New Manager

A prescription for sustained learning

Updated on: Nov 27, 2011
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Whether it is youngsters fresh out of school or employees in positions across the organisation, Lupin is ensuring that all its personnel have the chance to keep growing on the job.

Sitting in the over Rs 5,700-crore Lupin Ltd's office in Mumbai's sprawling Bandra Kurla Complex, Human Resources President Divakar Kaza's thoughts have been elsewhere ever since a new initiative was rolled out in September last year. He has also been travelling, often to locations where the company's factories are, because they have housed some ‘special' employees for a year now. On a salary ranging from Rs 7,000 to Rs 9,000 are class twelve pass-outs enrolled in a ‘Learn and Earn' programme, which gives them the option to pursue a degree alongside over three years.

Lupin's new project is yet another case of marrying for mutual benefit the aspirations and needs of a set of youngsters with the company's manpower needs. People@Work has profiled companies such as Hardcastle Restaurants (McDonald's India – West and South) which has forged tie-ups with institutions such as Symbiosis and has made part-timing a way of work to encourage employees to study alongside.

Lupin seems to have taken the envelope a bit further, and to be fair, the nature of its workforce needs allows it to do so.

Fresh out of school

Between April and June is a busy time for the HR team at Lupin. That's the time when the company scouts around for science graduates to hire. That's also the time when students passing out from school are hoping to land their dream courses. For those who have to wait a while but with dreams no less, Lupin reaches out in September each year, with the lure of a job, and an education — 250 youngsters, 50 of them girls, came on board last year, while 400 have joined this year. The course is a customised BSc in Drug Sciences from YCMOU (Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University) that is held on weekends. Inductees, with at least 50 per cent in the science stream in class twelve and aged between 17 and 18 years, represent the first samples of what is an earnest HR exercise being undertaken at Lupin.

While Lupin has plants in eight cities in India, the programme is underway in three of them — at Indore, Goa and Tarapur.

“This is not a cost play. They cost us as much as the BSc graduates we hire. We take care of their accommodation; we pay about Rs 35,000 per person for the three-year course. At the same time, this is not a CSR exercise. This is at that spot of overlap between our HR needs and the aspirations of youngsters,” says Kaza.

The salaries paid to these inductees starts at Rs 7,000 per month in year one and goes up to Rs 8,000 in year two and to Rs 9,000 in the third year. In comparison, BSc graduates hired by the company are paid Rs 1,000 more per month. These employees also get 10 days off before their exams, and spend five days a week getting trained in the plant and six hours in class on weekends.

“There was a lot of scepticism at the start — now it has become a mission. For the first year, we have written off the expense. In the second year, we know we'll get some returns. But the energy and motivation we see is very strong. People who enrolled in the previous year are becoming ambassadors and bringing in more aspiring youngsters. They come with zero baggage and are willing to learn,” says Kaza.

The intent is to have 1,200 people in the programme in its third year, across three batches. When they pass out, Lupin is guaranteeing them jobs. With the growth of the company and growing headcount, there is no dearth of jobs, beams the HR head. On the contrary, they will be a welcome addition to the Lupin family. But what are the chances of them leaving after getting their degrees?

“We are mentally prepared for the fact that there will be those who want to leave. My reading is that 10 to 15 per cent will leave. But they will be industry-ready by then,” says Kaza. In the first year, there have been virtually no drop-outs — just two or three of the 250 who joined have left to take up other options in the Navy or enrol in full-time courses, we are told.

Training thrust

Lupin employs 13,200 people who are scattered across eight countries. Except for a thousand abroad, the rest are in India. Of these, R&D accounts for 1,200; sales around 5,000; manufacturing 4,200; and the rest, about 1,800, are absorbed in admin and technical support.

Attrition in the company is at 15 per cent if one does not include ‘early stage attrition' which counts people leaving within 90 days. Overall, it would be around 20 per cent, says Kaza. Sales and manufacturing account for the maximum attrition and R&D the least.

But the thrust on training is across the board at Lupin.

Over the last couple of years, there have been a slew of tie-ups to incorporate formal education in partnership with institutes as part of training.

The R&D team has a number of aspiring PhDs — 12 of them began working towards their doctorates in 2009 while on their jobs. This was possible through a tie-up forged by Lupin with Pune University, BITS (Pilani) and Manipal University.

In February 2010, 50 graduates with qualifications such as MSc, B Pharm and B Tech, employed at Lupin, commenced a two-year MS in Pharmaceutical Operations and Management, which involves classes for 40 days during the year. This course, organised in association with BITS Pilani, will enable them to move up to the middle and senior management level with an understanding of concepts such as costing and management, explains Kaza.

He says, “Lupin pays Rs 1 lakh per head for the course, while they pay Rs 10,000. And there are no bonds. Another batch will start in June.”

Yet another set of 25 people have signed up for a three-year MBA in Pharmaceutical Management in association with the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, which involves total course time of 100 days. Again, all costs, save 10 per cent, is being funded by the company.

Fifty of the 600 Area Managers of the sales force, which brought in close to Rs 2,000 crore in domestic revenue last year, are enrolled in a one-year e-MBA in association with the SP Jain Management Institute.

“In sales, for every five to seven people, there is a manager or supervisor. For every 50 people who do the course, there are 550 more aspiring to do the same. There are 3,500 salesmen at the grass roots who know that when they become area managers, they can join the course,” explains Kaza.

Among the case studies being taught at IIM (A) are two cases from Lupin, one of them on Talent Management, says a proud Kaza.

The institute also engages the senior leadership of the company with in-house professors, in three- to four-week courses.

The thrust on education is seen as critical — the workforce has grown from 11,000 in 2010 to 13,200 currently, and plans are afoot to take this to 15,000 by the end of 2013.

Kaza surmises, “Unlike short bursts of training, we believe that education is a long-term investment.”

So far, the returns are showing. Among those enrolled in the PhD, MS, MBA and eMBA courses, the attrition is nil.

For the company's HR team, it's just what the doctor ordered.

>gokul.k@thehindu.co.in

Published on March 12, 2018

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