While the Indian economy continues to grapple with low job creation due to lack of new investments and prepares for the tectonic shift on their operations due to emergence of new technologies such as artificial intelligence or IoT, some jobs which were traditionally in demand continue to hold their fort, even though some of those roles now require significantly new set of skills. Given below is a snapshot of a few of these roles, where demand is expected to outpace the availability of qualified talent:
1. Chief Risk Officer: Role of CRO has always been understated in Indian banks and NBFCs, and even today, several financial institutions fail to appoint a CRO as a member of their executive team. The rise in NPAs and frauds, both at public as well as private financial institutions, clearly depicts the weakness of risk management function in these institutions. India severely lacks the talent pool of dedicated risk professionals as most of them prefer to move into business roles for career progression. With increasing demand for CROs, this role will become one of the more powerful and sought-after role across financial services industry. CROs with proficiency in big data & analytics and use of technology in building risk management models will be in high demand. As organisations strengthen their risk management teams, demand is expected to come for mid-senior to senior professionals with salaries ranging from Rs 75 lakh to Rs 3 crore.
2. Chief Financial Officer: Traditionally a key role, it has become even more critical for organisations with new the Companies Law placing more personal liability on CFOs for vouching the internal control environment and compliance. CFOs with experience in capital restructuring, investor relations and fund raising are in high demand. In emerging organisations, the role has moved beyond accounting & reporting to a key partner who contributes in strategic planning & revenue maximisation. With increased scrutiny & personal liability, CFO candidates have also become selective in accepting new assignments. Salaries for CFOs have gone up to Rs 1–1.5 cr for a mid-size organisation and up to Rs 3-4 cr for large organisations.
3. Head of R&D: Sectors such as automotive, telecom and pharmaceuticals continue to increase their spend on R&D, with demand for R&D professionals across levels. The demand is expected to rise significantly as global organisations continue to establish and expand their captive R&D centres in India, competing directly for talent with Indian companies. Engine optimisation, electrical batteries, body engineering are some of the areas with R&D talent is in demand in the automotive sector. Also, professionals with skills in Android & 5G network technologies are being aggressively recruited by telecom players while pharma companies continue to look for R&D talent in cancer, diabetes & cardio. Depending upon the area of research, an entry-level R&D engineer salary can range from Rs 10-25 lakh, going up to Rs 2-4 cr for a senior R&D leader.
4. Company Secretary: Role of Company Secretary came to limelight only after the new Companies Bill was introduced. For long the role stayed under the shadow of CFO & Legal Head, which resulted in low enrolment, thereby resulting in a huge deficit of talent pool. With Company Secretary being designated as one of the three Key Managerial Professional (KMP) besides CEO & CFO, the demand for experienced candidates with experience in managing board affairs & knowledge of securities laws has risen exponentially. The role has also become more visible with most company secretaries now reporting directly to Board Chair or CEO. Salaries for Company Secretaries with experience ranging from 15-25 years have gone up from Rs 35-50 lakh to Rs 75 – 2 cr.
5. Chief Digital Officer: As companies continue to divert more of their marketing budgets to digital and organisations adapt to rapid digitization, the role of Chief Digital Officer (CDO) is emerging as one of the strongest in recent times, coming out of the shadows of CIO & CMO, who historically controlled digital initiatives. Gradually, the role is carving out its own place in organisation structure with CDOs reporting directly to CEOs. Demand for professionals who can lead digital initiatives in an organisation is increasing rapidly at mid-senior to senior levels with salaries ranging from Rs 75 lakh to Rs 1.75 cr.
6. CIO: CIOs were never out of demand. The need for progressive CIOs is growing further as organisations strive to leverage emerging technologies such as AI, data mining & analytics and IoT to automate their processes & generate ROI on IT investments. With demand for such CIOs coming from traditional sectors such as textiles, power, logistics & automotive, CIOs will continue to be one of the hot jobs in the years to come. Average salaries for CIOs have moved from Rs 75 lakh to Rs 1.5 cr.
7. Legal Counsel: While companies are trying to reduce litigation and legal budgets, legal & compliance risk is growing & becoming a complex task, which is forcing companies to hire a capable legal counsel. Focus is shifting from contract management & regulatory compliance to managing organisation’s risk, international arbitrations & settlements, protection of IP and M&A. Due to a limited pool of such experienced in-house counsels, the average age & experience for legal heads has come down to 14-16 years, while average salary has moved up from Rs 75 lakh to Rs 1.25 cr, which can go up to Rs 3-4 cr for a large enterprise.
8. Chief Product Officer: The surge in demand for Head of Product or Chief Product Officer can be attributed to the huge investments which online & start-up ventures have attracted in the last 5 years. With constant pressure on getting the product right & generating revenue, the demand for experienced product development professionals has been significant, with industry also tapping the expat talent pool from the Silicon Valley. Demand would continue from sectors which use technology at its core. The Indian startups will also continue to generate demand for this profile, as long as they attract investments. Salaries for Chief Product Officers can range from Rs 1.25 cr to Rs 5 cr, depending upon experience & track record.
9. Cyber and Information Security professionals: Cyber security & data privacy risks are becoming global, forcing Indian companies to prepare their capability to prevent such hacks. Information security has been historically a key responsibility of CIO/CTO but with increasing risks of sophisticated cyber-attacks, demand for cyber security professionals is expected to go up significantly. Sectors such as banks, insurance companies, power, payment wallet, telecom & healthcare, which use and store customer data, are now beefing up their cyber-security capabilities, generating demand for mid to senior level professionals with salaries ranging from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 1.25 cr.
10. Chief Audit Executive: After the introduction of new Companies Bill in 2013, the role of Chief Audit Executive (CAE) has become more prominent & accountable, with CEO, CFO & Audit Committee relying heavily on CAE to manage enterprise risks. More & more organisations are establishing direct reporting relationship between CAE & Audit Committee, with organisations demanding audit professionals who are conversant with managing Board of Directors, can manage risks and advise management on strengthening internal control environment. Average salary for Chief Audit Executive has gone up to from Rs 75 lakh to Rs 1.2 cr, with large organisations paying their Chief Auditor between Rs 1.5 to Rs 2.5 crore.
(By Naba Amreen, Consultant, Alexander Hughes-India)