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.