|In the NGO fold: Ashok Alexander (in
front) with his team of corporate-switchovers.
31, Parikshit Shrivastava, a research associate with The Energy
and Resources Institute (TERI), has the satisfaction of saying he
doesn't miss the corporate life. And he's been there too: with GE
Capital, to be precise. "Post MBA, I was drawn to the corporate
world," he recalls, "but found something missing in my
five-year stint with GE." He went into introspective hibernation,
resurfaced in 2001 at the London School of Economics with a scholarship
in Environmental Impact Assessment, and clinched a job with TERI
in January 2002. Today, he's a dyed-in-the-wool non-government organisation
(NGO) man, and intends to keep it that way.
Why? Passion. It's what appeals to the inner
him. Moreover, the money's good enough to afford him a life. Not
a high-flying corporate lifestyle, but a reasonably comfortable
life. NGO careers are no longer just for heart-led souls either
on family support or happy to drain their inheritance. And more
and more execs are discovering this.
Jerry Almeida, 31, started work at 16, selling
media space. Now he is the CEO of Action Aid India, a voluntary
non-profit organisation that raises funds to engage in assorted
fights for rights. For most of his worklife, though, this lanky
Goan was a corporate man. As a brand manager at ITC, he handled
Pall Mall and Gold Flake cigarettes, and then headed Result McCann,
the direct marketing arm of the ad agency, from where he moved to
the Taj group of hotels to manage its 'Millennium' events. Last
January, he dumped it all for Action Aid. And what about the money?
He took a hefty pay cut, he says.
Vidisha Salunke, 29, a research associate with
TERI, gave up the chance of a neat dollar salary in the US, qualified
as she was as an architect specialising in energy efficient structures.
It's not the same money. But it's good enough, given the kick of
putting her skills to good use. Her colleague Amit Kumar, 36, gave
up a corporate career; he was an energy conservationist at Hindalco.
His new pay was just half his old, but this was offset by the prospect
of doing the environment a good turn, and that too in a hierarchy-free
work culture. "We have a flat structure," explains TERI
Director General, Rajendra K. Pachauri.
NGO jobs are no longer just for heart-led
souls, either on family support or happy to drain their inheritance.
If there's one big parallel with the corporate
world, it's this: as dollars begin to flow in, the pay structures
begin to escalate. And that, in a sense, has begun happening. How
else would NGOs attract McKinsey consultants?
Ask the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,
an organistion that appears to have reset all the old notions about
the kind of talent an NGO could swipe from the corporate world.
The director of its aids initiative in India is none other than
Ashok Alexander, who was once a senior partner with McKinsey &
Co, among the country's top payers. Indeed, it was a 16-year stint
that he snapped by moving in to take on the Foundation's aids challenge
in the country-a turnaround effort that probably requires harder
strategic thinking than anything at McKinsey.
The significance of that switch must not be
underestimated; and don't forget the $100 million grant that Bill
Gates gave the Indian unit on his last trip. If more and more NGOs
start getting endowed with serious money (and serious money demands
serious results), expect these organisations to start looking for
the best technical and management skills on the market. And there's
more to learn after signing up. "You also have to go up a very
steep learning curve (in NGOs)," says Alexander, who believes
that NGOs should work like any other business and "re-examine
what they pay people, as you can't retain top talent at minimum
Among the other corporate hotshots Alexander
has drawn to the Foundation are Padma Chandrasekaran, who was once
the chief of Satyam's Online business, Citibanker Alkesh Wadhwani,
Aparajita Ramakrishnan from McKinsey, New York, and three others.
As this sort of thing gathers pace, older NGOs
could find themselves pressured to start paying a little more. The
Chennai-based MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), for instance,
has begun to find that it's monthly pay scale of Rs 5,000-25,000
is rather too low even for scientists who have few interests other
than the deployment of knowledge to improve the human condition.
The Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment
(CSE), however, has managed to remain reasonably competitive. It
pays its employees on a monthly scale of Rs 8,000-50,000. Job position
to position, this is less than what the cola majors pay their staff,
but good enough to keep the NGO alive and-dare one say-kicking.
Would CSE's chief, Sunita Narain, welcome corporate switchovers?
Why not, she says. But she is clear that she wants "jumpouts,
not dropouts". And this could mean baiting them with moolah-at
least of the minimum lifestyle maintenance sort-as much as the thrill
of stirring the country up.
|Bichot's Alberic Bichot gives a demo
Affluence Of Incohol
Wannabe a wine
taster? Ask Neil Fernandes, Researcher, Vinicola Pvt Ltd, and he'll
tell you experience is everything. So get started. To begin with,
stay off the stuff that kills taste and smell (no tongue-numbing
tobacco). Then tune in. Observe the wine's rim colour, swirl it
around, whiff-in the aromas thus released (fruity, flowery, earthy,
woody, herby, spicy?) Now take a tongue-tip sip for the initial
taste on your buds. Another, for the 'body' taste (some mild tongue
swirlings in order here). Swallow. And then relish the aftertaste.
Some day, you'll get the wine 'balance' down to its finest calibration.
And you'll earn packets.
I have been undergoing training as a paint technologist with an
auto major for the last three months. With product variants and
styling emerging as key influencers of purchase decisions, I have
been given to believe that the company's paint shop plays a critical
role in the business. The challenge, as I am told, calls for skills
of chemical engineering, apart from keen analytical abilities and
knowledge of measurement systems. However, I don't have an engineering
degree, and intend to learn on the job. I'm a graduate in physics.
My peers and supervisors are mostly chemical engineers. Some even
have doctorates in chemistry. I often feel out of place, and they
enjoy using jargon. What should I do?
When pitted against chemical engineers or doctorates, you will lose
out in terms of job growth. You have two options. You can go ahead
and apply for engineering courses if you really want to continue
in this field, or you can change your field completely-you could
get into sales, technical selling or technical support for products
whose knowledge you are likely to have, given your degree. In the
former case, you'll lose three years but you would be equipped with
the skills and knowledge base required to work in the paint shop.
However, if you are not passionate about this field, the latter
option would be better for you.
I am a medical representative at a pharma
company. Eight years ago when I joined, this company valued medical
reps highly. But today, it prefers the over-the-counter (OTC) route
for more and more drugs. New 'marketing' skills are now in high
demand, and I feel that sales people from the FMCG sector, with
little respect for the sanctity of the pharma business, are elbowing
me out. Please advise what I should do.
As long as there are prescription drugs, there
will be demand for medical reps. Hence, there is no reason for you
to fear a job loss or even to think that this is the end of the
road for medical reps. But with profits getting squeezed, expect
to see this function outsourced, even as the salesforce size is
reduced. So hang in there, but remember that the only way to withstand
competition is to work hard and smart, and deliver outstanding results
As a process manager in a mid-sized ITEs
company, I am responsible for driving the business process, for
providing end-to-end solutions, for customer satisfaction and for
managing the rest of the team. The BPO sector is fast becoming a
game for big investors and those with small pockets are getting
eliminated. While the lower levels seem much more mobile, it is
at the higher echelons that the pressure is being felt. I've been
with my current employer for a year now and foresee a pay cut or
job loss soon. What should I do?
With competition coming in from all quarters,
the BPO industry has come under pressure to provide and maintain
low-cost solutions. It is going to be a tough market where consolidation
and restructuring is going to be more frequent. You could continue
in this industry, but change assignments to work for a larger player
or better still, with a captive or in-house BPO. Many overseas companies
have set up their own establishments and these are relatively stable.
The other option for you is to change industries altogether. You
could look at service industries-banking or telecom-which have functions
to suit your experience.
I am a product development executive in
a large telecom company. My job involves generating product differentiation
ideas that help the product development department create products
that could command a premium in the market. But times are tough
and competition, fierce. A major part of my pay package has a variable
component that is linked to my performance. I have been working
with my present employer for the last two years, and have done fairly
well so far. But I'm fast running out of ideas. What should I do
to maintain my good track record?
There are two ways to look at it-your having
to work harder to come up with viable ideas or coming to the conclusion
that your job here being done, it's time to move on. A new person
inducted in your place will bring fresh ideas to the job and you
may be able to contribute your mind to a new assignment. Hence,
you could ask to be transferred to another assignment. This will
give you a more rounded experience. Whichever one you choose, you
have little to lose.
Answers to your career concerns are contributed
by Tarun Sheth (Senior Consultant) and Shilpa Sheth (Managing
Partner, US practice) of HR firm, Shilputsi Consultants. Write to
Help,Tarun! c/o Business Today, Videocon Tower, Fifth Floor, E-1,
Jhandewalan Extn., New Delhi-110055.
Steel's hot, hot, hot-and
| TO ALSO MAKE STEEL...
| You need educational
qualifications: metallurgy, mechanical or electrical
You need business training:
marketing, finance, HR, business administration or computer
You need a value-addition attitude:
branding as a value-addition process and orientation
towards end customer needs.
in Dustin Hoffman's days of the graduate (1967, that is), 'plastics'
was the way to go. Steel was yesterday's industry already. Guess
what: steel is back-and recruiting too. At least in India, which
makes an annual 29 million tonnes of the metal and is likely to
keep making more and more, as demand rises and costs get screwcapped.
Indian steelmakers are cost competitive, you see.
But still, steel jobs today are not like steel
jobs yesterday. ''With the modernisation of old plants, the focus
of recruitment has shifted to people with technical skills and qualifications,''
says John Joseph, AGM (HR), Jindal Steel, which looks out for diplomas
in metallurgy, mechanical or electrical engineering-or B.Sc degrees
in chemistry or physics-at the supervisory level. Likewise, Steel
Authority of India Limited (sail). ''Fresh engineering graduates
are considered for technical positions while other graduates are
recruited as trainees in marketing, finance, hr, corporate communications
and administration,'' says a spokesperson for sail, which conducts
an entrance exam for these jobs.
The revolutionary of recent times, though,
has been Tata Steel, which wants to be a solution-provider rather
than a furnace operator, and has taken to brand value-additions
in a big way, thus raising its required skill sets beyond the old
and traditional. Tata Steel needs MBAs who think Drucker, Levitt
and Kotler, not just engineers.
Where do BPO burnouts go next?
the estimated 170,000 currently employed at BPO units across India,
some 34,000 or more will quit this year. Some, after hitting the
supervisor level ceiling, while most will just want out (one more
customer call to soft-roll the Rs for, and they'd scream).
Where will they go? To the software sector
mostly, says G.V. Giridhar, General Manager (hr), 24/7 Customer,
since many BPO employees are engineers using this job as a stop-gap.
At the junior agent level, almost half go for higher studies or
to pursue other dreams. Onkuri Majumdar, for example, quit EXL
Service to become a legal assistant to the Wildlife Protection
Society of India.
Lucky them; what about the rest? Hey, this
is a career too, protests Aniruddha Limaye, Vice President (hr
& Training), Daksh e-Service, so why single BPO out? Besides,
''A supervisor or a manager has developed skill sets to deal with
service issues and customers, and can migrate to any service industry.''
Well, people with a battlefront feel for customer angst-and who
empathise well-can possibly hit big time, so long as they figure
out the big picture of business.