Our startup Gridstone Research is now about 140 strong in Mumbai. So far hiring in India has been a mixed bag. Some hard work that has paid off. And some frustration.
We have broadly two streams in India. Research and Technology. The Research Operations carry out the analysis which goes as content in our product. The software for the product is developed by Technology.
Our Technology development is outsourced to Persistent Systems, who do a fine job, by the way. So our Mumbai operations are primarily Research oriented. Over 120 of the 140 staff in Mumbai are in Research Operations. I think we already might be one of the largest equity research shops in India.
At the entry level, where most of the hiring in Research is done, we have built a solid team. We hire largely from the Mumbai based MBA programs and have been able to attract the cream of the crop. Our training is top-notch and the work involves in-depth fundamental analysis of companies. Outside of buy-side shops, we may be one of the best entry-level jobs around, if someone cares about what they will learn on the job. Clearly, young MBAs do.
At the middle manager level we recruit Analysts and Research Operations Managers. Our Analysts typically have an IIM or other top-tier (ISB is a good program) MBA and 5 years of experience in jobs where they have analyzed industries and companies – typically, management consulting, corporate strategy and equity research. Hiring this profile has been tougher but we are finding our groove as we grow and gain maturity. One of the advantages that we don’t have in India, which we would have in the US, is the advantage of being a startup. The pace of change, the excitement of doing something new, a collegial culture – a startup offers all these benefits for the entrepreneurial, bright sorts. This is pretty well understood in the US, especially in the Valley. The average mid-level employee in India wouldn’t mind such a work environment, but does not readily make the connection between it and a startup. Also, stock options are not terribly well understood. In spite of these early challenges, slowly but surely, we’re building a solid mid and senior management team in India.
Hiring in Technology hasn’t been easy at all. You would think that a company that was founded by ex-Infosys guys would at least pull in the techies. But that hasn’t been the case.
To be fair, we are looking for Product Managers, not techies really. Since Product Management is an almost unknown function in India – the IT Services industry swamps the Software industry, if you can call it that – we knew looking for Product Managers would be like looking for needles in a haystack. Instead, we started looking for IT managers with good business backgrounds. I don’t know if we are picky or not, but so far it’s been slim pickings.
The Product Manager’s job is actually quite interesting. You are shaping the technology product based upon what users want and your understanding of the solutions that technology can offer them. You’ll use your technology experience and will gain an in-depth understanding of the equity research business.
I don’t think the job is so much of the problem. The problem, I think is that to a bright rising IT manager in a growth industry a Product Manager’s job doesn’t look like anything familiar. It seems like too much of a different thing, a risk. ‘What will happen to my career if I do this Product Management thing for two years? Will they count it as relevant experience when I want to get a Delivery Manager/Business Manager job at Infosys/TCS/Wipro?’ Such doubts are bound to arise.
In a way, the job is self-selecting. To be interested in a Product Manager’s job, you have to be looking for more intellectual stimulation than you can get at your current job. You have to be entrepreneurial enough to take some risk. And you have to want to work in a small-company, open culture setting.
If you do, drop us a line. We are looking.