Hot new MBA jobs

Rahul Sachitanand        Print Edition: July 13, 2008

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Investment banks, consumer goods giants and consulting companies usually dominate the placements sweepstakes at most prominent business schools and tend to corner the interest of most students. However, over the last couple of years, some upcoming industries, including retail, real estate, pharma, education and microfinance, are also beginning to attract the attention of wannabe managers. While the old guard continues to pay substantially more than these newcomers, many MBA grads are now beginning to look beyond remuneration alone and to long-term career prospects when they opt for these upstarts. That also means that young MBAs are willing to bet their careers at employers as varied as the Manipal Group, Unitech, Big 92 FM, and Pantaloons.

The Manipal Group, which has interests across education and healthcare, is going out of its way to attract wannabe managers. While the company earlier visited a few B-schools to hire a handful of MBA grads, a rapidly growing business has compelled it to ramp up this figure. “We are expanding into new areas such as retail and entering new segments in education, too, which requires more managers to manage this evolving business,” says Anand Sudarshan, CEO, Manipal Education. He believes that these new industries are going through the same growth phase that IT went through over a decade ago. “There are huge growth opportunities in these markets and young managers are thrown into the deep end,” he adds. From a company that primarily operated out of the small education town of Manipal in coastal Karnataka, the group has rapidly expanded its presence nationwide and even set up campuses overseas.

Thrill of the new

Big 92 FM’s Samrat Mukherjee: Media is the message
Samrat Mukherjee: Media is the message
It is just this thrill that drew 22-year-old Samrat Mukherjee to the fast-growing media industry and the buzzing offices of R-ADAG’s Big 92 FM. A graduate from the Amity School of Management, he considered offers from sectors like consulting and IT before opting for the fast-growing media industry.

“The radio industry gives me the opportunity to feel the pulse of the consumer much faster than industries like consumer goods,” says Mukherjee.

He also says that unlike consumer goods and even IT, the industry is in a rapid state of evolution with new players entering the market, legislations changing and employable talent at a premium. “Even at a relatively junior level, employees are encouraged to think creatively, out-of-thebox and devise creative ideas to stay ahead of the competition,” says Mukherkee. According to the Head of Human Resources at Big 92 FM, Lancelot Cutinha, management grads today are no longer satisfied with salaries, but look to challenges at work when they make placement decisions.

For 26-year-old Ankush Chopra, it was just this option that made him choose the booming real estate market over the more conventional options of IT and consulting when he decided on his future. An MBA from IMT Nagpur and a resident of Delhi, Chopra decided to join real estate major Unitech from campus— an unusual move, considering he has a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems and charted his academics for a career in the fast-growing IT industry.

“As Manager, Commercial Marketing for Unitech, I work on developing new IT and ITES projects, including SEZs,” explains Chopra. “A critical part of my role involves working with high networth individuals and multinational realty companies to chart their plans across the country,” he says.

Having lived in Delhi for many years, a job in neighbouring Gurgaon, which has seen an explosion in commercial realty, was a natural choice. Despite worries over slowing rentals and a recessing industry, Chopra is unfazed about his long-term career prospects. “These are expected cycles in business and I believe the real estate industry and large players such as Unitech will emerge stronger in the next few years,” he explains.

Getting pro

There’s another reason why the new sunrise industries such as real estate and retail are hiring management graduates, say industry watchers. According to Priya Chetty-Rajagopal, Vice President of search firm Stanton Chase, industries such as real estate also need MBAs to professionalise their set-up and dress them up for big-ticket foreign investors.

Unitech’s Ankush Chopra: Betting on booming realty
Unitech’s Ankush Chopra: Betting on booming realty
"Globally, real estate is seen as an integral part of an investment portfolio; it is only in India that this transition is yet to happen,” she says. In other segments such as retail, human resources managers are much sought after as people-hungry companies look to fine-tune their hiring strategies and ensure that practices are optimally tuned to attract and retain the best and the brightest talent.

“We’re on a rapid expansion drive and we need the right people to help execute our strategy,” says Snehal Mantri, Director of Mantri Developers, a Bangalore-based real estate agency. “There is a premium on good land and low-cost finance. We need top MBAs to make sure that we get the best of both,” adds Mantri. Over the last two years, Mantri has hired over a dozen MBAs.

At Bangalore-based GMR Group, it’s all hands on deck as the firm charts an ambitious Rs 35,000-crore expansion plan over the next five years. From a company that began three decades ago as a jute manufacturer, GMR has been on warpspeed growth over the last couple of years, first bagging the $2.7-billion Sabiha Gocken airport deal in Turkey and then looking for coal mines to fuel its power projects. As the company seeks to add 5,000 MW in power capacity and bid for airports in smaller cities and towns, G.M. Rao, the company’s 59-yearold founder, is finding ways to keep pace with people for his existing and new businesses. “We need young managers to not just handle existing projects, but also scout for new ones and even zero in on new areas for expansion,” says a senior GMR representative. At the same time, he adds, the group recognises that it will need to retool compensation and perks to match or better those offered by preferred employers in IT and consulting. Sounds like a win-win deal for the employer and his MBA hire.

Who's hiring and why?

Reasons range from surging growth to competitive pressures.

  • Growth industries such as infrastructure need managers to handle a spate of new projects across the country and globally

  • Some industries such as real estate need managers in order to sort out their portfolios and attract foreign investors

  • Organised retail is growing at a breakneck pace, and needs management graduates to handle complex supply chain and selling issues

  • People-intensive industries such as BPO and retail need specialists to plot and manage their demand for manpower

  • Sectors like education are getting professionalised and beginning to attract attention from investors outside the country

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