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India's B-School grads now rake in the big rupees

By Anuj ChopraCorrespondent of The Christian Science Monitor / April 21, 2006


It's spring, and at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) - a premier management school in this industrial town - the campus is abuzz with company recruiters offering fat pay packages to new grads. .

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Bagging a $185,000 per year offer, Manan Ahuja, an affable 26-year-old lad, coyly notes that his salary package offered by Barclays Capital, a British investment bank, is far more than his father, a Delhi government bureaucrat, earned in his entire lifetime.

"It feels great to get an international offer," Mr. Ahuja says. "Beyond the salary, this promises an interesting job profile and great growth prospects." Ahuja's new job will take him first to London and later to the New York offices of Barclays.

Although securing jobs has never been difficult for students at India's top business schools, the rise in the number of jobs and the high salaries this year are testimony to the premium multinational corporations now place on Indian talent, which, experts say, ranks among the best in the world.

The eye-catching offers also reflect India's booming economy - clocking an 8 percent growth rate for the past three years - as well as a surging global economy that leaves many firms hunting for strong managers.

Management recruiting firms confirm there's an international shortage of good management executives, and salary offers are up about 10 percent over last year.

In five days of recruiting here, 235 students at IIM Ahmedabad were offered 510 jobs - 90 of which are overseas - an average of two jobs per student. The highest value package offered to an IIM student this year - a young man from the Bangalore branch of IIM - was $193,000. That's a sharp jump from last year's top offer of $111,000. Even the highest Indian salary offer of $75,000 was twice the top domestic offer last year.

The tendency toward surging salaries goes beyond the six branches of IIMs in India. A student soon to graduate from the Indian School of Business (ISB), a research-oriented international business school in Hyderabad, was offered a salary package of $223,800 recently, crossing the 10 million rupees (approximately $222,000) mark for the first time. Three other students from the same institute received offers of more than $200,000.

Indian MBA salaries are now in the same range as those offered to grads of the top US business schools. In 2005, the average compensation of Harvard Business MBA grads was nearly $175,000, up 11 percent from the prior year. Stanford and Dartmouth MBA grads averaged $150,000 salary packages last year.

"Multinational companies," enthuses Bakul Dholakia, director of IIM Ahmedabad, "are now realizing that they've got to look at India - beyond Wharton and Harvard - for the world's brightest business graduates."

Indeed, many US firms have already recognized the value of Indian business school grads. The IIM alumni association for grads living in the US, founded last year, has 1,500 members.

Like their better-known American counterparts, Indian business schools are fostering prestige by setting a high admissions bar. Last year, for instance, out of 158,000 students who took the Common Aptitude Test (CAT), the entrance test for MBA aspirants in India, only 1,300 got into India's six IIM institutes.