Skills that are intrinsic to armed forces officers such as leadership, teamwork, integrity, risk management and problem-solving are prized by companies including Flipkart, Vedanta, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, GE Aerospace, Marsh McLennan Global Capability Centre and Optum, as is their ability to navigate complexity and uncertainty.
Overall numbers are small but growing rapidly, said industry executives.
In 2023, Flipkart hired 56 people under its veteran hiring programme, while IBM signed a memorandum of understanding with the Directorate General Resettlement (DGR) to engage ex-servicemen and facilitate their integration into the civilian workforce. JP Morgan Chase hires ex-servicemen for roles in operations, technology, business management and administration.
Vedanta launched the Ex-Defence Service Veterans Hiring project to onboard defence professionals for large projects.
“We wanted to hire them in frontline, decision-making roles of project, O&M (operations and maintenance), commercial, supply chain, etc., apart from the conventional roles of security and administration,” said Madhu Srivastava, chief human resources officer, Vedanta. “We believe that these veterans come with strong large-scale project execution skills which adds strength to our vision of growing into one of the world’s leading natural resources majors.”
Vedanta recently hired 15 veterans, including former Indian Air Force officer, squadron leader (retired) Anamika Jha, who is now the strategic business unit director of the Pantnagar metal plant, and lieutenant commander (retd.) Imtiaz Rowther, a former naval officer, who is now responsible for end-to-end contracting of heavy earth-moving machines.
The company is also running a Defence Leadership Workshop, aimed at elevating participants to significantly higher roles within six months.
According to the DGR website, about 60,000 service personnel are retired or released every year at a comparatively young age in order to maintain a youthful profile of the armed forces. Between April 2022 and March 2023, 24,234 ex-servicemen received employment in various sectors, said DGR, which assists them in acquiring additional skills and facilitating their resettlement through a second career.
Learning the corporate ropes
Helping veterans find the right fit is, however, sometimes a challenge, prompting companies to devise measures such as assigning a dedicated pre-joining buddy and facilitating skills development and interactions with senior management to assist them in transitioning to corporate life. Since launching FlipMarch, a programme that helps ex-service veterans discover new opportunities across corporate and supply chain roles, Flipkart now has about 200 veterans across corporate, supply chain operations and asset protection roles.
“Selected employees are provided with personalised induction, sensitisation and curated learning programmes to facilitate a seamless transition and help understand the complexities of corporate job responsibilities,” said Prajakta Kanaglekar, vice president, supply chain and customer experience, Flipkart.
JPMorgan Chase has been hiring veterans in its corporate centres in India. Last year, it signed an MoU with The Indian Naval Placement Agency to support veterans through in-house assimilation and training programmes.
“Veterans bring great value to the firm through their diverse set of experience, perspective and background,” said Deepak Mangla, CEO Corporate Centers, India and Philippines, JPMorgan Chase.
Jaspreet Singh Bakshi, HR leader, Marsh McLennan Global Capability Centre, India said the company aims to tap into the veteran talent pool that offers a wealth of expertise and a strong work ethic. Over the past few years, it has placed an emphasis on recruiting veterans through initiatives including veteran outreach programmes and tie-ups with management schools that are running veteran bridge programmes.
IBM is collaborating with DGR to tap into the talent pool of ex-servicemen for relevant job opportunities at the company as well as its affiliates.
At Optum Global Solutions (India), transitioning members from the armed forces is integral to its diversity focus. “We have a dedicated recruiting function to help ensure that all underrepresented groups – including members of the armed forces and veterans – are represented in candidate talent pools, selection process and interview panels,” said Amit Vaish, head-HR, Optum.
“The healthcare industry is dynamic, with challenges that require innovative solutions. It benefits immensely from the discipline, collaboration, leadership and adaptability that veterans bring to the table,” said Vaish.