Friday, February 15, 2013

Newer IIMs seek professional help to get their students placed

The younger IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) are seeking professional help to get their students placed and create better linkages with industry to deal with a muted job market and bigger batch sizes. Final placements at IIM-Ahmedabad, considered the B-school benchmark, have had a muted start (ET, February 11). The younger IIMs too may have a poor run in final placements, necessitating dedicated effort on their part. Institutes such as IIM-Kashipur, IIM-Ranchi, IIM-Rohtak and IIM-Shillong have hired - in most cases, on contract - advisors in corporate relations and placement to reach out to companies with information on the work they are doing and the quality of students.

The professionals, mostly from HR or sales and marketing backgrounds, are filling in for the already-stretched faculty at IIMs. Traditionally, at the premier institutes, faculty members take up additional charge of facilitating the placements process. Advisors are charging a fee ranging from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1,00,000 for four days a month. Placements - whether summer internships or the finals - have been a challenge at the new IIMs, more so with increased batch sizes. "It's the toughest year yet in terms of placement," says P. Rameshan, Director, IIM-Rohtak. The institute is trying to place 122 students, as against last year's 47.

The advisors have been given the mandate of building relationships with top management in companies, sourcing talent for corporates, organising and initiating chairs and endowments, getting corporate sponsorships for events, handling various stakeholders and marketing the institutes' brands. "It's like a start-up challenge. We need time to establish and promote the institute. There are companies who don't even know where new IIMs are. Also, the market realities of placements can't be wished away," says Gautam Sinha, Director, IIM-Kashipur.

It's all about professionalising the process, says IIM-Ranchi Director MJ Xavier. The institute's summers process, which started in September, is almost complete while the finals process, which started in January, is expected to wrap up in first week of March. It had a batch of 160 students to place in the summers while the finals process has 66 students, up from last year's 44.

The institute has roped in Arijit Majumdar as advisor, external relations, to help with the process. Majumdar has a good 30 years of experience at various levels of management across FMCG, publishing, media and entertainment industries. He has also served as chief of corporate relations and external affairs at IIM-Shillong in the first two years of its existence. IIM-R is also looking at making a proposal to the board to get a headhunting firm to do the job, with a team working full-time on placements and external relations.

IIM-Kashipur has roped in Partha Dasgupta, who has 34 years of experience of working in the corporate sector. Dasgupta, a post graduate in personnel management and industrial relations from Xavier Institute of Social Service, Ranchi, is on an annual contract to help enhance the institute's brand, and match students' profiles and skills with jobs available at various companies.

Till date, 50 companies have come for the summers and finals and the figure is expected to touch around 80 in a week. The batch size for summers and finals is around 40 students each. "A major challenge for companies is the logistics as Kashipur is a non-metro.

While the feedback on the quality of students is good, the salary bands are not that high," says Dasgupta.
IIM-Shillong, which has had professional help from its inception, says it is showing results. "We are more comfortable this year. We have had to struggle due to our location," says Keya Sengupta, Director of the institute, which is trying to place a batch of 105 students. The institutes are hoping that every step in this direction will soon make them names to reckon with.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), February 15, 2013

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