Pre-placement offers the new game in town

Aarti Singh is on cloud nine. The second year student from the Indian Institute of Management-Kozhikode has just received a placement offer from the foreign bank where she interned this summer. “The fact that I have got this seven digit salary offer months before completing my MBA is even more exciting.”

This rising trend of pre-placement offers (PPOs) is prevalent across business schools in the country. Although companies flock to management institutes regularly, this sudden increased in the number of PPOs points towards a vibrant and booming job market.

PPOs are offers for final placement made to students based on their performance during their summer internship, at the end of the first year of MBA. With a massive talent crunch staring in the eye, organisations are making smart moves by grabbing students early on through initiatives like PPOs, before they march to rival camps.

The big two, namely IIM-Bangalore and IIM-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) have been at the forefront in this race, garnering 70 and 79 PPOs this year from enterprises like Trilogy, A T Kearney, HSBC, Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, apart from several others.

“Consulting firms like McKinsey & Co. and Bain and Co., along with leaders in the investment banking industry such as Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, among other prominent firms have extended fulltime offers to all their summer interns from IIM-A,” claims Rohan Mathur, secretary, student placement committee, IIM-A.

As students undertake several challenging projects during their internship stint, enterprises are well aware of their capacity to handle tough situations, their strengths and weaknesses, communication skills, people relations, and technical skills. “All this drives companies to book that crop of talent whom they are familiar with,” says a HR manager from a fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) major.

Another reason for this huge increase in PPOs is that companies have started taking internships seriously. A student is provided with ample exposure to the organization, its culture, a wide array of projects and assignments, and is eventually judged for his emotional and intelligence quotient.

Says Abhishek Dimri, coordinator, placement committee, IIM-Lucknow, “last year we received 75 PPOs from top firms like Proctor & Gamble, Citibank, JP Morgan, amongst others, and the number will surely surge this year.”

But what mechanism drives companies to offer PPOs to their former interns? The answer lies with the nature of assignments that have been undertaken by students during the course of their internships.

Internships form the fulcrum around which PPOs revolve, as students are made to work on projects ranging from mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to boardroom case studies and from the market entry of a product to trial generation plans, which utilize their potential to the utmost, besides channelising their talent and energy towards a particular goal.

Says IIM-Lucknow's Yagneshwar Nanduri; who interned with the commercial banking division of HSBC, “I worked on projects pertaining to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The work entailed understanding the multiple requirements of sectors like pharma, information technology (IT), information technology enabled services (ITeS), etc. and customizing HSBC's products to suit those requirements.” Nanduri's efforts have been rewarded with a PPO from HSBC earlier in the month.

If the IIMs have a two month compulsory internship at the end of the first year, then business schools like Mumbai's S P Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) have a mandatory eight week social service project at the end of the first year, followed by an autumn internship in the second year.

SPJIMR, which received 55 PPOs last year encourages students to work with NGOs and the corporate social responsibility (CSR) wings of organizations like Siemens, AV Birla Group, Tata Group, ICICI Bank, etc. “The social projects are followed by an internship which lasts from September- November with firms from sectors like banking, marketing, research, logistics and so on; where students get a considerable degree of exposure to the functioning of the organization. This grounding in the social and corporate sectors bestows students with a competitive advantage,” states Professor Abbasali Gabula, chairperson, external relations, SPJIMR.

Thus, there are opportunities galore for management students. Pre- placement offers prove beneficial for both firms and students, as the former get to tap talent early on, while the latter get jobs with dream pay packages even before they graduate. With the current momentum, management students make hay while the sun shines.