SEPT. 15, 2002
 Cover Story
 BT Event
 Personal Finance
 Case Game
 Back of the Book

Q&A: Douglas Nielson
Douglas Nielson, Chief Country Officer, Deutsche Bank, India, speaks to BT Online on what the bank has in mind for India, particularly its plans in the asset management arena. Equity research, as Nielson says, will emerge as a key differentiating factor in this business, and that's exactly what Deutsche is working on.

Long Bond Is Back
The government is bringing back the 30-year bond. Will insurers be the only takers?

More Net Specials
Business Today,  September 1, 2002
Help, Tarun!!!

An MBA with an engineering background, I have been working in the market research industry for nearly four years now. I feel that the insurance sector holds better opportunities than my present industry and want to switch. Given my educational background and work experience, what kind of insurance jobs should I apply for? Are my present qualifications enough or should I do a course in insurance management?

Hope, At Last?
"The Growth Rate In Salaries Will Be Slower"

The insurance industry has a number of successful people who are not formally qualified but who have work experience that is relevant. Your education and experience are not directly relevant to the industry, so acquiring a relevant qualification is extremely important if you want to do well in the field. Obtaining such a qualification should not be too difficult for you since most insurance-related courses in the country have a distance-learning component. Simultaneously, you could take up a job in the marketing or customer relationship management side of the sector. That would help you leverage your experience in market research. The insurance industry is likely to witness rapid growth in the near future. This will work in favour of the newer entrants.

I am a 43-year-old regional sales manager working with a reputed FMCG company. I do not have an MBA as it was not considered important when I started my career 17 years back to have one. I have been trying in vain for a promotion for the last six years. Is it the absence of a management degree that's hampering my career prospects? I have this dream of becoming a professional sales trainer. What kind of skills do I need to acquire to excel in this field?

Not having a management degree is definitely a disadvantage-especially since you will need to compete with executives who have MBAs. You could go in for a part-time MBA degree. However, that doesn't carry the same weight as a full-time MBA. You also need to brush up on your knowledge of current management practices. You could couple all this with attending training programmes conducted by external trainers or those held inside the company. These will stand you in good stead in your quest to become a sales trainer. Also look for opportunities within your company that will help you gain relevant work experience. A combination of the above will go a long way in helping you become a professional sales trainer.

I am a 43-year-old vice president working with a leading Indian pharma company and have a degree from a top US B-school. I have been working with the company for the last 20 years. I owe my current position to my company's policy of promoting more women executives to senior positions with a view to changing the predominantly male working environment. But now the company is moving away from its earlier policy of promoting women executives. I feel there is little chance of my rising any higher in the organisation and becoming a director. Should I consider moving on to another company?

Check the educational background and work experience of the other directors. If you find that everyone with your background is more or less in a similar position, gender bias cannot be blamed. In case you feel there is gender bias, there is no harm in looking at other options and weighing them against your current position. You have been in this company for 20 years and it is going to be difficult to take the leap. There will also be a lot of pressure-financial and emotional-once you announce your intention to leave.

I am a 28-year-old sales director in a technology firm. I am unhappy with my current work profile and want to try something different. I will soon finish my MBA in finance from a reputed management school in Delhi. But I want to figure out what kind of work will satisfy me before making a change. How should I go about this?

Fulfilment is a state of mind. It's difficult to attain-professionally and otherwise. Career evolution and changing career interests are not new for an ambitious young executive like you. However, you need to be clear about the reasons you want to change your present line of work. You need to ask yourself if there is anything you specifically do not like about the sales department. This will hopefully help you figure out what you don't like about your present job and make up your mind on the kind of job you would like to go in for.

Answers to your career concerns are contributed by Tarun Sheth (Senior Consultant) and Shilpa Sheth (Managing Partner) of HR firm, Shilputsi Consultants. Write to Help,Tarun! c/o Business Today, Videocon Tower, Fifth Floor, E-1, Jhandewalan Extn., New Delhi-110055.

Hope, At Last?
Recruitment in the IT sector is showing signs of picking up.

It sure looks like the fizz is back in information technology. The hammering the industry received over the last two years, especially in the months following 9-11, had reduced the demand for it professionals to a mere trickle from the heady days of late 90s when salaries rose 40-60 per cent annually. Well, the dark clouds seem to be lifting and some sunshine is finally getting through.

Recruitment in the it sector is picking up. Says C. Mahalingam, former hr head of Hewlett-Packard India and currently the Group Vice President (hr) of Singapore-based Scandent Group: "The honeymoon of the 90s is not likely to come back, but recruitment is certainly showing an upward trend. The worst is seems to be over." Sunit Mehra, Partner, Horton International, agrees: "We may not see the days of 100 per cent growth but the it sector looks set to grow at 25-35 per cent." Infosys Technologies hired 566 it professionals this quarter, up from just 75 in the previous one, while Wipro Technologies recruited 919 people in the quarter-ended June 30, 2002, up from 124 in the previous quarter. The signs of a recovery are everywhere. While it employment advertisements are back in the leading dailies all over the country, clients of job portals like Monster and Jobstreet are renewing their contracts. Even small-time recruitment firms have reported at least 10-15 placements every month now as compared to just two or three in two months last year.

The news is almost as good on the salary front. Says Mahalingam: "Companies are revising pay, although cautiously." Even companies that did not revise salaries for the last 18 months have now given raises of 18-20 per cent. Increments in companies with no pay revision for the last two years have peaked at 22-25 per cent.

Bench levels (proportion of employees without work) seem to be coming down as well. Bench levels of over 50 per cent just a few months ago have now fallen at 25-35 per cent. That's a positive sign. There is a growing demand for professionals in the enterprise integration segment and for mainframe specialists. Says Hema Ravichandar, Senior Vice President (hr), Infosys: "We continue to look for individuals who have consulting experience and technological expertise and who can acquire new skills fast." The first signs of a recovery in the US, especially in the automotive and aerospace industries, have accelerated the process of healing in Indian infotech companies-most of their clients are based in the US. Now, if the momentum lasts....

"The Growth Rate In Salaries Will Be Slower"

HCL Tech's Ashok Bhattacharya

Ashok Bhattacharya, VP (HR), HCL Technologies, spoke to BT's on the various aspects of recruitment in the it industry.

On what skill sets the IT industry is looking for among new recruits: The market today demands total solutions and the capability to execute large and complex projects. Skill-sets are a given, but domain expertise is a must. At HCL Technologies, we are looking for people who have specific functional and domain expertise. We are also looking for senior managers with extensive relationship building and account management experience.

On bench-levels coming down: Strategically we do not encourage having bench as we do focused recruitment. But, whatever bench levels were there have been significantly reduced over the last year.

On salaries in the IT industry picking up: There is an oversupply situation in the it market for most skill-sets. Overall, salaries are likely to remain at the present levels or go up slightly. However, the rate of growth in salaries will be much slower than what we have seen in the past.