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Chief HR officer roles in India Inc see highest churn

Bengaluru: One in every 10 CXOs switched at least one job in the year ending June - but some corner office roles saw more action than the rest, found an analysis of 37,000 C-suite movements by specialist staffing firm Xpheno for ET.

Chief human resources officer ( CHRO) roles saw the highest churn of 20% across India Inc, with one in every five changing jobs in the 12-month period, followed by chief sales officers (CSOs), and chief product officers (CPOs) with turnover rates of 18% and 15%, respectively, the analysis revealed. "The churn at the top remained significant despite the low-to-moderate hiring activity in the market and headcount degrowth by bellwethers in key talent sectors," said Siddharth Verma, business head - executive search at Xpheno.

"These CXO movements, driven by reasons ranging from vertical and horizontal movements to IPO plans to expansion in certain sectors, and derisking, are a sign of a larger positive outlook for the coming quarters. Besides a lateral exchange of talent between sectors, there were also significant movements triggered by greenfield and global capability centres (GCC)' expansion," Verma added.

The data covered movements over the last year in India's active CXO talent pool with a minimum experience of 10 years, tracking published news, enterprise announcements and LinkedIn movements. This cohort of 37,000 professionals grew 5% over the year, with vertical movements of about 2,000 senior executives elevating them into the CXO pool.

On a volume basis, COO (chief operating officer) movements accounted for 31% of the churn, followed by CTO/CIO (chief technology officer/chief information officer) at 24% and CFOs (chief financial officers) at 21%.

“Some of the key functions like HR, finance, sales and operations are witnessing a churn and the quantum of movements are indicative of enterprises reconfiguring leadership at one level, and onboarding talent for new challenges of recovery expected to set in later this fiscal,” said Verma.

It is becoming very clear as to where the pulls and pushes affect an organisation, said SV Nathan, CEO of HR consulting firm Visara Partners. “The role of the COO, which was the most understated, is coming to the fore, as also the CHRO. In these tough times, the COO plays the role of a tight governor and the CHRO that of a diviner. The CFO who was once a gatekeeper of funds and accounting is now playing a strategic role, be it in M&A, corporate finance, investment management and more.”

According to Nathan, stakeholders are getting impatient and that is the root of many exits. “The stakeholders are impatient and believe that a bit of change at the CXO level could help. But it is disruptive, and very distracting. Any CXO attrition takes at least eight months to settle down and that is a long time.”

The sectoral mix
According to the Xpheno analysis, the top three sectors by CXO volume are IT, BFSI and manufacturing, which account for two-third of the active CXO talent pool.

The technology sector, accounting for one-third of the total CXO pool, recorded an 8% churn with 1,000 out of 12,500+ CXOs switching jobs at least once during the 12-month period. Within the IT sector, CTO/CIO movements were the highest, accounting for 43% of all CXO movements, while COO movements made up 25%.

The BFSI Sector, which makes up 11% of the total CXO pool, saw a 10% churn with 410+ CXOs switching jobs at least once during the 12-month period. Within the BFSI sector, CTO/CIO movements were the highest --30% of all CXO movements -- followed by CFO movements with 25%.

The manufacturing sector, accounting for 20% of the total CXO pool, recorded a 9% churn with 650+ CXOs switching jobs at least once during the 12-month period. Within the manufacturing sector, CFO movements were the highest, accounting for a third of all CXO movements.