India, now the world’s 5th largest economy is home to the third largest startup ecosystem in the world. But as the ecosystem charts an upward trajectory with a rising number of tech-driven product companies, it also exposes big gaps in the state of talent development in the country.
For one, while India Inc’s hunt for suitable employees is high – 48 percent of Indian employers are struggling to find the right candidates, most of these being in business roles.
Traditionally, B-Schools have helped professionals upskill and fill in this gap. However, given the rising fees and the cost of leaving one’s job, youngsters are left with the proposition of either making it to top B-Schools or figuring their way out on their own. Over the last decade, online degree programs offered a ray of hope, but they have failed to replicate the alumni networks of top offline programs.
These are the gaps Stoa seeks to address. Stoa, a leading alternative to an MBA, was started with the notion of helping young professionals build business skills and develop career clarity all while building out their network. Despite being an online program, their live case based pedagogy seems to be a hit among learners who spend their weekends working on startup business problems along with their peers.
At the end of the program, learners get a chance to earn the Stoa Charter – a certificate of competence for business and management talent. Charter members have access to a range of privileges and benefits like unlocking Stoa’s career services, exclusive events, earning opportunities and more.
As for career outcomes, the recently concluded career drive at Stoa saw candidates getting an average salary of INR 17LPA, with a median of INR 16LPA and a maximum of INR 40LPA.
The Stoa Program
The Stoa Program offers over 30+ learning sprints, which cover the core elements of business such as product, marketing, leadership, finance, analytics, and general management. Each sprint is a week long, and they are designed to help candidates learn skills that can be applied at work. These sprints are led by faculty from the industry, with industry insights, such as startup founders, investors and executives. Apart from this, candidates each have access to personal coaches and mentors.
Learners rave online about the community and networking aspect of the program – something that is rather unique among online-first programs in India.
Once candidates have cleared the program, they can enter Stoa’s exclusive professional club, Stoa Charter.
The Stoa Charter Impact
A candidate’s Charter entry depends on their performance in the Stoa Program, as well as a rigorous assessment. In the latter, they will be asked to present and defend a business plan based on problem statements furnished by startups. The aim is to give the candidate a glimpse of real business challenges and check their understanding of business fundamentals while testing their ability to solve problems across domains such as marketing, operations, product, finance and more. Candidates will be allowed admission into the charter only upon recommendation by a jury of external experts.
Through the Charter, Stoa aims to help recruiters cut through irrelevant CVs and only choose competent people who have demonstrated their abilities. On the side of the candidates, it helps them stand out in the job market with an industry-driven credential that vouches for its holder’s business impact.
The Charter is an elite club of India’s best marketers, product managers, business operators, founders, and people who work directly with them. Charterholders get access to Stoa’s career support services, where they take end-to-end responsibility of a candidate’s job transition and work directly with a team of 100+ corporate recruiting partners.
Charter-holders are fit for opportunities that are no less than those for management postgraduates or freshers from top-tier undergrad institutions who work in ‘Business Associate’ or ‘Management Trainee’ styled positions. That’s not all. Those who complete their Advanced Specialisation can take on some of the most coveted function specific roles such as leading teams and taking decisions.
Various candidates have experienced tremendous success with Stoa. Shraddha Joshi got her dream job along with a significant salary hike in a growth role, while alumni Shobhit Tyagi got 2x the salary plus equity stock options in a product role at a reputed company. Deepthi Murali who spent over a decade in Tech Consulting, made a move to a startup – Whatfix. Ankit Kokkeri, a freelancer, used the Stoa Charter as a launchpad to start his career as an APM at Crio.Do, which was amongst the top 5 companies on his wishlist.
Ridhwik Vinod, a former successful founder of an edtech company, capitalised on his entrepreneurial skills and hustling attitude to make a switch to Flexiple – a SaaS product company, and Athira Aravind made a switch from Audit to Brand Marketing by optimising her transferable skills.
The way forward
As India Inc. grows and scales, the need for competent employees is going to continue rising. Employers will seek out only those employees whose expertise are vouched for, and that’s what Stoa Charterholders will be. “We’re aiming for the Stoa Charter to be the way for professionals to demonstrate that they are as competent as a top tier MBA graduate. We look forward to bringing onboard 5,000 professionals to be charterholders in the next five years,” revealed Raj Kunkolienkar, Co-founder, Stoa.