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Fast Track Greets Indian Returnees

August 17, 2007
Related Topics: Career Development, Global Business Issues, Employee Career Development
A fter 13 YEARS in the U.S., Sai Chintala returned to Hyderabad in 2002 to the full embrace of his extended family in India and an opportunity to quickly move up the ladder at his employer, AppLabs, a software testing company with nearly 2,000 employees.

"The growth into management is much faster here," says Chintala, 41.

For expatriates, the opportunities in India are particularly abundant. With their technical, cultural and language skills sharpened by years in the American market, Indian repatriates are especially well qualified to bridge the gap between Indian and American workforces.

Chintala arrived in Beaumont, Texas, in 1989 with firm plans to return home after earning his master’s degree at Lamar University. But with his talents in high demand by U.S. employers, those plans were postponed for so long that Chintala and his fellow Indian expatriates developed a mathematical formula to joke about it—as only computer engineers could.

"We call it ‘X plus one,’ " he says. Meaning? "I’ll plan to go back next year."

Companies were less interested in his management ambitions, and eventually the draw of his large family at home coupled with the rich job opportunities of India’s booming economy were too good to pass up.

The move to India fueled Chintala’s upward journey into management. Five years after joining AppLabs, he is now vice president of technical services and is brushing up on his management skills with executive education courses taught by American professors who are "insourced" to India to teach engineers new to management.

At first, Chintala experienced reverse culture shock: crummy roads, pollution, nightmare traffic and an entrenched government bureaucracy. He discovered a different work culture in India, where office relationships are much closer and 16-hour days are typical.

When he first returned to India, he lived with his 25-person extended family in a three-story mansion resplendent with Indian marble and filled to capacity. Recently, he moved with his wife and children into an apartment nearby, and plans to build a new home on the city’s outskirts, near the office parks that have grown up along with Hyderabad’s high-tech boom.

"At the end of the day, I’m more calm, peaceful and happier than when I was in the U.S.," he says. "I always had a feeling I should return home."

Workforce Management, August 20, 2007, p. 30 -- Subscribe Now!

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