Thursday, March 27, 2008

Jobs in India -That time of the year!!?

Yesterday, I had a mail from Supriya Kurane from the magazine Outlook Business, "currently working on a trends story, figuring out what is happening in the job market right now. Typically, employees start scouting for "greener pastures" as the fiscal year ends in March and hikes are doled out. What is your take on what will happen this time around withe salary hikes expected to be smaller and also the slowdown in the US? "
It was just after I had my lunch-and time for the 'power nap'! It was too tempting, and so this is what I shot off -instantly:

Traditionally, the year end has been a great time for the job market- with most companies reviewing their growth & hiring plans. Most companies too used to club annual increments and promotions around this time.

1.In a growing economy like India- it is always more juicy to hop jobs- as u can get a 25 50 30% hike-where as an annual increment would only get you half that amount. ( contrast it to US or any developed economy the corresponding figure would be 3-4 % annual increment and 7-10% bonus for jumping -the differential vis-a-vis the risk isn't very attractive!)

But I think things are changing. Corporates have become more innovative- have staggered their increments/ promotions/bonus across the year-and so, there is no real 'season for changing jobs now'! Its a perennial affair.

2.The sub prime and US recession has perhaps affected the IT/ITES and businesses related to that- but really not many companies have admitted to the fact that they are indeed slow pedalling. Personally, I know companies are more choosy now, and while they would close a position within a week earlier, now they don't mind stretching the search and waiting for the 'right guy' to come around. In that context, the velocity has decreased-but the good guys really don't have to be worried.

3.One major factor is that there are a lot of industries growing at this stage-real estate, power, energy, retail, and so those with 'transplant-able 'skills really needn't be satisfied by the modest increases given by their employer- and can look for greener pastures and get better hikes.

4.And today, I guess more professionals have become career conscious and are mobile within India too-thanks to the convenient air connections, there are a lot of double income parents actually working from different towns. Since good educational institutions are also limited in number in major cities, most parents are wary of shifting kids at the end of an academic yr -compared to say, a few yrs back.

5. I think media too plays up the 'feel good ' factor . Feb/Mar are hyped due to the 'placement fever' in the IIMs/ISBs. And when those handful privileged guys are lucky to pull off some obscene figures, what it it increases the 'aspirational desires' of all others who are in regular employment-and start feeling whether their salaries are in sync with reality or now!!I am sure I get a lot of panic calls from premier B School guys..who feel its time for a market correction for their low salaries..and that too spurs the need for a change :-)!

6. This yr one can blame the Sixth pay commission..and the public sector getting 40% hikes and 2 yrs arrears - that should leave the private sector panting for more !!

Almost on the rebound, Supriya did acknowledge ' was very informative read and pretty much in line". It set me thinking-is there some trend I missed out? Is it because I am focused with middle and senior management guys, and partly working on mandates on a 'retained search' mode by some of my clients?

Am I being myopic?

I shall be glad to hear the different perspectives- lest I have taken a generalist view. And I can't wait till Supriya finally publishes her article!! May I request you to reach me offline and update me?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Retail jobs in India - Over 300 malls/ 30000 m USD investment underway

I have been a travel bug-and so have enjoyed visiting places across India on work- first as a sales professional and now as recruiter- for a couple of decades. Each time I visited a town, it was assuring to get around places punctuated with familiar landmarks. Looks like I should start feeling like a first time visitor even as I go to my old haunts.
The landscape in the cities have changed with new buildings coming up every corner. Especially if one goes by two independent surveys conducted recently- by consultancy firm Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj , and Assocham where investments during the period September 2007 to February 2008 were tracked,where investments during the period September 2007 to February 2008 were tracked!
Summarising -it predicts :
-328 new shopping malls are expected to come up in previously unlikely places. The business strategies revolve around setting up first-time malls in small towns. For eg-several areas in Bihar and Jharkhand, such as Patliputra, Sitamarhi, Hazipur and Bettiah, and further south -Kottayam and Alleppey ( in Kerala), apart from Belgaum (Karnataka), Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh) Kolhapur and Nanded (both in Maharashtra).
-Forget US recession. While textile and garment industry are facing tough competition due to rupee appreciation and high competition in international market, industry players are betting on a booming domestic market. Malls, hyper marts and food stores will be the main drivers of the retail boom in tier II and III cities.
-With an investment rate of 36.3% driving the Indian growth story, corporate retailers across the country have announced investment plans amounting to Rs1,31,804 crore in the last six months, for expanding their network of stores by 2010 so as to cash in on the retail boom.

Does it ring bells regarding the employment opportunities being thrown up?
It is only going to get better. The initiatives by the government ( eg golden quadrilateral), private partnership ( SEZs, new airports) -are spurring entrepreneurs ( a la Air Deccan Gopinath who is now embarking on a cargo airline) and corporates ( eg ITC Choupal) to focus their energies on the Bharat which is 70% of India's population lives!
I have been personally interacting with senior professionals who are drawing up their manpower plans for the growth. While some are in the supply chain field, with initiatives like farmer extension programs for better sourcing of livestock & fresh vegetables , some others are in the business of setting up third party warehouses to help improve shelf life and improve reach. Not to mention of private equity firms that are tying up with the real estate to cater to the luxury segment of lifestyle products one didn't find hitherto in India, as MNC chains are eyeing the India consumption theme!
One can see a lot of jobs in logistics, supply chain, information technology, business intelligence, apart from specific retail experts with exposure to different formats, and specialists like merchandisers, visualisers etc.
India beckons retail professionals - with international experience!! It is globalisation at its best!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Offshoring creates more high end jobs in US

Contrary to the fear that offshoring will take away jobs in plenty from the US, the Wharton report highlights that Firms Go Begging for High-Tech Talent.
Some of the misconceptions that are addressed are:
- "The programming part is what you can outsource. What employers want are people who can be business analysts." Employers need people who can handle "management of technology in business. It requires all the leadership skills, strategic vision and project management ability used in any management career."

- Business Intelligence jobs are increasingly in demand."Computer processing is getting less expensive, while human processing is getting more expensive. Companies understand the price of customer churn, so they're increasingly focused on customer relationship management, which means figuring out what customers value and giving it to them.
-Compiling figures come from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data and from businesses in compliance with state laws, the American Electronics Association
-cites the high-tech industry ended 2006 with a net addition of 150,000 jobs to the U.S. economy, up from 87,400 in 2005.

-projects a 36 percent growth rate for computer engineers and MIS professionals over the next 10 years, making these two of the fastest growing occupations around. They're ones with high pay, too at an average annual salary of $75,000, which is 86 percent more than average private-sector wages overall in the U.S.

However, I see there could be two major areas of concerning the pipeline of supply for the industry:
1. There has been a 70% reduction in the enrolling of students in the Computer Science programs as well as Information systems- compared to the figures 10yrs ago.
2.Ageing work force in the middle and senior management
Half empty? Half full? Globalisation does impact the nature of jobs being on demand!! I am sure my associates from NPA ( would be sensitive to this trend and add value to their clients and candidates alike.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

US Recession, Outsourcing and India Hiring

This is my first blog in three weeks!! Looking back, it has been due to a variety of reasons-some logical and others not so !!

-Hyderabad's new international airport is about 30km away from the city-and the approach roads aren't really ready-and one reckons it is atleast an hour and a half drive away. And considering one can get to most parts of India from Hyderabad by 2 hours flying, it seemed a great idea to pack in as much as travel as possible before the Hyderabad airport moved out from the city!!

-IncreasedWork pressure. While corporates probably hire right through the year, I suspect most professionals -who want to consider a job change-especially those who are willing to relocate across towns- seem to prefer March/April to take decisions regarding the schooling needs of their children as the academic year comes to an end.

-March 31st is the financial year end in India-and so I 've been trying to attend to not just reviewing last year, but planning for the next year's business. And this time- it has been a very challenging exercise. We have had a great year in the last 12 months-and it is natural to be bullish and build capacity and plans to leverage on the momentum. And more so-when most soothsayers advice caution!!

On the flip side, there is a lot of noise about the global economy -and more particularly the recession in the US. I am glad I came across a very interesting post by my pal Jim Stroud "India should not worry about the US recession". While Jim points to a number of press releases across the media cautioning the Indian IT industry, his own mantra is a bunch of strategic multipronged metamorphosis- eg

-Set up a 24-hour Tech Support Service and reach out to other countries with my services.
-Take advantage of sites like
Elance, so I can find clients among the American consumers.
-Use the IT talent I have to create products and transform myself from a staffing company into a software company.

- become a SAAS (Software As A Service) company and charge a monthly subscription fee to keep the revenue flowing.
-Find countries where IT Consultants work cheaper than they do in India (its possible) and outsource work to them, but acting as a middle man. (Oh, the irony.)
-Maybe even pursue the “idea” market. What’s that? Everyone has an idea on the perfect product or website, perhaps pitching my company as a site where we make technical dreams a reality for a reduced cost.

Well, to me it seems a moot point- personally as most of us service organisations are marginal players, and really would not be needing to spend sleepless nights-for there is enough room for innovation and providing value:

- I recall reading a Deloitte Survey on outsourcing called "why settle for less" -which essentially mentioned that outsourcing for cost reduction reasons- are only addressing the tip of the iceberg. If instead, the drivers were leveraging technology expertise/improve customer value/gain competitive advantage/ overcome lack of in-house resources/ increase shareholder value /flexibility, then one could see outsourcing is just another tool- and the the whole game is actually 'transformation innovatively'!!

- In the recent past, some of the enquiries for senior management positions I have been getting from some of my international clients- infact validate some of the innovative hiring trends! Outsourcing isnt just for the Biggies-in fact it benefits the small & medium enterprises too.

A 200 million dollar family business -founded by immigrants to the US about a decade ago, is beginning to think of building its second line of management by hiring foreigners with the 'fire in the belly' -and more so, since their efficiencies depend on global sourcing.

- I see a larger trend of global migration of professionals in the next decade. Perhaps it has to do with baby boomer effect, or the ageing workforce in Europe/US, or the sheer pace of growth of infrastructure in the developing economies, and even the highly rewarding challenges that entice senior professionals away from recessionary markets.

I would like to predict that India will be a global hub for talent very soon. Not just as a source of a few million managers ( a decent percentage of the middle class educated population), but also as a growing market for consumption ( eg telecom and the opportunities thrown up by globalisation aided in increasing infrastructure). We shall see more MNC and SME setting up Indian operations, and more global talent -read not just returning Indians, but also expats of different regions soon.

Yes, I am attending the international conference of the , NPA, The Worldwide Recruiting Network that connects premier independent recruiting firms located throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and the Americas to facilitate cooperative placements-in the first week of April in Nashville, Tennessee-and check out the pulse firsthand on the mood of international recruiters.

Till I meet them, my next few posts will hinge on the following some fast growing industries in India. I shall be glad to have your suggestions, advice, and pointers to help project India better!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Death of Indian Outsourcing vs Hiranyakashyap model

As an avid reader of her blogs for many months now, I am glad Sramana Mitra has followed up with a 'India's Labour Arbitrage' for especially those who only come across her story on Death of Indian Outsourcing and reacted emotionally. And especially when it had been preceded by a story on an unknown entrepreneur Sridhar Vembu .
Almost coincidentally, my pal Charles Srinarayana pointed me to another story. By a doyen of Indian industry-albeit not from the IT domain!
Reinvent. Regroup. And Rethink our way out of challenges- was the mantra suggested by Mr Anand Mahindra's speech at Nasscom Leadership Summit last month, to the captains of the Indian IT industry!

In a very interesting analogy to the " Trimurti", Mr Mahindra described the Indian IT industry into the following phases:

"1.Like Brahma, you created something out of nothing. You created a new and global industry. And with the perceptions of a new India, both in the world (Indian students are brilliant, outstanding). and within India (self-belief !) "

2. In the realm of Vishnu the preserver sustaining that creation, to the IT industry, hit by a macroeconomic tsunami of adverse currency changes, rapidly escalating costs and inadequate talent pools, he suggests reinventing business models that challenge traditional industry approaches and then transform our organizations, people and processes. A la Vishnu vanquishing Hiranyakashyap.

3. Like Shiva the destroyer, destroy for example the premise that cost arbitrage is the way to go or look at the huge domestic market in middle class and corporate India that has not been plumbed.
To get back to Sramana's remedy- Increase supply. Reduce salary levels. This is Economics 101.
Simple solutions?

I am positive, as professionals in a globalised economy, we are constantly being challenged by diverse issues- at times seemingly overwhelming. It is really nice to know that we really don't have to look for solutions beyond our own childhood stories.

PS- Does anyone recall reading a book in the late eighties "All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten" by Robert Fulghum ?

PPS- For all those desirous of returning to India, and debating the sub prime, US recession, dollar margins, and very keen on instant gratification, maybe it is time to have a debate? Why not come back to India- for the same reasons you went abroad? Your Future?


Travel, desperate deadlines, meetings- have all contributed to my infrequent blog posts of late. So, when I got the chance to attend an offline bloggers meet at Hyderabad, I didn't hesitate putting everything else on a hold on a hot Saturday afternoon.

I see already some posts by the driving force Balaji , Sanjay and Sudeep among others. Today's Deccan Chronicle carries a piece referring to it as 'bloggers get professional' , quoting Manjula , Sudeep and me.

Personally I found it refreshing. Am positive my pal Paddy and I were together responsible for surely increasing the average age from 22 or so, by 2 years easily! While most were 'techie' professionals blogging on personal interests, ranging from 'ex flames' to 'choppers', I was a person blogging for professional reasons! The common thread was passion for blogging- that brought all of us under one roof- and even exhorting ourselves, despite our poor public speaking skills, to uninhibitedly sharing intimate details of our private travails on the net.

Blogging is surely catching up. Gone are the days when it used to be just a web log or a personal diary. People express themselves using french, poetry, photography, cricket, jokes, mosquitoes (!!), Urdu, love, baby products, Indian saints...-apart from one college forum spreading rumours, and another watching out for teachers who could end up messing one's acad scores. Some communities are becoming influence'rs.

Yes, I did learn some new tools-which I hope to use soon.

Also, I think it is time I expanded my gamut of blogging-while still being focused on 'jobs in India ', 'returning Indians', and the recruiting fraternity.I look forward to suggestions, ideas and themes I could be writing henceforth.

PS. I must confess though -I got a firsthand feeling of why lot of people accuse Microsoft of being extremely customer unfriendly . It was appalling to note the security personnel direct visitors from Gate1 to a Gate 5-about half a kilometer away- to park the car in a four storey ed covered building, and then walk back a similar distance on foot over a semi finished road on a HOT afternoon-thru 4 different security checks- photo identity card et al, before being led to the hall where we met a bunch of people who use the Internet to express themselves ! ( I almost thought I was at the NASA!!) . I am sure things could have been simpler-especially since most of us were invited to attend the meet!! Perhaps the 'open source' techies do have a crusade for good reason!