Wednesday, March 16, 2005

IIM students in demand again

India's Business Standard reports that India's IIMs, the country's top business schools, have been experiencing heated recruitment activity with the top investment banks and consultancies competing for the top graduates.

A few years ago I ran a recruitment campaign in the IIMs, operating it from London with the help of colleagues in Singapore and India. I think it was the most 'eye-opening' experience of my working life.

Unlike Europe and the US campus recruitment in India is simple. You are allowed to speak to people first but from there all companies are only allowed to select from a certain date. At Bangalore we had a suite of rooms with McKinsey down the corridor and Deutsche Bank below us. You try to grab the best students, interview and make an offer on the spot. The students finish the day with a confirmed job.

I remember having a conversation back in London with a counterpart at another firm where he was complaining that 'not all companies were playing fair' and that some students had even been 'captured' so not to interview elsewhere. I am not sure that closing the acceptance, whisking them into a taxi and taking them to a very long 'welcome' lunch at the wonderful Oberoi with the head of the Indian office and head of investment banking SE Asia counts as 'captured', but if it does we were certainly guilty.

Only when you have interviewed at an IIM do you realise how mediocre too many of the students at Europe's top schools are. 6 good hires in 2 hours is good in anybody's books and even given long-haul business flights the cost-per-hire was startlingly low.