Economic Times, New Delhi - September 10 th , 2000.
Economic Times, New Delhi
T. Muralidharan not only figures out how to get software and other professionals into US jobs, he also advises them on how to fit in.

It's all about the right fit.

It was an exodus of a different kind – triggered off in 1998 by the millennium bug scare. India experienced the exodus and the world, especially the US, opened its arms to Indian Information Technology professionals in a big way, Y2K? No problem. The Indians would solve it.

Certainly, IT workers from India have an advantage over their counterparts from other developing as well as developed countries. Trained in India with an apparently inherent aptitude for computers, a good knowledge of the English language and to some extent their willingness to settle for less pay *which is still far greater than their Indian earning) the Indian computer professional seems to be everybody's obvious choice.

Cashing in on this global trend to recruit from India is T. Muralidharan, managing director of the recruitment house, TMI Network. “We're in business to market Indian talent worldwide,” says the founder and nurturer of TMI, which stands for Talent Management International.

He's doing that in several ways. First with a tie-up with CareerMosaic – the first job board in the world that has Fortune 500 companies as its clients. And another with to launch his own

“Our job is to make Indian talent globally acceptable,” he emphasizes. Having already placed 150 doctors and other professionals in the USA last year, and expecting to send 300 more of them there this year, he seems to be working at it. “The global culture of how Indians are being perceived is changing.”

But having been in the business for a while now, Muralidharan knows all the ropes. A chemical engineer from IIT, Chennai then MBA from IIM, Ahmedabad, Muralidharan decided to launch his own recruitment firm in 1991. From then to 1998, he placed 1000 people in jobs every year within India. But boom time came in 1998 with the sudden global spurt in demand for Indian IT workers.

But Muralidharan doesn't just confine himself to placing Indians in Silicon Valley or where ever else. He realizes that he needs to orient each new recruit to the life to expect when he reaches the USA. “You know, people think let me just get to the USA for the first time.

“The guys who go out there are making a mess of themselves. Then they want to come back. There are simple things. For instance, I didn't know how to buy a ticket for the bus, or to order at a restaurant. It can be a daunting experience for a first timer,” he says.

Weather, he says, is the first unexpected thing. “People here are used to warm weather conditions. So when we tell them to prepare for the cold, they can't understand how cold. In some places in America, temperatures can dip to –21, and there is an added ‘wind chill factor',” he warns. SO he educates the new recruits what to expect and how to equip themselves.

Next point is he prepares them about is self-sufficiency. “There's nobody there to come in and do you housework, cook your food or wash your clothes. You have to do it yourself. We give them tips on how to do their laundry and other such things that one would normally take for granted,”: he says.

The third factor on which they warn new recruits is food. Accustomed to spicy food here, those who land in the USA have a hard time adjusting to the rather bland American food.

Yet another adjustment factor is using deodorants and perfumes. “The air-conditioning systems there are so strong that any little body odour can get magnified. We teach Indians going there that they need to use perfumes and dress to code to fit in at the workplace,” he says.

Based in Hyderabad, TMI Network proposes to open a training arm soon for recruits who would be going abroad. TMI is also opening a division in SanJose, USA. “We will be changing our recruitment system soon. All our recruits will remain on TMI roles for six months, when we will be in body shopping mode. That way, we can offer them adjustment services, and they would be paying us back for placement services,” says Muralidharan. Thereafter, the recruit is expected to be on his own.

Major hurdles he's faced in his area of operation? Ignorance, he says. “There are lots of people who are duped by agents. They get H-1B visas and are left in the USA along to fend for themselves.” The AP government is now trying to regulate these things. Meanwhile, it seems to be Muralidharan who's regulating several of those Injuns going Silicon Valley-ward.

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