fair idea of the kind of openings that are a given time!

So, atleast in Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Delhi (Gurgaon and Noida included), Kolkota, Ahmedabad and Kochi, I am able to connect with some top notch recruiters who are in close connection with the major hiring companies in the region-and thus are able to evaluate or explore possible openings for some interesting profiles-even though they may not be working on a specific mandate then!

Then, some of us among the Executive Recruiters Association (ERA), have also made attempts to come together under a platform-and share some critical mandates and explore how best we can add value –both to the corporate we are paid by- as well as some of the professionals we are in touch with- who can be challenged with more exciting roles. Of late, over a dozen ERA members across the four zones of India- have formed “retailblitz” to explore how best we can assist the companies in the burgeoning retail industry-to help assist them in finding the best talent, in the numbers they want..and yes, in quick time! So, please standby, I hope to cover some of these openings too..

For starters, here is an exciting options we are presently engaged in attracting the best talent for!!

VP Manufacturing for a MNC Engineering company and a leader in its segment of business. Employing about 800 staff in India, they are looking for a senior executive to establish world-class lean production and quality processes that makes the customer competitive by creating value added systems and solutions. The ideal person would

-provide leadership and direction for the implementation and growth of the operation.

-formulate policies and ensure compliance in all environmental, health & safety issues for the plant.

-Engineer about 20 yrs exp in a strong process driven company, with international exposure and proven leadership skills.

There is another interesting enquiry for a Country Manager for a business that combines sales and marketing in the area of sports and entertainment. Specifically in the areas of Media Sales, Sponsorship Sales, Event Management, Brand Licensing and Consultancy. To date the business has established good foundations for the company brand in India and needs an experience and innovative thinker, with good local connections to spearhead the next level of growth. The position will be based at Mumbai and would want some one ideally from a related industry such as advertising or media where high level interaction and business development is executed with major international and domestic brands.

Should you know of some one, who would be interested, please do feel free to reach out to me offline and I shall be glad to provide more inputs!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The FUTURE of Indian Retail industry-as it unfolds!!

It was about two years ago that I first got an insight into how the retail industry in India was going to change –it was a chance meeting set up by a common pal-and I was lucky to have spent some time with Mr John Idiculla Head HR of the German giant –METRO Cash n Carry. Strictly speaking, METRO in India is not into retail, as we know it-but in the ‘’wholesale’ business! And while my firm had in the past decade, worked on some occasional positions for Shoppers stop, Zodiac, and the kind, I quickly realized-that the future of retail in India-was to be different..and so the people required to run it- the roles, job descriptions ..everything had to be looked at –by first unlearning the way we learnt!

Also recall an advice by a very senior retail player- who gave me a tip –‘to understand retail, you must first read all the books on Sam Waltons as bible”!

I didn’t get past the second book..and by then, I had been grappling with a whole new jargon- and designations, roles, temparaments, …with the hiring plans being aggressive in India. Today, thanks to the internet,and media, one is privy to a lot of inputs-and so, it was indeed a pleasure to see an INDIAN book on retail. INDIAN case studies as they happened in the last decade..a book about the legend Mr Kishore Biyani-“IT HAPPENED IN INDIA”.

It is a fast reading –anecdotal in nature-lots of real life situations most of us in India can relate to!! The ethos, the brands, the tactics-all too familiar. It is simply inspiring to read- and dares one to dream-that we can change and create things. We can know how it is all unfolding..

So, in his words-whats the Future of Indian retail going to be ?

The Past

The Future

Stability & consolidation

Speed & imagination



TQM six sigma

Design management



Mass production


Technology supports change

Technology drives change

Enforce order

Thrive in chaos



The more I read about it..the more I am convinced. We in India, need solutions tailormade to our conditions. In a country, where culture and values play a very huge role in our habits- we have to have Indianised solutions! Ours is perhaps the only country in the world, where cigarettes are sold in singles and two’s and not as packets-forcing the companies to have a robust distribution system –that includes servicing a pan dabba owner three times with a cycle driven salesman- and offer a few hours credit!!

Ironically for all the hype that high 'crorepathi' salaries the Reliance crack team was paid- and the media reports of large numbers of expatriates, and people of Indian origin with international retail experience being wooed to 'return to India'- the glamour ends there! 90% of the all those lakhs of jobs that are on offer- are for the floorstaff- for those who work most-when the rest of us are relaxing! It is increasingly becoming different for the retail companies to hire the juniormost operational level people..and its likely most of them would be school drop outs!

Yes, we can use technology and know how from the advanced countries, sourcing methodologies may be professionalized..Mr Biyanis philosophy is gospel- “Rewrite rules, retain values”.

As we await the BIG battle for retail space, it is anybodys guess who will be ultimate winner…the Indian customer, You and Me!

PS-Any prizes for guessing where I bought the a princely the local BIG BAZAAR in Palakkad (Kerala!!).

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Mr K Pandiarajan's prediction for Jobs - The Great Indian Trapeze

As a recruiter and a fellow member of the Executive Recruiters association ( ERA), I am very proud of Mr K Pandiarajan ,CEO and MD of Mafoi management consultants-and his ability to take the profession to an entirely different plane. Over the past decade and a half, he has been among the fore front of all the major leaps the Indian recruitment industry has seen-and that in itself is a reflection of the visionary he is.

In a recent issue of the India Today magazine, he had written an article on how 2007 will mark a key inflection point in job creation in India. Since the online version needs a subscriber status to access it, I am quoting a few pointers from the piece-so that some of us can get inspired by it!

1. The organized sector in India will expand by 5.34% -or 15lakh domestic jobs. Add to the 4 lakh global jobs Indians are expected to bag-it is a record itself.

2. More than the number of jobs, it is the nature and quality of the jobs which is a positive trend.

There is a distinct movement in the economy to the tacit jobs – considering Mc Kinseys framework of splitting the jobs into

a) Transactional (interactions that can be easily scripted or automated)

b) Transformational (extracting raw material or converting them into finished goods)

c) Tacit (complex interactions requiring a high level of judgement)

3. The tension between two kinds of migration (talent vs business processes) is opening many doors to Indian talent both within the country and abroad. The prominent examples being

a) If US restricts H1 visas to 65000 pa, there is a sharper increase in offshoring manhours

b) If Indian nursing crew deputation gets blocked by UK, patient flow to India rises sharply

4. Corporates have to invest in ‘creating’ talent to bridge the gap between the competency profile of candidates and the employer needs, by focusing on finishing schools.

5. With increasingly diverse structure of employment (outsourcing, remote teams, telecommuting, parttime,flexitime,interim management et al), commitment to a profession is gaining ascendancy in the employee’s psyche compared to loyalty to an organization.

6. Organised staffing industry has emerged as a billion dollar industry –and growing at 32% pa- and facilitating about one-sixth of the organized sector placements.

The Indian jobseeker has never had it so good!! Will the good times last? As you believe, so it is –tat vam asi!!


Indian IT industry-time to reflect?

At the completion of another good year for the Indian IT industry-there is a general feel good factor of the growing “Indian” influence in the IT & ITES space.

In a thought provoking editorial by Mr T N Ninan of Business Standard asks us to take a breath and actually question taking stock- with Israel!!

He refers to the three I’s of the tech world ( India, Israel and Ireland), and points out that

1. more than 70 Israeli companies are listed on Nasdaq—next only to the US and Canada in the country rankings

2. Israel has no fewer than 3,000 high-tech companies, supported by a flourishing venture capital industry that buys into garage-scale enterprises. Last year alone saw foreign investors coughing up $10 billion to buy into just 30 Israeli tech firms.

3. more than a third of Israel’s total exports in some years have come from the high-tech area, and 20 per cent of the revenue earned by the electronics industry is ploughed back into R&D—some of which is a spin-off from the country’s massive investment in defence research.

In contrast India’s strengths, Mr Ninan says, lies in providing manpower intensive services keeping in line with our resource endowment.

My own personal take is that while India is making slowly into the product development space, and perhaps gets overshadowed by the magnitude of the billions invested in Israel, the whole perspective would change once the Indian industry looked at the domestic market instead of its present emphasized US market!

We can already see that India being the fastest growing telecom market in the encouraging a host of technology players in the telecom, apart from converging industries-entertainment, internet and media space-and leverage on the burgeoning markets.To put it another perspective-Bangalore alone has almost twice the population of Israel today !!!