Busi­ness in the Mood, CXOs Back in De­mand

Hir­ing man­dates up 25-40% af­ter slow­down last year as cos em­bark on global col­lab­o­ra­tions, PE en­vi­ron­ment gets ac­tive and govt sends out pro-growth sig­nals

The Economic Times - - Companies: Pursuit Of Profit -

Rica Bhat­tacharyya & Sreer­adha D Basu

Mum­bai: CXO re­cruit­ment is pick­ing up af­ter a slow­down last year. Ex­ec­u­tive search firms and ex­perts say there has been a 25-40% in­crease in hir­ing man­dates for CXO roles since early Jan­uary on the back of im­proved eco­nomic sen­ti­ment, liq­uid­ity re­turn­ing to the sys­tem, In­dian com­pa­nies ex­pand­ing over­seas and more clar­ity on the busi­ness front.

All this has led to a flurry of ac­tiv­ity af­ter a slump in 2016 due to a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors such as Brexit, the US elec­tions and ex­ces­sive pres­sure on global busi­ness apart from do­mes­tic con­cerns such as de­mon­eti­sa­tion, cor­po­rate debt and an un­cer­tain busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment. “CXO man­date has in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly since Jan­uary,” said R Suresh, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of RGF Ex­ec­u­tive Search. “CXO man­dates had dropped to 10 or less per month in 2016. This Jan­uary, we got back to about15 man­dates and till now, in February, we have al­ready got about 10 man­dates.”

Sen­ti­ment ap­pears to have im­proved with com­pa­nies em­bark­ing on global col­lab­o­ra­tions, the pri­vate eq­uity en­vi­ron­ment be­com­ing ac­tive and pro-growth sig­nals from the gov­ern­ment. Also, a num­ber of smaller com­pa­nies from China and the Far East are in­vest­ing in In­dia.

“As far as busi­ness senti- ment is con­cerned, pos­i­tives outweigh neg­a­tives,” said Harsh Mari­wala, chair­man of Marico. “The neg­a­tives are global econ­omy, de­mon­eti­sa­tion, short-term im­pact of GST (goods and ser­vices tax), (assem­bly) elec­tions, while the pos­i­tives in­clude low in­fla­tion, at­trac­tion of for­eign re­sources and In­dia stand­ing out as a growth econ­omy. I would say it’s a mixed bag and I am cau­tiously op­ti­mistic.” Man­dates are com­ing in across the board, with au­to­mo­bile, re­tail, fi­nan­cial ser­vices (dig­i­tal, fin­tech), non­bank fi­nan­cial ser­vices, med­i­cal de­vices, tech­nol­ogy-en­abled ser­vices and in­fra­struc­ture lead­ing the pack. “We are see­ing an up­ward mo-

ve­ment in CXO hir­ing with about 25% in­crease in Jan­uary over a year ago,” said Navnit Singh, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of In­dia for Korn/Ferry In­ter­na­tional. “Over­all, econ­omy is ex­pected to look bet­ter with GST com­ing in. A lot of ac­tiv­ity is hap­pen­ing on the con­sult­ing side, au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try has picked up. FMCG (fast-mov­ing con­sumer goods) has started pick­ing up again af­ter a plateau of about three months. Health­care is se- eing slow and steady growth.”

While C-suite hir­ing de­ci­sions would be de­layed pre­vi­ously, search ex­perts now see an ur­gency to close po­si­tions at this level.

“The start of 2017 saw new di­rec­tion from com­pa­nies want­ing to be pre­pared to cap­ture the po­ten­tial growth. There­fore, the CXO level po­si­tions should be in place to drive such ef­forts,” said Ni­co­las Du­moulin, MD of Michael Page In­dia.

“The re­cent un­cer­tainty that stemmed from var­i­ous fac­tors has blown off and it’s back to busi­ness,” agreed K Su­dar­shan, man­ag­ing part­ner for In­dia, EMA Part­ners In­ter­na­tional, who’s seen a 30-40% pickup in CXO man­dates.

Kris Lak­sh­mikanth. chair­man at The Head Hunters In­dia, said af­ter a prac­ti­cally blank slate for CXO man­dates in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber, it is now get­ting about three man­dates ev­ery week. “In the last 10 days, we have about six CXO man­dates, sig­nal­ing that the com­pa­nies have started look­ing for top-level tal­ent once again,” he said.

Some search ex­perts said the February 1 bud­get had given the trend fur­ther mo­men­tum.

“Peo­ple were reel­ing un­der the de­mon­eti­sa­tion ef­fect and a lot of con­sumer-led busi­nesses were af­fected. The fo­cus of com­pa­nies shifted from hir­ing,” said Shailja Dutt, founder of Stel­lar Search. “Now that the bud­get is over and cash flow sit­u­a­tion eased up, the fo­cus is back on CXO hir­ing.”

While C-suite hir­ing de­ci­sions would be de­layed pre­vi­ously, search ex­perts see an ur­gency now to close po­si­tions at this level

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