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Desi firms can cherry-pick the best at B-schools

business Updated: Oct 28, 2008 01:02 IST
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For years, many Indian companies were priced out of the talent grabbing game at top business schools, but now they have a chance to hire the country’s best brains.

With the collapse of iconic investment banks Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch, which had led head hunting at India’s leading B-schools for years, students are increasingly looking at careers beyond finance and what they call i-banking, and the fancy salaries that came with it.

They are nudging towards traditional management streams like marketing, HR and consulting in place of finance. Many students are wondering if it would make sense to pick a stable, homegrown company over a foreign employer.

“When the economy is robust and the markets are doing well, newer recruiters with challenging job profiles are high on the priority list. But now, I guess students would opt for companies with proven track record,” said Bharat Bhaskar of IIM Lucknow.

For students in the final year of management, pre-placement offers begin next week. Those in the first year will start picking companies to train during summer holidays. The upheavals in global finance have hurt their optimism, but no one is worried about not getting a job.

There will be plenty of jobs on offer, and they are unlikely to come with salaries lower than last year, students and faculty at several IIMs and other management institutes told HT.

“There used to be a 10-15 per cent annual increase in salary offers. This year, we expect 2-3 per cent growth, but companies will not reduce salaries offered,” said Abbasali Gabbula, final year student at S.P. Jain Management Institute in Mumbai, where pay offers averaged Rs 14 lakhs last year.

What could possibly be missing are the six-figure dollar salaries from global financial firms. For instance, the highest offer made during last year’s campus hiring at IIM, Calcutta was Rs. 1.36 crore per annum, from a global investment bank that was not named. Lehman Brothers topped the chart at XLRI, Jamshedpur, where overseas offers averaged $90,000 and the highest domestic offer was for Rs. 32 lakh.

Such fancy salaries often prevented many homegrown companies from pitching for talent at these institutes.

While the financial turmoil has somewhat dented pay prospects for management students, “many companies that earlier went back empty handed would have an opportunity to hire our students,” said Piyush Sinha, who chairs the placement committee at IIM, Ahmedabad. Students, who are keen on working overseas, might explore options in Asia, rather than looking at Europe or the US, he said.

Also, “the positive side would be that other traditional management streams like HR and marketing will get a huge push,” said Saibal Chattopadhyay, Dean of programme and research initiative at IIM, Calcutta. Finance and consulting accounted for 60 per cent of placement at IIM, Ahmedabad last year. That share is expected to drop, Sinha said.

At XLRI, 31 per cent of students joined financial firms last year. This year, according to Prof. Gaurav Vallabh, the number could go below 20 per cent. “Given the downturn, we expect that financial sector would no more remain the prime sector for job seekers.” Vallabh said.

That said, everyone is hoping the situation would get better by March, when final placements begin.