Category Working In India

R2I Return to India 2010 – 2012: Prashant’s conclusions

I’m glad that we returned to India (R2I) and have a verdict on the R2I experiment. In the summer of 2012, we are moving to America.

Why R2I didn’t work out – the important stuff

Work

Corporate client visit, KolkataClient way too happy while I work in the background, Delhi

Immediately after returning to India, I started and ran a web design consulting company and helped startups with their product definition, branding and design. One of these was listed as a top 10 startup to watch in India by a major publication. Another one is getting good traction with VCs. We are very proud of them. Starting and running a consulting business in India was challenging on 2 fronts:

Hiring

Finding people with the right skillsets was extremely difficult. We spent 2 hours daily looking for candidates. Mostly, they failed in having usable domain skills. We tried several permutations – hiring from other industries (print, advertising), hiring from universities directly, poaching seniors from competitors. We got a strong team together but at some point I realized that it would be increasingly harder for us to find more talented people. This was the single biggest obstacle to scaling the business and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

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Mini R2I case study: Akshay

Akshay in his 'luxury' apartment in MAAnyone who returns to India after a long stint abroad needs to answer this: What will you do for work when you get to India? Continue climbing the corporate ladder? Start a business? Join politics? Inherit a cushy lifestyle? Bum?

Akshay moved to India from Boston in 2010 and has had to answer these and many other questions. Over the course of the last year, we have seen Akshay be there for his family during a very difficult time and shuttle between Ajmer and Mumbai to establish a new career in India. Last month, he moved permanently to Mumbai to become the Senior Geo-economics Research Fellow at Gateway House think tank. He also published his first editorial in the prestigious national newspaper – MINT/WSJ. We are extremely proud.

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Working in India: Studying government hospitals in rural Rajasthan and Jharkhand, India

Updated February 10, 2011 with Jharkhand details

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Gurgaon Railway Station is in the old part of the city One of the better potholed roads of rural India Goats pretend to have right of way on the way to Malpura Government hospital in Deoli, Rajasthan Dining area in Rajmahal Palace Hotel, Rajasthan, India Minor operation theater in Malpura Government Hospital Delivery table in Deoli Government Hospital, Deoli, Rajasthan, India Temperature controlled baby cot in Deoli Government Hospital, Deoli, Rajasthan, India The general ward, Deoli Government Hospital, Deoli, Rajasthan, India Ambulance without any medical facilities, Deoli, Rajasthan, India 108 Ambulance with medical facilities, Deoli, Rajasthan, India Segregated bins for medical waste, Rajasthan, India

The Job

My first project at Deloitte India started a few weeks after moving to Gurgaon. The team is working with an international donor organization and the Government of India to assess public hospitals across 4 impoverished Indian states. Our job is to understand the current state of affairs and implement targeted improvements over 2 years.

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Work culture in India is weak compared to America

Cyber city in DLF Phase 2, Gurgaon, Haryana where many MNCs in India have officesPHOTO: Cyber city in DLF Phase 2, Gurgaon, Haryana where many MNCs in India have offices

I had heard that employees in India change jobs very often. Having been here for a month, I’m beginning to see some of the reasons for all the job hopping.

My opinions below are derived from conversations and experiences with several professionals across various MNCs in India.

The Employee Perspective

At the entry/mid-management level, a 2-year career with the same company is considered long. Employees are constantly on the lookout for another job and are sometimes actively poached by competitors. I’m told this is because there are substantially fewer “qualified” people than there are jobs. And with more and more MNCs growing their operations in India, this problem is expected to get worse.

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Healthcare consulting feels meaningful after 3 weeks of working in India

Badami, Karnataka 2002As healthcare consultants in India, we work a lot with the government and institutions such as the United Nations to bring basic healthcare facilities to the poor. And by “basic” I really do mean basic – 24×7 support for deliveries, care for newborns, immunization clinics, emergency care, blood storage units, etc. Next week, I will make my first business trip to a village to assess a public hospital that serves thousands of people but may not have the ability to do c-sections.  Our deliverables – assess the hospital, develop a plan to offer the various kinds of care expected from district level hospitals, and finally execute the plan over the next few years.

In the U.S., our contributions felt more indirect and due to a mature market, the problems we attempted to solve were more “first world”. Our solutions probably affected fewer people and were incremental and evolutionary. In India, our contributions have the potential of being very impactful – bringing healthcare services where there weren’t any or dramatically raising the quality of care provided. The large population exponentially multiplies the effect of our successes or failures.

India is so different from the U.S.

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First day at work after R2I in Deloitte India

November 15th, 2010

My first day in the Delhi office. A little anxious, a little excited…I was ready to meet new people and begin my professional experiment in India.

7:15 am – 9:00 am: Commute

I finally understand why office hours start late in India. The typical commute to work:

  • 7:15 am – take a rickshaw to the company van service stop
  • 7:30 am – board the ‘company shuttle’
  • Snooze for 1.5 hours with head bobbing violently
  • 9:00 am – arrive at the office

The company shuttle – Most companies contract with private van services to ferry all their employees to work from most parts of the city. For some companies, this is their second biggest expense after real estate and ahead of wages. The shuttles carry 4-8 people from each area and are feared on the roads because of their rash driving – by the other not so gentle drivers of Delhi!

Thankfully, my commute is a tad better than this typical commute.

Traffic jam with a thousand company vans waiting in DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon, HaryanaPHOTO: Traffic jam with a thousand company vans waiting in DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon, Haryana

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The mother of all moving to India (R2I) checklist

Meenal and I moved to India at the end of October, 2010 and into our apartment in Gurgaon on November 1, 2010. Divided into 5 sections, this post will be a guided tour of Delhi Ledger R2I blog.

PART I     Long ago – September, 2010

Before moving to India or Returning to India

July 4th in Washington DC

  1. Emotional – what’s the point of moving to India or R2I?
    • Why and when we moved to India
    • The heart-to-heart with the spouse before moving to India
    • The talk with family about returning to India
  2. Immigration – Uncle Sam, can I come back to USA if I hate living in India?
    • US Citizenship before moving to India
    • US permanent residency/green card – maintenance requirements while living in India, I-131 re-entry permit BEFORE moving to India
    • Indian permanent residency – Overseas citizen of India visa before R2I
  3. Emotional – What will it take to make us like India?
    • Money and personal finance in India
    • Material things in India
    • Health and sports while living in India
    • Relationships after moving to India
    • Working in India after R2I
    • Intellectual stuff and hobbies after moving to India
    • Emotions and wisdom (touchy feely stuff) after moving to India
  4. Your stuff – sell them before moving to India
  5. Financial – taking care of personal finance before moving to India
    • Banking – U.S. bank accounts, Indian bank accounts – NRE and NRO, linking accounts
    • Credit and Debit cards – charges, exchange rates, setup for international transactions before moving to India
    • 401 K – Adjust deductions, move to IRA after quitting work
    • Vacation balances – using them or cashing out before moving to India
  6. Work
    • Talk to your current employer – pending promotions, yearly salary increase, etc. before setting a date to move to India
    • Moving to India with your current employer
    • Network with Indian employers even before you move to India
  7. Healthcare
    • U.S. health insurance and coverage after moving to India
    • Physical and dental exams before moving to India
    • Local health insurance in India
  8. Other
    • Get an international driving license before moving to India (AAA)

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