NOV. 10, 2002
 Cover Story
 From The Editor
 Ranbaxy Inc.
 BT 500
 ONGC Uncapped
 BT Billboard

Q&A: Anshu Jain
The London-based Anshu Jain, Head of Deutsche Bank's Global Markets division and member of the bank's Group Executive Committee, was in Mumbai for a day recently. He spoke to BT about trends in global debt markets, banks' appetite for coprorate risk, derivatives and the implications for India.

Travel Agent Blues
India's big travel agents are feeling the heat. Commissions are getting squeezed, even as big-ticket travel-overseas particularly-is suffering. So, how are the travel biggies coping? Innovations. Ever paid a consultancy fee for your holiday advice? Better get used to it.

More Net Specials
Business Today,  October 27, 2002
Help, Tarun!

I am a 34-year-old MBA from an IIM with 10 years of experience in marketing in the FMCG sector. I was laid off several months ago and I am finding it difficult to land a good job. My friends have been telling me to consider working in fields other than marketing. What do you suggest?

"Transparency In Compensation Is Vital"
How Much Should The Directors Get?

Your not being able to land a job seems more related to your own hang-ups than to any scarcity of jobs. You need to be a little more flexible and look at other industries like durables, chemicals, computer hardware, retailing, advertising, and market research. Look at sales and customer service jobs, apart from marketing. You are likely to find a job you like in one of these, keeping you closer to the FMCG sector rather than changing your field completely.

I am a 27-year-old hr professional employed with a multinational engineering company. I have recently been through a rough patch on the personal front-my marriage broke up and there was a death in the family. As a result, I have not been able to concentrate properly on my work for the past six months. This has taken me off the good books of my bosses. Till recently, everyone in the organisation used to appreciate my efficiency. Do you think it will help if I speak to my boss and promise to be my old, hardworking self again?

You need to get over your personal problems. Start by introspecting about what you are doing to help yourself. In case you need counselling or help, avail some, but it is time you came back to reality and started concentrating on your work. You must understand that people will be compassionate and understanding only up to a point. You seem to demand this as your right. You could talk to your boss, apologise, and say you are going to turn around and be your old, hard-working self. You could offer to speak to the MD and take responsibility for the department's slack performance. This would definitely make your boss feel better and he is likely to give you another chance. All of us have bad times, it's how we handle them and move forward that separates the failed from the successful.

I am a 32-year-old management consultant. I was laid off a month ago after my company merged with another consulting firm. I have an engineering/MBA background with experience in operations consulting. However, there seem to be very limited opportunities for consultants like me given the tight job market. Most prospective employees only want consultants with an infotech background. What should I do? Would some re-skilling help?

I think you need to look for a job in a different area. The market for consultants is not very hot at the moment. Depending on the kind of consulting projects you have done, you could move into logistics, engineering, projects or even manufacturing. You could also try for a job in the systems departments of professional/financial services companies. It would help if you could, simultaneously, pursue a part-time course on any of the above, particularly logistics and systems.

I was till recently employed as a systems director in a private financial institution. However, my company laid me off. This despite the fact that I was the oldest of the five directors reporting to the CIO, and had the best track record. I am finding it very difficult now, at the age of 57, to find another job at the same level that would suit my experience and expertise. Please advise.

You are close to 60, which gives you little room for manoeuvre. In the systems area, the average age of the employee has been going down world wide. There is also a perception, incorrect as it might be, that younger age means being a little more 'with it' in terms of technology. You need to reconcile to this trend in the job market. You should look for smaller private companies or entrepreneurial firms that will value your experience and give you the kind of employment you seek. You need to look out for ads about similar positions as well as part-time consulting assignments. Logically, all you are looking for is three years of employment before you hit the retirement age. I hope you have negotiated a good severance/retirement package from your company. That should also stand you in good stead.

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.

"Transparency In Compensation Is Vital"

With fresh debates raging on CEO and board compensations, issues like CEO performance and transparency are back in the buzz. P. Dwarakanath, Director (hr & Administration), GSK Consumer, spoke to BT's about emoluments for executive and non-executive directors in his company.

What is your company's policy regarding board pay?

We offer a fair, equitable, and competitive compensation to attract and retain the best talent.

How do you determine the salary and benefits of the board of directors?

The remuneration committee takes into account cost of living, market standards and performance.

Does it compare with global standards?

Yes it does. However, a direct dollar comparison would be unfair.

What skills do you look for in a director on the company board?

We look at their leadership and people skills. We also factor in their commercial acumen and appreciation of a business atmosphere.

What are the corporate governance issues that your company lays stress on?

Our organisation had a robust corporate governance code in place even before it was mandated in India. Transparency and openness are key issues for us. For an executive director, the motivation derived from the prestige associated with being on the company's board is far greater than any cash compensation.

How Much Should The Directors Get?

The first milestone in corporate governance in India was the report of the committee appointed by the SEBI under the chairmanship of Kumar Mangalam Birla in 1999.

Among several important aspects of corporate governance that the committee looked at were the composition, role, and remuneration of the board of directors. Though it clearly defined the first two, the compensation aspect was not dealt with in detail. Its recommendation was for setting up a remuneration committee to determine compensation of directors, recognising that the remuneration package should be good enough to attract, retain, and motivate people of a high calibre, but not more than necessary for the purpose. A disclosure of the remuneration package in the corporate governance section of the annual report was also recommended. However, the particulars of what factors should determine the compensation of the board members were not dealt with.

Most (good) companies in India comply with the SEBI recommendations and disclose details of the compensation package their directors get. But there's still a huge gulf between Indian and global practices. "The board pay should be a combination of salary, bonus, restricted stock grant, stock options, and unit share payments," says Poonam Barua, Regional Director, The Conference Board, India, "and long-term performance of the board should be a key factor in determining pay, which is rarely the case for companies in India."

But some companies like Infosys are making an effort to set things straight. "Payments to the directors are often restricted by the Companies Act," points out Atul Vohra, Senior Partner, Heidrick & Struggles, "though there certainly is a need for better emoluments."

As awareness of the need for better governance increases, things will hopefully fall in place.