The growth of the technology work force in India has largely been through the IT services industries and then through large MNC backs offices. The major reason for this growth has been the cost arbitrage. An engineer may cost anywhere starting from 50K USD in the US while in India they can start as low as $5K. Even after loading the other costs pertaining to distance, increased management etc. there is usually a clear north of 50% cost saving for a US company on an average if you operate at a little scale.
From an Indian techie’s perspective, it’s a major advantage. If I start my salary at say, $5K/year then I have a lot of room to grow over the next 10 years to $30K. That’s a 22% average growth over 10 years and may be even higher in early years and lower in later years in %age terms. And at $30K at 10 years experience, I am still fairly competitive with say, a $100K person of equal experience in the west. And the whole model works on managing junior engineers anyway. Additionally, compared to other sectors in India like textiles, manufacturing, civil, retail etc., its significantly more and hence this is the more affluent class in India.
When techies move to a business role, this major advantage goes away. Business perceives techies from what they see in situ. And here are the top 3 perceptions
- High Maintenance: This is biggest and by far the most significant of the perception that the non-tech world carries about techies. Whether its higher salaries, getting used to a comfortable working environment (offices spaces, food, transport), lack of risk in decision making or a generally whiny attitude that gets formed through companies taking care of everything, it’s a major factor. Business required low maintenance, high-energy people who are self-motivated and have the ability to find solutions to their own problems.
- Narrow Exposure: Since a bulk of he technology work is done for international markets, most engineers find it very hard to relate to the work in a very real world way. The level of appreciation of what their work results in, what their customers do, how they make money, how they have impact is fairly limited. Many work in a highly process centric environment and may not feel empowered or encouraged to develop a broader understanding. More than anything, it limits critical thinking abilities.
- Underestimates Business: Many engineers take business growth and profitability for granted and underestimate what it takes. They may be more aware operationally but get used to an automated hike system and if they don’t get hike in their own company, there is opportunity outside. Since they are able to achieve individual growth with relative ease, they take that to mean business growth is similar.
I personally feel that techies can make great business leaders because of increased use of technology in business, their comfort with collaboration and a more global sensitivity. However, as they make transition to more business roles, they carry the burden of addressing the above concerns and perceptions that the industry carries.
At Sunstone, we are excited to open up a free two week course “Discover Your Brand , Define your Future” by Mrityunjay Kumar to help professionals understand how to apply strategic thinking to self and position oneself to differentiate from others through various channels (Resume, Linkedin, Blogs etc).
About Sunstone Business School
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