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In Pics: Why Silicon Valley imports are quitting Indian unicorns

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Silicon Valley, which became the preferred recruiting grounds for online entrepreneurs last year, appears to be struggling in terms of retaining the Bay Area employees.

Challenges both in terms of Indian ecosystem's ability to absorb talent from other places and understanding of employees about Indian business environment result in the employees attrition.
Challenges both in terms of Indian ecosystem's ability to absorb talent from other places and understanding of employees about Indian business environment result in the employees attrition.

Over the past one year, Indian e-commerce firms have hired several senior technology executives from the US. India’s Internet businesses, such as , and are even paying matching salaries to recruit product experts from the US as they try to catch up with international rivals in offering quality products and strong technology infrastructure. But in the last few months, as many as six Silicon Valley executives have either switched jobs between e-commerce companies or have simply exited India to shift homes from Bangalore to Bay Area.

Experts now indicate that challenges both in terms of Indian ecosystem’s ability to absorb talent from other places and understanding of employees about Indian business environment result in the employees attrition.

“There are various internal as well as external challenges that these executives have to face. Internal challenges include frequent and rapid changes in strategic and business direction and therefore role definition; no clear hierarchy of decision-making and reporting, leading to confusion on expectations for both the executive and management,” explains Managing Partner at Hunt Partners – India, Sunit Mehra.

“Adding to this are the external challenges of having to live in a new city such as Bangalore or Gurugram which are chaotic even for the average Indian!” he adds.

While India, from the past few years, has remained a bright spot because of various overwhelming factors — the fastest growing economy, a country with highest youth population, Internet and mobile penetration, growing e-commerce base, among others — the ground realities are way different.

“Business environment in India remains distinct and challenging for employees to understand,” points out Founder and MD, Core Integra, Prasanna Soparker.

Pics: Six Silicon Valley executives who quit e-commerce firms in the past one year

“In a country like the US, you have a single window clearance for business while in India things doesn’t happen at the pace it happens there. The regulatory issues are one of the major challenges; it becomes extremely difficult for somebody from the USA to understand India per se,” he says.

Also, in India people typecast you for the type of work you do for a long period of time, adds Soparkar.

“If you are working on a particular project for a longer period of time, people will make you a domain expert in that particular area and will not give a chance to shift across domains. While in the US, you can see an automobile guy working as a CEO of an IT company,” he says.

While internal factors, different work culture, lack of conducive business environment are a few factors, lack of understanding of what it takes to build things in India is yet another reason.

“Most of these executives have left India to pursue higher studies 15-20 years ago, and the country has dramatically changed since then. One needs to have a fluidity of mind and resilience to succeed in India, besides an appreciation and value for the softer side advantages of being a first class citizen in your own country, proximity to family etc,” explains Mehra.

Echoing the views, Soparkar adds,”In Silicon Valley, they all closely watch Indian startup ecosystem and all are excited about the kind of work happening in India,”

“They migrate here with a trying-out attitude, which will not work in India. Regulatory snarls, business environment, infrastructure issues, etc will delay stuff and therefore, you have to have the patience to survive through them.”

Also Read: The top level churn in e-commerce