Chand Singh (24), who manages a staff of nine, has seen his salary double in two years. Yet, he does not have a university degree.
The service manager for linen and luggage at HyperCITY in Malad was forced to drop out of his third year in BCom due to his family's financial problems and work as a sales associate for Big Bazaar at Kandivli.
Since then, he has worked his way up the ranks, joining HyperCITY in Februrary 2006 as sales associate in the electronics section. Since then, he has been promoted several times before landing up in his current job.
Service managers handle service associates in their section, who sell to the public and stock shelves. Their job is to motivate staff and ensure their sections meet sales targets.
A lot of the work is physical - it's a six-day week split into shifts that can end as late as 11 pm.
Retail jobs in operations like this are set to boom the most. And for people like Singh, they are a godsend because having no degree is no bar to entry or promotion.
Anil Bhupathi (23) manages 22 staff as service manager for multimedia in HyperCITY.
He left school in Class 12 and worked with Spencer's Hypermarket inside Inorbit Mall as a sales executive before being promoted and moving next door.
"No other organisation will give me the growth I have had in two years. I have tripled my salary in two years. In the future, I would like to run my own store. I enjoy working with my team," says Bhupathi, who likes listening to music and playing football. "It's a career for mainstream, trendy people, not the nightclubbing types. There are lots of single people."
In the store, Mandakiniki Kamble (21), a service associate at HyperCITY, is replenishing yoghurts. "I like my job because it offers me good career prospects," the Class 12 pass, says. "And the people are nice - it's fun."
Vishali Upadhyay (24) is sitting at the till as a checkout associate. "This offers me a really bright future," she says. "It's the best career to be in right now. I love the atmosphere; it's like my family, I would never work in a local corner shop. The service and products we offer are much better."
Daxter Rodrigues (29) is the store operations manager. The BCom grad used to work in a call centre. Busy rushing around, he says he likes retail because the people management is outstanding. "Retail is booming and so this is the career to be in," he adds. "When I worked in a call centre, it was awful shifts and the work got really monotonous and growth prospects were slow because it was overstaffed. You get far less abuse in retail than in call centres."
Sandeep Budhavale (25) is a service manager for fashion. "I handle customers and my manpower. I delegate tasks to staff, check shelves are replenished and goods are well displayed. I want to stay in retail because it is a dynamic sector."
But it is no secret, though, that those with MBAs move up the ladder faster.
Prince George (24) is rare MBA who opted for operations rather than the head office, and walked into a job as store manager of Argos-HyperCITY, Thane, from campus.
Today, he manages 39 staff and his day-today job involves ensuring the customer is happy, controlling stock, managing staff and ensuring sales targets are met. "Retail is where I want to be right now because I see a lot of dynamism in it," he says.
George, who likes nightclubbing and lives in Mahim, says: "I find it challenging and fun to manage sales associates, many have studied only up to Class 10 or 12 and you have to be there for them constantly."
Saba Karim (24) manages 27 staff and is the store manager for Express City in Thane, the Hypercity convenience store format, earning Rs 5 lakh a year. She too is an MBA graduate.
"When I did my MBA, I thought I would go into retail because it was an upcoming sector. The best part is, you interact with so many people in operations, it's a changing environment that's exciting and you get to see customer buying habits. I have never heard of anyone being a store manager at my age."
Her job means she has to get all products and promotions going on the shop floor and execute what the buying and merchandising team wants, keep the store clean and give customers what they want as well as manage and motivate staff.
Singh, who lives in Andheri, is finally doing his degree part-time now and hopes to be transferred to a graduate position when he finishes it. "Working in a store like this, you get moved around a lot, so no one gets bored. I would like to become the store manager.
Then, I reckon, I would get Rs 80,000 a month. I know my capability because I keep getting calls to work in other stores, but I have not moved because I think I am going to get promoted here."