Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New IIMs turn to branding before placement season

To compete with their older, better-established peers, new Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are using marketing and branding tactics to attract recruiters in the placement season — an effort that management manuals would perhaps liken to a survival strategy.

Weeks before the placements begin, three of the six new IIMs — in Rohtak, Raipur and Kashipur — have conducted conferences to bring top human resources (HR) executives to their campuses. A fourth one — in Ranchi — is hosting a similar conference next week. The locations of the other two new IIMs are Udaipur and Tiruchirapalli.

“Currently, IIM-Kashipur is not on the map. We have to tell the industry that it is on the horizon now. It will help branding of the new institute and of course help in placement,” said K. M. Baharul Islam, a Professor and Chairman of Administration at the new IIM. The first batch of graduates from the institute will enter the job market this year, he said, explaining that such an effort “will create awareness and goodwill among the HR top brass” towards students of the B-school.

Currently, there are 13 IIMs, including the six new ones, which opened in 2010-11. The seven older IIMs are located in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Indore, Kozhikode, Lucknow and Shillong, and have been in existence for longer and are therefore, more familiar to recruiters who descend on their campuses yearly for choosing new management hires.

For the newer B-schools, marketing themselves is “crucial as HR is an important link in the placement process,” said Ajith P., a professor at IIM-Rohtak. “Through such events, we try to establish the relationship better.” Both experts and the B-schools say the competition for jobs is set to increase among the IIMs because their number has almost doubled since 2010. The placement season typically starts in November and runs through March.

Marketing and branding events enable the newer IIMs to “showcase their college and the students to the corporate house before the placement season,” said Amit Khurana, former executive vice-president and head of human capital at Yes Bank Ltd. “They want to capture a certain market share and mindspace of these HR leaders.” When a company decides to recruit in B-schools, its thoughts typically first turn to the IIMs in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Kolkata, followed by the remaining among the older lot of elite B-schools, said Khurana. That gives the newer IIMs little option but to hard-sell themselves. “Now, they have very less students. They have to increase the student strength and it will be a little difficult to place them in a competitive market. So what they have started this year is basically a survival strategy,” explained Khurana, who now runs his own HR firm and has participated in at least two of the conferences.

India has some 3,500 B-schools, but only the top 30-35 including the IIMs, attract leading businesses for recruitment.

With little research happening in B-schools, placements become a yardstick of their brand value. Last year, around 60 management schools sought the technical education regulator’s permission to shut shop because of their poor admission and placement records. While placements are certainly a key driver, the new IIMs say that during the initial years, marketing efforts also give their students and faculty exposure to the demands of the recruiters. “It helps get feedback to improve curricula and exposure for faculties,” said Islam of IIM Kashipur.

Ankit Sharma, a student of IIM-Raipur, said many of his classmates don’t have work experience and the interaction with potential employers is valuable. “After the conference, we have grown friendly with some HR heads who came to the campus. They work as mentors in a sense (from) thereon,” Sharma said.

Source: Mint, September 19, 2012

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