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Saturday, 26 July 2014

The quest for talent

Kadence International’s Indonesian office went to unusual lengths to source talent from neighbouring India. Managing director Vivek Thomas explains the difficulties faced in recruiting for research roles in emerging economies.

The Indonesian economy is experiencing a period of solid growth, which has led to greater investment in market research as companies seek to make informed decisions, rather than relying on their instincts.

But the research industry is still in its early, formative stages and does not yet have the expertise to support such a booming market. On top of this, Indonesia is not yet seen as an attractive offering for expats when compared to places such as Singapore.

Like most research agencies, Kadence International recruits local talent to ensure market and cultural awareness. But a skills gap had emerged in Indonesia, and we decided to seek out international researchers to bring to the team. These individuals would work alongside the local team to create a mix of specific research expertise and local knowledge.

“Twenty students were given a case study at 11pm and asked to deliver a presentation – with findings and actionable recommendations – at 8am the following morning”

Neighbouring India has an abundance of universities offering degree qualifications relevant to research, so it presented an ideal environment for Kadence to undertake an experiment. We decided to embark on a road show, going into universities and offering students the chance to participate in an exam. The highest scorers would win the chance of an interview and, if successful, a job contract.

The process involved asking several universities in India to be part of the recruitment road show, including the School of Communication and Management Studies in Cochin, the Amrita School of Business in Coimbatore, the Rajagiri School of Management in Cochin, the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur and the XLRI School of Business in Jamshedpur.

The exam involved students using real-life market research case studies. Data lists were provided and the students were asked questions that required them to review the findings and analyse within a given time. In addition to the vast tables of data provided, a few red herrings were added.

We then selected successful students and conducted interviews, using various approaches depending on how many students looked promising and how much time we had. This included the use of a further case study to analyse and present findings alongside actionable recommendations, participation in discussion groups and face-to-face interviews.

Students at the Xavier Institute of Management in Bhubaneswar were also provided with the opportunity to apply for qualitative positions. Twenty interested students were given a case study at 11pm to review and analyse, and asked to deliver a presentation – with findings and actionable recommendations – at 8am the following morning.

In addition to some initial preparation, the process took a week. Was it worth it? Definitely.

During my time on the road in India I encountered nearly 400 students at the selected universities. I have appointed two technical advisers for the Indonesian qualitative team and two quantitative researchers, with one recruited as a data analyst. This brings Kadence’s current team in Indonesia to 40.

The calibre of these individuals is extremely impressive and by going through this process we created a unique opportunity to engage with the best India had to offer. Like most market research agencies, we want straight-talking team players that can do what they say they can, with passion and dedication. The intensive exam process and tight deadlines ensured that.

Kadence has offices all over the world and expertise is shared across our global network. The willingness of these recruits to come to Indonesia to start their research careers made sure that we were getting people who would be comfortable with this.

After this success, we will be hosting another recruitment road show in 2012, with other Kadence offices in Asia expected to join the process.

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Readers' comments (9)

  • What was the point of this story?

    Do Indonesia and its neighbouring countries have enough universities that this company could have done a roadshow at?

    It seems too often a rather convenient ruse to mention talent crunch and hunt for it elsewhere. The same effort could have resulted in good training and sponsorship at far cheaper costs within one of the most populous and affordable countries in the world.

    It wouldnt have been wrong to assume they were establishing the Jakarta branch of an Indian company rather than a new Indonesian company.

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  • Why didnt the company go to Malaysia where Bahasa the language is the same instead of to a rather distant "neighbouring India" where the commonalities are fewer and a greater acclimitisation effort required, therefore???

    While Indian talent is definitely proving its mettle in the region, this article somehow suggests there's little skill sets in Indonesia (or its closer neighbours like Malaysia, Philipines etc.). And curiously I actually work with a significant number of Indonesians in the research fraternities of Malaysia and Singapore!!!

    Further, from the article, I could gain he was actually visiting colleges to gain people at an 'entry level'. While Indian expats brought in by other agencies are usually experienced and they make a good case, as they can share their learnings and value-add to the existing market while blending easily with the cultural climate (hopefully!!!!)

    I am not against expat workers and appreciative of Indian talent. However, this is not the best example illustrating of how they went about it keeping local interests at heart!!

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  • So... there's a 'skills gap; in Indonesia... and the company goes all the way to India and after an extensive process recruits raw FRESHERS 'to create a mix of specific research expertise and local knowledge.' !!!

    what am I missing here? :-)

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  • Our aim with this story was to demonstrate the recruitment method used and the interest/engagement received. As the article mentions, we do recruit locally - and undertook four similar road shows in Indonesia this year - and believe this regional knowledge is essential to our offering. At the same time, as a global research company we take a global approach to recruitment and team development that ensures our network comprises of different cultures and backgrounds to create a wordly working environment. Our investment in local talent is complemented by our global recruitment activities, as we recognise that sourcing the best specialist expertise will assist us in staff mentoring and development while meeting the market demand for our services today. This in turn feeds into the Indonesian market research community contributing to its on-going success.

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  • the recruitment method used is typical and used by most campus recruiters for, what, two decades now since I did my MBA

    The scale with which you have gone about recruitment in India seems to fill not just Indonesian requirements but many more countries as well, and most wouldnt consider this a regional/ global approach.
    Further if you want 'specialist expertise' it would come from experienced folk not new recruits.

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  • How is recruiting freshers equated with 'sourcing the best specialist expertise'?

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  • I find some of the comments here a bit odd to say the least. I'm sure no one would be opposed to getting talent from UK to work in Grmany for example. Indeed I've worked in Germany myself. where wage levels are higher than in the UK.

    I used to work for a Malaysian company and they hired people from Indonesia. That's the dynamic being missed out here. Malaysia is a wealthy country with oil reserves and suffers from skill shortages in MR. Many MR companies there recruit from Indonesia. Indonesians are happy to go there as wage levels are higher than at home.

    This leaves gaps and India is a logical place to go. We're in a global world these days and employees have increasingly a choice where they want to live and work.

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  • The point is simple - why go all the way to India and recruit entry level freshers? That's not going to help meet your 'skills gap' as you seem to be seeking 'expertise'

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  • Sheldrake - I thought the comments were self-explanatory and raised perfectly relevant issues.

    Wage difference only partly explains sourcing talent. We are familiar with the skills gap and I was hoping the article would go in-depth and possibly discuss relevant issues and solutions.

    Germany sources talent from different quarters not just the UK, and everyone sourced is an experienced person, as its extremely unlikely that the govt would provide a work permit to a fresher. For the cost of recruiting a fresher from India, you could easily source an experienced person from Philipines or within Indonesia - wouldnt that have been a better solution?

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