Bangalore: The first day of the placements season at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B) was quiet when compared with the rush in recent years to hire the brightest students of the graduating batch at this premier business school. The overall mood mirrored that at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), where the first recruiters started their job interviews on 25 February.
The economic storm and rising job losses have taken some of the sheen off a period that was till recently dominated by a frenetic rush to recruit B-school grads coupled with sky-high salary offers.
The Indian arms of consulting firms such as Booz and Co., Bain and Co., McKinsey and Co., Boston Consulting Group and AT Kearney Inc. dominated Day Zero, or the first day of final placements at IIM-B on Friday. A couple of private equity funds were also present.
Slow uptake: Students at IIM Bangalore. The premier B-school has seen fewer recruiters this year during its placement process. Manjunath Kiran / Mint
The placement process this year has been stressed, as fewer financial services firms visit campuses or recruit fewer students even if they come, says Jaivardhan Sinha, partner and co-head of the Indian practice for Booz, who was at IIM-B and made one offer for the post of a senior consultant at the India office.
The exact number of companies present and offers made were not clear. Vineet Sharma, member of the IIM-B placement committee, said he would not comment until the whole process was over. The committee asked students not to speak to the media.
Last year, 17-18 companies picked up 35-40% of the batch of 250 students on Day Zero. Most of them came from investment banks. Day Zero is a concept introduced by the IIMs in the mid-1990s to accommodate Wall Street investment banks without offending other recruiters. With Wall Street banks fighting for their survival and shedding jobs, Day Zero is not what it used to be.
Consulting firms, consumer goods companies, engineering companies, private equity firms, commercial banks and technology firms were the major recruiters at IIMs this year. But some international banks, such as Citibank and HSBC, are visiting too. Citi made two offers at IIM Calcutta (IIM-C) and will visit IIM-B on Saturday. “We continue to remain active recruiters at B-schools,” said a Citi spokesperson over phone. The Citi India franchise typically recruits 30-40 MBAs from the country’s top B-schools and expects to recruit the same number this year. Two observers said HSBC would be visiting campuses, but the bank’s spokesperson was not available for comment. Public sector oil firms, widely believed to be the darlings of B-schools this year, said they will not hire management graduates in large numbers.
India’s second biggest state-run refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL) said it will add 150 fresh graduates, 80% of whom will be from engineering schools such as the National Institutes of Technology. It plans to hire a total of 20-25 B-school graduates.
BPCL, which uses a complex system of rotating the schools where it hires on-campus, said it has already recruited 16 MBAs from IIM Indore, Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, Xavier Labour Relations Institute in Jamshedpur and University of Petroleum and Energy Studies in Dehradun.
“(For the) public sector, pay and allowances are not a huge variable in attracting people,” said S. Mohan, director of human resources at BPCL. “If you are an engineer, you are putting a new pipeline. If you want to be part of it, come and join us. We are running 8,000 outlets. If you want to make a difference there, then you join us.”
A member of Mohan’s on-campus recruitment team said BPCL has got invitations from IIM-B and IIM-C to recruit on campus, but may not be able visit them.
IIM-C placed 207 out of a total of 265 students of its batch passing out in 2009, according to a statement issued on Thursday. This includes so called pre-placement offers and laterals, or jobs offered to students with work experience. The second leg of placements, which starts on 2 March, will seek to place the remaining 58 students. This is the first time placements at IIM-C are taking place in two parts. The school says this is due to the final examinations that started 25 February.
India’s premier B-school, IIM-A, saw a mere seven companies turn up on 25 February, significantly down from 25 on Day Zero the previous year.
The concept of Day Zero, Day One and Day Two hold little significance this year as it is widely acknowledged as a “buyers” market. Placements, which typically wind up in five days, are likely to extend to weeks this year.
As with every other B-school in the world, IIM-C, too, faced an unprecedented challenge in placing its students this year, a statement from the school said. Salaries at IIM-C dipped by 10% over the previous year. According to T.C. Meenakshisundaram, founder and managing director at Bangalore-based venture capital firm IDG Ventures India Advisors Pvt. Ltd, there will be a drop in compensation. “Most companies, though it has not come out in public, have taken salary cuts. So, there is little reason for giving equal or more to freshers who are joining.” IDG took four B-school graduates for summer internships from IIM-B and the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi in mid-2008, and is not participating in the placement process as they prefer to recruit after internships.
Lateral placements, which concluded in mid-February at IIM-B, saw about 40-50 offers, down from 75 offers made in the previous year.
This year, a number of students who got offers during lateral placements accepted them and signed out of the final placement process. In a good year, students who get offers during lateral placements delay accepting them, hoping to grab more attractive ones in the final process. Lateral placements, which took place from January to mid-February, are for students with at least 22 months of work experience.
Other B-schools in the country are having it much worse, with some even reaching out to placement consultants for help. For instance, the Institute of Management Technology (IMT) at Nagpur, Maharashtra has tied up with a couple of consultants to help place their students, said Anwar Ali, director at IMT.
Aveek Datta in Kolkata and Aparna Kalra in New Delhi contributed to this story.