Jobs Not OK Please!

05 Jun,2012


By Johnson Napier


If you’re among those contemplating switching jobs given growth constraints at your current place of work or just the sheer temptation to move on to a job more thrilling, you better think twice. Going by the reactions drawn from the Indian media and entertainment marketplace and from consultancy firms dealing with manpower issues, companies are in no mood to go on a recruitment drive, unless of course, there is a dire need for the same.


With 2012 starting off on a sluggish note and with the crisis making a fresh comeback, the growth forecast for the media and entertainment sector is being questioned unabatedly by all and sundry: will media will touch the 12% ballpark growth figure that was estimated for year 2012. This in turn will dictate whether there are enough opportunities for brands and clients to go talent hunting or whether they’ll have to make-do with internal makeshift arrangements to handle extra responsibilities.


But the prevailing sentiments definitely don’t appear inspiring on the jobs front, be it for clients looking to source great talent at the senior level or for those wanting to explore opportunities beyond their current realm. Explaining the current sentiment in the marketplace, Abha Kapoor, Executive Director, K&J Search Consultants that specialises in placement services for media executives reckons that after 2008-09, the M&E sector has become a lot more conservative in terms of both headcount and pricing. She observed, “The trend being observed currently is that mid-level people are being involved to do high-level jobs. There is also lack of funds coming in from P/E, venture capitalist firms into the sector. For example, our firm K&J is used to working for three start-ups simultaneously including mid- to CEO level. We’ve always had a television start-up, a radio start-up, an internet start-up but that’s because the money was coming into the sector. Right now that is not the case.”


According to Ms Kapoor, this trend has led to a shift in paradigm. “First there was lot of chasing that was done for talent, and salaries too were high, but right now there is lot of talent that is available but the headcount is not that high,” she reasons. According to her, there are no new jobs being created and there are also not enough replacement requirements.


Agreeing with Ms Kapoor’s observations is Pankaj Raj, Managing Partner, Search Value, a firm specialising in placement services for senior media execs. “Earlier, people were not willing to accommodate new talent due to financial constraints but right now they are saying, do not go overboard with the hiring; do so only if extremely critical or make-do with internal replacements only,” he said. “So the current trends suggest internal movements as the in-thing and also, salaries are not being hiked to the levels that it was done earlier.”


Reasoning the recurrence of the slump, Sarabjit Sachar, Founder and CEO of Aspirations said, “My reading is that it is a consolidation phase; it’s not going to go away easily. If you assess the media in the recent past, there were several takeovers that took effect like that of Nai Dunia being taken over by Jagran Group etc. This led to many senior people looking out for options at other places. Many organisations felt that they could either absorb them or give them roles as per the necessity. But what happens in a takeover is that the roles are not that enriching. Secondly, there is a lot of realignment that is taking place where the whole organisation’s business is being realigned into certain other businesses or products. Here the trend is that they want to retain the same resource and not hire anybody from outside. Thirdly, it is also about consolidation where most units are facing shutdown due to larger plans by parent groups. So while the falling value of rupee, hike in petrol prices etc have played some role more than that it is solely about consolidation.”


According to Mr Sachar, it is due to consolidation that there is a shortage of senior positions in organisations. “Due to this, senior executives will find themselves in two situations, one is where the role is not enriching and therefore they would want to leave, or they would not be left with a choice and therefore would leave the organisation.” According to the response that his firm has been eliciting, there has been a big drop in senior positions within organisations. “There are a lot of candidates at the top level who are not able to shift jobs due to lack of decent availability. I think the figure is somewhat in the range of 30-40 per cent. Even amongst the media companies, what they would’ve hired at the top level is down by 25-30 per cent this year.”


Industry in caution mode

On the strains being felt across domains, Mr Raj opined: “Sector-wise if analysed, radio isn’t hiring anyone right now, print is on a business-as-usual kind of hiring while television is almost zero. That said, digital is the best performing of the lot and is seeing hiring taking place in full swing. Overall the mood is of caution and being sensible.”


Providing an insight on the trend being felt in the broadcast space, Yannick Colaco, COO, Nimbus said, “From what I understand, the MIB has recently issued licences for new channels and more channels means more jobs. Also, with the digitization drive in full swing that should act as a boost for the industry as it will increase monetization abilities of all broadcasters. All these factors will lead the industry to its next phase of explosive growth. Today, everything is a function of demand. If you have more number of channels coming up it will only have a more positive impact on the overall growth of the industry.”


Throwing light on the trend at his organisation, Colaco said, “There are specific functions in the company for which we are hiring people. For example, World Series Hockey that was taken up by us was a new project and we went ahead and hired a whole bunch of people for the job. So as business grows, we will obviously need more talent. The thing is that when you have explosive double digit growth one year and when you move to single-digit growth in the next, it is considered to be a bad thing. So even if the growth is not what was expected from the medium, it is still a good single digit growth and that is what should be considered by the industry.”


The status at the Discovery Network is also not gloomy. Said Discovery Network, Rahul Johri, Senior Vice President and General Manager (South Asia): “Discovery continues to expand its business in India. We have a robust portfolio of eight distinct brands satisfying curiosity of millions in India. We recently announced our foray in the kids genre with the launch of Discovery Kids that offers entertainment embedded with learning. Discovery is committed to the Indian market and will continue to invest here.”


Jaisurya Das, COO, Sakal Media Group expressed concern with the current situation as he said that the print sector was indeed experiencing rough weather. This had to do with the rise in oil prices, fall in value of the rupee and global uncertainty. But that didn’t have to do anything with his organisation which has been recruiting people as and when the need arises. But things are not that rosy for the sector, going by what Alok Sanwal, Project Head & Editor, iNext had to say. He said: “From what I have heard it is not an extremely upbeat mood where recruitment is concerned. As far as new recruitment drives are concerned, they would be faced with a challenge but then again I haven’t come across organisations that’re on retrenchment mode or anything like that. So the jobs scenario too is on a cautious and alert note, so to speak.”


The tide is not as bad for media agencies, it seems. Lara Balsara, Managing Director, Madison Media said that they were recruiting people for replacements and new positions because they had won some new businesses. Similarly, Sujay Ghosh, Senior Vice President, DDBMudra South said, “We are still recruiting as per our plan, because we don’t see any major dip in our revenues. Also, our involvements with clients have gone up significantly, so we can’t afford not to hire. But I have heard that in some industries, hiring freeze has started.”


A similar sentiment was felt by radio players like Red FM who prefer to see an upside to the whole issue. B Surender, Senior Vice President and National Sales Head, Red FM seemed confident as he said: “The job scenario is still very good within the radio industry and it is not facing any extreme situation. In fact, radio tends to retain quite a lot of talent and it is handling the current situation quite well compared to other mediums and thus is better prepared to handle the slowdown than any other medium.” Echoing his thoughts, Prashant Panday, CEO, Radio Mirchi said: “At Mirchi, we continue to attract the best in the industry. We recruit our senior management cadre from FMCG, telecom, durables, auto and allied industries. We have no problems in hiring excellent quality talent…”


So while caution is the name of the game, recruitment will be an exercise that the industry will engage only if essential. Those seeking an exponential growth in salaries and designations in the shortest possible timeframe may have to hold on to their wishes, unless, of course they bring exceptional value to a company. For the others, it is about waiting for the right moment to take the leap.


With inputs by Robin Thomas


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