New Delhi: The credit crunch and the possibility of a recession in the US has resulted in a boom in business for Indian headhunters.
Once hard-pressed to find the right people for the CXO (a term used to describe chief executive, operating, technology or marketing officers) level jobs for companies in India, executive search firms are inundated with calls from senior Indian professionals working in the US and Europe, seeking job opportunities in India.
To be sure, the trend has been around for a few years; only, it seems to have accelerated now.
Executives in some of these search firms claim that the number of professionals they have placed in the first three months of this year is more than the number they did in all of 2007.
“The past three months have been quite hectic,” says Arun Das Mahapatra, managing partner at Heidrick and Struggles, an executive search firm. According to Mahapatra, since January this year, his company has placed five overseas Indian professionals in Indian companies. Heidrick and Struggles had closed only seven such placements in 2007.
The story is no different for Stanton Chase, another executive search firm. According to the company, it has found jobs in Indian companies for 10 senior Indian executives working in the US since January, as against 25 in 2007. Another firm in the same space, Executive Access, claims to have placed seven such returnees in the last three months against 12 last year.
“The trend of Indian professionals wanting to move back to the country has been there for some years now. However, there has been a sudden spurt in this trend in the past few months,” says Charul Madan, partner, Executive Access India Pvt. Ltd.
“Earlier, such professionals would want to come back to be part of the India growth story. Whereas now, it is the subprime crisis, the slowing economy and the fear of layoffs in the US and other slowing economies in Europe that are prompting them to look for opportunities in India,” he adds.
According to the executives in the search firms, mostreturnees are exploring opportunities in the financial services and information technology sectors.
“Financial services have been impacted the most by the subprime crisis. Many people in support roles and second-rung performers in core functions such as trading, research, sales and business development are the ones likely to get pink slips in case there are layoffs. Most of them want to come back to India,” says R. Suresh, managing director, Stanton Chase India.
Returnees have found slots in companies, includingLupin Ltd, BNP Paribas, GE India, Motilal Oswal Securities Ltd and Bharti-Wal-Mart, add the executives.
Some overseas Indians are seeking opportunities in sectors such as infrastructure, energy and utilities as well. According to Mahapatra, his firm recently placed one CXO each in a power and a port infrastructure company.
An executive at one search firm, however, says the crisis in the US is a temporary factor, and the India growth story is a stronger reason for overseas professionals wanting to come back to India. “The reason for the rise in numbers is more because of the pull factor of India rather than the push factor of the US,” says Rajeev Vasudeva, partner, Egon Zehnder International, whose firm placed around 40 seniorIndian executives in 2007 and has done around 12 since January 2008.
Ananth Iyer, director, Shilputsi Consultants, a search firm, says the overall attraction of a growing economy, a vibrant financial market, increased mergers and acquisitions activity, and expansion of Indian operations by multinationals are significant reasons for the reverse flow of people.