Star professionals & retail branding


New York-based ex-Goldman Sachs analyst and co-author of the famous BRIC report on a resurgent India, Roopa Purushotman, has been hogging headlines lately. The reason: she’s come back to India to head retail major Pantaloon’s new division, Future: India Tomorrow. She will plan, design, organize and review all businesses of the group as part of Pantaloon’s plans to- increase its share in the organized retail market in India. The new Future group is being set up to drive and manage growth rapidly and make use of customer insights and scenario planning to design future delivery formats and undertake planning and business reviews.

On the other hand Reliance India Ltd (RIL), which is planning a foray into the retail space with plans to launch 1,500 outlets this fiscal, is already putting in place all its top line soldiers. To start with, they’ve lined up their key person behind retail ventures like Food World, Music World and Health & glow for the RPG group. He will be manning front-end operation at Reliance stores. The man behind Mc Donald’s efficient supply chain and quality-control processes, who is also responsible for the action on the right grade of potato for French fries, will look RIL Retail’s commodity procurement, supply chain, quality control and linkages of backward integration

There’s more. RIL will also have a state-level CEO, who will be the owner of the geography and the store formats therein. These include hypermarkets, supermarkets, convenience stores and malls.

Hiring Brands :

Owing to the need for brand elevation to attract more talent, India Inc. is hiring well-recognized professionals, or professionals who are brands in themselves, to create awareness about their new initiatives. Mostly business heads, or CEOs feature in what is called ‘Light-housing Hiring’

The objective is to attract lower talent in bulk through the newly appointed professional’s brand value. The other objective is to get media coverage. The war for talent is rampant in industries like retail, where every year there’s a need to employ around 100,000 people. When a company’s top ten people re brands in themselves, its overall brand image receives a boost, and thus captures the imagination of talented freshers and mid-level employees.

RIL is already an establish brand, and we do not need a brand introduction. But yes, the retail venture was a new thing altogether. We had everything in place. All the planning, strategizing and final analysis was done by the ‘core RIL group’. But the kind of turnover we were looking at was large. Each vertical would be really big. So we needed people established in their own field. We recruit strictly from a talent point of view.

From the time they join, to the time the actual business is set up, the employees work on fine-tuning the business plan and strategy and identifying talent below.

But how do companies attract these professionals who are so reputed in their field. The following tactics are adopted:

Ø One, companies sell their long term future vision and where they believe the company and the individual would be by then.

Ø Compensation is another attracting factor. Top-notch hires are given a salary in the region of Rs 2-3 crores per annum.

Ø They are also given stock options.

The Good and the Bad:

One advantage that this tactic renders is that the business plan can be finalized by people who are actually going to run the business.

However, it’s sometimes a risk if the business does not materialize as planned. For instance, how would a company go ahead, if say government policies change from what they were when the plan was underway, to something else when the plan is to be executed? It’s always safe to have alternate plans in place that are employee-independent as possible.

Adjusting to the new environment is another challenge, RIL source says they are always concerned whether the new entrant would be able to work the RIL way. He / She would already be an established name, with his own ways of plan execution. There is going to be a problem which RIL might anticipate and has an alternative plans drawn.