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Officers shed uniform, turn corporate warriors

Almost all the service officials training as business managers at management institutes of repute are being snapped up by the business houses and industry, reports Drimi Chaudhuri.

india Updated: Jun 13, 2007 02:28 IST
Drimi Chaudhuri

These battle-hardened army guys are ready for corporate warfare fought in the market jungles across the country. Swapping their army uniforms for pin-stripe suits and smart ties these mercenaries sport different weapons — management mantras, latest electronic gizmos and laptops — both easy and lucrative. Almost all the service officials training as business managers at management institutes of repute are being snapped up by the business houses and industry.

Well, why not? After all, they are now also armed with a management certificate from the much sought after Indian Institute of Management (IIM), or other equally reputed management institutes. Corporate houses and headhunters are heading to Kolkata, Bangalore, Lucknow or Mhow, where army officials are doing Post Graduate Certificate Course in Business Administration for Armed Forces officers.

The Dubai-based Sharaf Group picked up seven army officers from IIM Calcutta on June 7, even before they completed their programme. The $2 billion business house will fly them to Dubai on July 16 for a three-week project. A final offer will be made soon after. "It seems recruiters cannot wait for the course to get over. While Sharaf Group approached us on the third day of the programme, many more companies are following suit," said Prafulla Agnihotri, one of the directors of IIM-Calcutta.

Kamal Grover, HR head of Sharaf Group, pointed out that the company preferred Armed Forces officers because they are dedicated, with lots of motivation and discipline. "These are some qualities lacking in the corporate world. With their considerable work experience, the IIM training and their hard-to-crack attitude, it is a combination which every company wants in its managers," he said.

Corporate giants like Tech Mahindra, Mahindra SSG and Cadilla Pharmaceuticals have also lined up for recruitment, other like Aditya Birla Group, Infosys, Satyam, Wipro and ICICI Bank are also lining up for campus placements.

Captain Prem, who served the Army for five years, is presently Senior Business Analyst with Cognizant Technologies Solutions in Coimbatore, following a stint with IIM-Lucknow. "The IIM course helped me and many others as we learnt about requirements of the corporate world at the institute."

Colonel Parthasarathy Ganguly, a former Administrative Commandant of Mhow near Indore, is undergoing a similar course at IIM-Indore. According to Colonel Ganguly, "the industry has now started realising that Army officers are not just meant to be security officers."

According to Directorate General Resettlement (DGR), under Ministry of Defence (MoD), between 800 and 1,000 Short Service Commission officers and services officers on the verge of retirement attend business schools every year. Around 2,000 to 3,000 officers retire from the Indian Army annually.

Some leading business schools where specially designed courses are offered include the five IIMs (Kolkata, Lucknow, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Indore), Xavier Labour Research Institute Jamshedpur, Management Development Institute Gurgaon and Narsi Monjee Mumbai. Training programmes for officers at most of these institutes were initiated last year, with Narsi Monjee being the first to offer such a course in 2005.

(With Inputs from Mou Chakraborty in Kolkata, B.R. Srikanth in Bangalore, Rajesh Jauhri in Mhow and Manish Chandra Pandey in Lucknow).