10% salary drop at Great Lakes, Chennai placements 2009

Chennai’s Great Lakes Institute of Management sent in their placement report for the 2008-09 batch, reporting a 10% decrease in average salary and large-scale participation by small first-time companies, pretty much the same story as at other b-schools.

Here is how the numbers stacked up:

Number of students placed: 162
Average salary: Rs. 8.7 Lakhs per annum
Highest Salary: Rs. 22 Lakhs per annum
Lowest Salary: Rs. 6 Lakhs per annum
Number of companies that visited the campus: 91
Number of companies that visited for the first time: 40

90% of the batch had work experience of more than two years.

Sector-wise breakup of recruiters at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai Placements 2009

“Of the companies that visited the campus this year, a total of 40 were first timers. This clearly signifies both – the expanding base of the recruiters as well as the reputation of the institute. There were numerous instances where Great Lakers made a career switch to their area of interest,” said the institute’s press statement.

List of recruiting companies

ADP, Al Seer, At Your Price, Avion Systems, Birlasoft, Big FM, BMC Software, Cholamandalam, Cognizant, CSC, Deloitte, Emergent Ventures, Essar Group, Exemplar, Firefly, Godrej, GVK Bio, Harita TVS, HCL, HeyMath, IBM, IMS, Infosys, Infotech enterprises, iNautix, Knight & Frank, KS Oils, L&T;, Manipal Group, Marg Group, McKinsey, MuSigma, Nu Street, Optima Marketing Solutions, Orbit Corporation, Photon Infotech, Protech Soft, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Punj Lloyd, Redpill Solution Pte. Ltd (Singapore), Renoir Consulting, Saksoft, SBQ Steel, Siestema Shyam Telelink, Siemens, Summit, Sungard, Suprabha, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata International, Tecpro Systems, Tech Mahindra, TVS-electronics, Wipro, ZS Associates, Zycus Solutions.

Like from all other b-schools in this year of economic woe, the Great Lakes placement report sounds artificially upbeat and to an extent twists adverse consequences of economic recession to sound like positive developments. The report has gone mum on important data that one found specially mentioned in 2008. Unlike last year, Great Lakes has not provided figures on the exact number of students who managed a career switch. For a b-school that focuses on training people with work experience, this is an important number for prospective applicants to know.

I would also take the argument of ‘expanding base of recruiters’ as an achievement with a pinch of salt, because this expansion is not intentional, but an obvious recourse of adverse times and built out of compromises in career choices.

However, what looks commendable is that the salary levels have not dropped as much as in other b-schools – perhaps because of the highly experienced batches that Great Lakes admits. However, these are cost-to-company (CTC) salary figures and one assumes that the in-hand monthly salaries have not dropped, nor have the CTC figures been made to look attractive by inserting irrelevant and unattainable perks to bloat up the numbers, other than what is typical in b-school placements.

Update: According to Great Lakes’ Prof TN Swaminathan, the average take home salary of a graduate earning the average salary of Rs 8.7 lakh would be Rs 5.4 lakh. This translates to a take home salary of around Rs 40,000 per month after a generalised deduction of income tax, provident fund and other deductions. According to Prof Swaminathan, the ratio of take-home salary to CTC salary has not changed at Great Lakes due to recession.

The lowest salary was offered by marketing and IT companies, while the highest salary was offered by a multinational consultancy company.

I wrote to Great Lakes’ Admissions Director Prof TN Swaminathan about the downsides of this year’s placements at Great Lakes and he said, “Some of our regular and large companies who visited did not recruit in large numbers as they did in the past years.”

On compromises that students had to make while accepting job offers, he said, “The compromise took place in the acceptance of jobs in sectors that may not have been their first choice and also in medium and not-so-well-known companies.”

With the incoming batch size increasing to 261, Great Lakes has a bigger challenge lined up next year, that of placing 100 more students in a possibly not-that-improved economic scenario.

Prof Swaminathan says, “As an Institute we are proactive and our students are mature and practical (on account of an average work experience of 42 months) and have their feet on the ground. Last year was a great lesson and we believe we did well. The lessons from last year will be taken forward and our strategies will be vigorously taken forward to ensure a 100% placement despite the numbers going up.”

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