On­line gi­ants, now reg­u­lars at B- school cam­puses, are redefin­ing the yard­stick for hunt­ing tal­ent.

Business Today - - CONTENTS - By E. Ku­mar Sharma Il­lus­tra­tion by Raj Verma

On­line gi­ants, now reg­u­lars at B-school cam­puses, are redefin­ing the yard­stick for hunt­ing tal­ent

CALL THEM NEW-AGE com­pa­nies with es­tab­lished busi­ness mod­els or data- and tech­nol­ogy–driven plat­forms that have per­me­ated our daily life via smart­phones. Ei­ther way, these on­line gi­ants — the ride­hail­ing gi­ant Uber, the ecom­merce be­he­moth Ama­zon, the fast-grow­ing ho­tel ag­gre­ga­tor Oyo Rooms or the home-grown ecom­merce ma­jor Flip­kart — are im­por­tant re­cruiters on lead­ing busi­ness school cam­puses. The rea­son: they are find­ing tal­ent that they can use to put their fast­grow­ing com­pa­nies on an even faster track. For in­stance, these on­line and re­lated ven­tures ab­sorbed nearly 10 per cent of the to­tal batch at IIMAhmed­abad in the last fi­nal place­ments for 2018. This was up from 5- 6 per cent in the pre­vi­ous year.

And what they want from stu­dents is as di­verse as their busi­ness mod­els. “The im­por­tance of ex­po­sure to data sci­ence, an­a­lyt­i­cal skills and prob­lem solv­ing are crit­i­cal in a com­pany like Uber and have be­come a base­line re­quire­ment for us,” says Vish­pala Reddy, Re­gional HR Di­rec­tor – APAC, Uber. In keep­ing with this, she says, “Our se­lec­tion process has kept abreast of our chang­ing needs where ap­ti­tude tests are re­flec­tive of the skills we look for. All hir­ing pan­els on cam­puses com­prise cross-func­tional lead­ers to stress the im­por­tance of look­ing be­yond func­tional skills.”

Be­yond Func­tional Skills

That ap­par­ently is with good rea­son, for she be­lieves that the ride-hail­ing ma­jor “is a data-driven tech­nol­ogy com­pany” where peo­ple “work on cut­ting-edge tech­nolo­gies to build a ser­vice fo­cused on prod­ucts and so­lu­tions that en­hance the ex­pe­ri­ence of rid­ers, driv­ers and courier part­ners.”

“There­fore, in ad­di­tion to func­tional skills like sales, mar­ket­ing and op­er­a­tions, we look for can­di­dates who can work col­lab­o­ra­tively across func­tions, have a big pic­ture per­spec­tive and are aligned to the mis­sion of the com­pany.” The com­pany is mak­ing it a point to em­pha­sise this given its close en­gage­ment with B-school cam­puses where it con­ducts case com­pe­ti­tions, cam­pus am­bas­sador pro­grammes and invests in “tech talks with vis­it­ing Uber global lead­ers.”

“As we strengthen our foot­print


CROSS- FUNC­TIONAL LEAD­ERS." Vish­pala Reddy Re­gional HR Di­rec­tor, APAC, Uber

in In­dia, our fo­cus on bring­ing the best minds on board be­comes more im­por­tant than ever be­fore,” says Reddy, point­ing to the range of cam­puses the com­pany vis­its. “We have a well-de­fined cam­pus strat­egy and re­cruit from IIM-Ahmed­abad, IIM-Ban­ga­lore, IIM-Cal­cutta, IIMKozhikode, IIM-Luc­know, ISB, MDI and XLRI. We re­visit our list each year de­pend­ing on our needs.”

But then, its strat­egy is also backed by pure tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise that it hires from “sev­eral en­gi­neer­ing col­leges in the coun­try.” The net num­bers are grow­ing. Reddy, the Hy­der­abad-born peo­ple’s per­son for the com­pany, says, “Cam­pus re­cruit­ment is an in­te­gral part of our tal­ent strat­egy and we are see­ing al­most 50 per cent growth in num­bers year on year linked to our growth plans in the In­dia-South Asia re­gion.”

Deal With Am­bi­gu­ity

The oth­ers are not too far be­hind. “Since the in­cep­tion of our univer­sity pro­gramme a few years ago, our hir­ing has grown at 40 per cent CAGR,” says Deepti Varma, HR Di­rec­tor, In­dia, Ama­zon. “We are look­ing for self-starters who thrive in a fast-paced and ag­ile en­vi­ron­ment. This means be­ing able to deal with am­bi­gu­ity, wear­ing many hats, be­ing able to change di­rec­tion quickly and show­ing ea­ger­ness to learn new things. We look for tal­ented in­di­vid­u­als who can be­come ef­fec­tive lead­ers ca­pa­ble of lead­ing large, com­plex or­gan­i­sa­tions and ex­hibit strong judg­ment in de­ci­sion mak­ing.”

The com­pany’s re­quire­ments have changed over time as it has grown and evolved in In­dia. “In the early days of Ama­, our hir­ing from man­age­ment schools across In­dia was mainly for roles in op­er­a­tions as we were set­ting sup­ply chain and lo­gis­tics and ful­fil­ment in­fra­struc­ture and ex­pand­ing the se­lec­tion of­fered by sell­ers. Since then, our busi­ness in In­dia has scaled up sig­nif­i­cantly, ne­ces­si­tat­ing the need for ad­ding more skill sets.”

“We don’t think skills for­ward, we think cus­tomer back­wards. Hence, we hire pro­gramme man­agers, fi­nan­cial an­a­lysts, prod­uct man­agers, mar­ket­ing and cat­e­gory man­agers, ca­pac­ity plan­ning spe­cial­ists (among oth­ers) who show strong cul­tural fit,” she says.

More than En­trepreneurial

“Com­pa­nies such as Uber, Oyo Rooms and Flip­kart have re­cruited in sig­nif­i­cant num­bers from the cam­pus,” says Kan­wal Kapil, Dean, Place­ments at MDI. They also hire from other places. For in­stance, Oyo Rooms talks about its civil en­gi­neers, in­te­rior de­sign­ers and AI sci­en­tists. “These com­pa­nies tend to look more for peo­ple with an an­a­lyt­i­cal bent of mind and an en­trepreneurial mind­set,” says Kan­wal Kapil.

Same was the case at other lead­ing busi­ness schools too. For in­stance, Pro­fes­sor Amit Karna, Chair­per­son, Place­ments at IIM-A, says apart from the growth in num­bers in con­sult­ing, an­other sec­tor which picked up more stu­dents than last year was on­line and re­lated ven­tures, which ab­sorbed nearly 10 per cent of the to­tal batch in the last fi­nal place­ments for 2018. This was up from 5- 6 per cent.” This was also the case with IIM Cal­cutta (IIM-C), which says Uber, Ola, Ama­zon and Flip­kart were some of the ma­jor re­cruiters at its cam­pus in 2018.


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