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India Is Where the Heart Is

It’s the annual placement season in Indian business schools. To nobody’s surprise, starting salaries of fresh MBA grads continue their northward ascent, breaking new grounds and creating new records. However, an interesting trend this year has been in the number of students rejecting foreign postings and opting to stay back in India. Even as early as last year, a New York posting with an investment bank was among the most coveted job offers on Indian campuses.

It’s the annual placement season in Indian business schools. To nobody’s surprise, starting salaries of fresh MBA grads continue their northward ascent, breaking new grounds and creating new records. However, an interesting trend this year has been in the number of students rejecting foreign postings and opting to stay back in India. Even as early as last year, a New York posting with an investment bank was among the most coveted job offers on Indian campuses. But this year, as reported by a leading business daily, approximately 18 students in the top 3 Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) have rejected international assignments with global consulting firms and investment banks, choosing to build their careers in India. It’s not new-found patriotism that’s driving this trend. It’s just a case of MBA graduates realizing that, in today’s business world, India is the place to be.

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The trend has been building up for a while now. Last week I had dinner with a 38-year old vice-president of one of India’s leading IT outsourcing companies. During his 15 years in the organization, he has worked in the US, UK, Scandinavia, France and China. In the last five years, however, he has opted for roles based in Bangalore. “The real meaty and interesting roles are in India and its better from a career perspective to remain here”, he said.

A month ago, at an international conference of lawyers, I was introduced to a 28-year old lawyer working in the area of public policy with an Indian law firm. A graduate of India’s top law school, he did his Masters from London School of Economics and worked in the UK for a couple of years before deciding to return to his homeland. He said, “India is a country in transition, and there’s so much impact I can have working in public policy here. I wouldn’t have had this opportunity working in London”.

A couple of months ago, I had a chance meeting with a married couple, both technology researchers with PhD’s from Cornell University. They had spent more than five years in research jobs in the US and had just returned to India. Back in India, the lady is a professor at IIT Bombay, and her husband is researching on Nanotechnology at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. “Today, opportunities for research in the private sector in India are bigger and better than in the US”, he said.

A friend of mine had returned from the US more than three years ago, looking for “quality of life”. Employed with a leading American technology outsourcing company, he and his wife (also employed in the outsourcing industry) built a nice life for themselves – working comfortable hours, living in a plush bungalow in suburban Bangalore, driving 2 cars, a pet German Shepherd, a gardener, a cook and a full-time domestic help. They have now decided to move to London because “life here was getting too comfortable”.

Well, quoting Konrad Adenauer, “we all live under the same sky, but we don’t all have the same horizon”.

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Anupam Mukerji • Bangalore, India • anupam@mmi-india.com.com www.mmi-india.com.com

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