HR Buzz – April 11, 2012

Services slow to 5-month low in March
Mint
The services sector dropped to a five-month low in March as optimism about the business outlook dropped to its lowest level since 2009, Mint reports. The HSBC Markit Business Activity index plunged to 52.3, down from 56.5 in February. Growth of new business, which had spurred the index until now, also slowed. Manufacturing activity displayed a similar weakening trend for the third month in a row as new orders fell and the cost of raw materials rose. Meanwhile, input prices and prices charged to consumers rose in March, suggesting that February's increase in headline inflation may sustain. The wholesale price index inched up to 6.95 percent in February from a year earlier on the back of higher food prices. With inflationary pressures continuing, the Reserve Bank of India will have to approach the rates easing cycle cautiously, said Leif Eskesen, an economist at HSBC.

Click here for the story from Mint.

BofA-ML to shed 32 wealth management jobs
Economic Times
A little less than three dozen employees at the wealth management unit of Bank of America-Merrill Lynch (BofA-ML) have been asked to leave, Economic Times reports. A Merrill official said 32 people had been asked to look for jobs. The employees affected include some advisors and support staff. The bank has resized its wealth management business to fall in line with the current market environment, according to a Merrill spokesman. Merrill Lynch, which is now the investment banking division of Bank of America, is one of the leading wealth management, capital markets and advisory firms in India. The investment banking arm of BofA-ML has weathered the market downturn rather well, by contrast. This is the second big round of lay-offs at the bank after the last round in December when 20 employees were laid off.

Click here for the story from Economic Times.

B-school recruiters cautious, but optimistic
Business Standard / Economic Times
Top management schools which found it difficult to place students in the previous slowdown have had a good run this year, with offers pouring in at the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), Business Standard reports. Recruitment agencies say the hiring scene is cautious, but optimistic. Having been watchful and conservative in hiring for the last two quarters, companies are ready to scale back on their growth plans, with a long-term view of the market opportunity. Amit Dhiman, placement chairperson at IIM Calcutta (IIM-C), was not sure how the season would pan out, adds Economic Times. The B-school was not even certain that companies would participate at all. However, the situation changed completely as placements began. IIM-C saw offers from major international financial companies during placements this year. Of all the recruiters, finance constituted the largest chunk at 28.53 percent.

Click here for the story from Business Standard.
Click here for additional coverage from Economic Times.

Sony looking to slash 10,000 positions
Financial Express
Sony is set to sharply lower its headcount by 10,000 as early as the end of the year, Financial Express reports. The job cuts would affect about 6 percent of its global workforce. The company has been in the red for four years. Half the number of jobs cut would come from consolidating the firm's chemicals and small and midsize LCD operations. It is not known whether the cuts would take place in Japan or overseas. Sony announced last month that new CEO Kazuo Hirai would keep direct charge of its ailing TV business. Hirai, who formally took over as CEO from Howard Stringer on April 1, is likely on Thursday to lay out a business plan to pull Sony out of the red. The company may also ask its seven executive directors, including Stringer, now chairman, to return their bonuses.

Click here for the story from Financial Express.

U.S. staring at long-term unemployment
Economic Times
The rising number of the unemployed in the U.S. is a sign that the jobless rate is higher than what many policy makers may think, Economic Times reports. Some fear it may not drop back to its pre-recession levels. Around 40 percent of the nation's unemployed have been out of work for more than six months. That is more than twice the rate of long-term unemployment just before the 2007-09 recession. A major challenge facing U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is whether the unemployed will eventually find work once the economy revives. He feels more stimulus by the Fed might be needed. However, there is a risk that too much money into the economy might fuel inflation, rather than help the jobless. If progress in beating unemployment is slow, the long-term unemployed will see their skills and labour force attachment deteriorate further.

Click here for the story from Economic Times.

Women take the helm in publishing
Economic Times
Top women editors feel their core competence and creative ability has led to their progress in the publishing field, Economic Times report. Among some women who have made a name are Karthika VK, Milee Ashwarya and Chiki Sarkar, who hold top editorial roles at HarperCollins, Random House and Penguin India, respectively. The trend is not new, says Menon, founder of Women Unlimited, an associate of Kali for Women. She has been active in the women's movement in South Asia for over 20 years. The large number of women on top does not necessarily make publishing a female-oriented industry. The change has happened because of women-owned and run publishing houses. These firms are generally editorial-driven, rather than market-driven. However, more women ought to be leading sales and marketing distribution in publishing, says Mita Kapur, CEO of Siyahi.

Click here for the story from Economic Times.

Borrowing leadership lessons from sports
Economic Times
Indian companies are using sports to train and coach employees, Economic Times reports. The goals in sports and business are the same, that is, the need for growth, change management, team building and leadership. There is a need to expose young talent to alternative training methods they can easily relate to in the workplace, says Sameer Suneja, managing director and CEO, Perfetti India. Organisations are either customising various sports to meet their needs or asking popular sports personalities to deliver motivational speeches to senior executives, sales staff and channel partners. Cricketer Harsha Bhogle's half-day workshop at Whirlpool prepares top management for a new growth agenda. He draws parallels from cricket, soccer and marathon to explain what it takes to be successful in corporate life. Executives are taught to try out new things and not worry about failure.

Click here for the story from Economic Times.

Leaders and managers are complementary
Economic Times
What traits make a good leader and good manager? An Economic Times report discusses the roles of a manager and a leader and how they differ from each other. Sunder Madakshira, vice president marketing and communications, SAP Labs India, compares a leader to a locomotive engine and the manager to a guard's compartment. One drives the train and the other ensures it is safe. In times of uncertainty, companies rely on leaders for strategy and guidance. Leaders are expected to read the macro environment well and sense changes and trends. These observations form company policies and strategies, which are then translated into strategies by managers, who also implement them. Leaders and managers work in tandem with each other. Hence, neither can be exclusive of the other. In order to contribute to the growth of the organisation, it becomes important to be both a leader and manager.

Click here for the story from Economic Times.

Managing teams well lowers stress at workplace
Economic Times
Stress at the workplace is unavoidable, but good leaders can help their teams manage stress, says a report in Economic Times. Time management plays an important role. Project schedules should not be stretched beyond a stage, otherwise energy levels and productivity drop and cause stress, says Venkatraman Girish, senior vice president, HR, Jubilant FoodWorks. Employees should be encouraged to take a little time off during office hours and indulge in activities they find relaxing. As a leader or manager, allocate work according to the capability and capacity of each team member. Set specific deadlines instead of asking for work to be done in a few days. Resolve conflicts, instead of ignoring them. Motivate the team by pushing it towards a common target. Working towards a shared goal infuses a sense of excitement rather than insecurity and fear.

Click here for the story from Economic Times.

People Moves & Recruitments

Citi picks South Asia Corporate Affairs Chief
Economic Times
Citi India has appointed Jane Ong as head of corporate affairs for Citi South Asia, Economic Times reports. She will report to Citi India CEO Pramit Jhaveri.

Click here for the story from Economic Times.

Hiranandani Group names Energy Head
Mint
Hiranandani Group, one of India's largest privately held realty developers, is set for a reshuffle at the top, Mint reports. Darshan Hiranandani, son of Niranjan Hiranandani, will be in charge of the group's energy business. Niece Neha Hiranandani may head real estate projects.

Click here for the story from Mint.

Zee names Content & Creative Head
exchange4media
Zee Entertainment Enterprises has appointed Bharat Ranga chief content and creative officer, exchange4media reports. He was previously executive director, international operations, based in Mumbai.

Click here for the story from exchange4media.

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