The price of success


Indian executives could be in danger of pricing themselves out of the market with salary demands that are so high they are forcing Indian companies to look to cheaper expatriates to fill senior roles.

Preety Kumar, managing partner of Indian headhunter Amrop International, told the Financial Times that "in the last three years the proportion of expatriate managers hired for positions in India has gone up from 5 per cent to 15 per cent."

"As a rule of thumb, country heads now get $300,000-$400,000, and frankly you can get any expat for that money," said Ms Kumar. "In many jobs, an expat comes cheaper or at a similar price. If you don't tap that market, you're missing a chance to expand your leadership pool."

This surge in pay demands has been accompanied by a wider row over executive followings calls by India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, for India Inc to trim the salaries of its top executives.

But in a retort that will sound pretty familiar to European and American ears, Sunil Mittal, head of the Confederation of Indian Industy, (whose salary as head of the Bhati Group doiubled last year) said that "Salaries cannot be legislated."

"There is shortage of skill at the top level and more specifically in the service sector, which is why pay packages of senior executives are high," he insisted.


Older Comments

While this may be true, it is just a phenomenon of a growing market. What the Indian executives bring to the table is high level of contextual knowledge. I do not think this is a war of expats vs Indians. Over a period of time these would get normalized, not to forget most of these position are with Global companies...which simply means that those hired here could be leading other global location over a period of time. With the globalization peaking as years come, the world will be a level playing field and only Talent will win...and get paid.

Sanjeev Sahgal

As a recruiter in India and in business of 15yrs, I am of the belief that the Indian market and its challenges are very unique -and so expecting any global professional to come and transplant the learnings elsewhere -is a sure shot recipe for disaster!!

Be it Coke or McDonalds, or any of the telecom, insurance or consumer durable companies, they have all needed an Indian touch to be able to penetrate into the market. The customs, traditions, practices and the habits are so unique to the different regions within India, that one should be looking at the Indian continent as a bunch of heterogenous markets!

As a specialist in hiring 'returning Indians' with global flavour, my own experience has been that those who have had the 'grounding in India' and have been away for overseas experience of 4/5yrs-are more likely to hit the ground running !! And why should not they be paid their flesh!!?

Achyut Menon India