Working in Mumbai

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Expats considering working in Mumbai can look forward to a city driven by growth. Mumbai generates around six percent of India’s GDP and accounts for around 40 percent of the country’s foreign trade. Being the commercial capital of India, Mumbai is the seat of some important financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India and the National Stock Exchange. Furthermore, many multinational corporations choose to base their Indian operations in Mumbai.

Job market in Mumbai

Working in IndiaMore and more international companies are choosing to start up operations in Mumbai and take advantage of an educated, English-speaking, cheap workforce. These companies often recruit expats to help train local Indian staff and share their knowledge and expertise with them. Naturally, such positions are temporary as the aim is eventually for the company to be run locally.

Indian-owned companies that are becoming dominant in the world economy also have an increasing need for representation and talent from abroad. As a result, there is a wave of entrepreneurial and highly skilled international workers migrating to the country’s financial centre.

Mumbai is the business capital of India, and along with the IT industry, a long list of economic sectors popular with international companies is continuously being added to. This is in addition to the city’s long history as a textile centre and massive trade axis. 

A huge healthcare sector in Mumbai not only caters for but also employs expats. Engineering and designing firms are increasingly working in tandem with firms from overseas or, because of cheaper labour costs and excellent education, taking jobs from them. Bollywood, the huge Indian film industry, is also based in Mumbai. Although not a large expat employer, it is a crucial part of the city’s industrial core. The service industry sector in Mumbai is growing rapidly to cater to the city which is becoming more affluent.

Expats are highly paid relative to local salaries, which is fortunate as the cost of living in Mumbai is on the rise. Benefit packages often include insurance, school tuition and, importantly, housing, either as an allowance or in actual accommodation. Other packages may include transportation and a driver.

Work culture in Mumbai

Despite the influence of international firms with their Western style of business, there are still notable differences between the work culture in Mumbai and elsewhere that expats would benefit from taking note of.

Competition for jobs in fierce among the locals working in Mumbai, resulting in longer working hours for many. Expats who come from countries where producing quality work rather than putting in numerous hours in the office is the norm may find this takes some time to adjust to.

Business structures in Mumbai remain hierarchical and are rooted in the traditional Hindu caste system. This may take some getting used to, especially from those who come from places where business is carried out in a more egalitarian way. Hierarchy influences how people at different levels of structure deal with one another. For example, in an office environment, menial tasks such as moving furniture is rarely done by office staff as Indian companies employ ‘runners’ for this type of work.

Forming solid relationships in the workplace will be central to an expat having a successful career in Mumbai. Expats should take the time to get to know their Indian colleagues and accept any invitation to join them for social occasions.

However, expats working in Mumbai will also need to learn to exercise patience when it comes to getting things done in the workplace. Indians will rarely say "no" to a request. Instead they are likely to respond by saying "I’ll see what I can do" or "let me double check this", even if they are fully aware they cannot realistically handle the request

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