Sunday, September 28, 2008

McKinsey Global Survey- Hiring Outlook

The Mc Kinsey Quarterly has recently done a global survey between 9th and 16th September-on the hiring outlook for the quarter! 

A lot has since happened in the last fortnight. And as I write in this post,  Wachovia is on block-and a Japanese company is investing in Morgan Stanley.

Needless to say- there would be shrinking job market-in the near future. Not just in the financial services industry or the manufacturing industry. The low consumer confidence would surely affect a whole of lot of other sectors.

However, the executives in the energy sector expect hiring levels to rise!!

The logic?

 It seems likely that energy companies are drawing on their enormous profits to continue exploring. Most executives across industries are confident that they can do more with less. Upward of half say that their companies’ productivity—defined as units of products or services delivered per hours worked—has increased over the past year and nearly two-thirds say it will continue to improve over the next six months.

It is anybody's guess though how long the energy prices will remain high. I for one, would not want to wager at all. Did some one say, change is the only constant!! Well, the world is changing..every day !!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The last fortnight- what about the future?

It has been an amazing fortnight!

Almost on a daily basis-the headlines in the business dailies have been regarding the recent financial upheavals. And before we knew only 2 of the big 5 IBanks existed-and just as you were wondering what went wrong, they too decided to become traditional banks !! There have been some landmark decisions-and amendments made.

So, I had to get to the first principles-and tried to research. I must say, there have been some excellent reports in the media -summarising the saga. I particularly liked a graph that Forbes carried- but among the best reads-apart from of course, the wikipedia, was the one  The New York Times carried,   and the chronological study by  Rediff in India!

Well, to me-it seemed that if most people in the US had followed my grandfather's  simple dictum " live within one's means"-then some of these issues may never have happened. We are most fortunate that we Indians have culturally been doctrinated through generations -and also that our Central Bank-the RBI has had a firm grip.

In fact quite a few pals have been debating how it could affect a recruiter's life-of all the perspectives ;-)!

Well, as I have articulated on my earlier blogs, a slow down or a recessionary situation-does not just remove a bunch of jobs- it also creates another set of opportunities for those with some special skills! For one, in the last fortnight, while almost all our IT clients have 'frozen' further hiring of 'programmer/manager' positions, they have actually asked us to accelerate on the selection of 'sales or business development' positions. All unmarked territories are now being attended to-and more emphasis given on key accounts! 

Coming to cost cutting, I am positive, there could be a lot of gains for the off shoring industry;

-especially in IT support, systems management, network management and other aspects of technical infrastructure support -that can be easily be transferred to lower cost centres in India.

-transformational IT projects where Indian companies have had a good track record -being involved in M&A among finance firms -to handle the complex integration and separation tasks!

Yes, for the average recruiter, there would not be any easy pickings-of the 'low lying fruits' as was there in the hey days-but for those -who have been working on niche skills, or adding value by getting passive job seekers.

I somehow feel most clients are missing out on some of the best candidates- by just shutting out hiring! I would like to believe, there are a lot of good talented & qualified people available-in the market- who are now willing to transplant their skills and leverage on their analytical acumen.

PS- Ironically-if one were to look back in the recent times, the best and brightest -not just from the Whartons and the Harvards, but also our IIMs and the IITs(!), were lapped up by companies like Worldcom, Enron, Arthur Andersen not to long ago-apart from Merill Lynch, Lehman Brothers. Are we trying to say that ' great talent in isolation' is just not adequate?

Am I missing out something larger? Please feel free to reach out and I shall be glad to correct myself!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Choosing a Recession proof career- A Hobson's choice?

One of the readers of this blog, Helen Anderson pointed me to a post on  recession proof careers  earlier today.

The top 5 careers the author suggested revolved around international, teaching, green, health care and public service, while two wellwishers chipped in with -engineering and entrepreneurship.

To me-on first impressions, it seemed perfect-considering the author was perhaps "US centric". However, most of us in India-perhaps cannot relate to them as heartily-as teaching & public service aren't as glamorous and well paying as yet, here. Or perhaps, it is because we in India-are yet to see large scale 'lay-offs' as yet? Or maybe, the economic development in India-is in a different stage of the life cycle?

As a recruiter, I notice-the slow down in the India- has seen increasing hiring of sales professionals. While most companies -as an instinct -look at cost cutting, I presume there is a limit to the amount of impact by sticking to austere measures.  We have noticed, most companies ramping up their sales teams, looking at new customers, new territories, and manning as many markets as they can- to increase the top line.

Looking at the larger picture, I feel, the only way any professional can play safe is by "constantly learning AND unlearning". 

Increasingly, even comparing to the trend in the last couple of decades, one can see the change in the tenure of employment. Extinct is the concept of 'life time employment'- as people start looking for options once in 2-3 years-forcing some of the Indian IT companies to recognise those who spend even 5yrs in the company for 'long service rewards'!!  Compound the fact that the average human life has extended and one can expect to work till 70- one can easily see that the 'career span' of any professional would surely last about 50 years- and it is predicted-that one is prone to change 4-5 careers..during the employment tenure.

It is time we looked at taking responsibility for one's own skill development-and perhaps hone different interests-and hobbies, as a serious way of planning one's career. 

Can we imagine the challenges of the HR professionals-if this were to happen? I shall be glad to hear offline from all of you!

ERA conference-Is Partnering a challenge?

Here is a gist of what the Business Leaders  expressed during their presentations.

IT/ITES : B Krishna Murthy, VP - Global Delivery & Centre Head,Hyderabad, Wipro was highly appreciative about ERA's  3C model and came out very strongly that the need of the hour is the 3C model.He also mentioned  that the academia has to revamp their curriculum based on industry requirements and hence academia has to work very closely with industries

Services: Vikas Shah, MD , Water Health India while touching about the tools that help/affect Talent Acquisition & Retention mentioned that culture,PMS & compensation structure are more to do with the Vision & Mission of the organisation, though consultants should play a large role in Branding, Training & the entire recruitment process.

CEO Forum:Subbaraman Iyer, COO, Idea Cellular openly admitted that the CEOs & HR Heads have not given enough importance to  selection process of the right consultant(s) and that should be looked into closely & corrective measures taken

Matthew Fairless, COO, UBS India stressed on the need for consultants to counsel candidates to stick through with a company for a long time, both through the good times & the bad times. That, he said, will will help build strong leaders and not just 'senior-ish' teams.

Abhijit Roy,Director & COO, Totem Infrastructure pointed out that the infrastructure is on a growth phase , consultants & industry has to expand their horizon in the search process for hiring .

V.Balaji, CEO, Avon Organics made a cause for exit interview to be handled by outside consultants as it will be more objective and could not stress enough that if partnership is to work, one should walk the talk, particularly the CEOs.

Infrastructure  : Chandersheel BansalPresident,Maytas was highlighting to the ERA consultants on the importance of long term experience in candidates with particular reference to the infrastructure industry. In the light of the importance of infrastructure in relation to  the growth of the country, it is very key to the projects that Project Managers come in with sound experience and they have stayed in the same company & projects for long duration to understand the dynamics. He was saying no person can be a good Project Manager unless he has put in at least 3-4 yrs in the same company. Here again, ERA consultants can deter people from quickly moving out of one assignment to another.


HR panel : Lekha Sishta, VP - HR, Sum Total Systems : She endorsed ERA's 3C approach very strongly and in her candid manner she is known for also was vociferous that we should weed out integrity issues. She said that the corporates & their HR leadership team have a moral responsibility to take the first step in the 3c approach. She was also mentioning that shades of grey in the hiring process be removed.

Ramanand P, Lead Partner HR, EMRI  totally agreed with Lekha and added that they are ready to look at working exclusively with ERA members if that means it is working with consultants following ethical code of conduct & professionalism. 

Arun D Rao, VP - HR, Applabs said that he'd surely look at ERA member firms as their preferred recruitment consultants.He also encouraged ERA members to study & imbibe the best recruitment practices which are prevalent worldwide. ERA should also look at extending effective outplacement services to corporates.

SrinivasVudumala, VP - HR,Maytas Infra declared that  he'd be the 1st person to collaborate within the industry if the HR fraternity takes the step in this direction & he was categorical that 2nd C of ERA's 3C approach, ie. Collaboration between Corporates was surely the way forward while importance cannot be stressed enough on the partnership between client & consultant.

K.S.R.K Prasad, VP & Head HR, Sai Advantium Pharma requested that ERA consultants look at having psychometric tests  mandatory in the shortlisting process. He also mentioned that nowadays many HR Leaders look at their consultants as an extension of their HR team.


Mr SJ Amalan, Regional Director ( Kar, AP & Orissa) RDAT-DGE&T ,Ministry of Labour & Employment, Govt. of India spoke on how the corporates and recruitment fraternity can explore "Partnering Government for Workforce Development'. Specially focusing on the impact of skills development, he highlighted that there would be a need for 470 million skilled personnel in the age of 16-40 yr globally in the next 25yrs and only India could fulfill the need-and explained the various initiatives launched by the Govt. of India-and exhorted the private sector to leverage on the same.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

4th ERA National Conference- Key note- ARE YOU READY FOR TOMORROW?

Yesterday, we had over 400 delegates attending the convention at The Grand Kakatiya, Hyderabad. About 40% of the attendees were from the corporate world- including Business Leaders and HR professionals-while recruiters formed about 40% of the delegates-rest being from academia, social service organisations and media.

The theme :Is Partnering a challenge? The 3 C Approach

During the last month, ERA Hyderabad had a series of 5 power breakfasts- inviting CEO/business leaders from specific industries-and one exclusively involving HR leaders and engaging them into a deliberating about the challenges of talent acquisition. 

The one day convention had some excellent take aways.Over the next few postings,I shall attempt to capture the gist of the deliberations made..

Mr. S.Sivakumar, Chief Executive, ABD, ITC Ltd delivered the the key note address

“Are you ready for Tomorrow?” 

Referring to a report by PwC –‘Managing Tomorrow’s People-The future of work to 2020’,Mr Sivakumar outlined three possible organizational models of the future, as a result of the changing global forces:

1. The Blue World –where ‘Corporate is king’. Capitalism rules as large corporates turn into mini-states and take on a prominent role in society.
2. The Green World ,i.e, ‘Companies Care’ -the environmental agenda enforcing fundamental changes in business strategy, and
3. The Orange World or ‘Small is beautiful’- companies breaking down into collaborative networks of smaller organizations.

He briefly touched upon the challenges each of these business models would bring about in people management!

Mr Sivakumar however, wagered to stake his bet on “the Orange world” with specialization dominating the world economy .

He predicted that as a result of increasing specialization, the responsibility of ‘skills development’ will shift wholesale from corporates to individuals, as members of a professional network rather than as an employee of a particular company! Their engagements would be short term restricted to some projects. Naturally, the role of HR would change!!

Going forth, to be relevant, he advised the recruitment consultants to evolve from the traditional ‘vendor model’ assembling a shortlist to a ‘partnering mode’- which would not just restrict the gamut to sourcing, but also building in employee value propositions, to help onboarding, and even outplacement of employees on the completion of the projects.

He prophesied that the dominating recruitment agencies of the future would need to be focusing on ‘co-creation model’ and would morph into exchanges between organizations and talent alliances.

The crystal gazing effort thus set the ball rolling for a series of panel sessions, focusing on specific industry tracks –that saw several business and HR leaders deliberate and interact on the challenges –and explore how the corporates and consultants could collaborate in future for engaging the ‘candidate’ in the most efficient manner