New Delhi: Anuradha Narasimhan of the class of 1992 at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, or IIM-B, has risen to head the business of nutritional products at Britannia Industries Ltd, where she has a couple of management trainees, fresh from B-schools, reporting to her.
Learning the ropes: The 2008 batch of TAS hires. The company, a coveted recruiter on campuses, handholds its fresh hires for five years.
But she fondly remembers her management training days at Titan Industries Ltd, where she was responsible for the Madurai market and spent days on the road, with instructions to not return with a single watch unsold. “I would visit shop after shop. I got a crash course in real India,” says Narasimhan. She stayed with the company for 10 years.
Alumni from India’s top B-schools say successful training and orientation is the key to helping new hires find their feet in a company. If done well, it can help retain an employee. And if a company’s training programme is an intensive one—as in the case of TAS (formerly known as Tata Administrative Service) or Hindustan Unilever Ltd—it can create an on-campus buzz and help attract recruits.
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But good training is a well thought out process and can take up to three years to put in place. First-time recruiters at B-school campuses—there have been many of those this year—are scrambling to learn from experienced companies how to put their training modules in place.
“You are hiring a future CEO (chief executive officer),” says E. Balaji, chief executive of Ma Foi Management Consultants Ltd, a staffing firm and consultancy. “Within 15 or 20 years (there should be) a CEO coming through the batch. That’s how great companies are built.” Gajendra Nagpal, who heads Unicon Financial Intermediaries Pvt. Ltd, says he is seeking informal and formal help from friends in Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., a big hirer in the past, and Hewlett-Packard Co., to help in his training schedule for recruits. The training will include the nature of sales of financial services.
“We want to take the company to the next level. We have to do investment in this,” says Nagpal, whose company registered itself for on-campus hiring for the first time and recruited 37 graduates from B-schools, including Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Indian Institute of Management, Indore, Faculty of Management Studies, or FMS, Delhi, and Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, or IIFT.
Many experienced recruiters train for a longer period because they have deep pockets. But that’s not the only reason. At TAS, a coveted recruiter on campuses, the goal is to create a “leadership pipeline” or groom fresh hires to take leadership positions in the Tata group as fast as possible, says vice-president Rajesh Dahiya.
TAS handholds fresh hires for five years. This year, 32 students hired on campus from the IIMs in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta and Lucknow, besides FMS, SP Jain Institute of Management and Research in Mumbai, and XLRI in Jamshedpur, will undergo the TAS programme—selling cars one day and cellphone services the next month. “We make sure that one of these stints is international and one is rural,” says Dahiya.
Also thrown in is the learning of a new language. Many companies use their training programmes to make sure that new hires meet staff across geographies and, equally importantly, are assimilated into their work culture.
Consultancies, Day Zero recruiters on campuses, say their training is shorter than that of conglomerates but is very often conducted at headquarters. Vinod Nair, managing partner of Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, Inc.’s India practice, says his firm began sending its new hires to the company’s Chicago headquarters for a three-week training stint to let them build relationships with peers from other offices and to “feel more culturally integrated into our firm globally”.
“Even though the cost is higher, the value (of the training) is much, much higher for us,” says Nair, who recruited this year at the IIMs in Calcutta and Bangalore and the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. Diamond Management and Technology Consultants’ training will include simulated client meetings (the firm is among the consultants used by HT Media Ltd, which publishes Mint).
For many hires, training provides access to leading managers of a company and a chance to learn from them. “(It is) great learning for someone who has just come out of a business school and has spent one year in the industry,” says Joy Gupta, who is training at TAS. He was hired from IIM-A in 2008 and has handled three live projects, including one in rural retail and another in mergers and acquisitions.