Thursday, September 13, 2012

Global tech companies Amazon, Google, Cisco, IBM others give a miss to IITs; Offer fat pay cheques to non-IITians

When Sukruth KS first walked into the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in the small town of Warangal in Andhra Pradesh three years ago, he was just another engineering student. When he passes out in May next year, he will be the one who Microsoft hired for a $1,00,000 (approximately Rs. 6 million) salary for a global posting. Anmol Kumar, Balmukund Trivedi and Dinesh Reddy, three of Sukruth's batchmates, have also snagged similar salaries from Epic Systems, a US-based company that makes software for healthcare companies. To put that in perspective, the highest pay cheques seen at top-notch Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are in the $140,000 range.

Global tech and Internet firms are on the prowl in small towns this placement season, looking to lure talent from NITs and good private engineering colleges. Both would rank a notch lower than IITs in the talent pecking order. Sample this: Amazon, Google, PepsiCo, Yahoo, Cisco, Oracle, Deloitte, Adobe, DE Shaw, Flipkart, Direct-i, Caterpillar, Future First and IBM are making offers this year at non-IIT campuses in Vellore, Madurai and Mesra, and also at private colleges in Delhi and Bangalore. Placement heads at these colleges say companies are hiring more than last year.

The companies are offering higher salaries and dangling better perks, including international assignments, free holidays and joining bonuses of up to Rs. 100,000. Amazon, Google, PepsiCo and more such marquee employers wooed students at NIT Warangal with salaries in the Rs. 800,000-2 million range. Global IT services major IBM also hired 85 students from the institute this year. "Even gaming firms such as EA Sports have come in and selected four students for Rs. 1.2 million," says M. Chandrasekhar, NIT's Placement Head.

"It's a question of supply and demand which cannot be met by going only to IITs," says Yugesh Goutam, Executive Director of KEC International, the infrastructure firm of the RPG Group. "When we have to hire 1000, it is not possible to take them only from the IITs, which only have a handful," says P. Thiruvengadam, Senior Director, Deloitte India. "Also, tier-II and III colleges are important because they give us a good mix of students from different cultures," he adds. "We strike a healthy balance by hiring a mix of students from IITs and from tier-II and III colleges," says V. Nagarajan, VP and Head-HR, Times Internet. "Students from the latter come with high aptitude and a high emotional quotient." Times Internet hires 20-25% of its talent from tier-II and III colleges.

Engineering and tech firms and core product companies form part of the first wave of recruiters at such campuses. IT service giants such as Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant, TCS and HCL will start visiting campuses from September. Salaries offered by these mass recruiters are typically around Rs. 375,000. In the past few years, students have preferred product and core companies rather than the IT services sector as whispers of a downturn, delays in joining dates, etc, affect the image of the industry, sources from these colleges say.

At the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), Flipkart beat Amazon and Google with a Rs. 1.25 million package, while Microsoft offered Rs. 1.05 lmillion. Another e-commerce firm, PayPal, hired for Rs. 825,000. Others such as Schneider, Cisco and Thoughtworks are offering Rs. 600,000-1 million. DE Shaw came armed with a package of Rs. 1.45 million and Amazon has given students a retention bonus of Rs. 100,000 after a year. "We are here to compete with MNCs such as Google, Yahoo and Adobe since we need students with similar caliber," said Aparna Ballakur, HR head for Flipkart. The e-commerce company will pick up its fresh batch from IITs, BITS Pilani, NITs and VIT.

At the Birla Institute of Technology (BIT), Mesra, IT product companies alone have so far absorbed 8-10% of the 375-400 undergraduate batch. These include the likes of Microsoft, Facebook and Direct-i. Overall, packages are 15-20% higher than last year, says Saitab Sinha, Deputy Placement Head at the institute. Bangalore-based RV College of Engineering has seen 35-40% of its 1,000 students roped in by a similar lot, and at double the pay in some cases. Salaries offered at Delhi Technological University (DTU) are 30% higher than last year. "Several Korean companies have offered packages of Rs. 3.5-4 million, including perks, and joining bonus amounting to Rs. 100,000," says Neeraj Nimwal, Training & Placement Officer for the college.

IBM hired 154 students from the 2013 batch at Madurai-based Thiagarajar College of Engineering, compared to 90 last time. Amazon has selected two students for Rs. 1.15 million and ITC, Thoughtworks, Athena Healthcare have recruited for around Rs. 600,000 and above. Automotive manufacturing companies such as Tata Motors, Maruti and SKF are ready to pay Rs. 425,000-550,000 to candidates.

Source: The Economic Times, September 13, 2012

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