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Inbound Outsourcing

After the CEOs and MDs, it is now the turn of the middle level foreign professionals to discover India. Some like the life, others like the style, but everyone agrees that an ‘India experience’ is just the thing to dress up that CV. Sunday HT talks to some expats who have made the choice.

india Updated: Mar 31, 2008 17:11 IST
Upala Sen

If you mistook the Hollywood production Outsourced as another sweet cross-cultural romance, watch it again: there is an economic subtext. Way before the hearts of two young people begin to cross their boundaries, there is one young white man crossing continents, chasing his job till he lands up in India. The hero, Todd, is no millionaire in disguise, but a consultant with a Mumbai call centre.

That’s the way things are.

After the first wave of CEOs and MDs, it is the turn of the mid-level foreign professionals to discover India. And their reasons for making India their karmabhoomi are as varied as themselves.

Melanie Blake of New York currently works in Evalueserve, a KPO in Gurgaon. She was inspired to make the move after reading Thomas L. Friedman’s The World Is Flat. “It created a deep curiosity…about India and its booming economy”.

Tor McCaul, general manager-commercial, Cairn India, is from Australia. In India, he misses the blue sky of home but there are specific India-moments when the loss seems worth it. For instance, when he gets to tell his family, “I saw an elephant while driving to work.”

His colleague Eleanor Rowley, exploration team leader-mature assets, revels in the travel opportunities that a Delhi posting facilitates. “Each time you leave Delhi, it is like going to a new country. Rajasthan is so different from Goa, which is so different from the Himalayas which is so different from Kerala.”

Whatever the little reasons — curiosity, thrill, chance — the big reason all of them agree, is that an India work experience is just the thing to dress up that CV.

Nikolaj Hancke, regional manager with Intercoop Ltd, a buying office and a service organisation dealing in consumer goods for Scandinavian, Italian and Spanish cooperatives, has been posted in Delhi for the last three years. “Being able to manage an office in India does give you a great amount of experience.”

Then there is also the rapid career growth that an India-posting yields. “A country with nine per cent growth rate takes young professionals up the corporate ladder faster,” says Ranjini Manian, CEO of Global Adjustments Services Pvt Ltd, a relocation consultant.

So, how do pay cheques compare with salaries drawn back ‘home’?

Hancke says, “If someone comes to India with the sole purpose to make more money, then it won’t be a very good experience…” But Jerry Kunard, 62, a pilot and an industry veteran living in Gurgaon with wife Patricia for the last two years, thinks otherwise: “Due to the rapid expansion in the aviation field, there are better paying opportunities in many Asian countries.”

“Most companies follow the home country balance sheet approach while determining the compensation packages for foreign nationals moving to low-cost countries. This ensures that the assignee has the same standard of living in the host location as in the home location,” says Rupam Mishra, practice leader, Global Mobility, Mercer Consulting (India) Private Limited.

So they are in it for the experience and the pay, but how does the Indian employer stand to gain? Some of the growing industries like retail, automotive, pharmaceuticals and oil and gas apparently need the talent.

Shalini Sarin, Head-HR, Cairn India, says, “Expertise in oil and gas is limited in India and therefore expatriates with skills in geology and geophysics are at a premium.”

For some others, diversification of the workplace is a big reason. Says Somnath, Senior Officer, HRD, Mgr-Global Entry Level Recruitment & Campus Relations, Infosys, “Creating a multicultural outlook is part of our effort to truly leverage the power of globalisation. For Infosys, hiring foreign employees is a step towards being recognised as a global organisation.”