It's been a long and tiring journey after Lehman Brothers fell. Ugam Solutions a prominent marketing research, analytics and online marketing services firm has managed survive the dreaded 'R' word. The Chief People's Officer of Ugam Dharmesh Mistry spells out the future as he sees it and has a word of caution for the young and restless.
Given the global economic slowdown and your presence in different continents, how was the last calendar year for your company?
The impact was definitely felt. However our growth rate has remained flat despite the slowdown and now we (and our clients) are quite bullish about taking things from here on. As a matter of fact cutting costs helped quite a bit and we saw an increase in outsourcing contracts because if the need for cost cutting on our clients is great, the pressure on them to outsource is just as high.
What kind of hiring trend has India witnessed since the Lehman Brothers collapse?
After Lehman collapsed there was no hiring. There were reports of more than 50,000 to 60,000 jobs lost in India itself. So it was a bad year for those who lost their jobs and for young graduates who aspired for a good first assignment.
Has the ground situation changed in the recent past?
For starters, the firing has definitely stopped. However I won't go to the extent of saying that the trend has reversed. I think it has just passed the phase of employee retrenchment due to the uncertainty of the business. Now we are in the phase where we are looking at stability and growth. I am sure a lot of companies will be looking at recruiting people but will be doing so very strategically. Only those employees that they need will be hired in the immediate future.
Would you say that the BPO business in India come out as a winner?
Though we haven't seen the trend going down this year; at best the trend of outsourcing work inflow has remained flat.
Are Indian companies jumping on the hiring bandwagon again?
Companies will start hiring sooner rather than later. However I am also certain that hiring won't be as crazy as it was before the slowdown hit us. People will be careful about who they are hiring and at what cost.
How should young employees adapt themselves in times of economic hardships?
Young employees who have joined the workforce in the last four to five years had always seen the boom times. For them this has been a shocking and an unusual experience. Those who have their jobs should be thankful for it and should put their best foot forward. Their focus should be on career development rather than on seeing how much money they can make. One must understand that one's job is like investing the stock market. An intelligent investor does not buy stock just to make money but rather as a committed, long-term investment. I think youngsters should adopt the same kind of a mindset.
What would your advice to young graduates who are underemployed be?
Surely there will be a lot of people who are overqualified for their jobs. My advice to them would be to make the most of the current situation and learn as much from the experience. Try and work up the ladder in the current organisation. You might not be doing something you are qualified for or something very drab and uninteresting. But by doing it well you can prove that you are able to adapt to varied situations.
What are Ugam's hiring plans for this calendar year?
We are hiring and in the last four-odd months have added more than 125 people in our Coimbatore office. As a matter of fact we haven't fired a single employee during the slowdown and by the end of this year we should be hiring 60 more people for entry-level jobs.