New Delhi: Sure you can get your MBA (master’s in business administration) next year, but will there be a job waiting for you at the end of the programme?
From students to professors to—most importantly—those in positions of hiring, almost everyone agrees that the placement season on campuses this year will be very different from that in the past. But, they say, there is no reason to panic—yet.
Notes 25-year-old Neha Rastogi, a final-year MBA student specializing in finance and a member of the placement cell at the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) in Delhi, the global slowdown is definitely showing an impact on the hiring plans of companies, mainly investment banks.
Weighing options: Students on the campus of Delhi University’s Faculty of Management Studies. Recruiters, professors and students agree that the placement season on campuses this year will be very different. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
Banking is the largest employment sector for graduates in the Mint C-fore survey.
“The challenge is a lot more in terms of finding a good job this year,” says Rastogi, who is banking on her work experience of 18 months with the risk management team at Credit Suisse, Singapore, to land her dream job.
Like most of her batchmates in the finance stream, Rastogi, too, is looking at casting a wider net to get the best bet. “Our earlier batches focused heavily on investment banking but, given the present scenario, we are looking at other financial players such as private equity (PE), venture capital (VC) firms and banking services companies, which are showing great potential,” she says.
Like Rastogi, Anubhav Goyal, a student of postgraduate programme in management at the Indian School of Business (ISB), and his classmates are also showing an increasing preference for PE, VC firms and banking services companies.
“As a student body, we are trying and reaching out to as many companies as we can in the PE and VC space,” says Goyal, an engineering graduate majoring in finance at the Hyderabad-based business school.
ISB, for instance, organized a PE conference on 6 September to bring together recruiters and students on one platform. Students are also considering similar roles in other sectors to increase their chances of landing the right job. For those specializing in finance, for instance, the financial services sector remains the first choice. “They are, however, looking at financial roles in other sectors as the next best bet,” says Ashish Handa, students’ director for the placement committee for the class of 2009, ISB.
Though one can see some amount of restraint in buoyancy regarding placements this year, recruiting coordinators across business schools say they don’t expect the slowing global economy to have an impact on campus hiring.
“By now we have a good feel of hiring intentions of international recruiters, who freeze their recruitment plans early, and Indian employers who have indicated their plans. Both international and Indian companies have confirmed their visit to the campus,” says V.K. Menon, senior director, career advancement services and admission and financial aid, ISB. “I don’t see loss of recruiters coming to the campus.”
Menon even offers some positive news. “The total number of offers is actually expected to go up. However, the number of hires per company might see a slight decline.”
Agrees Arvind Narasimhan, placement secretary at FMS, “Companies in the financial services sector are indicating that the number of hires from the campuses could be slightly lower compared to last year. And that is because of the sector, mainly investment banks, being adversely impacted by a slowing global economy and subprime crisis in the US.”
Campuses are not expecting an increase in the total number of offers without good reason. “In a booming economy, where companies are fast expanding their businesses and adding to their headcount, one can only expect hiring to go up,” says Sanjay Bali, vice-president of human resources (HR) at Samsung India Electronics Pvt. Ltd.
HR managers say capacities have to be created on a uniform basis, and talent acquisition looked at from a medium- to long-term perspective. Energy company Cairn India, for instance, which hired eight management graduates from various schools, including the Jamshedpur-based XLRI, the Management Development Institute in Gurgaon and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) in March, is looking to hire a similar or slightly higher number of business school graduates this year. “We expect to have more people on our rolls as we are looking (at) both organic and inorganic growth into other businesses in the energy sector,” Senthil Kumar P., director, HR and administration, Cairn India.
Like Cairn India, consumer durables company Samsung India Electronics, too, expects to add similar numbers this year. Last year, it hired 40 management graduates.
Stock broking and wealth management company Angel Broking Ltd, which hired at least 150 management graduates from the various IIMs and second-rung business schools last year, forecasts similar numbers. “Though we have not finalized our hiring plans yet, we are pretty sure that there are going to be no significant changes in the uptake of students from campus this year,” says Rajiv Phadke, executive director of HR and corporate communications at the Mumbai-headquartered securities firm.
Given a slight dip in the financial services sector, companies from bullish sectors such as consumer goods, consulting, health care, real estate, oil and gas, energy and logistics are upping the ante in an effort to attract the best talent.
Like several other companies, Cairn remains in touch with various campuses and recruiting coordinators in an effort to capture the aspirations of students.
Some companies send their senior managers to the campus to interact with students and foster their employment branding. “It is very important to be able to read the mind of students beforehand, and have an idea of sectors that have the strongest pull from students,” says Kumar. “This prior knowledge helps in positioning ourselves better.”
Though the slowdown in all possibilities is unlikely to threaten hiring plans of companies, salaries are likely to see some amount of rationalization. Although companies are not talking about any cut in salaries, HR managers are not ruling anything out.
“We see a consolidation in salaries. Unlike a year ago, pressure has moved slightly from the employers to employees,” adds Phadke.
Recruitment coordinators as well as students foresee a decline in year-on-year increase in salaries this year. “This is not something unexpected. Compensation rationalization has been due for some time now, given the way salaries have spiralled in the last few years,” says Menon.