Reliance Industries hires over 100 temporary experts for retail, broadband, petrochem & oil

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Forget long-term careers. Here is the money and this is the job to be done. Come, finish it and move on. That’s the new HR mantra at Reliance Industries. The petrochemicals giant, which is diversifying into many new sectors, has hired over 100 such short-term managers, some at the CXO level, some senior experts, many expatriates, and all highly-paid. They are being brought in to execute a business plan in the short term, build the second layer and move on.

“There was a time when people would join us and ultimately retire from here. You can say we are moving away from that era,” says a company insider, asking not to be named.

The plan is being implemented across businesses – retail, 4G broadband and also for the core petrochemicals and oil & gas. Some people will be hired for pre-defined periods, and in some cases, there is an unspoken message that managers will be eased out when they outlive their utility.

An RIL spokesperson declined to comment.

Among this new breed of managers isWarren Wilder, who took over from group veteran Kamal Nanavati three months ago. Wilder, the former managing director of Titan Chemicals, Malaysia, is a well-known international networker, and was hired for RIL’s overseas petrochemicals plans. He has been looking at inorganic growth in this business through acquisitions and had put in an unsuccessful bid for US-based LyondellBasell in 2010. Nanavati has moved to an advisory role.

For its fledgling food and grocery retail business, RIL has hired two top executives from WalmartChina -Shawn Grey and Rob Cissell. The duo will scale up the retail business, but only one will stay beyond three years.

Reliance’s retail business has gone through several ups and downs ending in mass retrenchment and closure of several outlets since it started in 2006. When it started the food and grocery retail business, it hired almost all the known names from retail and consumer goods companies at astronomical salaries. Soon, it realised that most did not match up to the company’s expectations of speed and scale. This may have caused the rethink in its HR philosophy.

Says Anandorup Ghose, head (executive compensation and governance), Aon Hewitt: “The trend (of getting specialists) is accelerating in India. You see this happening in large organisations or industries that have (till recently) been dominated by PSUs such as general insurance. Companies inIndia have been hiring subject matter experts, including expats, in retail, metals and mining, and oil & gas on short-term assignments.”

High-flying expat talent is willing to take on such short-term assignments for the sheer value of having India on their CVs and for the astronomical compensation packages built around such stints, headhunters say.

Typically, these experts are paid per day. Compensation ranges from euro1,000-1,500 per day. “Building long-term value at this price is extremely cost-effective for companies,” says K Sudarshan, managing partner (emerging markets), EMA Partners.

Source – The Economic Times

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