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JUL 10, 2020

Giving a Leg Up to Japanese Companies with the Power of the Indian Labor Market

By Laura Abbott, With Gaurav Malhotra
iStock/MicroStockHub

India’s economy boomed big in the 80s and 90s, driven by the IT industry and Indian expats returning from abroad. But growth has tapered in recent years, and the downsizing of many companies has left one of the world’s largest labor forces underutilized.

As the Indian economy’s third largest investor, companies in Japan are looking to take advantage of this labor force. But this, as with forging any global connection, is easier said than done.

GLOBIS alumnus Gaurav Malhotra talked with Insights about the growing business between Japan and India and his quest to be the best business connection in these two areas.

How is your business innovating the Japan-India business corridor?

At Hire Pundit, we work on people and business management areas as they become critical success factors for overseas growth. We mainly provide workforce solutions to our clients through recruitment services, but we also provide inbound and outbound investment and business advisory services. Our key client segments are companies headquartered in Japan, India, and the USA, as well as potential entrants to into these territories.

Deciding to start my own company in Japan came from the gradual realization of the value and experience that resided within me. I met client prospects, especially SMEs in Japan and India, who had all the right strategies and tools locally, but lacked insight for how to do business overseas—financially, culturally, and even linguistically.

Fortunately, this was an area I could help with. I came together with a friend, Vivek, to form Hire Pundit in Japan.  

Mr. Gaurav Malhotra. Photo courtesy of HirePundit

Tell us about the early stages of your business.

Rather than chasing investors, Vivek and I invested everything we had in savings and went all-in trying to land strategically significant sales to fund us through our first six months. We credit our progress to four things:

1. Being deliberate in what we do and how we prioritize
2. Using actions to measurably advance our plans
3. Promoting relentless communication, collaboration, and transparency
4. Meeting our passion with aggressionーkeep fighting!

Most important were the relationships and trust we enjoyed from everyone around us, be it former colleagues, old clients, MBA friends, or professors. GLOBIS has been a great support, and being admitted into the Corporate Mentorship Program in our first 4 months motivated us a lot.

How do you stand out against competitors?

What helps us distinguish from a pure recruitment firm is our combination of providing business support services to our clients and applying that knowledge to find talent. Candidates find us insightful and trustworthy compared to many other HR firms.

Combining people and business consulting deeply impacts our business clients and recruitment candidates. As a principle, our engagement process with all parties is clear and transparent: there are no tall promises, no presumptions about their needs, and there are no assumptions about what they think about our services.

What kind of technology do you rely on?

The following tools help us broaden both our client and candidate networks, allowing for our recruiters to reach more qualified applicants:

・Cloud-based application tracking systems and recruitment software
・Social media channels for digital marketing
・Video for initial screening interviews

The next step is AI—we would like to invest in automation to undertake CV parsing. But we are expecting a challenge here, as not all software supports multiple languages.

One room of the Hire Pundit offices, in which there is a table with flowers, and four chairs.
Image Courtesy of Hire Pundit

What is your strategy to stay profitable for the next five years?

We are here to become a home-grown team of consultants for Japanese and Indian companies. How we achieve that is very clear: we work with our clients to advise them on the best available expansion strategies while helping them hire talent.

There are many areas where Japan and India complement each other. For example, for a Japanese manufacturing company running local and global projects, the Indian workforce provides much-needed cost arbitrage.

During the next 5 years, we are going to go full throttle in building capabilities that enable us to serve our clients in sourcing, training, and maintaining an efficient workforce system.

Has anything changed since the COVID-19 crisis?

COVID-19 hasn’t dried up the demand for people, but the budget for acquiring people. Most of our regular clients have stopped outsourcing the recruitment process and are working in-house to find new talent.

As business owners, we have a responsibility towards clients who have lost business and talent. In response, we came up with several working models, ranging from offering dispatch employees to offering deferred payments. So I think we have lot to offer even in these tough times.

What did you learn at GLOBIS that helped you along the way?

I learned to make sure passion meets aggression. Don’t do something you like, but can’t follow up on and win. At the same time, do less (don’t build before you think) and spend less (don’t spend on consultants before you’ve validated the basics yourself).

Prove yourself to your clients. A successful engagement with them is the best process of all.