The deal between the Bharti Group and Wal-Mart Inc. is yet to be sealed, but that hasn’t stopped the venture from recruiting at top business schools.
This week, Bharti made a four-hour pitch at the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad to fill openings in the retail business it plans with US-based Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer.
“They have registered as the Bharti Group. We are expecting them to recruit for telecom and retail,” said Bhuvana Ramalingam, spokesperson for the business school.
Bharti has also made a pre-placement pitch, spelling out job profiles to the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) in Delhi and the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. ISB and FMS began job placements this week, while Bangalore does so next month.
The Bharti Group will not confirm recruiting for retail positions, but said it is canvassing Indian campuses over the next few weeks to fill multiple positions.
“Bharti plans to hire 60 to 70 students,” said Harshvendra Soin, senior vice-president for corporate human relations at the Bharti Group.
The retail sector is expected to emerge as one of the biggest recruiters this year—even before the industry has fully opened itself to foreign investment.
The prospects, though, have excited students like 24-year-old Bhanu Pathak, a 2007 batch student of IIM-Bangalore.
“I want to be part of the churn-out that happens in retail in the next four or five years,” said Pathak, who has specialized in marketing and strategy. “Companies will decide who will become a discounter, who will get into supermarkets, who will dominate hypermarkets.”
Retail is expected to attract mostly marketing students. “Those students with marketing as a specialization, who earlier would go into consumer durables, are looking at retail,” says Madhurjya Banerjee, a 2007 batch student of IIM-B.
Despite the hype, some observers caution that the retail sector faces stiff competition from investment banks and private-equity firms with deeper pockets.
Last year, for example, a job offer from Reliance Retail did not find any takers at a top business school.
“Retail is hot, but it has to be seen from an international perspective. At IIM-A, the top 40 Fortune 500 companies come hunting,” said Piyush Kumar Sinha, chairman of placements and a retail professor at IIM-A. “Microsoft was here last year, and so were all the investment banks.”
India’s $300-billion (Rs13.2-lakh-crore) retail industry is mostly a mish-mash of family-run stores, with only 3% in the organized sector.
But it has seen a lot of action from behemoth corporations, with Bharti, Reliance and the A.V. Birla Group all announcing major retail plans.
While rural India and second-tier cities figure heavily in the business plans of many entrants, analysts say it’s unlikely top graduates will be posted there.
“They would be posted either in metros or state capitals,” says Ajay Gupta, chief executive of Ruralnaukri.com, an online placement service for rural workers.
As companies crowd job placements, domestic retail operators such as Reliance and Bharti will have to compete for managerial talent with international companies in their own sector.
Gap Inc., a US-based clothes retailer, is also recruiting this year at IIM-A. UK retailer and supermarket company Tesco Plc has already interviewed candidates with work experience at IIM-B.