NEW DELHI: New-age education companies are hiring aggressively to lure top talent (CXOs) with packages touching a crore, inclusive of variables and stock options. At least 20 CXO searches are lined up in the next few months in this emerging sector, confirmed education technology (ed-tech) companies and search firms.
Companies such as UpGrad, iNurture, Simplilearn, Toppr, Pearson, Emeritus, Imarticus are hiring CXOs as they are entering new geographies and offering new solutions. The past few months have been busy for Transearch India that executed nine such searches in this space, and has another five searches to complete within the ed-tech space, said Pari Jhaveri, senior partner, Transearch.
“The ed-tech industry is in its honeymoon period and will continue to be in the investment phase for the next two years,” said Jhaveri. This trend hadn’t existed till about a year ago, according to other head hunting firms BTI Consultants and GlobalHunt.
BTI Consultants has been receiving requests for profiles such as student acquisition lead, dean/director-online, vice president/director-online from its clients, most of whom are rich with VC funds. “Till last year, we did not have any searches in the ed-tech space. This trend has evolved only in the past six months,” said Sunil Goel, managing director, GlobalHunt, who has about six such mandates in hand. “The education ecommerce model is still evolving in India and with spread of Internet and mobility to newer regions, these companies would only expand further,” said Goel. In the past five months, Kalaari, Helion and Mayfield-funded Simplilearn have made a couple of hires at the top deck. These include Aashish Shhetty, who earlier was with American Express (director-commercial cards, India), is now a senior director-business at Simplilearn; Karthik Kailash, who was earlier working with Standard Chartered, has been hired as vice president, revenue.
“As we are growing in size, the need for new roles and profiles is being seen. We are also looking for people to head technology, HR and marketing divisions,” said Krishna Kumar, CEO, Simplilearn. Almost all recent CXO hires in the company are close to Rs 1crore, including ESOPs.
Ronnie Screwvala’s venture Up-Grad has hired four such employees with over `50 lakh-plus packages and is looking to close two more such positions soon. Another ed-tech startup, Emeritus, has recently closed three hires at the CXO level, of which are the heads for online business and finance, each. “The packages offered to the recent hires vary from Rs 80 lakh to Rs 1 crore in cash, compared to a similar role in traditional education company that would fetch a lower compensation of Rs 40-50 lakh,” said its co-founder, Ashwin Damera.
He said that the ed-tech space is starting to scale up; it was mostly coaching and test prep about five years ago. “We can afford to bring in more senior level people, there’s a lot of money to spend,” said Damera, adding that he is also looking out for a head of products.
Toppr recently hired Prabhdeep Bedi from the US (McKinsey) as senior vice president, sales and marketing; Niranjan Chavan as head finance from Canada (Compass Group); and Sudeep Mitra as vice president (HR) with over 20 years of experience at companies including Hummer, Reliance, Tata, Airtel and IBM.
“All these three hires have taken place in the past one year. These are heavy lift hires for us and we need a few more as our business is scaling up,” said Zishaan Hayath, chief executive officer at Toppr.
BTI Consultants is currently working on two mandates for ed-tech firms, both with packages ranging from Rs 80 lakh to Rs 1.2 crore (including variables), said its managing director James Agrawal.
Imarticus is looking for three product managers, it already has two in place. “There aren’t a lot of product people we can take from our competitors. From a technology perspective, our need is replicated here like the FMCG firms,” said its MD, Nikhil Barshikar.
Imarticus is offering Rs 50-60 lakh to senior talent leading business development, product development and technology functions with a top-up of stock options. Currently, the firm is 160-people strong and is looking to add close to a 100 people by next year. “We want to increase from nine CXO level posts to 14-15 people in the next year (or add 6-7 people),” said Barshikar.
UpGrad spends upwards of 30-35% more than traditional companies and its people cost is about 50% of the total company’s expenditure. The company is actively hiring across levels and is targeting to add 150 employees in the next 18 months, said its CEO, Mayank Kumar.
According to Google and KPMG report, Online Education in India: 2021, India’s online education market is set to grow to $1.96 billion by 2021 with around 9.6 million users from $247 million and around 1.6 million users in 2016.