Saturday, October 17, 2009

Initial private offers at IIMs promising

If pre-placement offers (PPOs) were a trickle in June and July, Indian Institute of Management (IIM) students are now being flooded with such offers, quelling all fears of a hiring freeze and confirming India’s premier business schools’ return to the employment cycles of top-notch companies. “While the early PPOs were extended primarily by consulting firms, now investment banks and private equity firms too are offering PPOs,” said IIMA placement committee media co-ordinator Vivek Jain. “Many of the offers are for international roles in places like Europe, USA, Singapore and Hong Kong. We expect many more PPOs in the coming days,” he added.

These job offers have not only brought cheer to IIM campuses, but also point to a better placement season than last year, when B-schools struggled to get get calls from recruiters for all students. Even as B-schools are reluctant to share numbers, ETscoured the campus and quizzed students, teaching staff and sources across institutes to get a drift of the PPO atmosphere. Compared to July, when 7-10% of batches across the IIMs at Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta had received PPOs, the figure has risen 15-20% at these institutes.

Offers again pouring
IIMs at Lucknow and Kozhikode too are seeing a much better flow of job offers compared to last year. IIMA, for instance, has already received 60-70 PPOs so far, its students told ET. Though the institute’s placement committee did not disclose official figures, students confirmed that after a lull in August, job offers have again started pouring in the last six weeks. Companies that have extended job offers to students at IIMA include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, HUL, P&G, UBS and Citigroup. In mid-September last year, only 20% of the batch of 250 had received PPOs. This year, the batch size at IIMA is close to 300 students.

Likewise, IIMB too did not disclose any official PPO numbers, but a student aware of the development said the institute has already received around 50 such offers. The placement representative at the institute was not available for comment. On the other hand, placement circles at IIMC said although the PPOs are lesser as compared to the same time last year, the expected rise will come only in the next couple of months. “Apart from firms sectors like finance, consulting, marketing and general management, IIMC has also got PPOs from a few IT companies and Wall Street banks,” said IIMC external relations secretary Paul Savio. “Markets are definitely picking up and we are expecting a better Placement 2010,” he added. Meanwhile, IIMK has seen a 30-40% increase in the number of PPOs compared to last year. Like others, the institute has kept the exact numbers under wraps. However, the placement committee member, Rohan Jaikishen, said the number of verbal confirmations from companies was also in double-digits. “Concrete offers have started coming in from the beginning of September and the companies that have made offers include ITC, American Express Bank and Futures First,” he added.

Last year, IIMK had received only 20 PPOs. The batch size at IIMK is 308. Mr Jaikishen confirmed that PPOs at IIMK have primarily come from the financial sector so far, with marketing companies coming in a close second. Similarly, IIML placement chairman Prof RL Raina said at least 10% of the current batch at IIML has received PPOs from companies. The current batch size at IIML is 320. “This number is quite significant since IIM Lucknow has the largest batch size across all IIMs,” he said. He, too, expects the number to rise in the coming weeks.

According to Prof Raina, international consulting and finance firms “like McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group and JP Morgan, besides marketing majors like Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Diageo have already confirmed PPOs”. “Tata Administrative Services is another company that has offered job offers at IIML, with companies operating in the renewable energy space also showing a keen interest in IIM Lucknow students,” he added. In sync with the climate, Prof Raina saw 2010 as more promising than the previous year.

Despite prolonging the placement process last year, IIMs had to be contend with a heavy baggage of realistic salaries and less number of job offers. This year too, most of the institutes have kept their placement season open much beyond the usual time frame seeing the job engines chugging once again.

This report by Sreeradha D Basu & Mahima Puri appeared in The Economic Times of October 12, 2009.

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