Bangalore: The worsening economic crisis and rising job losses may have dampened job offers for students graduating from management schools but have, in the process, not only allowed regular recruiters a wider selection but also for the first time opened up hiring opportunities for some old economy companies.
Vehicle maker Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd consumer durables maker, Usha International Ltd and Gujarat Tea Processors and Packers Ltd, makers of Wagh Bakri tea, have either made or are poised to make their debut at premier business schools such as the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) and the SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai. Companies such as Axis Bank Ltd and Infosys Technologies Ltd, which have been regulars at these schools, see a big difference: more students to choose from and fewer rejects.
Much to its own surprise, the Gurgaon-based electrical appliances manufacturer, Usha International, got Day Zero slots at IIM Bangalore and IIM Indore and Day 1 slots at IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Lucknow. Day Zero, which can typically last for two days, was created to accommodate in-demand recruiters, such as Wall Street investment banks, without offending regular recruiters.
Anything’s good: Students at XLRI Jamshedpur. Expectations are tempered by the slowdown and the acceptance ratio of offers has been high. Indranil Bhoumik / Mint
In the case of the Mahindra and Mahindra group, individual companies such as Tech Mahindra Ltd have been regular recruiters at the top schools but it’s the first time in 64 years that the parent company has made 12 job offers to graduates from management schools such as the IIMs, XLRI Jamshedpur and the Faculty of Management Studies, New Delhi.
Explaining the company’s strategy, Rajeev Dubey, president, human resources (after-market and corporate services) and member of the group management board of Mahindra and Mahindra, said, “We had doubts in the past how well such people (top-tier business school students) would fit into the Mahindra structure and whether there would be issues of the salary levels...”
In earlier years, Day Zero slots were accorded to investment banks.
However, after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and the pressure on investment banks as the global financial crisis spreads, they are not visible.
This year student expectations are tempered by the ongoing slowdown, which has prompted companies to go slow on hiring. The Indian economy, as Mint reported on 10 February, is expected to grow at 7.1% in 2008-09, the slowest pace in six years.
As a result, the acceptance ratio has also been high.
According to Amit Gupta, human resources manager at Usha International, students accepted offers on the same day. The company visited all the IIMs for the first time and made five offers—all were accepted.
In earlier years, an old economy company such as Usha International would not have approached the IIMs, says Kris Lakshmikanth, founder chairman and managing director of executive search firm Head Hunters (India) Pvt. Ltd.
Lakshmikanth, who is an alumnus from IIM Calcutta, was hired by Asian Paints Ltd through campus placements in 1972.
Both the Mahindra group and Usha International maintain that the decision to approach top business schools was part of a larger recruitment strategy initiated before the slowdown kicked in.
Gujarat Tea Processors and Packers received several “crisis” calls from placement officials and is now planning to visit top tier SP Jain Institute of Management and Research.
Parag Desai, director, sales and marketing, at the Wagh Bakri tea group, says the company plans to hire graduates for marketing and sales promotion, but declined to disclose the number of offers they would make as he was still in negotiations with the school. Earlier, the Ahmedabad-based tea company used to hire from Gujarat-based schools such as Nirma University’s Institute of Management and Mudra Institute of Communications, among others.
Unlike in previous years, India’s second largest software services firm by revenue, Infosys, is seeing fewer rejects. “Earlier they used to have two offers and would ask, is it an international posting?” says Nandita Gurjar, senior vice-president and global human resources head at Infosys. The company hires over a dozen graduates from the IIMs every year.
Similarly, Axis Bank got better interview slots as more students evinced interest.
S. Bhattacharya, president human resources, Axis Bank, says that earlier, “as a recruiter we would always have to bargain for improving slots”. The bank recruits 15-18 graduates from IIMs; this year it got a Day 1 slot at IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Calcutta as against Day 2 slots previously.
“When we were going on Day 2, most of them (the students) would have already been placed, which was not the case this time,” said Bhattacharya.