More con­glom­er­ates are tap­ping lead­ing busi­ness schools to build their cor­po­rate lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes, and groom young tal­ent.

Business Today - - THE BUZZ - By E. Ku­mar Sharma / Pho­to­graph by Ra­chit Goswami

“WE RE­CRUIT AL­MOST 2,000 EVERY YEAR… IN IN­DIA, OF WHICH 25- 30 ARE FROM B- SCHOOLS. FIVE YEARS AGO, WE HARDLY RE­CRUITED ANY­BODY FROM B- SCHOOLS” S. Ramesh Shankar Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent and Head- HR, Siemens In­dia

RITESH KHANDELWAL was just 27 when he joined Siemens as a se­nior as­so­ciate. In just two years, he was made the fi­nance head of a ma­jor busi­ness seg­ment of the com­pany, and in 2016, he be­came the CFO, Mo­bil­ity Busi­ness, a key busi­ness area for the com­pany which con­trib­utes 10-12 per cent of the to­tal Siemens rev­enues in In­dia and is in­volved in some high pro­file projects such as state-owned metro net­works and rail­ways.

A ma­jor fac­tor that fast-tracked Khandelwal’s ca­reer was his in­duc­tion in the Siemens fi­nance ex­cel­lence pro­gramme – a tal­ent pool within the com­pany to groom po­ten­tial CFOs. Khandelwal was taken in from the Univer­sity of Chicago, where he did his MBA. Pal­pa­bly ex­cited at the boost the pro­gramme has given to his ca­reer, he says, “It is a struc­tured pro­gramme and there is fo­cused ca­reer de­vel­op­ment with high vis­i­bil­ity with the top man­age­ment, who eval­u­ate the per­for­mance closely and also give ca­reer ad­vice.”

The com­pany has in­creased busi­ness school cam­pus re­cruit­ment. “We re­cruit al­most 2,000 peo­ple every year in the whole of Siemens in In­dia, of which 25-30 are from busi­ness schools. Five years ago, we hardly re­cruited any­body from busi­ness schools,” says S. Ramesh Shankar, Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent and Head of HR, Siemens In­dia.

As part of Siemens’ hir­ing struc­ture, “we have three global pro­grammes – CFO and CEO ex­cel­lence pro­grammes apart from the Siemens grad­u­ate pro­gramme. For these we re­cruit glob­ally from top 25-30 busi­ness schools around the world. In In­dia, we re­cruit from IIM-B, IIM-A, IIM-C and ISB,” says Shankar, ad­ding that this is a global re­cruit­ment process and the same ev­ery­where. “Roughly 5-10 peo­ple would be se­lected from In­dia for these and they go into the global pool. For the re­main­ing 25 or so, we go to the other lead­ing schools such as XLRI, SPJIMR, MDI, NMIMS and oth­ers from among the top 20 schools, to re­cruit man­age­ment trainees. We take them first as sum­mer in­terns and if it works, they would be hired,” says Shankar.

This model of hir­ing, he says, is ideal for pick­ing peo­ple for lead­er­ship roles rather than for spe­cific do­main ex­per­tise, though the com­pany also looks for func­tional lead­er­ship for roles that do need some do­main ex­per­tise. In­dia, he says, is an im­por­tant ge­og­ra­phy for Siemens and among the top four ma­jor con­tribut­ing coun­tries (apart from the US, Ger­many and China) among the 180 coun­tries it op­er­ates.

The RPG Group has been run­ning its Group Man­age­ment Re­sources (GMR) pro­gramme for over a decade now, and has ramped up hir­ing un­der this over the past three years. What ear­lier used to be a pool of tal­ent largely hired from B-schools now also in­cludes high­rank­ing char­tered ac­coun­tants and promis­ing le­gal graduates. S. Venkatesh, Pres­i­dent – Group HR, RPG En­ter­prises, says the aim is to hire to­mor­row’s lead­ers. “We look for peo­ple with EQ, and their abil­ity to con­nect with the real world and with peo­ple (teams),” he says. This tal­ent pool and hir­ing un­der it has gained im­por­tance within the group, and those with prior ex­pe­ri­ence get fast-tracked ca­reer growth and lead­er­ship roles.

The hir­ing un­der the GMR pro­grammes is only from the top half-a-dozen busi­ness schools in the coun­try, and the num­bers of re­cruits is grow­ing. “Last year, we hired 75. This year we are try­ing to hire more,

could be 90-100,” says Venkatesh. The in­crease in num­bers also has to do with the need to ex­pand the tal­ent pipe­line and growth in busi­ness. For ex­am­ple, Ceat Tyres, an RPG Group com­pany, has a new plant in Nag­pur and in Am­ber­nath near Mum­bai, and is in the process of set­ting up a green field fa­cil­ity in Chen­nai.

Ran­jan Ban­er­jee, Dean of SPJIMR (S.P. Jain In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment and Re­search), Mum­bai, sees con­glom­er­ates in­creas­ing their hir­ing un­der var­i­ous lead­er­ship pro­grammes. “As busi­nesses have diver­si­fied, we also have a sit­u­a­tion where young man­agers are look­ing for more va­ri­ety and chal­lenges,” he says. But that doesn’t mean that in an era of spe­cial­ists there is no mar­ket for gen­er­al­ists. “You need spe­cial­i­sa­tion but the na­ture of that has also changed. For in­stance, you need mar­ket­ing peo­ple with (knowl­edge) of an­a­lyt­ics, fi­nance and tech­nol­ogy. So, the spe­cial­i­sa­tion is less siloed than ear­lier be­cause tra­di­tional func­tional bound­aries are blur­ring. Also, along with this, you need peo­ple who can con­nect the dots. Com­pa­nies will need peo­ple who can strate­gise and are also dig­i­tal na­tives,” says Ban­er­jee. Then, there is also the ar­gu­ment that this may be the way con­glom­er­ates are com­pet­ing for tal­ent with con­sult­ing com­pa­nies, which of­fer more va­ri­ety.

The rea­sons can be man­i­fold but the com­mon thread is that com­pa­nies are fol­low­ing a more fo­cussed ap­proach to groom­ing young re­cruits for fu­ture lead­er­ship roles.

“LAST YEAR, WE HIRED 75 ( FROM BUSI­NESS SCHOOLS). THIS YEAR WE ARE TRY­ING TO HIRE MORE, COULD BE 90- 100” S. Venkatesh Pres­i­dent – Group HR, RPG En­ter­prises

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