New Delhi: When he entered the one-year postgraduate programme in management for executives (PGPX) at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, 35-year-old Anand?Panchapakesan thought it would advance his career.
But not by as much as it did.
Promising future: The PGPX batch of 2008 at the convocation ceremony in IIM Ahmedabad.
The recent graduate landed a job in senior management at Reliance ADAG’s power distribution business. Similarly, his batchmate Arun Pratap Singh is making a huge leap in his profile: head of the scooter business at Ahmedabad-based Electrotherm (India) Ltd.
“Frankly, I never expected to get the kind of role I have been offered,” says Singh, also 35, who spent 11 years at Tata Motors Ltd as a product development executive for buses.
Placements at the second graduating class of executive MBAs from one of the country’s top business schools reflect a nationwide trend among recruiters and applicants alike: middle managers are turning to the programmes to leapfrog into top management as demand for such homegrown talent remains strong. On 10 April, IIM Lucknow is launching a one-year international programme in management for executives (IPMX) at its Noida campus. At IIM Ahmedabad alone, the percentage of top leadership roles offered by firms more than doubled; last year, 12 candidates out of 60 took on senior roles, while this year that number is 28.
Arvind Sahay, chairman of the programme, proudly rattles off the offers: one country manager, one chief operating officer, three strategic business unit heads, four vice-presidents and five general managers. “The next batch promises to be even better with an average age of 33 years, experience of 10 years and GMAT (graduate management admission test) score of 728” out of 800, he adds.
Of the 72 students, 69 participated in the placement process and 130 offers were made by companies including the Aditya Birla Group, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd, Cairn Energy, IBM, ITC Group, Tata group, McKinsey and Co. and Microsoft Corp., among others.
The pay packets have got fatter, too. The average domestic salary offered this year was Rs26.8 lakh compared with Rs24.65 lakh last year.
The average overseas salary was $145,000 (Rs58.14 lakh) against $135,000 last year.
And it’s not IIM Ahmedabad alone that has seen this trend in executive MBA placements. The first batch of postgraduate programme for executives, known as the PGPEX, at IIM Calcutta too saw a number of middle-level managers entering very senior positions. Around 48 companies including A.T. Kearney, Inc., PricewaterhouseCoopers, DLF Ltd and Arthur D. Little made 60 offers to 39 students at IIM Calcutta’s executive programme, launched in December 2006.
“We have noticed a clear demand for senior leadership roles during placement of our first graduating class,” says Soumyo Darshan Moitra, chairperson, career development and placement, IIM Calcutta.
Apart from the IIMs, the Indian School of Business (ISB) also has a full time postgraduate programme in management for professionals with work experience, but it does not specifically target middle to senior level professionals. ISB’s programme has students with work experience ranging from two to 22 years.
Mid-career changes and the trend of hiring senior management cadre from business schools has been around in the US, UK and other European countries for a long time, observe experts. However, in India—where it is still common for 21-year-olds to enter MBA programmes without work experience—executive education is fuelled by demand for leadership talent in emerging functions to keep pace with the growth of business.
“Companies are unable to fill people in leadership roles through their internal talent pool as demand has far outstripped supply,” says P. Dwarakanath, director, group human capital, Max India Ltd, a firm with interests in health care, technology and financial services. “Programmes such as these serve as a good source of senior management talent.”
If anything, human resource managers say more such courses will be required to fulfil demand for leadership talent in coming years in India. The success of these programmes will, however, depend on the quality of delivery, they add. Typically, these programmes targeted at middle to senior level professionals are designed to enhance understanding of business at functional and strategic levels and prepare students to manage enterprises competing globally. “If companies are vying to hire students, there are reasons for it. All these programmes are close to live business situations and have students with strong experience,” says Charul Madan, partner, Executive Access (India) Pvt. Ltd, an executive search firm engaged in senior-level placements. “Companies respect the wealth of knowledge and diverse skills they bring along with them. They recognize the value they can create for the company by contributing at the strategic level,” he adds.
Meanwhile, people who have been through executive MBAs are changing track in terms of job function or industry for larger roles or a more challenging job profile. For instance, IIM Ahmedabad’s PGPX graduate Anuj Srivastava is shifting from applied research to business development as senior manager of Dr Reddy’s custom pharmaceutical services business. The 33-year-old was working as a senior scientist at Hindustan Unilever Ltd’s research centre in Bangalore for five years after graduating from IIT Bombay and doing his MS and PhD from Princeton.
Seeing a demand for such courses, the IPMX programme received more than 600 applicants out of which 46 candidates have been enrolled, says Devi Singh, director IIM Lucknow.
“With average work experience of nine years and GMAT score of 700 plus, we are expecting to see our students fill up top-notch positions.”