Will the slowdown impact recruitment at India’s leading B-schools? A Mumbai-based investment banker, whose company recruits 25-30 MBAs every year (for both international and domestic placements), says: “Slowdown or not, there is still a talent crunch, and there will always be competition for top-flight talent. So, unless things get really bad, recruitments will not be affected,” he says emphatically.
The competition for talent remains fierce between consultancy firms and investment banks, though it appears that some top-drawer MBA recruiters may take their foot off the pedal when it comes to paying eye-popping salaries. That said, Sangeeta Singh, Head of HR, KPMG India, says her firm could well recruit more than the 75 fresh graduates it hired this year. “This is also a function of how fast we are growing as a company. We need new, fresh talent to keep us on our growth path. In 2009, therefore, we will look at increasing our intake.”The spokesperson of a telecom company, which recruits 60-70 fresh MBA graduates every year, points out that India’s telecom growth story is not going to be dramatically impacted by any slowdown. In fact, with the government opening up the playing field to more companies, telecom will remain a massive growth sector. “There might be a lot of mid-level movements because of this; so, recruitments could well increase next year.”
Yashovardhan Verma, Head of HR, LG Electronics India Limited (LGEIL), says his company is also keeping recruitment levels steady, and might even increase its intake this year. “You cannot take a shortterm view when recruiting managers. Economic cycles are a reality of life; but even if there is a slowdown, you don’t want to be caught out when the economy takes off again.” LGEIL recruited approximately 45 freshers this year, mainly from B-schools that are not in the Top 10 on this list, and Verma says that the company has a tentative target of recruiting 50 students in the coming academic year. Most recruiters feel the slowdown is a short-term phenomenon and so, are not factoring it into their recruitment calculus. “High inflation and the US subprime crisis are problems today, but we are planning for the future,” says S.Y. Siddiqui, Head of HR, Maruti Suzuki India. The company, which recruits 25 MBA graduates every year, plans to keep recruitment numbers steady in 2009.
The story is the same in the retail sector. In our cover story The Retail Wars (BT, June 15), we had mentioned how Big Retail is planning to ramp up operations over the next couple of years. But most retailers do not have even an indicative idea of how many management grads they will pick up. A senior executive at Bharti Retail mentions that retail holds great prospects for B-school graduates, particularly in back-end operations, “The retail sector will be recruiting thousands of people over the coming years, and even though only a small proportion will be managers, there are significant opportunities here,” he says.
Media is another sector that is expected to continue to recruit fresh managers by the dozens. Several major channel and publication launches are planned this year, and so, demand will remain high. Living Media India (LMIL), one of India’s largest publishing groups and publisher of Business Today, plans to recruit “a significant number of people from B-schools in the coming year”, says Geetanjali Pandit, Head of HR, LMIL. “We find that younger graduates are easier to train and retain.”However, several of HR heads we spoke to admitted that “affordability” is a distinct problem and that the exuberance of the past few years needs to be tempered. “I do not expect salaries to come down, but the huge 25-35 per cent yearon-year increases in offers will stabilise,” says one. “Have our expansion plans slowed down? No. Do we have to tighten our belts? Yes,” says another. That means salaries might get affected.