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More, Better, Ambitious

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Twenty four-year-old Rahul Mehta is on a high. He is completing his two-year management course from a premier Mumbai business school, and already has job offers from three large firms. But not everyone may be as lucky. The 2011 placement season is yet to begin at many B-schools.

Placement data of the past few years from a few top B-schools shows that job offers per student and job offers per company are down year on year. Though the economy is improving and campus placements are up, the pre-slowdown headiness is gone.

"2008 was the boom year," says Abbas Gabula, deputy director of external relations and administration at SP Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai. "Each student had 3.6 job offers. We increased the batch size by 87 per cent in 2009, when the markets crashed. Job offers per student came down to 1.1 that year."

Almost every B-school has upped its intake; close to 3,000 students would graduate from the seven Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) this year. "Though we are getting quite a few companies this season, the sharp rise in student population could result in fewer jobs per campus for the IIMs, too," says Amit Dhiman, professor and chairperson at the Career Development & Placement Office, IIM Calcutta.

Institutes are taking steps to ensure that every student has more than one offer. Says Ashok Pundir, associate dean of placement at NITIE in Mumbai: "If a job profile matches a student's preference, he is pulled out of the system."

But there is a positive impact, too. "When we had more jobs per student, non-acceptance was also high. This could strain relations with companies," says Gabula. B-schools maintain that job offers per student may have fallen but profiles have improved. "Positions that were not filled in the recent past would be filled this year," says V.K. Menon, senior director of placement, Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.

The top recruiters are likely to be consulting firms, banks and consumer goods. "In 2011, Citi expects to hire about 200 management associates from over 30 leading Indian B-schools," says Stephen Cronin, managing director, HR, Citi South Asia. Adds Shaily Gupta, head of HR at Edelweiss Capital: "Now that we are scaling up life insurance and retail financing, we see increased hiring from B-schools."

FMCG, too, is in. "Our range will be 15-20 students on campus," says Pavan Bhatia, executive director, HR, PepsiCo India. Dabur plans to up hiring by more than 50 per cent. Manufacturing firms, absent in the past 2-3 years, are also in.
It is early days yet for placements this year. Business may be slow, but it is back.


(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 21-02-2011)