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BW Businessworld

Indian MBAs As A Talent Pool

Entering the Indian marketplace is easier said than done, however. As Amazon and other successful multinationals understand, one of the keys to success is to honour the Indian government’s call to “Make in India”

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said out loud what executives at many other multinational companies must be thinking: That his company’s top prospect for continued significant growth lies in capturing a share of the massive Indian market. With a youthful population of 1.33 billion, and a booming middle class enjoying rising disposable incomes, India’s rapidly growing consumer market will be second only to China’s by 2025.

Entering the Indian marketplace is easier said than done, however. As Amazon and other successful multinationals understand, one of the keys to success is to honour the Indian government’s call to “Make in India”. But another, equally important factor is to hire local business talent of the sort best developed through an MBA programme — what McKinsey & Co. advised in a recent article on business strategy titled “How Multinationals can win in India”.

And hiring they do. The many multinationals operating in India line up side by side with Indian corporates at recruitment fairs for the best and brightest graduates of the IIMs and the country’s top private B-schools. Statistics reveal the attractiveness of those graduates as they regularly receive multiple offers and more than 95 per cent of them have a job before they graduate. Yet, the compensation levels in those offers (averages below Rs 18 lakh for a position in Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore) also expose the limitations of the talent pool and the predispositions of the Indian model, as most of those graduates neither possess the years of work experience nor do they get the same hands-on practice in their studies as their counterparts in North America and Europe. Compare those offers to a typical Schulich MBA graduate who gets upwards of Rs 50 lakh by the same multinational in Toronto.

In response, thousands of Indian students pursue MBA degrees in B-schools around the world or in special joint programmes such as Schulich’s, which combines studies in India and in Canada. Those students find tremendous success and get recruited by firms in consulting, financial services, consumer goods, new economy and traditional industry sectors in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia. Why such discrepancy? Among India’s B-schools one finds the top ranked IIMs that academically can boast of their excellent GMAT scores (over 750 at IIM-A and IIM-B) and in excess of 70 per cent engineering undergraduates with strong analytical skills, which are invaluable for entry level jobs. What they don’t typically hone though are interpersonal skills, effective communication, a global orientation, diversity, and skills in handling complex problems laden with uncertainty and incomplete information. And those skills are imperative for managers of today’s multinationals, who are called to navigate market gyrations, black swans, flitting consumers and an ever changing world.

Amazon, among others, is attracted to our MBA graduates, because they work diligently to develop those skills, blend their work experiences with those of their diverse peers and are ready to add real value working with anyone and anywhere in the world.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Theo Peridis

The author is academic director of the MBA programme in India of the Schulich School of Business, York University, Canada

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