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Exploring Career Opportunities for MBA’s in the NGO Sector
On February 2nd 2009, Facebook chat happened between IIMA Placement Committee team represented by Vinod Padikkal and Dr. Nachiket Mor (President, ICICI Foundation), Niti Seth (Vice President - Recruitment, IFMR Trust) & Rahul Nainwal (Director, MITRA) to explore and discuss various career opportunities for MBAs in the NGO sector in India.  

Vinod Padikkal (IIM Ahmedabad) started the discussion

At the outset, I would like to thank Nachiket and the team for coming online and making this meeting happen. We would like to begin by getting a sense of the work and objectives that ICICI foundation as an organisation has set itself with and how you feel students from IIMA can work towards the same.

Nachiket Mor replied:
Thanks Vinod. Happy to be here. The Foundation itself is a very lean organisation and is not planning to recruit heavily. We have put out one or two job descriptions aimed mainly at a much more experienced (35 to 45 years) age group.
 
My thought was that students would find it interesting to work with the microfinance and the NGO sector more generally and we would be keen to facilitate this. We have partnered with CSO Partners (www.csopartners.org.in) and they in turn with MITRA (www.mitra.org.in). MITRA is a full-service Civil Society focussed human resources effort -- volunteering, microfinance jobs, NGO jobs, etc. Rahul can tell you more about their services.
 
In terms of pay as well, the NGO sector has improved considerably when compared with a few years ago. Rahul, in the microfinance sector what would the average compensations be, do you know?
 
Vinod Padikkal (IIM Ahmedabad) replied:
Nachiket, that is something I wanted to touch upon. Given the batch profile of PGP students at IIMA, the average student age would be about 24 yrs. There is a significant interest among the student community for roles such as those offered by IFMR Trust and ICICI Foundation. Do you see an opportunity and a way this interest may be translated into openings?
 
Nachiket Mor replied:
Also as a recruiter for the finance field, I feel that nothing would be more damaging to a top student from IIMA to take on a job with a lesser known financial services entity even for a few years. A period of work with a good NGO in an area of interest would help build profile and resume much more successfully. 

If students register themselves with www.mitra.org.in and look for positions within www.JobsForGood.com and www.MicrofinanceJobs.com, I am sure there will be a number of openings. Almost all of the IFMR Trust and ICICI Foundation job openings are listed there.

And, many jobs require skills in finance, marketing and HR much in the same way as corporate organisations do. So a pretty decent resume can be built up and a reasonable salary can be earned. And, who knows, some of your class mates find their life's calling there as well.
 
America Indian Foundation gets each year students from top US Universities to spend upto one year (some times more) on the ground here in India with NGOs. I have met these enormously talented individuals and found that not all of them want a long-term NGO career but are prepared to invest a few years to learn new skills and be better exposed to the ground realities.
 
Vinod Padikkal (IIM Ahmedabad) replied:
Rahul, Nachiket, Would there be positions where fresh graduates or students 1-2 years of experience may contribute too?

Rahul Nainwal replied:
On two initiatives of MITRA (Recruitment) and international volunteering (govolunteerindia.org) we can take IIMA grads at senior positions. These are fairly entrepreneurial positions and a prospective grad can get a start-up kind of experience with fair resume value and at the same time adding value to the society.
 
Average compensation in Microfinance is close to INR 50-60 K per month for middle management positions. Certain select positions net close to INR 100K per month.

Yes, in Both NGO and Microfinance sector. We have also placed people with grass root NGOs at a salary range of INR 40K to 50K per month.

Can I also add that since INR 50K salary for a grass root NGO is higher than what they would be paying their regular staff, the expectation is that professionals will stay for a minimum of 2-3 years with them.

Nachiket Mor replied:
Many microfinance institutions for example are handling client loads bigger than several banks and of equal complexity if not more. And, it is the one sector in the financial services arena that has not been impacted by the defaults that one has seen in larger institutions world-wide.
 
Niti Seth replied:
Very true, the NGO sector is really developing in a different pace all together.
 
Vinod Padikkal (IIM Ahmedabad) replied:
Yes, I agree with the point that the NGO and Microfinance sector is extremely attractive for the students graduating this year.

Rahul, the openings that you mentioned, the one's in the NGO and Microfinance sector, may I know how we (students at IIMA) could begin applying to those?

Hence I would require your advise in how students with the batch profile of PGP (around 2 years of work experience or freshers) may enter these areas.
 
Rahul Nainwal replied:
For the microfinance sector openings please visit www.MicrofinanceJobs.com and www.JobsForGood.com for NGO sector openings.
 
For NGO sector openings, we are conducting searches for 2 NGOs at the moment and we can look grads from IIMA. Interested candidates can send the cvs to me at nainwal@mitra.org.in
 
And as I mentioned, we at MITRA are also open to taking 2-3 people interested in social entrepreneurship. Interested students can contact me at nainwal@mitra.org.in.

2-3 years of pre MBA work experience would be fine.
 
Nachiket Mor replied:
Are there more specific concerns that students have? I would be happy to respond to them.
 
Vinod Padikkal (IIM Ahmedabad) replied:
Rahul, as I had mentioned, the students applying would be those who are either MBA's with no work experience or with around 2-3 years of pre-MBA work ex. I hope that is what you are expecting too.
 
Nachiket, as of now, the interest in student community to join NGO's and microfinance sectors is tempered slightly by the possible exit options. Could you kindly elaborate on the same?

Nachiket Mor replied:
Very soon ICICI Foundation, in collaboration with CSO Partners and MITRA will be launching an ICICI Fellows Programme. This is a two year placement programme with NGOs listed with MITRA, where the NGO pays the salary and IFMR Trust (www.ifmrtrust.co.in) provides the pre-induction training and the ongoing mentorship to the Fellow so that learning and impact are both maximized. It may not be ready in time for this year's placement though, I feel. If Prerana is online, maybe she can respond to the timing issue.
 
I feel that if the student is interested in a top job and gets it immediately then they should take it. But, if on the other hand they are interested in a McKinsey position but do not get it right away, two to three years with a good NGO, doing good quality work with demonstrated impact would be received very well by such recruiters.
 
If, instead, the student joins some small time effort just to have a job and kill time, then three years later that will count as a definite negative against the student in the minds of a top recruiter.

Niti Seth replied:
This is very true. Even when I do recruitments I also check this on the profile.

Rahul Nainwal replied:
Vinod, can I ask what kind of opportunities in the social sector IIMA grads are interested in pursuing. We can possibly suggest something based on the interest as well.
 
Vinod Padikkal (IIM Ahmedabad) replied:
Also, Nachiket, What do you feel are the appropriate skill sets that a student should look at for a career in these sectors?
 
In terms of roles, I think Nachiket hit the nail on the head that students look for an experience that is enriching and will also add value to their CV. So, I think the scope is broad and the constraint we as the placement committee are facing as of now is to find out jobs in the sector which would be in the 40-50K salary range. If you could advise us on which avenues to search for, it would be sincerely appreciated.
 
Nachiket Mor replied:
I think the main skill set has to be a willingness to learn and spend at least a few months adjusting to an unfamiliar work environment. Just as in the 60s and 70s companies were not used to MBAs, the NGOs are not yet very used to them. And may not respond well to a 24 year old spouting strategy fundas at them -- at least not immediately. Once the student has settled in and they begin to work with -- the student will fit in really well and will be able to contribute enormously.

Rahul: any thoughts from your end?
 
Rahul Nainwal replied:
Certain soft skills will include Entrepreneurial, able to work with minimum supervision/resources, problem solving, Flexibility and Adaptability, Creative, fair balance of action and analysis. And fair amount of patience would also be required.
 
Most organisations are not resource rich so the student will need to be creative in terms of using the resources or raising some more. My sense is anyone with an entrepreneurial mindset will be able to fit in well.

And some of the roles will be pretty demanding because not only you will be doing big picture stuff (for e.g. doing a retail strategy for goods made by artisans) but also working with sales team to execute the leads, managing supply chain and ensuring every piece works.
 
Nachiket Mor replied:
Also Vinod, if there is an interest, we can work with MITRA to let a larger community of NGOs know that there is this kind of interest from the IIM student community -- given the reputation of brilliance that you have, it should not be difficult to persuade many of them to take one or two this year.
 
Vinod Padikkal (IIM Ahmedabad) replied:
Nachiket, Rahul, Could you please provide some more elaboration on the typical nature of work. In a way, a sort of "One day in the life of a ...". This would help students get a feel of what they can expect.
 
I would pass on you thoughts to the students who were unable to join this chat too.
 
Nachiket Mor replied:
It is not that different Vinod. Many jobs are based in large cities and some in smaller cities. Otherwise offices are very much like that of a mid-sized corporate and while the work culture varies, students can expect to work pretty hard.

Rahul Nainwal replied:
I can send across a couple of "One day in a life" through email. Or better I can actually post them on 'JobsForGood.com' and students can access them from there.
 
Niti Seth replied:
Vinod, Sorry to interrupt you all, I would recommend that the students should look at the opportunities now for exposure and not compensation.
 
Nachiket Mor replied:
Vinod, how big is your current graduating batch? How is the job market going? Are you expecting a number of people to be looking for alternate options? What else can we do to facilitate this?
 
Vinod Padikkal (IIM Ahmedabad) replied:
Given the current market condition and the outlook for placements this year, the students are keen at pursuing careers where the learning curve would be steep. Remuneration is thus not the key focus. However I mentioned the INR 40-50K range as a ballpark that would provide for basic expenses.
 
It would be of great help if you could advise on how to increase the NGO and microfinance umbrella of firms that we may target for this years batch.
 
The batch size this year is 262 and from interest surveys we have conducted, around 50-60 students would definitely be looking at alternate options like NGO and microfinance careers.
 
Rahul Nainwal replied:
That is a good number. Is it possible to see the profiles of these 60 students who are interested in Microfinance and NGO sector? Will they be open to a small online survey which can help us find out what exactly they are looking for?
 
Nachiket Mor replied:
Wow. This is really a large number and we will do all we can to see that we bring the NGO community and the students close to each other. Rahul: please talk to Soumitra and Niti about a large outreach campaign. If IIMA has this number then I am sure other MBA schools would have an even larger number.
 
Vinod Padikkal (IIM Ahmedabad) replied:
I will definitely be able to get the profiles and CV's of the students interested in these profiles and mail them to you.
 
I can open an application window and get the CV's.
 
Niti, May I send them across to you in a couple of days?
 
Nachiket Mor replied:
Rahul: I feel that a survey would work best if you gave them various real options to choose from (including salary numbers).
 
Students would not have had a great deal of exposure to this sector so they will need something concrete to react to. Can we work with MAM Movies to make a few "a day in the life of" films -- I feel that this address a number of anxieties. Niti? Any thoughts?

Niti Seth replied:
Sure, as mentioned to you earlier tell them to apply on JobsForGood. All applications have to be routed through this.
 
Vinod Padikkal (IIM Ahmedabad) replied:
Nachiket, I think what you have suggested would be great. If we can have a dossier that we can send out to students so that they would know what to expect, including job profiles, sectors and remuneration.
 
Nachiket Mor replied:
I need to go now Vinod. All the very best to your students. Would be happy to set up another chat like this one once some more work has happened. It would be great to interact with these 60 students directly and all at once!
Source :
JobsForGood
 
For more information on Microfinance Click here
 
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