ICICI Bank: Hiring over 1 lakh employees

Company Profile
Business: Banking, Finance, Insurance, Asset Management, Home Loans, Venture Capital, Asset Management
Corporate office: Mumbai (and other cites for different JVs)
No. of companies: 7 major ones including ICICI Bank, the parent firm International
Presence: 18 major countries 
Biggest group company: ICICI Bank
Employment strength: 80,000+ 
Revenue: (Mar 2011): Rs 32,369 (Only for ICICI Bank)
Average number of campus recruitment: 3,500
Total number recruitments annually: Over 20,000 every year
Number of colleges listed on the panel: 250 (includes ICAI, Management Schools, Agri Colleges,  and Law Schools)

KNOWLEDGE is the hygiene factor. But does the person have the passion to perform? Is the person a team player? These are attributes we look for. It is about personality”. That's what Chanda Kochhar, CEO of ICICI Bank seeks when she hires a person. And it matters a lot since ICICI has always been driven by passion to grow. With at least seven subsidiaries and JVs the bank is a financial behemoth and would employ over one lakh individuals by the end of the next financial year. It has openings for a range of positions from front office to the corner room and even for people with limited competency in English language as Saurbh Singh, Senior General Manager says. But all said and done, passion is the prime criterion.

Finance is a relationship-intensive business function and demands very good people-centric Human Resources. With an attrition rate of over 20% in the BFSI sector, recruitment happens throughout the year. Read on to find how to get in and stay on.

On Campus Hiring
The company with its diverse interests does not restrict itself to Charted Accountants and fresh MBAs, though they do form a sizable section of its fresher recruitment. According to Saurabh the company operates in  three salary brackets - High bracket, Second bracket and third bracket depending on the quality of the institute. Though for reasons of confidentiality, the company refused to mention where the individual institutions stood, from our experience in B-School rankings, we could  safely assume that those institutions in the Top 20-25 rankings would form the high bracket, the next 25 in the second bracket and the rest in the third bracket.

So depending on how your institute is ranked, by different agencies, you can make an intelligent guess (to know where your institute stands see the B-School Almanac that Careers360 has published where we presented the past 5 years’ ranking of schools by five major publications). The company recruits about 2500-3500 fresh talent every year across ICAI, B-Schools and select Agriculture and Law colleges, though the bulk of the recruitment would be from B-Schools. Salaries at MBA-level would range from Rs. 3 lakhs to 12 lakhs depending on the institute and the candidate’s profile.

The firm is quite upfront about the opportunities and presents a clear picture of what is in store. Banking is not exactly a glamorous job, says Ram Kumar, Exectuive Director. It demands meticulousness and demands in depth knowledge. So the company seeks out students who show the hunger for performance and are team players. The recruitment process consists of an aptitude test, a group discussion, psychometric tests (which is outsourced to SH, which is a UK-based business) and invariably several rounds of interviews. “When we are selecting fresh talent passion should be there, customer-orientation, conscience should be there. Dynamism, passion come first, compliance is second,” says Saurab Singh  

“While aptitude may remain one of the key determinants, it is positive attitude that enables young graduates to build a career in the long run”

N. S kannan 

Off-campus hiring/ direct hiring
The company also recruits people off- campus. Positions in middle management and specialized functions like Law, Foreign Exchangeand Technology Assessment are recruited directly through advertisements, referrals and through Head Hunters. Mass recruitment at front office, executives and Sales functions are done at national level.

Local language skills too are welcome
Since banking also demands quite a bit of customer interface, competency in English language is  not the sole criterion for selection. According to Saurab Singh the bank goes out of the way to accommodate vernacular language talent. In a case study, if a candidate cannot express himself in English the panel allows him to communicate in his or her mother tongue. If they are knowledgeable and good, the company recruits them and trains them. “We look for attitude and behaviour,” said Chanda Kochhar in an interview to this magazine.

Function areas, training and  deployment
The group has financial interests across  sectors and geographies. So opportunities for growth are tremendous for any hard working aspirant. In fact, most of top management at different ICICI subsidiaries have been recruited from the parent company. Chanda Kochhar in her interview eulogies the benefits of sticking to a particular company, especially one like ICICI which offers diverse opportunities. “I think there is huge advantage in sticking around because you are then such an inherent part of that organization” she says. Kochhar herself moved from project banking to retail banking to investments and then finally took over as the CEO & MD of the bank.

Training for different functional areas vary and all candidates are put through a mandatory training module after recruitment on the Banks ways, functioning, code of ethics, rules and regulations, and select candidates are put on rotation on different aspects of banking, before they zero in on their specializations. Candidates recruited for specialized functions do begin their careers in their chosen domains, though at the middle management level lateral movements are permitted. According to Saurabh Singh at middle and senior management the bank does encourage lateral movement but at no point arbitrage on account of salary and geography is permitted. But at the same time movement across the group and between subsidiaries is permitted.

Industry-academia partnership
With over 20,000 new recruits each year, and business needs that are company-specific it is no wonder that ICICI gets into training on it own. According to Ram Kumar, ED, ICICI Bank such an initiative is warranted because B-School curriculum is ossified and  does not produce enough candidates tuned to the needs of the industry.

The company began by focusing on its front office and sales where the attrition rate is quite high, even for the industry. It tied up with NIIT to begin the Institute for Finance, Banking and Insurance (IFBI). Though the initiative was initially focused on training students exclusively for ICICI and its subsidiaries, according to Saurabh Singh it is now a service for the whole industry. IFBI-trained graduates are present in firms like HSBC, Standard, Citibank, and others. The tie–up is a win-win situation because it releases ICICI’s HR team from scanning thousands of fresh candidates and provides them with a firm, ready cohort that is keenly interested in working for the company. There are also exclusive tie ups with Manipal and NIIT to train experienced graduates to assume junior and middle management level positions. 

Looking forward
“Banking is not a 9 to 5 job,” says Krishna Kumar, a trainer at Banker’s Training Institute, Chennai. Ten-hour work days are common and during financial year ends a round-the-clock work schedules are not unheard of. With productivity being the maxim, multitasking is the in thing. While it is a very good paymaster, demands on time from a fresh recruit is quite high, he says. Concurs Anurag Srivastava, an ex-employee, “It is a great place to work, but  for the first two years I had no personal life. What is good is that it is more or less meritocratic and egalitarian.” Srivastava, now a VP in an MNC bank says ICICI is the HCL of BFSI sector. “It is Indian, very proud, demands a lot, but does make you emerge as a tough professional and most other BFSI firms do love to recruit an ICICIan,” he concludes.

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