Is it time for India Inc. to pursue new business opportunities after recovery from the slowdown? Perhaps not. Caution still remains the buzzword, or at least that is what CEO Views 2010 India, a survey of 30 CEOs carried out by executive search firm BTI Consultants, reveals.
"The clear signals to emerge from the survey are that growth is not assured; that threats linger, and the focus will be largely on existing markets and customers," says James Agrawal, Consulting Director and Head of BTI Consultants in India. Leading global search firm Kelly Services, the holding company of BTI Consultants, has been studying the views of CEOs in India for the last 15 years.
This CEO survey is the first of its kind. "After the recovery, business confidence was perceived to be positive and growing. But when we would meet business leaders, they would sound cautious and hence we decided to understand their concerns," says Agrawal.
According to the survey, there are both near term business concerns as well as more deep-seated labour market issues confronting corporate leaders. The nervousness about the global economy and a shortage of skilled personnel are the key concerns in terms of immediate outlook for business activity.
Also, the CEOs plan to focus on existing customers and markets, and will avoid higher-risk expansion strategies. Their key challenge is to maintain profitable growth. "With one eye turned to the financial crisis in Europe and the other on the tentative recovery in the United States, Indian CEOs are not yet ready to splurge on new ventures in such an uncertain market," says Agrawal.
The single biggest HR issue facing the CEOs, however, is talent retention and acquisition. Skills shortage is another top of the mind concern with the industry and is considered a longterm obstacle to national development. Over a third of the CEOs surveyed rank it as the most pressing workforce issue.
The next critical issue is "disruption of workforce". "The mismatch between the industry's needs and the output of skilled workers remains chronic, and one that impacts productivity and profitability," says Agrawal, adding that lack of employable talent is hurting the plans of the CEOs.