Last year Sanak Mishra, at 60, retired as the managing director of Rourkela Steel Plant. Early this year Mittal Steel announced that Mishra had been picked to head its operations in India.
Amal Adhikari, 57, was taking a career break when he was called up by Reliance-Bechtel. He joined as a general manager this year.
All indications are that it is a good time for those who have already reached the ripe old age. In today’s booming market, Generation-Older (those over 50) is in demand, especially in high profile jobs involving a huge workforce.
“I find a lot of acceptability for a person like me in the industry now. We do not lose out on our remuneration packages either when we come back,” Adhikari said.
Young industries like organised retail and age-old manufacturing businesses are both turning to Generation-Older. A study by EMA Partners, an international CEO search firm, shows that talent crunch is pushing back out the age barrier in some industries, whereas in some other cases the preference is clearly for someone over 50.
EMA Partners’ managing partner, K. Sudarshan, says: “Look at Ninu Khanna and Raghu Pillai who have recently joined Reliance Retail. They are in the late forties-early fifties age bracket. In case the CEO’s job is complex and involves managing multiple verticals, huge infrastructure and numerous people, it’s the older people who fit in better.”
Varda Pendse of the Mumbai-based HR firm Cerebrus Consultants said: “In developed markets one cannot even inquire about a person’s age. That question itself could lead to a charge of discrimination. However, in India age is still a barrier.”
Looks like Indian firms are getting over it now.
Retailing company The Loot hired 53-year-old Devendra Shah as project manager for its new showrooms. Yahoo in India is headed by George Zachariah — in his late forties. Rollen Thomas, 55, was picked up by Go Air as vice-president (flight operations).
It’s a more level playing ground now for the ageing corporate cowboys.
Adhikari, who was working with an engineering BPO in Kolkata some time back, said he went job-hopping after he turned 50, which shows that there is a place for the 50-plus today.
“It is a very professional atmosphere. I am confident of my abilities and I have had a very comfortable stint here so far,” Shah said.