Monday, February 20, 2012

E-commerce companies recruiting in big numbers at IIMs as recession weighs down traditional recruiters

In the past, they just ogled as big global banks, consulting firms and consumer goods MNCs strutted around India's top business school campuses. But this placement season, e-commerce companies are recruiting in big numbers at the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), signaling the chutzpah and coming of age of a sector that has cash propelling its ambitions and believers in its potential. Armed with interesting pitches and money raised from venture capital and private equity firms, these e-commerce firms, many of them barely a couple of years old, are taking the top slots at the IIMs, wading into the space vacated by the more traditional recruiters weighed down by a slowing economy and adverse markets.

First-timers at IIM campuses, e-commerce firms such as RedBus, Letsbuy, Via, Valyoo Technologies and Snapdeal have picked up freshers and candidates with experience at salaries ranging between Rs. 800,000 and Rs. 1.6 million. Some others, such as Myntra, which had in the past only visited IIM-Bangalore, have this year cast their net wider to include other IIMs. Bangalore-based online bus ticketing company RedBus, which until now only had summer interns from the IIMs, has this year made two job offers at IIM-Indore and will be heading to Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Kolkata in the coming weeks. "The pre-placement talks have generated interest and we expect slots to be confirmed soon.

The newer IIMs have been after us, but we do not want to go there," said Shankar Prasad, COO of RedBus. The company plans to initially hire the IIM graduates as management trainees and move them into middle-management roles in due course. The opportunism being displayed by e-commerce firms this year is reminiscent of the 2009 placement season, when state-run banks and other PSUs were big hirers on campuses as their private and foreign counterparts stayed away because of the global economic meltdown. While the economic picture this time around is not as bad as in 2008-09, the placement scene is tepid and IIMs have been tempering hopes of students.

E-commerce Industry Alluring
The IIMs have been prodding students to look beyond traditional recruiters offering high salaries. The e-commerce industry is alluring to many, with examples such as Facebook's $100-billion planned IPO and stories of 20-something dollar millionaires at the company dominating the discourse. These companies are finding that their stories and unique business models have takers despite them not being the best paymasters.

The past several months have seen intense news flow in the sector, bringing it high into the public consciousness. A report from Dublin-based research firm Research and Markets earlier this month forecast the Indian e-commerce sector growing at a compounded annual rate of 40% to $34.2 billion in 2015 from around $5.9 billion in 2010. The sector is still in a nascent stage, and set to grow exponentially as Internet penetration increases rapidly.

Gurgaon-based group-buying firm Snapdeal's first tryst with the IIMs has seen it make pre-placement offers. The firm has made offers to three students from IIM-Calcutta, two from IIM-Bangalore and three from IIM-Lucknow. The company, which raised $40 million from Bessemer Venture Partners, Nexus Venture Partners and IndoUS Venture Partners last year, has also picked up an executive MBA from one of the IIMs. "The recruitment has been done to bolster Snapdeal's product, technology and analytics teams. The response was good as the students were aware of e-commerce," said Anupama Beri, Snapdeal's human resources head.

Online consumer electronics retailer Letsbuy, in the news recently for its marriage with Flipkart, plans to hire up to four students from IIM-Lucknow. "This is our first time at IIMs and we prefer to go to the older IIMs," said Hitesh Dhingra, founder & CEO of Delhi-based Valyoo Technologies, which received $4 million in venture funding from IDG Ventures in late 2011, got the first-day slot at IIM-Indore and the second day in Lucknow. It has hired 12 students in all. "We have taken candidates for functions across marketing, operations, logistics and supply chain," said Peyush Bansal, co-founder and CEO of the two-year-old Valyoo, which operates online retail sites,, and

The students, who have been offered annual salaries between Rs. 1.2 and Rs. 1.6 million, will handle separate verticals such as warehousing and product procurement. Valyoo has hired only laterals with experience of 1-4 years. "We have identified critical areas in the business and will hand it over to an IIM graduate," said Bansal, who is himself an IIM-Bangalore graduate. The company, which is a first-timer at the IIMs, is going to one more IIM in the coming weeks as it wants to hire 3-4 more people.

Bangalore-based online ticketing company Via is awaiting its slot confirmation at IIM-Ahmedabad and IIM-Indore, and plans to hire up to six students, preferably with prior work experience. It plans to offer salaries between Rs. 1.2 and Rs. 1.5 million and hire people for its strategy, finance and corporate functions. Myntra, on its second trip to the IIM campuses, has made nine offers this year at IIM-Lucknow and the Indian School of Business. The online fashion retailer, which recently raised $21 million from a slew of venture investors, is offering freshers Rs. 1.3-1.5 million along with stock options and other benefits. The next stop is IIM-Ahmedabad, said Pooja Gupta, VP (HR) of the company.

While most e-commerce firms are opting for a mix of freshers and people with prior experience, online travel agency MakeMyTrip, a veteran of many campus placements, is hiring only laterals from IIMs and other top B-schools such as the ISB. "This provides a better return on investment, both from a fit and compensation cost perspective, as well as retention. Experienced candidates have clear career goals, have shorter learning curves, and do not necessarily shop around," said Purva Misra, senior vice-president, HR. The Nasdaq-listed company plans to hire up to 15 students from campuses this year, mostly for product management and online marketing roles.

Source: The Economic Times, February 20, 2012

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