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Global firms head to India to train future corporate leaders

businesspaper Updated: Oct 11, 2016 05:59 IST

MUMBAI: Global leadership development firms, which specialise in training CEOs, are making a beeline for India, with more and more Indians assuming top leadership positions at multinational companies.

Declining growth in developed economies is also prompting marquee firms, including CCL, Blessing White, Zenger Folkman, DDI and YSC, to explore emerging markets like India, HR experts said.

“There is a need for business leaders who can think global and take calls fast. It also means that a vice-president heading a business in central India can be sent to oversee the group’s business in Europe or in North America,” said the HR head of a Mumbai-based group, seeking anonymity, as the group is re-aligning portfolios of its existing leaders.

Sources said most leadership development firms are setting up base in the country directly or teaming up with local companies to train future leaders in Asia’s fastest growing economy. On their part, the boards of Indian companies are also interested in getting their best talent groomed by world-class firms.

“CCL (Centre for Creative Leadership) recently asked us to hire a new country head. We are in the process shortlisting the candidate,” said Suresh Raina, managing partner at Hunt Partners.

From the Tatas – who get 70% of their revenue from overseas business – to other homegrown conglomerates such as the Aditya Birla group and the Mahindras, most large Indian companies are ramping up subsidiaries that call for leaders with specialised skills for a global market.

While leaders like Harish Manwani (Unilever), Indra Nooyi (Pepsico), Sanjeev Chadha (Pepsico), Atul Singh (Coca Cola), Ajay Banga (MasterCard) are well known, others are also making an impact.

This April, a Forbes ranking included Rahul Bhatia (InterGlobe), Cyrus Poonwalla (Serum Institute of India) and Sunny Varkey (GEMS Education) on the global game-changers’ list.

Some of these global firms have groomed potential leaders in top companies such as Aviva, Whirlpool, pharma major Merrimack, and other Fortune 500 companies.

Though firms rely on a combination of research-based training and selected successful traits to identify and bring out leadership qualities, they are also collaborating with local companies to tailor culture-specific techniques.

Blessing White has partnered with HR Anexi, and Zenger Folkman with CBE.

Large professional services firms are also entering the sector and are building leadership practices that will assist clients in grooming future leaders. Sources said top consultancy firms are talking to senior partners from the erstwhile Hay Group that was recently acquired by global leader Korn Ferry, to head specialised leadership practices.

First Published: Oct 11, 2016 05:59 IST

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