India: Riding the Backwards Brain Drain

Last Updated Jan 27, 2010 1:40 PM EST

In India, a reverse migration of sorts is taking place. Engineers and scientists from the West are now heading to the subcontinent to work in that land’s expanding job market. Fueling the migration: India’s booming tech and telecom sectors and the slowdown in the States.

Check it out yourself. Monster.com has page after page of jobs listings advertising high-paying tech positions in India’s biggest cities. In Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi, companies are hiring for positions ranging from software engineers to Web designers to auditors for pharmaceutical companies.

And if you have management experience, you’ll land a job fast and get well compensated. Roughly one in four expats in India earns more than $250,000, according to HSBC’s 2009 Expat Explorer survey. The cost of living, meantime, is among the lowest of all the countries surveyed.

“Its enormity and relative lack of educational and professional infrastructure has made India a hot spot for management professionals,” says Mary Anne Thompson, founder and president of Going Global.

Dave Prager, 32, and his wife, Jenny Steeves, 31, made the move from Brooklyn to

Gurgaon in 2007. The couple was after an adventure, and Prager lined up a management-level job in the Delhi office of ad agency Wunderman, where he works on technology accounts. Steeves sought and found work at another ad agency after they arrived.

The appeal was instant, says Prager. “Unlike most people in the world, Indians love Americans,” he wrote in a recent entry on the couple’s blog, “Our Delhi Struggle.”

“If you want something like this to happen, you have to make it happen,” he said in an e-mail interview, adding that the entire process can be complex and bureaucratic, requiring “constant pushing and more than a few leaps of faith.”

For persevering, though, Prager got to leap forward in his career. “It’s allowed me to jump a few rungs on the ladder very quickly,” he said. “I think it would have taken me another four or five years in the U.S. to assume the leadership position I have in Delhi.”

Oh, it’s also led to an unexpected career twist. The couple inked a deal with Harper Collins India to co-write a book based on their blog, in which they chronicle the “fun and insanity of living in India.” It’s due out next spring.

That’s something you can’t pull off staying at home.


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  • Tim Gray

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