ToI 28/5/09

Chennai: Starting a daycare centre would probably be the last thing on the mind of a graduate from a premier B School in the country. But Sunil Kaura and Ankur Arora of the 2009 batch at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, propose to do just that.

While placements at ISB are nearly complete, this time, of the 437 students from the 2009 batch, around 25-30 are planning to start something on their own. Similarly, of the 162 students at Chennaibased GLIM (Great Lakes Institute of Management), about a dozen students are also planning to turn first generation entrepreneurs.

While IIMs have seen staggered placements this year due to the slowdown which led to a dwindling of offers, the situation is no different even in premier B schools where work experience is a prerequisite for admission. Placements are not at the same pace as in previous years, and hence students are not waiting for opportunities to come their way; many are creating their own.

Entrepreneurship is the buzz word. “I have always dreamt of starting something on my own and historically speaking, slowdown presents the right opportunity to start your own enterprise,” says Vidya Shankar Manoharan of the 2008-2009 batch at GLIM. For the record, Manoharan bagged a job offer with an infrastructure major at a CTC (cost to company) of eight lakh per annum. But he let it pass. He says his belief in starting something on his own was reinforced at GLIM thanks to courses on entrepreneurship and lectures by many first-generation businessmen.

Neel Shah, an MBA grad from IIM-Kozhikode, feels that the whole thrill of owning your business and seeing it grow is what’s prompting people to start their own ventures. For Sumanth Palepu who is making movies with his friend, it’s simply following his most cherished hobby and passion.

Academicians say students have taken the downturn in their stride and have not been obsessed about big job offers this year. “Many of our students have experienced the dot com and technology bust in 2001-02 and they know these things would eventually pass over. When it comes to career choices, they are really taking a long-term view,” says S Sriram, executive director, GLIM.

Since several major companies have reduced their intake and trimmed salaries, some MBA grads are also looking at joining smaller outfits which provide greater freedom and flexibility in job profiles. “In any case, many big companies have dropped salaries. So students are seriously contemplating joining smaller organisations which would provide them learning opportunities. Many such concerns are promising and would go in for an IPO in a couple of years’ time which will then put them in the big league,” says Ajit Rangnekar, dean, Indian School of Business (ISB).

“Seeing the current economic situation, we have advised students to accept only one offer and be done with the process,” says Sriram of GLIM. Average work experience of the 2008-09 batch at Great Lakes is roughly three and a half years while that for ISB ranges between four and seven years. And their average CTC is down to Rs 8.7 lakh from Rs 9.7 lakh last year. The going may be tough, but the tough know it’s time to get inventive.

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