Many of India’s business elite seem worried. Economic growth has slowed. Corruption remains untamed, a result of poorly paid civil servants who demand bribes in exchange for favors. The country’s infrastructure, long inferior to many other nations, still lags woefully behind. And nearly everyone agrees that an inept and bureaucratic government is holding back the country’s progress.
But if you ask the students at the Indian School of Business who will graduate in early April how things are going, you get nothing but a positive vibe. And why not? By the time the employment numbers get counted, the school is expecting record numbers all around: higher domestic and international salaries for students and an unprecedented number of offers from such leading companies as Amazon, Deloitte Consulting, McKinsey, and one of the hottest e-commerce outfits in India, Flipkart.
“This is the best year I’ve had in ten years,” says V.K. Menon, senior director of careers, admissions and financial aid. Last year some 423 companies showed up on campus to recruit the school’s students, a 21% increase from 348 the previous year. Menon concedes that enough companies went away empty handed that he thinks it would be better if fewer recruiters had showed up, though he expects roughly the same number for this year’s graduating class. He also predicts that the school’s 770 students will receive more than 1,000 signed job offers this year, up from 819 in 2013 and 631 two years ago.
FOR STUDENTS, NUMEROUS INTERVIEWS AND MULTIPLE JOB OFFERS
Upsana Wahi, 27, had interviews with six companies, ranging from a real estate developer and a hospital chain to a high tech startup and the hot e-commerce company. She ended up deciding between two offers and is joining IBM’s global business consulting unit in Bangalore upon graduation. Girish Kumar S.N., 30, interviewed with five companies, also landed two offers and is excited to be joining a three-year mobile platform startup called Zipdial in a product management role. Lokesh Jain, 26, had 12 interviews and three offers.
There’s no greater symbol of how strong the market is for ISB’s students than the story, told by Menon, of an oil equipment company that came to recruit the school’s students for the first time this year. A dozen students were initially offered tax-free $50,000 salaries—nearly double the the average for graduates who remain in India—along with free housing and a car in the Middle East. When the firm found no takers, it returned and doubled the offers to $100,000 each. The 12 students quickly signed up for the deal.
“For us, the MBA market is still buoyant,” says Ajit Rangnekar, who has been dean of the school since January of 2010. “We are seeing a steady and robust interest in our students from companies. Last year, 200 students were placed one month before the previous year. This year, we’re doing even better than that.” (See How ISB Grads Fared In the 2013 Job Market).
ONLY 13 YEARS OLD, ISB HAS BECOME INDIA’S LEADING BUSINESS SCHOOL
Even students who have yet to connect with an employer don’t seem worried about their prospects. Harmanjot Singh, 27, says he has had 27 interviews with firms that range from Johnson & Johnson to the Times of India. A medical doctor by training, he wants to use his degree to switch to a marketing career and is having trouble convincing recruiters to take him on. “ISB has not given up on me and that is something I am so grateful for,” says Singh, who notes that the career staff has done everything it could to help him.