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B-school placements feel downturn pinch

india Updated: Feb 27, 2009 01:33 IST

As the placement season peaks, final-year students at the country’s top business schools are coming to terms with a new reality — a cut in offers and salaries from prospective employers, and the chance of not landing a job at all.

At the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Bangalore, where placements begin on Friday, students said they would be happy to get as much salary as their seniors did a year ago. Their apprehension is not without reason.

Sample this: investment banks that in the past flocked to IIM Ahmedabad were missing in action as placements at the top-rated business school opened on Wednesday; only 49 companies showed up in the first phase of placement at IIM Calcutta earlier this week — down from 107 last year; the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) in Delhi said it feared the institute might have to roll over its placement process for the first time.

“The economic boom in the past had inflated the expectations of our students,” said Madhu Vij, placement adviser, FMS. “We are now trying to rationalise their expectations and encourage them to focus more on the job profile and experience than the pay package.”

At IIM Calcutta, where the best offer last year was for an annual salary of Rs 1.36 crore, only two students have managed to just touch the Rs 1 crore mark this year, said Paul Salvio, a member of the external relationship cell at the institute. Only 33 students got international locations this year, compared with 50 last year, he said.

Each student at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, received an average of three job offers last year. That number is down by half this time, amid the absence of a key visitor -- the scam-hit Satyam Computers.

Consultancy, information technology and pharmaceutical firms are leading, while the share of banks and financial institution in offering jobs has dropped sharply. None of the management institutes expects average salary offers to be higher than last year.

For some B-schools, where placements began a bit early, the results have been rather dismal.

Mumbai-based Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) has been able to place only 20 per cent of its finance students from a batch of 130. Marketing students have been luckier, with about half of them getting final offers, said a person tracking the process.

Gurgaon-based Management Development Institute has already decided to go for a rolling process of placement, said Professor Subir Verma, who heads the placement cell. So far, 75 per cent of the 270 students have been placed.

At the Delhi and Kolkata centres of the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), the number of jobs offered by each company has dropped by 50 per cent, and only 60 per cent of the students have been placed so far. The highest annual salary offer for IIFT students till now has been Rs 16 lakh -- compared with Rs 25 lakh last year. The institute is also missing foreign banks such as HSBC and Citi Bank, which used to be regular visitors.

While top banks and financial institutions that hogged the limelight with their fancy offers in the past are absent at many places, government-run companies and start-up firms are trying to cash in. Many of them used to stay away from the country’s top-ranking business schools because their talent came with a huge price tag. “Companies such as Nodwig Consultancy and CRU International, that we have never heard of, are coming and hiring,” said a student at NMIMS.

Many are opting for government companies because they want job security in these uncertain times. Companies such as Power Grid Corporation are hiring for the first time from such top-ranking business schools.

(With inputs from B.R Srikanth in Bangalore, Manish Chandra Pandey in Lucknow, K.V. Lakshmana and Ruchi Hajela in Delhi.)