Tuesday, October 25, 2011

As West Heads South, Ivy Grads Eye India: Want experience in a growing economy

Graduates from the elite Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) may be the cats whiskers in the job market but perhaps not for too much longer. They will now have to vie with their global counterparts from Ivy League universities and other top institutes worldwide for top-drawer placements and compensation.

The most-coveted consulting firms at top B-school campuses in India such as Bain and Co., AT Kearney and Boston Consulting Group say the number of resumes from graduates at top B-schools such as Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, Stanford, and INSEAD-France has shot up recently. These include largely students of Indian origin although feelers are coming in from non-Indians, too. The good news for graduates from IIMs and other top Indian B-schools is that they still constitute close to 90% of the total hires of such firms, which are among the top choices for students.

"Given the troubled economic scenario in the western world, India seems like a good option," says Sampath Sudarshan Kumar, Partner, Bain & Co. Bain, which hardly ever received resumes from non-Indians, has of late seen such requests for direct hiring into India. "We expect to see more of this as having the China and/or India experience is increasingly becoming important - almost a necessity for career progression," adds Kumar.

At Boston Consulting Group (BCG) India, queries have been increasing from institutes such as Harvard, Stanford and Kellogg. "At the moment it is reactive hiring, but BCG India is planning to look at it more actively," says Ravi Srivastava, Partner and Director, BCG India. AT Kearney in India hires mostly from the IIMs -Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, and sometimes Lucknow; it also taps the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad.

Experience in a Growing Economy
Of late, though, there have been some shifts. Vikas Kaushal, Partner & Vice-President, AT Kearney, says: "It is true that a lot more aspirants from Ivy League institutions and top B- schools now approach us for working in India. For example, at INSEAD in France, the number of queries to work in the India offices of AT Kearney has gone up in the last couple of years. AT Kearney teams in France undertake the recruitment programme in INSEAD and also identify potential candidates for the Indian practice," says Kaushal.

AT Kearney selectively looks at people from leading B-schools such as Wharton, Harvard and others. The firm has also started getting requests from graduates from Western B-schools who want to work in India for a few years. It's good to have India on the CV. There is an increasing set of people who want to work for two-three years. "The interest in getting work experience in a growing economy like India has increased. We get applications where people want to work in India for a few years," says Kaushal.

McKinsey & Company does get a number of applications from students at Ivy Leagues and other top institutes, but has no near-term plan to recruit from there. "We're blessed with great talent in India, and as a firm have the benefit of an excellent global talent pool; so we have no near-term plans to proactively recruit abroad for entry level for India," says Renny Thomas, Partner, McKinsey & Company.

For the Ivy Leaguers and graduates from top B-schools abroad, salaries are Indian. Firms say that pay packets are role-linked and not institute-linked. "Ivy League students will get the same salary as IIM students for the same role," says Kaushal. That effectively means Ivy League students are willing to take a salary cut to work in India. At Bain, none of the overseas candidates is paid differently when compared to equivalent candidates in India.

Source: The Economic Times, October 25, 2011

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