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Breaking Tradition, Harvard Business Review Launches Country-Specific Resource for India’s Youth

The publishers of Harvard Busines Review recently launched an India-specific digital resource aimed at improving the employability of young professionals.

H Harvard Business Review is usually associated with global content for senior management and executives but a new initiative launched by Harvard Business Publishing (HBP) aims to change that, at least for Indians.

HBP India rolled out a digital resource called HBR Ascend recently, which provides material on everything from how to ace presentations to how to manage one’s career. HBP is the publisher of the prestigious Harvard Business Review.

A screen shot of the HBR Ascend web page.
A screen shot of the HBR Ascend web page.

“This is the first time that HBR is developing an offering primarily for early career professionals, anywhere in the world,” says Vivek Chachra, Country Manager at Harvard Business Publishing India. “This is also the first time that HBP is developing a product specifically contextualized to a particular market, that is, India.”

The aim of the program is to improve the employability of Indian youth.

This kind of skill development is usually targeted at middle and senior-level professionals but HBP India is wooing youngsters with anywhere from 0-7 years of experience, including final year college students and first-time managers.

Experts often express concern about the ability of Indian youth to take full part in the economy and the lack of industry-oriented education. Getting a job in India today requires more than rote learning and writing exams. A 2016 report by a Delhi-based consultancy found that less than 10% of all engineering graduates are employable.

This is especially a handicap for young professionals who may have the technical skills but do not have the soft skills that can help them navigate the workspace and their careers.

“HBP’s team works with the leading companies in India,” Chachra points out. “During our discussions with Chief HR Officers and leadership teams, we constantly hear about the challenges they face with the quality of talent at the entry level.” This is not just an issue with hiring but it also means that companies have to invest a lot of resources in preparing new recruits for their roles.

The content available on HBR Ascend is structured around six themes – Managing your Career, Managing your Work, Managing People, Working with Others, Thinking like a Leader, and Communicating.

The content is updated on a regular basis and is customized to suit the needs of ordinary professionals. Much of the Harvard Business Review material is focused on the US and caters to a foreign audience but will be tailored to take into account the cultural sensibilities in India.

HBP India was launched in 2009 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Massachusetts-based publisher, Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. The HBS publishing group produces content for students, academics and professionals. It manages the South Asia edition of HBR, sales and distribution of Harvard Business Press books and collaborates with top business schools in India to provide academic content and corporates on leadership development.

The content available on HBR Ascend includes contributions from Harvard Business Review authors, many of whom are Harvard Business School professors. Prof. Das Narayandas, Senior Associate Dean at Harvard Business Publishing, has been actively supporting the endeavour.

Earlier this year, Ray Carvey, Executive Vice-President of Corporate Learning at Harvard Business Publishing, spoke to The Hindu about why they launched their first international subsidiary in India and how they saw the corporate learning business as the biggest growth area.

“HBR itself is going through a strategic shift with a digital first strategy, which, in turn, will help us bring much appeal and access to younger audiences as well,” Mr. Carvey said.

It is not surprising that India has become the focus of HBP’s efforts. India has the biggest and fastest-growing base of internet users. A large number of the users access the internet on their phones and mobile connectivity has expanded exponentially in the past few decades.

Being a digital-only resource, HBR Ascend is trying to cash in on the internet boom in India, especially the fast pace of adoption among enterprising youth. The subscription to HBR Ascend will remain free of charge for a limited period.

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