Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"We only go to IIMs"

Behind the various stories of the collapse of the Wall Street giants like Lehman Brothers, Merill Lynch, AIG, Bear Stearns, and many more lie a sordid tale of their human resource (HR) policies. In a bid to retain their so-called image, these assholes have only so far visited the so-called top management institutes (both in India and possibly also abroad) for recruitment like the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM). They felt that by going to these so-called 'top institutes' they would get the best of students. They feel that students of lesser-known institutes are not worthy. 

I would like someone to tell me that if these companies recruited only the best of the students, at all times, how did they land themselves in this soup? Lehman Brothers - the fourth largest US investment bank and a regular at IIM - filed for bankruptcy on 14 September 2008. The jobs of nearly 26,000 employees are now at stake. On the same day, another snooty player Merrill Lynch was sold to Bank of America. As is now news, there are many more such examples. And most of them prefer to go to the IIMs of the world and not the second-rung management institutes. Yet, they all fell like nine pins. 

Even as on a personal level I am pained to see the job losses of this stature, I could not help but have the last laugh. I did my MBA from Chetana's Institute of Management & Research between 1998 and 2000. As I was on my college's placement committee, I was required to visit several companies and ensure that their HR officials got our placement brochures. A placement brochure is a document that contains basic details (name, age, details of summer project and work experience, if any) of all the students in their final year. Among the companies I had visited was one called Lyyods Finance at Nariman Point. After making me wait for a good half hour and then another 15 minutes to go through the brochure (in detail, as  if they were searching for their long-lost brother or sister or something), one of the two snooty ladies looked at me and with a very sly smile said "We only recruit students from A-class colleges like Jamnalal Bajaj, NMIMNS, etc". She obviously meant to say that her company was out of my institute's league! 

Less than a month after that, I got recruited by my current organisation from the campus itself (I have completed seven and half years here now). And just two years after that, Llyods Finance faced its worse crisis in India - it got downgraded from AAA-rating to a below-investment grade type rating. Its days in India were soon numbered and went into oblivion. 

I have got nothing against IIM graduates. More often than not, we can be reasonably sure that the downfall of these institutions should be credited to their CEOs and top managements where an IIM hand would be negligible to nil. And out of Lehman's 26,000-odd employees, IIM graduates will mostly be a very small proportion. 

I am not at all claiming here that Lloyds Finance or any of those Wall Street losers would have met a different fate had they recruited me or anyone from any of the second-rung management institutes like the one I passed out from or anything like that. But the HR staff of such organisations should revisit their recruitment policies. Egoistic firms that swear only by students of IIM-type institutions should also realise that there are pickable candidates elsewhere too. Even B-grade institutions like Chetana's Institute of Management - my institute - churns out good students every year. But alas - the world is full of hypocrites! I only hope that the collapse of these Wall Street biggies teach others a lesson that recruiting IIM-type cadres does not ensure an organisation's success. And that talent - if you may - is also available outside IIM-type institutions. 


  1. Hey Slash,
    Nice analysis. Ever since the MBA era came post the doctor and engineer eras in 1990s, young wannabes have been scrambling to get through the IIMs and other "top" institutes.
    While I am not debating about rankings, we definitely have IIM guys in the senior management of the Wall Street biggies who had a great fall. Anyways, the fascination of companies with IIMs etc. is certainly palpable.
    I graduated from JBIMS this year; and I do not see myself any less capable than any IIM guy or fro the other so-called "lesser ranking" institutes. Yeah yeah, I could not solve those three more questions in the CAT/CET/XAT etc. that I am in whatever institute I am, that doesn't take my intelligence outta me :)

    You might want to read this - http://incognito6174.googlepages.com/iitjee

  2. Thanks Himanshu for your comments. While I attempted to throw a light on the defunct HR policies of many organisations, you are talking about the very education policies that form the foundation of these so-called top institutes that firms with such HR policies make a beeline for. You are right; marks alone are not the best indicator as to who deserves that coveted seat. A student who missed getting into IIT / IIM by a mark or three is not any less than those who just managed to scrape through.

  3. Sorry Himanshu, I forgot to mention about your piece. I read it and quite liked it. You make a valid point


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