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BW Businessworld

Reskill Or Be Redundant

How executives are going back to classrooms to gain promotions and to escape pink slips

Photo Credit : Shutterstock


Rajeev Biseria joined Mahindra & Mahindra as territory manager back in 2001. In August 2016, during performance appraisal Biseria was chosen among the five candidates by his company to pursue an executive MBA. “My boss says he sees a major difference in my style of working, decision making and analytical, financial skills,” says Biseria. Good news is, Biseria also got promotion to rank of general manager (Sales and Customer Operations). He now takes care of Madhya Pradesh, the highest selling state in terms of volume for the company’s farm division.

Another employee, Mayank Baldi   of Tata Motors undertook postgraduate executive management programme to qualify for the ‘fast track selection scheme’ (FTSS) programme at Tata Motors. FTSS is one of the most reputed talent development schemes in the industry. “I moved places within the company, got opportunity to work in highly aspirational roles like ‘Nano’ sales distribution strategy for IB markets and manufacturing operations strategy,” says Baldi. Later he became the executive assistant to MD & CEO’s Office.

Companies such as Cummins, Larsen & Toubro, Shapoorji Palonji, Perkins, Pidilite, Asian Paints and Medtronics are aggressively tying up with B-schools to upskill their employees.

Doing an  MBA to boost your career has become a norm today. Increasingly, executives with some years of experience or those joining back post sabbaticals, are turning to B-schools to hone their skills or increase their chances of employability and chances of salary hikes and promotions.
Moreover, the young engineers who are being laid off due to changing business climate are also enrolling in B-school education to equip themselves to kick-start the next phase of their career. Why B-school? Well, an MBA is considered a sure shot buffer to keep employees safe from lay-offs, due to the cross-functional competencies that come with the fabled B-school education.
Employability Quotient
Biseria spent two decades climbing the corporate ladder after which he decided to earn the MBA degree. He says he is grateful for having a supportive family. Biseria and Baldi earned their MBA from SP Jain Institute of Management and Research. Executives who decide to push themselves and undertake the challenge of an MBA after spending substantial number of years working develop the necessary skills required for senior management roles as the course provides depth of the topics such as finance, marketing, leadership and strategic decision making. Moreover, they also get the unique opportunity to grow their professional networks outside of their usual sphere of influence. “With almost 16 years in the a same company, I had a monotonous routine. Now, I am seeing my network expanding as I am meeting people from different industries,” Biseria adds.

B-schools are bullish on figuring out the emerging areas for building competencies. In many cases, they involve industry to design the curriculum much before such courses find formal entry in the syllabus.

Moreover, B-schools are focussing aggressively on live project internships, case studies, simulation games, industry visit and exposures to real employees from the level of shop-floor to decision makers as part of the learning experience.
Job Losses and MBA 
From textiles, IT to capital goods, banking, startups to oil and energy, several sectors of the economy have sacked their employees. For instance, L&T laid off about 14,000 employees across businesses during the first two quarters of the fiscal ended 31 March, terming it a “strategic decision.”

During the first quarter of 2017-18 fiscal, as per industry estimates, three of the five biggest IT companies that together employed 878,913 people at the end of the June quarter, saw their workforce shrink by over 1,800 people. TCS saw its workforce decline by 1,414 people, Infosys saw a net decline of 1,811 while Tech Mahindra’s workforce shrunk by 1,713 people.

Not only the job market but B-schools, too,  were feeling the heat. Placement offers for fresh management graduates in India are at a five-year low according to the data by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), blaming a sluggish economy as well as a mismatch between curriculum and industry expectations.

In 2016-17, just 47 per cent of the MBA graduates got placed on the campus, a dip of 4 per cent over the previous year, marking a five-year low. At 12 per cent, the drop was far sharper for postgraduate diploma holders. However, the data does not include the premier institutes such as the IIMs that are not affiliated to the regulatory body AICTE.

Hence, upskilling is termed as ‘need of an hour’ by recruiters. Arijit Sengupta, group HR director, Adidas India, says, “To perform in the best possible manner in the field athletes need to constantly train off the field and continuously hone their skills. In the same way, professionals need to train, learn and develop all the time to continue to be relevant and grow in their career.”

“Mid-career breaks and going back to B-schools or doing some professional courses are few ways to reskill oneself. It positively impacts both the professional and the organisation,” adds Sengupta.

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