Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Layoffs & food for thoughts !

It is puzzling -how anyone could miss not seeing it!! As a recruiter-one gets a fairly decent ringside view of the action-both at the corporate viewpoint, and the employee's standpoint!
This financial meltdown isn't so much about an 'uncontrollable' tsunami-it has been very engineered by 'short sighted greedy' men!! People who didn't distinguish between 'revenues' and (net)'income'!!

Isn't it as simple as it? Getting the basics right!?
For instance lets consider just a few of the headlines we read in the last week!! Does it take a genius to know the repercussions?
- KerznerInternational splits a $20 million bill for fireworks announcing the launch of Dubai project-exactly 2 days after laying off 800 in a bid to save $25million!!
-AIG executives spending close to $1 billion justifying tax bailout as a last 'resort'!!
-The Big Three Auto Majors flew in private jets to Washington DC to ask for a bailout!!
No wonder -one cannot agree more with what a cost reduction expert Steven Martin, says "Mass layoffs are management's way of telling you they were asleep."
Couple of his suggestions? No, Not rocket science :-)!
1.Hire well. Sometimes it's better to have a position vacant than to hire poorly... especially in management. One bad manager can take down tens to thousands with them.
2.Stop shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. If a business unit isn't achieving its goals, it is unlikely to get better if you just shuffle the staff around. Find the fundamental problems and fix them. Start with the top people. They set the tone.
The role that HR can play -is significant- to counsel the leadership team. It is much easier to attend to an infection-and control it before it becomes a gangrene!!
Especially if a 'layoff' is indeed a temporary solution-doesn't it augur well to do it sensitively-communicating-communicating and communicating? Before/during/after the event happens? The employer brand equity for recruiting is perhaps among the most underrated long term assets!!?
Isn't it prudent for the HR to suggest replacing 'temporarily' some of the high cost (expat) salaried professionals-with those -almost competent 'lower cost' (local) professionals? Just as how financial wizards distinguish between capital expenditure and revenue expenditure?
Points to ponder for all of us?
PS-Wearing the hat of an employee-I feel it is always best to be prepared for a layoff. ie keep demonstrating your value daily...and yes, stay in touch with your favourite recruiters :-)!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Global Recession-Impact on Asian Economy

At the NPA conference, we were all enlightened by the presentation by the renowned economist, Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas, (the presentation is shared here)- by pointing us to a lot of data.

Amongst some of the learnings I had from the sessions were

-the stagnation/decline of the traditional engines of growth. ( US, Euro Area, Japan, UK, Canada and Australia-all hovering less than 2% GDP growth, not just in the past 3-4 yrs but likely to be continue so, in the near future. There are a handful who are expected to have negative growth!)

-the emerging engines of growth are certainly the BRICA region- BRIC nations and the ASEAN region!

- Contrary to perception, those countries with huge population -are likely to be more stable economies in future, as one can expect a much more robust domestic economy-and not be entirely dependent! ( A set of 11 emerging nations qualify here!!)
-The emergence of SMEs and micro enterprises in the role of developing economies.
-Perceived threat to nations like Japan where increased 'savings rate' -has throttled 'consumer spending' within the domestic economy. Add to it, the low population growth-and the resistance to immigrants, the nation is fast ageing!!
DrVilligas also thought aloud if the 'one child' policy adopted by China could boomerang in future. He was concerned if a child- who was brought up by 6 adults ( parents and 2 sets of grandparents)- would be motivated enough -or even develop social skills to be able to share and get along with peers- and the possible effect on 'team building' and future organisations!!
As for recruiters, he did give us a list of sunrise industries that are likely to keep us busy-not just within a country-but there seems to be a lot of scope for regional/global migration of professionals. Among them..the promising sector seemed to be the sectors focussing on the Four Fs: Food, Fashion, Furniture, Fun !!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Increasing Global demand for IT professionals!

Embedded here is the copy of the presentation I made last week at the NPA conference- for fellow recruiters from the Asia Pac region.

The purpose was simple- it was essentially to highlight to the folks in my ilk-that contrary to the perception that global meltdown would force companies to tighten budgets, and despite the massive flood of layoffs and pink slips all around us-there is a lot of demand for IT professionals in future too -and more so, in the Asia Pac region!! And we must gear up by transforming the way we recruiters must function !!

The basis of my hypothesis?

1. IT industry has been evolving over the last few decades-and is now at a stage -thanks to globalisation, where companies have to strategically invest in IT-to stay relevant and exist!!

2.Historically, US was the hot bed of all the action. However the declining trend of American students pursuing STEM ( science, technology, engineering and mathematics) streams of career, particularly in the last 2 decades-has seen US sliding from the most preferred R&D destination to the seventeeth of the present top 30 destinations worldwide.

The above, coupled with the fact that there is an increasing trend in foreign students-are returning to their native lands-( the 65000 cap on the H1-B visas hasn't helped either!)- is driving the emergence of more R&D centres across the world.

3. Interestingly there have been a lot of countries in the Asia Pac ( 4 of them now stormed the top 10 IT industry competitiveness) -who have been very proactive in creating a sound environment for the encouragment of technology.

Yes, the future is bright. However, the nature of jobs that would be demanded would be significantly different from just the pure 'coding' or 'techie' guys. My guess is that there would be a strong need for 'business intelligence' , -read service-oriented architecture??

One thing is for sure though..there is an increasing need for global migration of professionals -and hence, a lot of challenges for the recruiters worldwide.

Recruiters would need to look beyond transactions, and build relationships with candidates! One can already see the reduction in the average tenure of people being employed with each employer. I see a strong shift in loyalties -meaning, the onus on training will now be on the 'orange employee' to keep him/herself upgraded as companies are anyway laying off !!

Recruiters would perhaps need to collaborate with other recruiters-across the different regions -to be able to add value better -to their clients and candidates!!??

HR managers of companies would perhaps need to look at partnering with recruiters- as against managing 'vendors' presently?!! Say, Supply chain management-instead of just 'sourcing'!?

What do you think? Am I missing any points??

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Amidst gloom and doom..hope!!

It is almost 3 weeks since I last posted an entry.
Looking back -the trip to Manila for the NPA Asia Pac conference has significantly contributed to a lot of positives.
I was fortunate to get an opportunity to present my thoughts on the 'global IT' demand for professionals- and so spent a lot of time doing research on the subject- both on the internet and offline-talking to quite a few well informed global professionals -and take advantage of their insights!
En route to Manila, I could spend about 4 days in Singapore and catch up with a spectrum of professionals-ranging from Banking wizards, IT service providers, Business school professor, an editor with an international news agency, topnotch specialist recruiters with global reach, a marketing professional with exposure to Asean nations..and be enlightened about some specific pointers!!
One thing that struck me remarkable was that the cab drivers- be in Singapore or in Manila-are so keyed in with the global economic recession-that they do show their concern in the bits and piece conversations they had as they drive one around! "Singapore economy not good la! things going from bad to worse...foreigners like you help local economy grow la-" Similarly it wasn't too difficult to understand how the locals revere and admire the OFWs ( Overseas Filipino Workers) for their sacrifices-to contribute their mite to the Philippines economy.
We had close to 50 recruiters from across different parts of Asia Pac-and a handful from the US- and needless to say-the discussions were rather sombre- considering that the 'sky seemed to be falling' almost everywhere!!
( I must confess there was quite a sense of relief in most of us. You know the kind of feeling- when as soon as the power goes off in our house..we rush to the balcony to see if our neighbours have light? And the kind of consolation..that aha-we aren't the only one affected..and so things would soon be normal :-)!!)
And so-there was a very conscious effort, from us recruiters too,.. to understand the drivers of economy in our regions- figure out one could leverage on some of the trends- as also with some global migration of professionals!
Needless to say-all the media everywhere has been crying out..layoffs, pink slips, cuts in spending, bail out, ....and economists predicting more gloom and doom for periods ranging from 2 quarters to 2 years!! Perhaps the silver lining in all darkness-is the hope for a miracle?
Exchanging notes- there was one distinct trend-most governments across the world-without exception, are indeed taking a lot of action to address it ...and see what best can be done to improve the confidence of the average citizen. It is always darkest before dawn,la??
PS;Over the next few posts, I shall try and articulate some of the interesting learning's I had.