Shantanu Sen Sharma
, 48, is a veteran of the IT industry having worked in companies like the HCL group and Tech Mahindra for over 25 years. Prior to setting up Ozone, he was Vice President, Sales in Tech Mahindra. He has also been Chief Operating Officer at Bahwan Cybertek Oman as well as General Manager with the HCL Group. Shantanu co-founded Ozone Education Consultants in 2011 with a view to enhancing employability of Management and Engineering graduates as well as working professionals. He completed Engineering from IIT Kanpur and is a British Chevening Scholar from Leeds University Business School UK. His area of interest and expertise include Program Management, large account management, Value based selling and managing and maintaining C Level Business Relationships. He is also an avid sports fan.
, “We have close to 35 mentors across in Pune and Mumbai. They pan sectors like Manufacturing, IT, BFSI, Retail, Logistics etc. and have been involved in senior positions like Operations, Finance, Marketing and HR.”
What was the main driving force leading to the formation of Ozone?
We did a fairly detailed study of B Schools and Engineering Colleges in India. With over 400,000 MBA graduates, it is obviously a case of demand being less than supply as well as some amount of dilution of standards. There is also pressure from lateral recruits.
We felt that there was a missing piece over and above the curriculum and that was knowledge of the industry, decision making, and the ability to reason and articulate logically and play the “big moments” well.
Also how do you have a comprehensive and structured industry interface program in the college?
In engineering too the situation is not very different. Bodies like NASSCOM have spoken repeatedly on employability. For too long engineering colleges have had a luxury of demand being equal to or greater than supply? This is now changing; we are seeing dip in recruitment numbers of engineers. The key challenge is that the engineer knows technology, but not how and why it is being used. How does Cloud Computing for example help a Retail Chain in maximising revenues? Not to mention focus on soft skills etc.
In Companies, reskilling, team dynamics, business domain knowledge, leadership and Billability/Productivity are key issues and my team and I are now addressing these.
How do you see the overall recruitment situation in Engineering and MBA institutes this year?
The year (Batch passing out in 2013) is not going to be easy. Focus should be on job readiness as opposed to just interview readiness. Many companies are cutting down on number of new recruits. The percentage of lateral recruits is also going up. Bulk recruitment in Banking and Financial Services is slower this year. However, we saw a similar trend last year and joint efforts by Institutes and organizations like ours did ensure 100% placement of eligible candidates.
What is the Ozone perspective on employability – there are adverse reports on the employability quotient of MBAs and Engineering graduates in India?
Yes, I have seen some of those reports. The percentages quoted there for unemployables seem harsh, but yes, as they say “no smoke without fire”. To us employability today means job readiness and the ability to hit the road running with minimum training time. Applicability of concepts learnt is more important than the concept definition. Look at some basic statistics. An average IT employee is billable after 6-7 months. The company which recruits him, therefore loses 3500$ of billability for every month extra spent on training (assuming 20 odd $ per hour Billing rate). We are talking big money here. Corporate houses will have to work with their recruitment sources and together address this issue in a concerted manner.
Brief us about your current engagements.
Our key clients include the Indira Group in Pune (ISBS, IIMP, IGBS, ICEM and ISCS) , The Chetana group in Mumbai (CIMR & RK CIMR) . We have also started work with Audyogik Shiksha Mandal (IIBR
, IPS and IBMR) in Pune and mentor students from 3 of their Management Colleges. We also do work for Chanakya Institute of Management Studies and Research, Mumbai. In last couple of years, we mentored about 3,500 students every year from 11 odd Institutes.
We have, as I mentioned, started work with Companies and have an India IT major, a leading conglomerate with interests in Pharmaceuticals, Financial services & Real Estate and a US based IT Services Company as our client. For the Indian IT Major we have done mentoring sessions for senior delivery managers in Account Mining. This will enable delivery managers to think more in terms of increasing their company’s pie in the account. For the US based company we are mentoring selected middle and senior managers. Our key strength and understanding right now is in the IT domain for companies. We have domain skills in IT in Banking, Manufacturing, and Retail etc. We also have some pan industry horizontal skills like Team Building, Leadership, B2B Selling, and Finance for Non Finance etc.
Brief us about your mentors and team?
The key to Ozone’s success has been its network of mentors. Our mentors are either senior level people from the industry or people running their own consultancies. Today, we have close to 35 mentors across in Pune and Mumbai. They pan sectors like Manufacturing, IT, BFSI, Retail, Logistics etc. and have been involved in senior positions like Operations, Finance, Marketing and HR. Just to give you some examples – V Srinivasan an IIT Alumnus with 35years of experience is ex TELCO and Patni and now runs his own consultancy specializing in Engineering Solutions, Kiran Laturkar another IIT Alumnus with 33experience is ex COSL and I Flex and is an IT professional specializing in the BFSI solution space. We look at people with horizontal and vertical skills, a passion for teaching and mentoring and the ability to engage an audience.
As part of our advisory board we have C level people from the industry, who are involved closely in the pedagogy and mentoring of the students.
What is the mentoring process?
In Management Schools we do functional knowledge sessions, industry sectors, Business Analysis, Discovery Interviews, simulated Group Discussions, summer projects – Thought to Finish and personal interviews. We also have a senior mentor attached to a group of students. We also do quite a few sessions on applicability in industry of key concepts taught in management schools. Our approach is a mix of One on One session(s), Group Sessions and One on Many sessions. We also link closely with the Institute. We track students individually through the mentor scheme.
What are your future plans?
Our theme is employability – whether fresh or for working people. Our client is the Institute or the Company concerned. With these two fundamentals we will have Ozone focused on acquiring more Management and Engineering campuses as clients in Mumbai, Pune and Maharashtra. As of now, we are staying focused on these geographies and not going pan India on our own. Nashik, Kolhapur are areas of good potential.
Corporate Houses is a key focus area – going forward – we think the schools and corporates are in many ways linked. Areas of focus will be the IT Sector – Domain knowledge, Business Applicability, Project and Program Management, Team Building and Leadership. Some of these areas are horizontal. We have a particularly strong program in Finance for Non Finance and will help people across industries.