Tuesday 17 March 2015

E-commerce beats FMCG as hottest career option at B-schools

 The latest vindication of the soaring popularity of e-commerce as a career destination has come from the Nielsen Campus Track Business School 2015 survey, where students across 35 top business schools have, for the first time ever, voted it as the most preferred sector for employment.

According to the Nielsen Campus Track Business School survey 2015, shared exclusively with ET, the e-commerce sector (28%) came out on top, followed by FMCG (24%), foreign banks (21%), financial institutions/credit rating agencies (19%), management consultancies (19%) and large business conglomerates (18%).

In terms of preferred sectors, e-commerce has steadily been gaining ground, from third spot in the 2012 survey and second place last year.

The survey further drives home how brisk startup activity, big-ticket fund-raising, multiple success stories and a cool quotient among students is fuelling huge curiosity and interest in joining the sector.

An earlier ET story with data from 11 top B-schools had revealed that about one in every nine students from the 2013-15 batch would be joining an e-commerce firm or startup after graduation as compared to just one in 19 students in the 2012-14 batch.

Though HUL still remains the most preferred company overall in the list for the graduating batch of 2015, e-commerce has displaced FMCG, the most preferred sector for the past five years. The banking sector has also staged a big comeback.

According to Nielsen, top companies in the e-commerce sector have steadily been moving up in the campus recruiter index (CRI), which is the weighted summation of companies' goodwill across attributes. Even though none of them have made it to the top 10 list yet, Flipkart is at 26, Amazon at 34 and Snapdeal at 49 this time.

In the last survey, Flipkart was at 40, Amazon at 46 and Snapdeal didn't figure in the rankings at all.

"Established e-commerce companies have moved up significantly in the recruiters' list in the past couple of years — and it's a wait and watch to see them enter the top 10 lists. This may be attributed to the fact that many are startups, or with increasing funding are expanding their business over time," says Ajay Macaden, executive director, Nielsen India.

According to the CRI rankings for the year, FMCG companies in the top 10 are HUL (at first place) and Coca Cola (at sixth place). Banks have strengthened their position with ICICI Bank (second), HDFC Bank (third) and HSBC (fifth).

Asked about their dream employer, respondents across B-schools polled HUL (17%), ICICI Bank (13%) and Google (11% ) as the top three. The survey is currently in its 15th year and measures and monitors attitudes and perceptions of students in relation to career preferences and potential recruiters.

HUL has maintained its status as the most preferred employer for four years in a row and as a dream company across sectors for the sixth year running. "At HUL, the ability to identify, hire, groom and retain the best talent has been honed and developed over several decades and remains one of the most important agenda of my leadership team," Sanjiv Mehta, CEO and MD, HUL told ET in an email interview.

According to Mehta, HUL consistently drives the agenda of being the 'employer of choice' in campuses as well as with experienced professionals in the external market.

"Having ensured we have recruited the best talent we then lay the right foundation through our 15-18 months' cross-functional training under the Unilever Future Leaders Programme. Many of them also get international stints. What makes this programme unique is the strong support system of senior leaders who act as coaches, tutors and mentors to support and shape the trainees," says Mehta.

The company also ensures that talent gets big roles and responsibilities early on in their career. Many talented young people are also motivated to join because of the company's philosophy of 'doing well by doing good', adds Mehta.

As far as viewing e-commerce as a potential threat in the coming years is concerned, Mehta says the HUL brand has stood the test of time and is kept contemporary and reinvigorated.

"We have strengthened our position as the employer of choice over the past few decades, irrespective of market dynamics and new emerging sectors. This has been possible due to our close connect with campus students over the years and offering them value and experiences which are aligned to their expectations," said Mehta.

"We have also found more new-age ways of engaging with the wider campus audience through digital platforms," he adds.

The survey also reveals that there is an increase in salary expectations — students now expect Rs 17.8 lakh from their most preferred employer as compared to Rs 17 lakh last year.

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