“Work-Visas for Indians” offered as an “EU-India Free Trade” sweetener |by: Dezan Shira&Associates | India Briefing News

The European Union (EU) is ready to make an “ambitious” offer on temporary work-visas for Indian professionals in a bid to finalize its free trade agreement (FTA) with India. The EU’s chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero, called on India to reciprocate by opening up its finance, agriculture and retail sectors to western investors.

In 2012, negotiations were conducted in the hope to seal an EU-India Free Trade Agreement, something which could fundamentally restructure Indian society and impact the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Yet negotiations were stalled as India and the EU stumbled over certain issues, such as access to Europe’s labor market for Indian workers.

Negotiations for importing into India a variety of financial services – many of which have since been discredited – began in 2007. Negotiators completed 16 rounds of talks, covering a range of areas, including various goods, products and services, as well as investment regulations, government procurement, and intellectual property rights. Negotiation of these issues, however, are still being fine tuned.

“I can tell you that we are very conscious that for India it will not be possible to conclude an agreement unless there are improved conditions for Indian highly qualified professionals to provide temporary basis service in Europe. And we are ready to make quite an ambitious offer,” Bercero said.

The EU is keen on greater market access to India’s auto, wines and spirits, while India wants liberalized visa application norms for its professionals, especially within the service sector.

“In the same way we are expecting India to take some politically difficult decisions which are important for Europe. We are also ready to take politically important decisions which are important for India,” Bercero further stated. “It is very clear that for us issues like cars or wines and spirits are extremely important in terms of our export interest to India. Besides, we believe that there is certainly enough room in India to allow cheaper European imports of those products in the Indian market.”

A successful culmination of the negotiations would create one of the world’s largest free-trade zones by population, covering 1.8 billion people, or more than 25 percent of the world’s population.

“We are all Salesmen”: How the bias against a sales job is misplaced |by: Daniel Pink | Business Standard

” Daniel Pink, makes out a credible & entertaining case showing how the bias against a sales job is misplaced “… 

If you meet freshly minted MBAs or even graduates, it is quite common to hear some of the brightest among them make one thing clear: that they would be open to anything….but a “sales” job. 

Now, I am a confirmed sales fan, and to me this attitude has been the biggest failure of both our professional education system and the job market to prepare people for corporate life.

It is distressing to see such a deeply ingrained bias against a sales role, especially in a services-led economy like ours today, which is why this book by Daniel Pink is a welcome addition.

As Mr Pink points out, a lot of people are engaged in what he calls “non sales selling”, or the times we are “moving” others to do something other than making a product or service sale. And that includes convincing your kid to make an extra effort for examinations! The need to acknowledge this new era of selling, with a process that goes against most of the widely held beliefs on successful selling, makes this a really interesting read. Mr Pink uses a style that is part writer, mostly teacher, with multiple research findings and exercises, besides recommending virtually the whole pantheon of the best authors on sales and motivation to get you “moving”.

To imagine that the sales role is some compartmentalised function, that can operate independently of the rest of the firm, or vice-versa, is the biggest error a CEO or board can make in a company. Unfortunately, this attitude, as well as its attendant issues, is all too common. It is perhaps best exemplified by the uniformly poor reputation the life insurance industry has managed to acquire – a problem that is frequently attributed to mis-selling or the wrong sales incentives but obviously goes well beyond that.

Thus, this book is for all those people, and the many others in other functions with a similar view on a sales job – the view that at its most extreme sees the job as nothing more than cold calling, hustling work for people who are not much good at anything else. And, at its most charitable, a job for “extroverts” and glib talkers. Many more stereotypes abound, which need to be attacked, investigated or demolished, and this is as good a place as any to start the job.

Mr Pink does a comprehensive job of dismantling some of the most well-established perceptions and a few that are more nuanced, while creating a case that, in essence, says: learn the new sales, and see it change your life. Or else.

Mr Pink’s premise – that at the end of the day every one of us is involved in selling something, be it to family, friends or colleagues – is actually the sort of common sense that shouldn’t require a book. But then, as I said earlier, there is probably something about the word “sales” everywhere that convinced him to write a book on it. After all, he does have an earlier bestseller (Drive) that is based on the premise that empowerment and responsibility, not money, are the best motivators for people. As obvious as it gets, or perhaps not ?

The foundation here is the fundamental shift in the consumer landscape, brought about by the explosion and availability of information. This is the change in premise from caveat emptor (buyer beware) to caveat venditor(seller beware). It is no secret that the former warning gave sales and salesmen everywhere a bad rap, with its implied warning to consumers to protect themselves against mis-selling. Caveat venditor, on the other hand, seems to have put the ball right back into the salesman’s court, placing his customer in a situation to negotiate from a position of strength, making it imperative to earn her trust, genuinely understand her requirement, and try to sell only stuff he would buy himself. This shift might still be playing out in the Indian context; for readers of this review, however, I would imagine it is much closer than you imagine.

After reading all the research, doing some exercises, and testing your own profile, you will, hopefully, be convinced that, ideally, a great salesperson will be an ambivert, positive, persistent, and with clarity. Understanding why is the reason you need to read the book.

Perhaps the most fun part of this book is the section on making a pitch. In this section, besides explaining the six types of pitches, the book even has an exercise you can do to master yours.

For instance, you will love the Pixar pitch, which seems to involve a clearly defined template that every script must be able to fit into. Mr Pink does a good job of fitting this book into that template, by the way. Which could be a great idea if Pixar decides to make a film on sales. Now that would move a lot of people.

“Marriott” is gung-ho on expansion,as hospitality sector in India limps on |by: Farah Bookwala | CNBC-TV18

India’s hospitality sector has been struggling for traction through 2012, but international hotel chain Marriott seems to have had no such trouble, reports CNBC-TV18’s Farah Bookwala .

International hotel chain Marriott has, over 15 years in India, opened only 18 properties, mainly because the focus has been on profitability. And this has paid off.

Over the last five years, revenues and profits have shown 15-18 percent yearly growth. In 2012, its revenue per available room grew 5 percent Y-o-Y, when the industry saw it fall 6 percent, making India the second-fastest growing country in the Asia Pacific region.

So, to take things to the next level, Marriott plans to open six more properties in the country in 2013 as part of an aggressive expansion exercise undertaken in the country

50 hotels are under development, and will open their doors by 2015, giving the chain 15,000 rooms, against the curent 4,000.

Rajeev Menon, VP – South Asia and Australia, Marriott Hotels India says, “The different brands we operate have great reputation. Be it JW Marriott as a luxury hotel or a 4-star such as Courtyard. It is very well established. Also it has a lot to do with our very strong loyalty programmes. We now have 400,000 members in India alone.

JW Marriott, the flagship 5-star brand and Courtyard by Marriott, its 4-star brand will lead this expansion.

Of the 24 hotels that will be up and running by the end of 2013, 11 will be Courtyard by Marriotts, and 05 will be JW Marriott’s. In addition, Marriott will bring in Two New Brands from its global portfolio — luxury brand Ritz Carlton, and mid-tier brand Fairfield.

So that’s two new hotels in Banglore this year. Marriott says Fairfield will lead the next expansion thrust in the future ..

Menon says, “We see great opportunities for Fairfield. And therefore we have gone into a joint venture with Samhi Hotels that is currently developing properties around the country. We believe Fairfield, between today and 2015, could see 8-10 operational hotels with another very strong pipeline of about 20–25 hotels for the future.”

Under this JV, Marriott will develop Fairfield hotels at a cost of USD 25 million.

While the Marriott group operates all its properties in India solely through management contracts, the group is now looking to experiment with the franchising model for its brand Fairfield as it would enable them to scale up the brand quickly.

However, the management is firm that the franchising model will remain a small part of their operating model and that franchise contracts would be entered into only with select developers.

“Culture & Business Performance”: What’s the relationship? |by: Joe Evans | ExecutiveStreet

Why is it that culture seems to be linked to the good, the bad and the ugly in today’s business world ? Perhaps the answer can be found in the mounting data suggesting that organizations with strong cultures rooted in shared core values tend to have much happier employees… and happier employees help businesses be more productive. In fact, there is newly released empirical evidence from the Strategy Institute For Thought Leadership that suggests that core values (read: culture) directly correlate with business financial performance. Like it or not, culture is indeed an integral ingredient to an improved bottom line. As such, business leaders cannot afford to look the other way and dismiss culture as some sort of “soft” or “fuzzy” element that does not have an impact on the Profit & Loss statement.

This article looks at culture from some perspectives you might not of thought about, then explores criteria to help identify business culture opportunities and how changes can be introduced to help improve performance.

Why Culture Is Important ?

Research shows that organizations with performance-centric cultures experience better financial growth. One such study, conducted in 2003 by Harvard Business School, reported that culture has a significant impact on an organization’s long-term economic performance. The study examined the management practices at 160 organizations over ten years and found that culture can enhance performance or prove detrimental to performance. Performance-centric organizations witnessed far better financial growth. Another study, conducted in 2002 by the Corporate Leadership Council, found that cultural traits such as risk taking, internal communications, and flexibility are some of the most important drivers of business performance.

A study conducted by the Strategy Institute For Thought Leadership produced findings that suggests core values and culture directly correlate with business performance. Indexed survey data from this study related to core value perceptions and employee satisfaction can be viewed relative to business financial performance – all indexed in relative terms on a scale of one to ten for five different companies.

As the graph indicates, businesses with higher core value index scores outperformed those with lower core value index scores. Likewise, employee satisfaction was noticeably higher in those same organizations.

How would your employees describe your organization’s culture ? 

Diagnosing a need for cultural change is among the most difficult of tasks to complete in the overall job of correcting sub-par business results. By defining culture in real-life terms, it can take on a more meaningful form that allows leaders to identify cultural characteristics and better determine if problems exists, then how to go about making change if it is required.

One group that matters a great deal in learning about the organization’s culture are the employees. It is important to pick and chip through the culture puzzle by surveying employees to find out what they really think. The organization’s employees have a direct relationship to the overall experience the business provides to its customers. In high-performing cultures, employees demonstrate a clear understanding of their organization’s strategic priorities and what management values in relation to achieving strategic objectives. That aspect has major implications to performance because it is difficult for employees to be supportive of the company’s vision and strategy if they do not know what is valued as an organization. Any lack of connection to strategy and “valued actions” in regard to achieving the strategic objectives is a clear indication of an opportunity for cultural correction. Employees must know what management values in order to help achieve desired results and strengthen the organization’s culture.

For example, in a software company, most employees may be focused on making better software through enhanced technical design, not on improving the end-customer’s overall experience. Technical improvements, while important, will likely not be appreciated by the customer as much as a focus on the customer’s overall experience. In this example, the cultural disconnect is with a system-wide misplaced focus on the technical instead of the qualitative aspects of the software.  Customers determine value on the larger overall experience, not just the software’s functions. Their perception of value is derived based on how they interact with the software and how they can get help when it is needed. Therefore, in this case, the culture is allowing for the focus to be misplaced on how the software is being built, not on improving the experience the product provides.

Identifying culture problems through the employee’s eyes is difficult. Surveys can certainly help uncover problems, but of course, no one likes to consider themselves to be a part of the problem. “Yes, there is a problem, but it is not with my department.” Be prepared to see blame placed everywhere but where you are asking the questions.

How would customers describe your organization’s culture ? 

An important aspect of culture relative to business performance lies in understanding how the organization’s culture translates across to customers. Logically, the next recommendation is to find out how customers view the organization’s culture. Enthusiasm is palpable when you do business with an organization that is fanatical about making your experience the best it can be. You know that when dealing with that business, you will consistently experience that level of passion and excitement because it has become a part of the DNA of the organization. It is in the culture. Such experiences are the result of a business culture that cares about the customer and understands what priorities management values the highest. Surveying customers, like employees, can be telling. In an interview with McKinsey, Bombardier CEO Pierre Beaudoin proves the point. He said, “we had an organization that was very proud of being number one and had all kinds of metrics to measure why we were very good. But when we talked to our customers, they were saying we weren’t very good.”

Not understanding your culture means not understanding how it affects your customers. Good or bad, culture represents the predominant attitude within the organization. “That’s the way we’ve always done things around here” can become a thematic tide that is hard to swim against.

What is the management culture ? 

While it may not be the most important factor in determining if an overall culture problem exists across the organization, it is worth pointing out that there can be cultural problems at the management level and that those can be very damaging. Such problems may even be fairly benign on the surface, making them hard to spot. One such example is “happy talk”; a condition where the culture is one of avoiding putting facts on the table, accountability is ill-defined and management spends time convincing itself how good the business is doing. This goes hand-in-hand with complacency; where goals are defined in such a way so that management can surpass them and feel good about its performance. Another very common cultural issue is silos, where people are focused on their own tasks and there is very little teamwork.

In the article, A Fish Rots From the Head, it was asserted that the executive leader’s personality, traits and beliefs collectively form a signature that is stamped into the organization’s social fabric. The conduct of the organization’s leader truly sets the tone.

To illustrate through a couple of examples, let’s examine two very different companies and cultures. In one client organization, the focus of leadership was intently honed on improving financial performance, service and employee culture. Yet in the environment, many inconsistencies existed. For instance, executive-level floors had the restrooms cleaned at a ratio of 6:1 times more frequently than others in the headquarters building. This did not go unnoticed by employees on non-executive floors. The policy was intended to save dollars in facilities management costs, but it backfired. Unclean employee and public restrooms caused consternation and anger with workers, not to mention embarrassment it caused the company as visitors witnessed the untidy conditions and complained. The mis-guided policy sent a signal that executives were “above” others in the company and would be treated differently. The negative impacts of the policy to employee satisfaction and a healthy culture were immense.

Conversely, in another organization, the CEO moved all executives into interior offices to allow employee cubicles to get better natural lighting. In this same company, the CEO was known to help an employee carry heavy boxes containing copies of an important proposal at the down to the parking garage and help load them into the employee’s car. Two simple gestures, but those types of actions clearly send a very different signal to workers and have an equally strong impact of culture. The actions of the CEO said volumes, indicating, “I want you to be happy in your work, to succeed with this organization and to help us achieve our goals by being a valued member of the team, therefore I will do everything I can to help you.”

Introducing Changes To The Culture : 

Changing an organization’s culture is a daunting feat. That’s because the culture of an organization is comprised of many intricate and interconnected parts, including corporate strategy and related strategic goals, job roles, business processes, core values, communications practices, corporate attitudes and business policies. These component parts are woven together into the cultural fabric and cannot be changed in isolation. Instead, they must be addressed holistically.

Consider the culture that exists in the current day environment of any organization. Just as water running for ages over rock will cut a path that channels swifter currents, culture wears its own path through the business, manifested in policies, business processes, job roles, communication practices and corporate bureaucracies. It is a part of the organization to the extent that any small attempts to introduce change will be swept away by the stronger current of institutionalized cultural rituals learned and practiced for so long. That’s not to say that culture transformation cannot be successful, only that it won’t be successful without disruption to the normal course of things. Change must be introduced to all of the elements affecting culture. There is no single action to be taken, but instead, an orchestrated regimen of small and large steps that will help break the rut and allow new flows to open.

Aiming for performance excellence : 

Culture does affect performance, therefore the goal of tampering with culture in the first place is to influence the organizational ethos towards one of performance and excellence. Most executives would submit that we want the associates in our business, among other things, to be:

  1.         highly ethical
  2.         focused on creating value for our customers,
  3.         conscientious about avoiding waste,
  4.         dedicated to providing fanatical customer service,
  5.         involved, responsible and giving citizens in the communities where they live.

Corporate leaders must model this behavior themselves. If cultural change is sought, executives must do more the talk the talk…they must also walk the walk.

In addition to leadership committing to championing culture change, many areas of the business likely will face makeovers – such as job role changes, business processes that must be altered or realigned and communications practices that must be improved to help cultural change take hold. Based on organizational model changes and related process impacts – communication will be effected, as will decision processes and process latency expansions or constrictions. These must be well understood, expected and planned. Most importantly, employees will be impacted by change. Communicate the goals of change to employees and include them in the process by connecting goals to each person’s day-to-day work.

Lastly, expect that changes will be disruptive. The good news is that disruption will help the organization break free from the well-worn patterns that currently hold it in place and increase the speed of transition to the future-state culture.

What Gets People Talking? : “Advocacy Marketing” | by:Steve Knox | BCG


In an interview with Catherine Roche, BCG partner and co-author of  the firm’s 2011 report on consumer sentiment, the former CEO of Tremor extols the virtues of advocacy marketing, a relationship-based model that can double the revenues from new products over traditional reach-based marketing alone—and with smaller marketing budgets.

What is “Advocacy Marketing” ? 

It’s a form of marketing that harnesses the power of recommendations from third-party individuals who are not affiliated with the brand. It taps into trusted social networks to disseminate and amplify messages that are relevant to consumers. When done right, it also allows consumers to participate in the development of products and services and to provide feedback on new products and marketing campaigns.

How do you create messages that will get advocates talking ? 

Advocacy marketing is actually grounded in cognitive science. The core concept is called a schema disruption. In simple terms, schemas are mental models of how the world works. They allow us to process information using a set of unconscious assumptions or expectations. Advocacy results when we encounter a variance from these expectations, and our brains naturally want to talk about the experience: on blogs, around the coffee machine, at dinner with friends. Significant disruption calls for significant conversation—and that’s the secret of advocacy marketing.

Why is advocacy marketing particularly critical for consumer businesses now? 

The erosion of consumer trust in brands and marketing has been a big factor in the recent surge in the power of advocates. Another equally powerful driver has been the rapid spread of digital media, which serve as a booster shot for the viral transmission of messages. Thanks to digital connectivity, scale is now possible in the use of advocacy marketing.

What kind of impact can advocacy marketing have ? 

Our research shows that it has the potential to double the revenues for new products over traditional marketing alone. It can also help companies lower their marketing budgets.

How can a company succeed in advocacy marketing ? 

Advocacy strategy should align closely with the business’s strategic goals and should complement, rather than replace, the current marketing program. But it also requires new ways of thinking—away from traditional reach-based marketing models to a new relationship-based model. And what makes this such a rich approach is that there are so many sources of advocacy. (See the exhibit above). 

Companies that are implementing advocacy marketing are winning in today’s marketplace….

” Tracking ROI from your Content Marketing” | by:Ray | MARKETING AI

Nailing down an exact dollar figure for Content Marketing ROI can be a little tricky at first, but once you have defined the metrics you want to track and begin to see the results coming in, you will see how cost-effective a strategy it can be, especially when compared with tactics such as banner ads, pay per click and sponsored links. In addition, the longer your engage in content marketing, the lower the cost becomes, as you benefit from ownership as opposed to renting. Your content continues to generate visitors and leads as long as it remains published on your website or blog, as opposed to advertising, which stops providing leads once you discontinue payment and suspend or end a campaign.

The first place to start is with monitoring visits to your website and to each of your content items. Increases in organic search traffic will signify that your SEO strategies are proving effective and that the keywords you have been targeting in your content creation are starting to raise your website up the search rankings. Another metric of success is increases in the shares of your content. This can be used to evaluate the appeal of your titles, the effectiveness of social media and sharing sites for promotion, hash-tags you are using for Twitter and Google+ and your overall social media reach.

Getting down to where it really matters, you need to monitor the increases in leads and the quality of these leads. Quality of leads can be analysed by monitoring the reduction in the sales cycle-the time it takes to convert your leads into paying customers. This should decrease the more you pursue a content marketing strategy, as you bring the sales conversation online and provide visitors to your website with content that addresses the objections prospective customers most frequently bring up. Having additional content on your website in the form of conversion pathways, addressed to the need of your target industries and they problems they are experience will also help to weed out the less promising leads, thus saving your salespeople from wasting their time on leads that will ultimately be unfruitful.

Your ROI comes down to the increases in sales and revenue that are achieved by using content marketing. This can be measured using micro-conversions within your content architecture, right up to finalized sales. By tracking each of the visitor to your website using industry analytics you can further determine how successful your content is at attracting your ideal customers, and providing them with content tailored to their needs that result in a conversion. Determining ROI from here involves a summation of all of the costs involved to create and promote your content, such as strategist wages, hosting, content marketing software, writers etc., divided into the revenue generated.

An example of this in action would be a SAAS software company who have recently decided to start creating a blog to connect with potential customers. They begin by identifying their ideal customers using buyer personasand writing about the different problems their target audience are experiencing, and how they would use their software to ease their pain and solve their problems. After publishing and promoting several content items to raise awareness with their audience and generating more traffic, they can move onto content that induces their visitor to take a trial of their product. This gets them in the door and trying out their product.

However, they still need to convince their new users to engage with the software, realize its benefits and appreciate the advantages to be gained from using it. This presents an opportunity to create tutorial videos, How to guides on their blog and lead nuturing emails than can be automatically forwarded to sign-ups. Once they have successfully achieved a sale the content process is far from over. They then need to provide their new customers with content that keeps them engaged with the software, ideally increasing their usage and recommending the software to their partners and associates.

Determining the ROI on content marketing for this company will take several months. They need to track visitors, shares, leads, conversions, sales and all of the costs associated with the content creation process. Having analytics that track all of these metrics are an absolute necessity if they are to extract actionable data that can be used for evaluating their strategy and implement continuous reforms to ensure optimization. Analyzing all of the costs involved and the return which they have generated will help with planning the content strategy going forward. Some of the tactics employed will have completely fallen flat, but with analytics which track the traffic to each of the content items the company will be able to identify what worked and what did not work. They can then devote more resources to producing the types of content which resonate with their target audience, and go back to rework the content which was less successful.

“Indian Mobile-Services market”, to reach Rs.1.2 tn in 2013 | by:Gartner |The Economic Times

India’s Mobile Services Market is expected to grow 8 %, to Rs 1.2 trillion in 2013 but will account for only 2 % of the worldwide mobile services revenue as operators are struggling to increase profit margins, research firm Gartner today said.

The revenues from mobile services stood at Rs. 1.1 trillion in 2012, Gartner said in a statement. According to GartnerMobile connections in the country are expected to grow to 770 million in 2013, up 11 % from 712 million connections in 2012.

“The mobile market in India will continue to face challenges if average revenue per unit (ARPU) does not grow significantly.

” If the prevailing conditions do not change in the Indian telecom market, India will account for 12 % of worldwide mobile connections, but just 2 % of worldwide mobile services revenue (in constant USD) in 2013, ” Gartner Principal Research Analyst Shalini Verma said.

Indian mobile services market to reach Rs 1.2 tn in 2013: Gartner

Indian telecom operators are faced with two major challenges — growing their profit margin in the face of intense competition and successfully competing with over-the-top service providers like Facebook and WhatsApp.

“As mobile voice services continue to get commoditised in the country with the increased use of voice over IP ( VoIP) and the probable termination of national roaming charges, mobile broadband is the area of opportunity for operators,” Verma said.

She added that India has a phenomenal pent up demand for mobile broadband and local mobile apps that solve everyday problems for consumers.

Verma added that as the country plays catch up with the rest of the world in terms of mobile broadband adoption, telecom operators need to think of growing the top line through innovative services.

” Further rural expansion of mobile services will come at a cost. In India, innovation in utility apps that help bring efficiencies in a consumer’s life will bring in sustained revenue and will be relatively more difficult to replicate by new entrants. While social and video apps are doing extremely well in India, it is time to look beyond these and deliver apps that can have a sustained business model,” she said.

Operators need to insert themselves into the value chain of these new apps and services, Verma added.

” H&M seeks FIPB nod” to invest Rs 720 crore in “Single-Branded Retail business in India” | EconomicTimes

Swedish fast-fashion retail giant Hennes and Mauritz OR H&M, has sought permission from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to invest Rs 720 crore (approx US 100 million) in India to start a fully-owned company that will open 50 H&M stores. 

Faced with stagnating or slowing sales in key European and US markets, the world’s second-largest Apparel retailer by sales, has been eyeing Emerging economies, including India, for a while.

If the proposal is approved, India will be the 50th market for H&M that had sales of $18 billion in 2012 from its over 2,800 stores globally. The application was filed with FIPB, a unit of the Finance Ministry that clears Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) proposals, on Thursday through law firm Titus and Co.

The retail giant says in its application it will fulfill all conditions of the country’s single-brand retail policy that includes sourcing locally 30% of the total value of the goods purchased.

It also assured it will not retail goods using the e-commerce platform. During his visit in February, while meeting commerce & Industry minister Anand Sharma, H&M chief executive Karl-Johan Persson labelled India as a “very interesting” market.

“It’s a huge market. We are not there yet. More than a billion people live in India and in Sweden we are only 9 million but we have 150 stores (in Sweden),” Persson had said. 

H&M will engage in import, export, marketing, distribution, warehousing, manufacture, production and retail trade of products carrying the H&M brand. If its application is approved, it will sell 10 categories of products in India such as clothes, footwear, cosmetics, handbags and fashion accessories, home furnishing, home decoration, toys, kitchen utensils and cutlery among others.

In India, H&M’s biggest rival and world leader in sales, Zara achieved break-even within the first year of its launch and has annual sales of Rs 260 crore from nine stores. Several other brands such as Levi’s haven’t been so lucky and are still reeling under losses despite their decade old presence.

Experts feel that H&M’s global model is very similar to Zara and that of quickly duplicating and replicating fast fashion and a key reason why even the Swedish brand should click with the Indian consumers.

” They cater to the mid-premium apparel segment which is one of the fastest growing categories even with a high base. H&M’s global supply chain model is amenable to the Indian context from shorter cycle replenishment and local sourcing,” said Abheek Singhi, partner and director at Boston Consulting Group.

H&M follows in the footsteps of its Scandinavian peer, IKEA, which is currently waiting for the final approval to open 25 stores with an investment of Rs 10,500 crore, in India.

After six years of restricting foreign ownership in single-brand retail companies to 51%, India removed this sectoral cap in January-2013 and allowed global brands such as IKEA and Zara, which sell a variety of products under a single label to set up fully-owned companies in India.

The original policy change came with a requirement of 30% local sourcing, but the government diluted that condition after overseas firms said it was not feasible.

More than one dozen single brand retailers are said to be sizing up the Indian market for entry, many of them in various stages of researching, partner scouting or filing for government approvals.

Some of these are direct rivals of H&M including the largest casual wear retailer in the United States, Gap Inc, French apparel retailer Celio and Japanese fashion brand Uniqlo.


“The Long View” : How & Why CEOs are “Changing HR at the Top” | Russell Reynolds Associates

In the last five years, more and more CEOs have recognized the strategically critical role the human resources function plays in many of the issues they face, including mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructurings, talent management, increased board oversight, and new governance and reporting requirements. In response, many forward-thinking chief executives are making structural changes to how HR fits within their organizations—and significantly raising the bar regarding what they expect from their HR leaders.

To better understand how that move is unfolding and its implications for senior HR executives, Russell Reynolds Associates conducted in-depth interviews with nine CEOs who are leading the way in leveraging human resources in their organizations, to find out how they are aligning human resources with business objectives and what their expectations are of their HR leaders. Based on those expectations, our competency-based research and our consulting experience, we identified the skill sets needed to succeed in this more demanding environment. Finally, we examined the competency profiles of 100 top human resources leaders to assess the readiness of the existing talent pool in the face of these new requirements.

A combination of forces puts the focus on HR: 

Human resources’ elevated place on the CEO agenda is due to the convergence of two factors unfolding simultaneously in the global business arena. First, well-documented demographic shifts—the aging of the workforce, global economic expansion, a heightened demand for tech-savvy workers and a decrease in employee loyalty—are making the successful identification and retention of talent more difficult than ever and a powerful source of competitive advantage for those who can do it well. “

The cost of labor and benefits is horrific and there are increasing liabilities for all companies that employ large numbers of people,” observes Northrop Grumman Corp. Chairman and CEO Ronald D. Sugar. “How do you stay competitive? How do you treat your people right? How do you get people who want to work for you? How do you not bankrupt your financials by doing it? That’s an important challenge for HR.”

Second, boards are acutely aware that many of the issues for which they have oversight—from acquisition strategy to succession planning—succeed or fail based on the quality of the people involved. As Brian C. Cornell, CEO of Michaels Stores, Inc., notes,

“Organizations that have the highest-quality and highest-caliber members on their team are the ones that are going to win.”

Either one of these two factors would be enough to put human resources on the boardroom agenda. The combination, however, results in a talent supply-demand unbalance that is causing corporate leaders in all sectors to rethink this function.

  • That rethinking begins with the job description of the HR leader. Gone are the days when the role was defined by the minutiae of record keeping, benefits administration and the establishment of a vaguely understood “corporate culture. 
  • CEOs want the HR leaders. “HR executives should realize that they become valuable members of the executive committee and have earned a seat at the table not just by recruiting and retaining talent 

” HR has to play a more proactive role and not a reactive role,” comments Ronald E. Logue, Chairman and CEO of State Street Corporation…..Of course, these new demands are in addition to, rather than replacements for, the traditional skills and capabilities that have long been expected of HR executives “….

Campbell Soup’s Conant sums up the challenge facing today’s HR leader :

“ You have to be brilliant in the management of human capital and be very savvy in the ways of business. That’s a tall order.” 

New competencies for new opportunities: 

In order to assess how the competencies of the current crop of HR leaders stood up against these new standards, Russell Reynolds Associates’ Executive Assessment Practice examined the competency profiles of more than 100 senior HR executives assessed over the past six years. Results indicate that while HR executives tended to score higher in interpersonal skills when compared with a pool of executives across all functions, they scored lower on strategic vision, business acumen and global orientation—confirming that HR executives have significant catching up to do if they are to meet the requirements for a seat at the senior management table.

most important hr core competencies

“ Your head of HR has to be one of the best people in the organization,” says G. Kennedy Thompson, Chairman, President and CEO of Wachovia. “It’s one of the most critical jobs and affects the whole organization. If you don’t have great HR, it drags down every part of the organization.”

A culture that supports HR’s strategic role: 

CEOs recognize it is not merely a question of asking their HR leaders to rise to the challenge of new capabilities and responsibilities. If they want HR to deliver at a higher level, they have to create the environment that allows that to happen.

“ Historically, there’s been an issue where the HR person is the lowest member of the senior team and not a peer,” comments Eppinger. “Right off the bat, you’ve got a problem. You need someone who can carry themselves as an equal.” Corporate chiefs are employing a range of strategies to shake up such outmoded thinking. At The New York Times Company, for example, “The organization was restructured to accelerate a change in the culture, to increase accountability and to improve the goal-setting process,” says Robinson.

“That restructuring, which included expanding the Executive Committee, created disciplined HR initiatives that were led by the senior-level executives of the company. These initiatives were designed to drive performance and innovation and advance the company’s transition to a multi-platform media company.”

State Street’s Logue, meanwhile, made his head of HR a direct report and an integral member of the 10-person Operating Group that manages the company on a day-to-day basis. Logue also moved his HR leader just a few doors down from his own office and in close proximity to the other senior executives.

“You have to foster the communication,” Logue explains. “The other senior members of the team have to appreciate the value that is brought by the head of HR.”

Matthew Emmens, CEO and Chairman of the Management Committee of Shire plc, has successfully integrated his HR leader and the HR function. “I’ve been privileged in my last three positions to not only select the person in that spot but also to create the management structure around it,” he comments. “In doing that, I’ve made the person not just an HR professional but created an organizational structure and an expectation that that person participates as a full business partner.” In fact, “Every unit has a business partner from HR on its management team. We deploy them through our units,” he adds.

Henry L. Meyer III, Chairman and CEO of KeyCorp, also stresses the importance of integrating HR into the various business units within the company. “HR isn’t a floor or a bunch of offices. It sits with the business groups. Each business group has a generalist HR person who is an integral part of their strategy.”

And, as at many companies, the talent review process at Wachovia is driven by the firm’s HR leader. Critically, however, it is not siloed in HR but central to the firm’s strategic planning. “We’re two years into a talent identification and succession planning process where we assess and discuss the talent two to three levels below me across all of our lines of business,” says Thompson. “Each line of business talks about their people in talent review discussions with other lines of business so we know our talent more broadly, understand our collective bench strength and can move talent across lines as necessary to meet business needs. We also do succession planning three levels into the company within the lines of business.”

However the elevation of the HR profile occurs, it requires a commitment from the top. “Setting the tone about development as a CEO is everything,” says Hanover’s Eppinger. “A lot of people talk about that, but most companies don’t have an explicit commitment from senior management to make their people better. And that’s part of the contract here.” That commitment must also include the financial backing to support the success of HR in attracting, retaining and compensating top talent.

Meyer of KeyCorp puts it plainly : “My head of HR can’t run a top-flight HR organization if the company won’t spend money.” 

Solving a talent shortage: 

Not surprisingly, the demand for HR leaders meeting this stringent set of requirements far outstrips the supply. Appropriately, forward-thinking companies are finding that the solution lies in making the silos between departments more permeable. Promising HR executives are rotated out into line positions in sales, marketing or operations; returning to their home departments with a broader perspective, they codify and institutionalize their knowledge and thus bolster the HR talent pipeline. At the same time, some organizations are bringing in executives from sales, finance or marketing to take HR leadership roles, betting that they can get up to speed on domain-specific knowledge while leveraging their business perspective.

The latter approach has been used successfully at Northrop Grumman. “You take an operating executive of enormous potential and put them in a key HR role somewhere in the organization and allow them an opportunity to develop and mature from that position,” Sugar says. “It brings you immediately into the inner sanctum, and you learn what’s really happening, who knows what and who the key people are. And when you roll back out to run a business, you have some additional skills.”

Robinson at The New York Times Company agrees that HR leaders who have worked at companies that have “gone through monumental transitions” have a lot to offer. “I think you are advantaged when you attract people who enjoy rolling up their sleeves and view their positions as being agents of change,” she notes.

“I think transitions can bring out the best in HR professionals when they are willing and eager to step up to the challenges. They should view themselves as critical leaders in the change process,” Robinson says.

Seizing the opportunity: 

While a rapidly shifting and complex business environment is forcing talent management to the top of the CEO agenda, those CEOs are responding by driving change in a function that has been historically relegated to second-class status. They are elevating the HR function to give it full membership in the inner circle and are raising expectations accordingly.

HR leaders with the full complement of skills and perspectives necessary for success are in short supply, causing companies to develop innovative strategies for identifying candidates for positions that will not wait. At the same time, the human resources profession needs to apply its expertise to itself—expanding its skill sets, establishing best practices and developing a culture of knowledge sharing— to successfully grasp this opportunity. And in that challenging transition, the CEO may be HR’s biggest advocate.

“The HR person has a wealth of knowledge of the capabilities of the organization,” says Shire’s Emmens. “There are a hundred things they can bring to the table because they are, in many ways, the central nervous system of the company. They’re the eyes and the ears. They’re great observers. So they’re often aware of issues, problems and roadblocks ahead of the people in the room. And if you listen to them, I think you can make much more intelligent decisions around the human assets in a corporation.”

Perhaps Campbell Soup’s Conant sums it up best : “ If you believe that leading & managing your people is the most important thing you do, then not only does HR have to be at your table, it has to be at your right hand.”  

Six Ways You’re a Workplace Bully Without Even Realizing It

Leading with Trust

Mike RiceBullying has been on primetime display this week as basketball coach Mike Rice was fired from his head coaching job at Rutgers after a leaked practice video showed him pushing, grabbing, throwing balls at players, and cursing them with gay slurs. As a youth sports coach for over 15 years and the father of a 20 year-old college student, I was sickened at Rice’s conduct. There is absolutely no room for that kind of behavior in sports, school, or the workplace. Leaders have to be held to a higher standard.

Bullying is not just verbal or physical intimidation of someone. Especially in the workplace, bullying can manifest itself in many subtle ways. Any behavior you use to intimidate, dominate, embarrass, harass, or purposely make someone feel inferior could be considered bullying.

Here are six subtle ways you may be acting like a workplace bully without even realizing it:

1. You are condescending – When…

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