Sunday, 1 August 2010

Managing Uncertain Futures

At The Human Factor over the last few issues we have been trying to bring to you people perspectives from a variety of spaces beyond the regular workplace, from the world of media, sports and advertising. This time the magazine turns a new page, and we bring to you perspectives from the Chief Minister of Delhi, Dr. Sheila Dikshit and from Mr. Kamal Nath, the Union Cabinet Minister for Road Transport and Highways. While discussing organisations and workplace policies we mostly restrict ourselves to the corporate sector, or at the most, the public sector; but leave aside one of the largest workforce that has an effect on our daily life; the government and the bureaucracy.

With the Commonwealth Games around the corner, the scale of operations that Dr. Dikshit is driving in addition to managing the daily turbulence of public office is incredible. Mr. Kamal Nath, on the other hand, is committed to improve the surface transport network, and targets to add 20 kilometres of roads every day, while at the same time negotiating public-private partnership deals to create world class connectivity. What makes their job even more difficult is that while they manage a structured bureaucracy at the ministerial level, they also have to, on an everyday basis, manage the political cadre which is largely unstructured, and whose goals and ambitions are not always aligned to that of the government. It was educational for us to learn how public leaders successfully manage these multiple threads, and we hope you will find their interviews of interest.

In the campus-recruitment space, the industry and professional schools have just concluded a full cycle of pre-placement talks, assessments and interviews, offers, acceptance, and onboarding. Before the next cycle started, we wanted to have a 360° view of what students, industry and institutions, that is, the most important stakeholders, perceived to be important success factors for institutions to able to churn the right kind of talent. We reached out to students, faculty members and administrators in professional institutes, specifically business schools, engineering schools and schools of medicine, and to recruiters who are veterans in campus recruitment. While most stakeholders stressed on quality of curriculum, and industry readiness as important factors, the industry particularly stressed upon the placement process at the institution to be streamlined better. With the number of institutions mushrooming across India, the recruiters have a difficult time identifying the better schools from the masses. The tier two institutions at this point would do well to concentrate on building a brand that would differentiate them from the rest, if they want to come out as winners in the placements sweepstakes. While branding activities would help build perception, it is also important to build the brand around the core factors like curriculum, faculty, teaching methodology and industry exposure. It would probably also make sense, if instead of trying to copy the top schools and become another me too, these institutions try and create their own niche in terms of curriculum and industry specialisation. India certainly needs many more professional institutes, but it is not enough to just churn out graduates by the hundreds, what we need is employable talent in large numbers.

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