MARCH 30, 2003
 Cover Story
 At Work
 Personal Finance
 Case Game
 Back of the Book

Q&A: Kunio Sebata
The President and CEO of the $3.8-billion Hitachi Home and Life Solutions Inc tells BT Online about what it's like to operate independently in India, the company's past relationship with the Lalbhai Group in the air-conditioner market, its faith in joint ventures and its current plans for India.

Q&A: Eran Gartner
As Vice President (Operations), Bombardier Transportation, Eran Gartner, outlines what would make his company such a hot pick to build Bangalore's mass transit system. It isn't just about creating a network and vanishing, he claims, it's also about transferring modern technology to the local operations.

More Net Specials
Business Today,  March 16, 2003
Help, Tarun!!!

I have dreamt of settling down in Canada since my high school days. A rewarding career abroad and a standard of living inconceivable in India have always held an irresistible appeal for me. But now, at the age of 21, my landing a job in Canada seems destined to remain just a dream. A science graduate with a two-year part-time diploma from NIIT, I am finding it difficult to land a half-way decent job even in India. The only jobs that are coming my way are mundane call centre jobs with odd working hours. Can I still emigrate to Canada?

Recruiter's Diary
The I-Factor

To begin with, you need to be more realistic. There is little chance right now of your being able to land the kind of job you desire in Canada-especially since you hold just a bachelor's degree and have little work experience. Assuming that you have chosen to pursue a career in a field related to information technology, your best option would be to apply for an entry-level position with a reputed Indian it company and gain relevant work experience before you give emigration a shot. If you are unable to land a job with an it company in the country, you need to go in for an advanced degree in the field.

I thought I'd got a great break when I was offered the job of area sales manager at one of India's leading tobacco companies at the age of 24. So much so that I rejected a 50 per cent pay hike in my previous job for it. The move now seems to me the biggest mistake of my career. Four years on, I'm still an area sales manager and not too bullish about getting a promotion in the near future. This despite having consistently met or overshot my sales targets. Meanwhile, the company has been growing steadily at 18 per cent over the last two years. What can I do to get out of this rut?

Broach the subject with someone in the senior management for a start. There could be two reasons for your predicament. One could be your lack of higher qualification. Beyond a point, expertise in sales alone cannot guarantee you a promotion. You would do well to enroll in a MBA programme to enhance your prospects. The other reason could be that in many companies, senior execs tend to stay on, causing stagnation down the line. If you are working for such an organisation, you should seek a change.

I am 23-year-old MBA student with a tier-one B-school and have recently been selected by an oil major for summer internship at its Mumbai headquarters. I will resume the second year of the programme after completing my summer internship. On the face of it my prospects appear bright, but I am worried. Each time I sift through the classified section of a newspaper, I feel that I will have a difficult time landing a job once I graduate. Most job ads clearly demand three-to-four years' experience to go with a MBA. Are my fears justified?

Most companies do not advertise for fresh MBA graduates in the papers-they recruit directly from B-schools. And if they do happen to advertise, they do so only close to the time of graduation. So don't fret. Fresh graduates from tier-one B-schools seldom struggle for opportunities. With a good recommendation from your summer internship employer and decent grades, it will not be difficult for you to land a job with one of the recruiters who will visit your campus. You could also try a permanent job in the company you are interned with. Meanwhile, just concentrate on performing well with the company of your internship and on getting good grades in the second year of the course.

I am a 38-year-old senior vice president with a multinational bank. An overwhelming majority of the staff-myself included-are alumni of the Indian Institute of Management. The culture that pervades the organisation is, as a result, that of the IIMs. While initially I revelled in this atmosphere, eight years of this has tired me out. I would now like to work with a bank that is multi-cultural? Is it the right time to seek a change of job?

You clearly need a change. All jobs, no matter how challenging or rewarding, become, over a period of time, routine and mechanical. This is particularly true of a profession like banking. Eight years is a reasonably long time for anyone to spend in one organisation. A multi-cultural organisation will be enriching for you from the point of view of acquiring new skills. At your level, you should have little difficulty finding another job. But since you are likely to run into the same IIM culture in most other private banks as well, you'll need to be careful while making the transition.

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.

Recruiter's Diary
Disappointed that you're still stuck in the same old rut while your peers have gone on to take up cool BPO jobs? Take heart.

Rahul Taneja, Country Business Head, Consindia HR Services

A rather harried chief executive of a business process Outsourcing (BPO) company recently called the Consindia office, seeking a new job. His six-month stint at the helm had been rewarding-the company was growing by leaps and bounds, the environment was intellectually stimulating and he had been given a substantial hike in salary. It was surprising then that he wanted to quit. His reason: "Working with so many college kids makes me feel like I'm back at school." He missed the action that he was accustomed to in his previous job as the marketing head of a multinational FMCG company.

» Clearly define the core competencies that are required for the job.
Seek candidates with creativity and cross-industry background.
Start-up experience helps. Pick people who have confronted change early in life.
» A job in an emerging sector company is like a gamble. Be prepared to deal with failure.
» The ability to work in a non-hierarchical organisational structure is critical.
» The ability to pay attention to detail is considered to be a positive attribute.

The point: gradually, we are beginning to witness a trend where execs who had readily jumped on to the sunrise sector bandwagon, are returning to conventional businesses. Call it a reverse wave if you will, but the lure of working in an emerging sector (read telecom, BPO, organised retail) is slowly fading. Senior execs who had migrated from other industries to pick up plum postings in these sectors are beginning to express their dissatisfaction, citing reasons ranging from excessive work pressure, inability to cope with drastic change or failure at peer management.

The real problem lies in reckless hiring. Over the last three years, people have migrated in herds to new economy companies, abandoning their well-planned career trajectories. Recruiters too, overwhelmed with the scale of hiring projects, have been happy to rake in the numbers at the expense of hiring quality. Only people who are creative, adaptive and willing to take risks have suceeded in these companies. The others are finding the going tough and will eventually bail out (if they haven't already, that is). So, if you are considering a job in an emerging sector, make sure you have the right skills.

How India Inc. has emerged a hot recruiter in the West.

Working for India Inc. has always been something of a thorny experience for most professionals in the West. The degree of opacity that surrounded the way most Indian businesses were run till recently did not help matters much either. But now, with Indian companies looking to markets abroad for growth, recruitment in these markets has become critical. Pharma and it companies, armed with attractive compensation packages and an impressive reputation in the US, are currently leading the trend. Says Shona Purdy, Head (Business Organisation), Ranbaxy: ''Ranbaxy's experience is quite heartening. We have learnt that it is not size that attracts people but the level of empowerment and compensation." A host of other factors seems to be driving this trend. Says Sonal Agrawal, Director, Accord Group: ''It also helps if the company is registered in the US." Is the trend catching on? "Yes," says Agrawal, "and that's because Indian companies are making their mark as fierce competitors." A silent change has swept sectors as unlikely as tea. Says Homi R. Khusrokhan, MD, Tata Tea: "It is far easier to recruit under the Tetley brand than say Tata Tea." The one factor that has helped is the increased awareness of corporate governance issues. Says Purdy, "We have to provide an element of corporate governance that conforms to international standards." And that seems to be the tune of most Indian corporates that have anything remotely resembling a global ambition.