States tap B-schools, universities for talent

States scouting for candidates who can help in areas ranging from child nutrition to agricultural productivity

Such career opportunities allow states to get quality talent that has already worked in a corporate set-up and is ready to bring best practices to embellish policy, say analysts. Photo: Mint
Such career opportunities allow states to get quality talent that has already worked in a corporate set-up and is ready to bring best practices to embellish policy, say analysts. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: Taranjeet Sambi could have landed a corporate job of his choosing after completing his course at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad this March.

Yet he preferred to “take a risk with his career”, as he puts it, and chose to accept an offer from the economic development board of the Andhra Pradesh government.

Yet to formally join work, the 34-year-old is equally comfortable talking about rural development, social welfare, improving agriculture, and stuff he’s picked up in management school, like big data, structural reforms and strategic frameworks.

“States are now becoming innovative and looking to attract talent for specialized jobs that can help them accelerate government missions by thinking out of the box,” says Sambi. “I am happy to take up the challenge and join the government,” he adds.

Sambi is one of a dozen from his batch who have been offered jobs by various departments of the Andhra Pradesh government.

And Andhra Pradesh is one of several state governments scouting for fresh talent to help them solve key problems in areas ranging from child nutrition to agricultural productivity.

In pursuit of that goal, states are now going to B-schools and universities to look for talent, with specific works and schemes in mind.

Haryana has started a nationwide search for people to aid its developmental work and achieve success in implementation of flagship schemes.

Andhra Pradesh, on its part, has just finished hiring people to help with “corporate-like” implementation of economic development plans.

While Gujarat was an early adopter of this strategy, Maharashtra has just come on board. The latter is taking on management graduates for its different departments and municipalities.

Haryana will deploy such people in all districts with a dotted reporting structure to the chief minister’s office.

In Andhra Pradesh, new recruits will work on projects ranging from designing the economic model for Amaravati, the proposed capital of the state, to helping welfare schemes achieve success faster.

“We are looking at under-30 talent to come and help us think out of the box,” says Rakesh Gupta, additional principal secretary in the Haryana chief minister’s office.

“We have started a national hunt to select youngsters to work in 21 districts of our state. They will work with district magistrates, but each of them will have a specialization area. To begin with, we are looking for 21 highly qualified, motivated youth and the number may go up with time,” he adds.

Gupta says the idea gained traction after some postgraduate medical students took part in Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao and women’s health schemes, producing great results.

“Our chief minister said why not formalise such a system to achieve better results in several fields for sustainable development. The aim is to put in new systems for better governance and accountability,” Gupta adds.

“Every best practice will be replicated in other districts. We are getting quality applications from top schools including those from leading IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management). In the next six months you will see them bringing change and their ideas getting implemented from bottom upward,” he says.

“The idea came from the CMO (chief minister’s office) and they will work directly with the CMO with three or four key mandates,” says Vineet Gupta, pro-vice chancellor of Ashoka University, a liberal arts-focused university in Haryana which is helping the government scout for talent.

Ragini Mohanty, a professor with Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research in Mumbai, describes the phenomenon as the addition of a third layer to the government system.

“Political and bureaucratic layers are already there. What is happening now is the addition of a corporate layer for better programme implementation,” she says. Her institute is involved in some six to seven government projects with five to 10 students in each group.

So how does it help

The new recruits will monitor programme implementation and find out what the bottlenecks are and what kind of interventions are required.

“Each of them is free to take up a project to fulfil their passion. If a project becomes successful in a particular district, this could be replicated in other districts. We can also convert these works into research papers, for future reference,” says Vineet Gupta of Ashoka University.

“The aim is to boost internal efficiency,” says additional principal secretary Gupta.

“Such career opportunities allow states to get quality talent that has already worked in a corporate set-up and is ready to bring best practices to embellish policy. In a way they are making government jobs lucrative,” says Sambi.

The other aspect is that these new recruits will bring a fresh perspective to government jobs. “It’s your performance not a simple offer letter which is going to govern career growth,” says Sambi, adding that performance-based growth in government jobs is the need of the hour.

Do they pay well?

“I am happy. What they are offering is at par with what ISB expects from its recruiters and at par with what corporates are offering,” Sambi says, without disclosing his package.

The average emoluments of ISB graduates is anywhere between Rs.17 lakh to Rs.19 lakh a year.

This may be what Andhra Pradesh is matching, but Haryana is offering much less.

“To start with, we are offering Rs.50,000 per month, free housing, a vehicle for field work and some other allowances,” says Gupta, confident that the exposure and the opportunity to change the system will draw in youngsters.

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