There's good news for management aspirants, and the pay packets are getting bulkier.

The curtain has been drawn on yet another placement season at the elite Indian Institutes of Management. In the cut-throat world of competition between these sister institutions, who emerged the winner? Besides being a matter of prestige, these placement statistics also determine how aspiring IIM-ers perceive the institutes, and whether the pecking order will change. Whose average salary topped the list of unspeakably high figures? Which IIM placed all its students in record time? How high were the placement figures in Slot Zero where all the coveted companies come in? And more crucially, is the economic recession really over?

For scores of B-schools that have closely been watching this placement season, there is a ray of optimism. Last year, when the IIMs took an unprecedented 10 days to place the much-sought-after students, the tier-II B-schools and hundreds of others offering BBA and MBA courses found their placement baskets empty.

So, does this upward swing for the IIMs mean that management graduates can hope for brighter avenues this year? Not entirely, experts say.

IT is back

Let's examine the trends that were thrown up at IIM-Bangalore. IIM-B was tight-lipped about salaries, and let on only the fact that placements were completed in five days and Slot Zero offers were up 41 per cent. The IT sector bounced back — signalling good times for engineering graduates who were languishing last year as the largest recruiters froze hiring — from nine per cent to 20 per cent. Predictably, the dream run for PSUs is over with IIM-B as only seven opted for them, compared to 16 last year. Even overseas job offers reduced from 25 to 15 this year, thereby indicating that recovery is still on its way in those markets.

With IT forming a large part of this pie, taking away from banking and finance, consulting and general management, it is only fair to infer that the average salary may have reduced. “But for a management aspirant, salary is not the only concern at the outset. The fact that diverse profiles are back, and all-time-favourites like consulting and finance have remained stable, and are possibly offering more this year, is a positive sign,” said a student. PPOs (pre-placement offers too are back) and lateral hiring (for those with job experience) increased significantly. Six students also opted for the Bangalore-based healthcare group Narayana Hrudayalaya.

“We were very happy with placements this year. While trends were similar to previous years, we were impressed with the diverse companies that students opted for. Of particular significance is the fact that a non-MNC hospital like Narayana Hrudayalaya, that usually hires from within medical staff, visited the campus. This denotes a change in mindset in this sector, a recognition of the importance of managerial talent and that untraditional sectors too are now looking for managers at our campuses,” said Sapna Agarwal, head of placement cell at IIM-B.

Industry surveys have generally been pointing to a stagnation in salary hike. However, reports from IIMs indicate that pay packets just got bulkier.

Pay packet

There were no estimates from IIM-B and IIM-Ahmedabad, though the media was rife with speculation, often floating incredulous figures. IIM-Calcutta, which reveals its average pay packets, said that the average international package was $1,23,450 per annum this year as against $86,785 last year. Domestic figures were pegged at Rs.15.32 lakh per annum as against Rs.12.7 lakh last year. One student was offered a staggering Rs. 75 lakh per annum. At IIM-Lucknow too, where placements concluded for its batch of 315, the salaries were more or less in the same range. Many of the IIMs attributed their success to the fact that their candidate profile is diverse, and more importantly, has a good work portfolio. For instance, the average work experience of the IIM-B batch is 22 months while it is 36 months for IIM-Lucknow's batch.

New process

IIM-Ahmedabad decided this year to replace its slot-based placement process with a new ‘rolling' method, spreading out the exercise over one to two months. The institute hopes this would bring more quality and infuse better decision-making among students, who are otherwise under undue stress during the traditional five-day placement process. According to a press note, the placement process will span across continuous weekends over two consecutive months. Groups of companies offering similar roles will form cohorts and come to the campus on the two days of a particular weekend and students interested in the role offered can participate in the placements. The sequence of cohorts will be decided by the preference of the batch in question. In simple words, a ‘cohort' will group jobs according to profiles offered and not sectors. The two-day window will take pressure off students and allow them to make choices, and rethink these choices in a calm fashion.

This process will also stop slotting companies as ‘slot zero' or ‘slot one,' thereby putting an end to intense competition and bad-blood among students, a professor from IIM-A explains. This also kills any scope of competition with other IIMs, she added.

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