Destination India

As India emerges as a global powerhouse, Ishani Chattopadhyay shares insights on making your professional transition to Destination India easier.

India is clearly where it’s at these days. The opportunities are immense, therefore living and working in India is becoming a real aspiration for people but the question remains to be answered -is India ready for a truly global workforce?

So, what’s different between India and the Rest-of-the-World? What should you keep in mind when taking the call to start working in India?

How easy is it to get an India assignment?

India is still nascent in its ability to have a heterogeneous work force. If you are used to working in Singapore, Hong Kong or London where people come from various cultures, working in India may not fit your expectations. While the number of foreigners working in India is growing by the day, we are still at the initial stages of the trend. Having relevant experience in India still continues to be a real requirement and you will have to fight it out with a growing work force to prove your mettle.

Remember the truth is that heterogeneous groups have proven to be more effective than homogeneous groups so your experiences and insights will be most valuable – communicating these strengths in a new context- India – is something you may need to be conscious of.As Valerie, an American entrepreneur living and working in India aptly put it, “A transition may be an opportunity to take on new responsibilities. What you bring to the table in one country may be different to what you bring to the table in another country, so assess your skills given the context, and give yourself the credit you deserve.”

Evaluating on PPP terms

You received the offer, now comes the tough part – evaluating whether you will (really) be better off.

Salaries in themselves may be a surprise for you. In terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), approximately 40% of a given CTC in US dollars will give you comparable quality of life in the Indian context. However, whilst salaries at senior management levels have improved in India, there might still be a gap with what you could expect to earn in your home country. The costs of living in cities like Mumbai and Delhi are high so doing a realistic budget if you are headed for these cities is imperative. Don’t forget to account for taxes that you will need to pay which will deducted at source by the company you work for.

There is a challenge – perhaps the biggest one – also in understanding legal and tax implications of working in India as an NRI or foreigner. If you are taking up a salaried position in India it would be a must to understand implications of mandatory Provident Fund payments from your salary.

Factor in the intangibles

You may still find that the culture here is distinctly different from your home country and it will take some getting used to. My advice always is keep your learning mindset handy – Indians are helpful and will always be willing to share their experiences with you. The more you remain open to creating a new experience, rather than fitting it into what you already know, the more you will be able to integrate.A method to do that would be again to learn from people who have been here longer than you and use them as a sounding board. Coaching solutions may also be an option for you that will help you navigate this world more effectively.

Let me end on my thoughts about expectations.

The truth is that the institutional capacity to deal with NRIs & expats is still ‘Work-In-Progress’ in India. The system is set up to deal primarily with Indian nationals. You may get the sense that India has a long way to go before it’s able to attract a truly open, global workforce. Having said that, things are changing fast and everything can be solved with patience and perhaps some yoga!

The more you “expect” things to change, the less successful your India stint is likely to be. If you are able to get your head around and accept what is, as is, that’s the key to survival and might I say enjoyment here. It’s an amazing country with amazing people. Take a deep breath and take it all in.

Ishani Chattopadhyay brings over 12 years of experience in strategy, consulting, project management, and entrepreneurship to her work as a coach and mentor. A Chemical Engineer from the University of Melbourne, Australia, an MBA from the London Business School and Columbia Business School, she has been working in the sustainable energy, climate change and social sectors for the last 8 years. She runs her own coaching practice,



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2 thoughts on “Destination India

  1. The market rrecaesh field is a good choice. Actually, I am currently job searching trying to find a job in that field myself. For me personally, I see jobs in that field are drying up a lot right now. There were much more opportunities during the summer. From my experience, companies tend not to hire from Thanksgiving to New Years and might even cut back on their workforce. It is sad to say, but I think you have until mid-November to find a job otherwise the openings will be few and far between. I would start searching immediately. The market does not pick up until about March.

    1. Hi Jazmin,

      Recruitment at a senior level, is usually pretty specialised. It tests one’s patience and many a time people lose their motivation. However, it’s important to continuously track the market and stay current with hiring trends. At the end of the day you only need one job that fulfils your aspirations and this is not just about the state of the overall economy. We wish you all the best in your job search – and hope you make a career breakthrough.

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