Airtel: Putting fresh brains to work


Finding innovative ways for campus recruitment has become imperative for companies to attract the best and the right talent.

The conventional and established formats of campus recruitment are losing their significance. Companies have realised that formal interviews and group discussions are not the best ways to judge a candidate. After all, who knows, the new hire from a B-school could be the future CEO of the company.

Organisations are certainly trying hard to find innovative routes to gauge, and engage candidates from campuses.

Airtel’s ‘iCreate’ is one such interesting way of engaging with the top B-schools in the country.

Ashok Ganapathy

“As a company, innovation has always been the focus at Bharti Airtel. It has believed in promoting the spirit of entrepreneurship among employees. The objective is to drive them to think out-of the-box and also give power to their innovative ideas,” says, Ashok Ganapathy, hub CEO – Mumbai, Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat, Bharti Airtel.

The success of this in-house entrepreneurship development programme encouraged the company to move a step further and take it to the B-schools. This is how iCreate was conceived in 2009.

In its seventh year, the programme encourages young minds to come together and ideate unconventional business solutions for challenging issues. This interactive programme enables young minds to gain first-hand industry experience as they interact with industry experts and veterans.

As part of this programme, shortlisted students from top B-schools in India are expected to work together in teams and present strategic solutions to given business problems.

The final set of students are judged on the basis of their business and situation analysis, novelty of ideas, out-of-the-box thinking, ease of implementation and various other parameters.

The winners of the competition are offered PPIs (pre-placement interview) along with cash awards and other exciting prizes.

Airtel also has a programme to identify leaders of tomorrow from campuses. The ‘Young Leaders’ programme, as it is called, helps students to fast track their career growth. The 6–12 month long programme exposes them to different aspects of the organisation through functional and cross-functional stints, so that, at the end of the programme, they are ready to make the transition.

Shortlisted candidates are made to undergo a comprehensive orientation and training programme including cross-functional exposures, especially in sales and marketing, and customer service and network, which are the core business pillars of the telecom industry.

They are also provided a platform to work on CSR to ensure an exposure to life’s realities as well. Therefore, as part of the process, they work with the Bharti Foundation on the Satya Bharti School Programme, which is the flagship rural education initiative of the foundation aimed at the holistic development of children.

Easy access to the management cadre and robust feedback processes ensure strong mentor support and continuous learning experience, resulting in complete programme effectiveness.

“We carefully plan and chart out the first two weeks for an elaborate induction. All these days are filled with a mix of classroom sessions and market working,” says Ganapathy.

The first few days involve meeting the respective business leaders for understanding the key business priorities. The interactions are planned both in a formal and an informal set-up to encourage constant dialogue.

These classroom sessions are thereafter complemented by visits to/study of the marketplace, warehouses, network experience centre, customer working, etc. to understand business on the ground. These visits are often concluded by solutions to the case studies or presentations of the findings/recommendations.

On successful completion of these orientations, they are absorbed in the function of their choice.

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