Article: Lack of softer skills: Ravi C. Dasgupta


Lack of softer skills: Ravi C. Dasgupta

Ravi C. Dasgupta, Vice President - Group HR, Biocon

When hiring for entry level roles, it is expected that people joining the organization will have the technical knowledge for the subject that they have studied. Beyond that, we look for analytical thinking, problem solving, ability to learn and working together, which are skills that are not taught in universities. The traditional education system emphasizes on book learning and being competitive, which often makes it difficult for them to work as teams. So, while they do have reasonably good subject knowledge, they are not very good in terms of practical skills required at work.

At Biocon, we have a range of activities that we do. For entry level roles in manufacturing, we look at Diploma holders or engineers, whereas in quality control, we prefer people with a Masters degree in life sciences. Further, entry level hiring also happens for the sales functions, who are usually graduates from the life sciences stream. R&D is also an important area where we hire technical people who are either B.Techs or M.Sc in areas like biotechnology. Apart from this, we also recruit PhDs for the R&D department.

In the biotechnology industry, the brand image of Biocon is extremely strong as we are the leaders in Asia in this space. Therefore, we have a lot of people applying to us, once they finish their education and so we do not have much problem finding people for these job roles. For us, it is more about selection in terms of the people who apply to us. However, the story is not the same in the case of sales roles, which do not have too hot an image and where we have to compete with other brands in getting the right people. So, while we struggle in sales, we have a good number to choose from in the case of other roles as we are able to find good people and groom them.

As part of the plan to train and groom them, there is an induction program that we conduct. Once the new entrants have gone through the induction program, they get into the respective departments where they get on the job training. It takes 6 months to a year before a person is well-versed with the job. There are also other programs that we organize. Last year, we spent 50 lakh on training programs for people across levels. Some of the diploma holders who join us are not very good at spoken English. Therefore, we run a spoken English program, which has 2-hour sessions conducted over 20 days by external faculty.

A majority of our hiring is done from campuses like IITs, BITS Pilani to name a few, and we also pick up people from various backgrounds including B. Pharm, M. Pharm, etc. The people we hire from these campuses essentially have the subject knowledge, but may lack some of the softer skills demanded of the job. The attrition we face depends on the role – we face an attrition of 25 percent in production, 30 percent in frontline sales, and almost negligible in other functions like R&D.

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Topics: Skilling, C-Suite

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