09 December 2015 13:45:35 IST

HR heads seek candidates with customer-first attitude

B-school students should look beyond conventional jobs

Organisations in customer-facing businesses prefer to hire B-school graduates who have a customer-first attitude. At the inaugural session of The Hindu Business Line-MBAUniverse.com MBA Careers Conference held in Bengaluru, HR heads of Titan, Amazon India, ICICI Bank and Flipkart shared their views on what capabilities, attributes, skills and attitudes they look for while recruiting for their businesses and what B-schools need to teach their students.


Why the MBA remains the course of choice

Organisations want people who can think big and make it happen for the customer. However, many of these organisations say that B-schools in India do not teach basic customer engagement skills that are crucial to customer-facing businesses.

Bangalore:04/12/2015:Anurag Verma, Director HR, Flifkart.com at the release of The Hindu Business Line -MBAUniverse.com B-school Ranking 2016 in Bengaluru on Friday..Photo:SOMASHEKAR G R N


Anurag Verma, Director-HR, Flipkart, urged B-school students to look beyond conventional jobs in Flipkart’s sales, business development, market analysis, technology, and product development divisions. Instead, they should explore opportunities in the fast-growing supply-chain and logistics arm of the company that already has a field force of 2,000 people.


Read: Focus on a career, rather than a job

“We are looking to recruit MBA graduates who have a customer-first attitude: those who not only think big but make it happen, just like our founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal did. We need people in the supply-chain design and strategy team and grow it further to realise the mission of our company to serve customers in Tier-2 and -3 cities,” he said.

Raj Narayan, Senior Vice-President and Head-HR, Titan,  pointed out the changing trends in brick-and-mortar businesses.

He said: “With changing buying behaviour, our business has moved from brick-and-mortar to click-and-mortar; and we have shifted from being a customer-focused company to a customer-driven company. The customer is at the centre of whatever we do: be it a part of the decision-making or design-process.” 


Read: Sense of purpose should be the beacon for MBAs

Urging students to build a career rather than land a plum job with a great brand, he added, “Focus on what you are best at and find a job that offers the right fit. Make sure you join a company whose values match yours and continue to learn, as it is key to your career growth.”   

Customer is king

Raj Raghavan, Country HR Director, Amazon India, said: “During the early days at Amazon, when Jeff Bezos had meetings, he would always leave a chair free in the meeting room. This chair was meant for the customer."

Bangalore:04/12/2015:Raj Raghavan, Country HR Director, Amazon India at the release of The Hindu Business Line -MBAUniverse.com B-school Ranking 2016 in Bengaluru on Friday..Photo:SOMASHEKAR G R N


"If a change had to be effected or a decision made, they would ask if it would make a difference to the customer who is sitting there, if it didn’t, then there was no further talk on it,” said Raj Raghavan of Amazon India.

Read: Sense of purpose should be the beacon for MBAs

Amazon looks for three skills in potential hires from MBA schools: an obsession for customers, an innovation mindset to solve customer problems and long-term thinking that helps to acquire customers rather than a short-term focus on financial gains. One of the major problems faced by consumer-facing businesses like ICICI Bank is the unwillingness of B-schoolers to take up customer-facing jobs. The bank’s head of HR, TK Srirang, pointed out, that a bulk of the 20,000 people hired every year, are in front-end roles and MBA schools need to recognise that the need for such roles will continue to grow.

Bangalore:04/12/2015: T K Sriranga, Senior General Manager and Head HR, ICICI Bank at the release of The Hindu Business Line -MBAUniverse.com B-school Ranking 2016 in Bengaluru on Friday..Photo:SOMASHEKAR G R N


“B-schools must include customer engagement skills in the curriculum to build skills in sales, interpersonal relations, writing and communications, instead of just teaching brand management and marketing strategy. Even our schools are just focused on academic performance and development of social skills, which is key to customer engagement, is still not a priority,” he said.


Read: What it takes to make the cut in a consulting career

Read: 'More placement opportunities for HR graduates from top B-schools'


Read: 'B-schools can use rankings to attract right students, employers'


Read: 'Rankings give a bird's eye view of the ecosystem'