Hosted in collaboration with the South Asia Centre, this brilliant panel took an in-depth look at what working in India is like and what LSE students should expect when thinking of moving, relocating or returning to India. The panel was chaired by Dr Nilanjan Sarkar, Deputy Director and Development Manager, LSE South Asia Centre.
Our panellists are:
- Janeya Khanna, Co-Founder and Pâtissier, HolyBelly Food Boutique. Janeya Khanna’s love affair with Patisserie dates back to when she first experienced the rush of baking while supplying her homemade cakes at Christmas Markets during the winters. This rush eventually led her to Le Cordon Bleu, Paris where she trained as a Pâtissière. The time spent in Paris brought out her passion for French pastry and desserts. An artist in the true sense, she loves experimenting with flavours and has created her own unique recipes. She also has prior experience in setting up and developing products for a café chain in Delhi NCR. Janeya is also a thoroughbred HR professional, from the London School of Economics with 6 years of experience at organizations like Aon Hewitt, Bain & Co., and McKinsey & Co.
- Varda Taneja, Senior Assistant Vice President, Invest India. She is leading investment promotion in the Europe region along with facilitation of companies in the Consumer Goods industry. Varda has led multiple public– private engagements on global platforms as a part of the outreach strategy to highlight investment opportunities and drive FDI into India. Most recently, Varda worked with the Government of India on the COVID19 crisis. This included support on procurement of critical medical equipment, management of state oxygen crisis and supporting districts across various states on COVID management. Her passion and efforts have won her the recognition of BusinessWorld Disrupt 30 under 30. Varda holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Delhi and an MSc in Management & Strategy from LSE.
- Karnvir Mundrey, Founder and Chief Ideation Officer, Atharva Marcom Public Relations, a leading communications firm that helps shape and create a reputation for organisations globally. He has worn various hats in his career. He was a journalist with PC World magazine, a radio jockey and a show host for All India Radio, Delhi. His interest in technology took him to lead business development and consulting for technology firms in Europe. After an MBA in India, he then did a Masters in Finance at LSE and then became an investment banker with UBS. His love for his home brought him back to India – where he initially founded a life sciences consulting firm — Atharva Lifesciences Consulting Pvt. Ltd., and then a public relations and media firm — Atharva Marcom. Karnvir Mundrey is also India’s oldest continuous podcaster — having had a continuous show — since 2006 — The Health Tips Podcast. He also is the founder and the Editor of “TheFutureOfPR.com” an online news blog and the President (India) of The Branded Content Marketing Association. Beyond work, he is the Chair of the LSE Alumni Association, Bengaluru.
- Siddharth Sinha, Public Policy Consultant to the Chief Executive Officer of the National Institution for Transforming India, Government of India. At NITI, Siddharth is currently leading projects on transport decarbonisation and digital financial inclusion. He is involved in projects related to the promotion of circular economy, sustainable infrastructure financing and climate change. Siddharth is a member of the Transport Research Committee of the International Transport Forum (ITF) and a Deputy Champion of the EDISON Alliance of the World Economic Forum, where he represents India. He has also been involved with the national efforts aimed at the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Where to start?
Each panellist highlighted the importance of LinkedIn for LSE students starting their job search in India. As Varda highlighted, LinkedIn is widely used by many companies and working professionals in India and is invaluable when networking and looking for work. Many companies post directly to LinkedIn when they have opportunities rather than on job-seeking websites, so remain engaged and reach out to people who work at companies you’re interested in — you never know what opportunities might arise.
LSE opens several doors when searching for a job, and Siddharth urged students not to forget what the University can offer them in terms of professional skills development. Your studies and the experience you can garner through societies are all important. LSE is a recognisable brand, and, in Siddharth’s experience, he has come across many alumni: engage with the local alumni network and you never know what opportunities might arise.
Set a goal and give yourself a timeline. Not everybody gets their ‘dream job’ straight after university or even in the first decade after graduating. Career paths are not always linear, so start by building up your experience where you can. India is an excellent place for start-ups, so that could be a great place to get involved.
Applying for work:
Kanvir added that an excellent place to start is by building a portfolio to showcase your engagement with the sector you want to go in. In his experience, a great way to do this is by writing — find an area in your sector you’re interested in and write a comment piece displaying your interest and thoughts on the issue. If you can get this published somewhere, whether in the student newspaper or a professional publication, you are already displaying your understanding of the issues affecting the industry you want to work in. Share your writing on LinkedIn and send it to industry professionals for their insight and opinion.
Varda noted that the biggest mistake a person can make with their CV is making it wordy. No employer has the time to read through that — use the right words and clearly signpost that you have the right skills; if you worked on a project, explain your role in the project, not the project itself.
The panellists were also happy for LSE Students to reach out to them directly on LinkedIn for direct advice.
How has the pandemic affected the job market In India?
Janeva described that the job market has been affected in a number of ways. For work with physical proximity, such as the food and hospitality industry, there has been a massive impact to note. For the industries Varda and Karnvir work in, however, there has been an upswing with high attrition rates. A lot of companies are hiring and there is a shift occurring in the nature of work with the rise of WFH. Do your research on the industry you want to go into to see what the job market looks like in your sector.
What non-Indians should expect:
Depending on where you’re from, there might be a big cultural difference when starting work in India, although as Varda noted, this is true of every new country or city. It is an incredibly large and diverse country, so put effort into researching the culture of the region you might be working in and engage with that culture. She also said that many companies offer ‘care packages’ for expats who have never lived in India before to help with the transition. Siddharth and Karnvir also encouraged students to engage with their local alumni network. There are chapters across India with specific groups in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.
Enjoyed this blog? Here are some other resources you might like to check out…
- Full panel event on CareerHub under “Materials and Recordings.”