In the past three weeks, top executives from blue-chip consumer goods companies were promoted to regional roles.
Manu Anand, the India head and managing director (MD) at snacks and beverage maker Mondelez, was elevated to president, regional category team, chocolates, for the Asia-Pacific (Apac) region, in a top-deck reshuffle. Hemant Bakshi, executive director, home & personal care, Hindustan Unilever (HUL), was recently promoted to executive vice-president (EVP) at Unilever Indonesia. Similarly, Colgate's India MD, Prabha Parameswaran, was elevated as president of its Africa and Eurasia division last week.
If Irene Rosenfeld, the global chairman & chief executive officer (CEO) of Mondelez, is to be believed, this trend is set to grow. Agricultural inputs major Monsanto, for instance, elevated executive Shilpa Divekar Nirula three days earlier ago to the position of MD & CEO of the Indian subsidiary, besides giving her charge of operations at Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Global majors have been turning to Indian talent for critical assignments in other sectors, too, such as information technology and banking & financial services. There is Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, and Anshu Jain, co-CEO, Deutsche Bank. Both came in at critical junctures at their firms. Nadella was appointed this year, after incumbent Steve Ballmer decided to step down last year. Jain, head of Deutsche's investment banking unit till June 2012, was rewarded with the top job for successfully steering the former, especially during the global financial meltdown in 2008.
Rosenfeld's deputy for the Apac, Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African regions, Tim Cofer, who is
EVP & president at Mondelez, says India is important not only from a business point of view but also for its human resources. "There are 35-40 Indian leaders within the Apac region at Mondelez and this number is growing," he says.
HUL, the country's largest consumer goods company, for instance, has at least 200 managers (or 13 per cent of its managerial strength) working in markets abroad for parent Unilever.
According to personnel experts, Indian managers are open to the prospect of working abroad, beside being down-to-earth. They are also prepared to put in long hours at work, prompting their international parents to pick them up the opportune time. A 2012 study by human resources firm Randstad, for instance, said 39 per cent of Indian managers were willing to move abroad for better prospects. The trend, say HR experts, was no different in 2013 and 2014. A thirst for knowledge and international exposure prompted a number of Indian managers to make the switch to international positions.
"Indian managers are considered valuable assets thanks to the grounding they have in a complex market such as India. They are also perceived to be humble and keen to take up challenging roles abroad," says Sunil Goel, director at HR firm GlobalHunt.