The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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India Inc shines at Ivy League

Mumbai, July 10: Indian companies may be puny in size compared with Fortune 500 companies of the West but it skims the cream of global talent from Ivy League colleges like Harvard Business School, Wharton and Yale as the country’s growth story catches attention in campuses.

The Tatas are hosting six Harvard Business School interns, who have fanned out to the group’s offices in various cities under the gaze of Tata Administrative Services. This is the first of a kind for the company.

“India is a exciting place for them to go out and get some experience,” says Satish Pradhan, executive vice-president (HR) at Tata Sons. He played a key role in getting Harvard interns to the group, which has over three lakh employees in firms spread across seven sectors.

For many years, only information technology companies attracted young graduates from renowned universities, most of them heading for TCS, Infosys and Wipro.

Forty interns from the US, Japan, Canada, Germany and France have been chosen from a list of 9000 received this year under InStep, Infosys’ global internship programme. Dr Reddy’s, the Hyderabad-based pharmaceuticals major, has started recruiting straight from the Ivy League colleges ' by offering dollar salaries.

Mahindra & Mahindra also gained from the experience some years ago when a Harvard Intern ' who incidentally came through a reference ' helped it set up its used vehicles’ site on the Internet. That gave the firm a lot of insight into dotcom ventures. At present, it is the learning zone for some Yale interns.

The Indian firms had to compete with the likes of Microsoft, General Electric and bulge-bracket global investment banks. “Business analysis done here is not different from that in the big Fortune 500 firms,” says Pradhan. More important, The Tatas and Mahindras need foreign talent for their ambitious overseas ventures.

For the Tatas, the process of picking the six Harvard trainees started two years back, when Pradhan and Prasad Menon, managing director of Tata Chemicals, visited Harvard to make a presentation on behalf of the group. A year after their trip, Alan Rosling, a member on the Tata Sons board who is also a Harvard alumnus, went there too. “The six-week stay gives them an experience, which is passed from one batch to another,” Pradhan said.

Infosys has shepherded interns through a cultural induction programme that sensitises them to Indian culture, ethos, working styles and even food.

In Step, started in 1999 with 300 applicants for 14 positions, now draws 9000 for 100 positions from 70 universities. These include Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, Wharton, MIT, London Business School and Asia Institute of Management.

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