Reliance, Tata, Maruti & others rally veterans to now defend the giants’ next growth phase, ETCFO


An increasing number of large conglomerates and top companies in India are tapping the talent pool of ex-service personnel as they embark upon the next phase of growth.

Reliance Industries hired nearly 2,000 ex-service personnel in FY24, up by a third in one year. At 7,500, it employs the largest number of former defence forces personnel in any Indian company. According to industry sources, several Tata Group companies, automakers such as Maruti Suzuki, and others like the Adani Group, RPG Group, Vedanta, Sodexo and state-run ONGC hire ex-service personnel.

Such employees not only bring unique value through their high level of fitness and discipline, but also execution rigour and crisis management skills, and fortitude to serve in difficult areas and terrains, said a Reliance executive. They also bring an ability to perform in a volatile and uncertain environment, he added.

In FY24, natural resources group Vedanta launched a structured initiative to onboard ex-defence service veterans, instead of the earlier practice of hiring them on a need basis, chief HR officer Madhu Srivastava said. An estimated 55,000-60,000 personnel retire every year from the three services: army, navy and air force. Also, many officers who are superseded when they are 50 plus quit the forces, with a large majority moving to the corporate sector.

“The armed forces have a very steep pyramid and about 30% officers in each rank get superseded and many quit. Large Indian corporates, the likes of Reliance, Adani, L&T, Tatas, hire them in functions such as HR, admin, supply chain, strategy roles, among others,” said Commodore Sudheer Parakala, chief mentor and past president of the Tri-services Ex-servicemen Welfare Association. Of the Asoldiers who retire every year, officers number 1,200-1,300, or around 2%, and the rest are junior commissioned officers and other ranks, he said. Tapping the pool of veterans not only adds to the diversity of the workforce but also helps meet shortage of skills in certain areas, company executives said.

“Ex-servicemen carry several unique skills during their years of work in our defence organisation. Also, they develop very unique capabilities in terms of their approach to problem solving, working in teams, managing multiple stakeholders and project management,” said Aditya Narayan Mishra, chief executive of Ciel HR, which has placed many ex-service personnel with large Indian companies. “We see large employers such as the Tata Group, Aditya Birla Group, Reliance, L&T, Vedanta Group, among others, recruiting such talent from time to time.”

Army veterans are also appointed in logistics, ecommerce, and warehouse industries as they excel in managing crises and their ability to execute is seen to be very high. Sectors such as automobile, manufacturing, power, telecom, logistics and warehouse, are among the ones that appoint defence veterans in areas of engineering, machining, administration, among others.

Sodexo, the world’s largest food and facility management company, hires professionals with armed forces background – many of whom are in leadership roles, spearheading profit centres and as heads at supervisory level.

  • Published On Jul 10, 2024 at 09:38 AM IST

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