Expats working in Chennai will be based in one of the world’s technological centers. Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu, the state whose industrial output forms the third largest contribution to the Indian national GDP. Chennai is home to various large-scale Indian companies, as well as numerous international ones. These numbers are likely to expand as Chennai holds 101st place out of the 120 cities featured in the 2025 City Competitiveness Index (the Economist).
Chennai has a fairly diverse urban economy. Its main sectors are the software- and financial services, the automobile- and healthcare industries, as well as hardware manufacturing. The Tidel Park — Asia’s largest IT Park — is also an important source of revenue for plenty of people in Chennai.
As if this wasn’t enough, Chennai also contributes a considerable percentage of India’s leather export, with the local apparel and accessories industries. Last but not least, it is home to the Tamil film industry, known as “Kollywood” due to its main location in the Kodambakkam neighborhood. To promote this industry, Chennai hosts an annual international film festival. If you are interested in Tamil film productions, you might want to try popular movies like Kannathil Muthamittal (2002), which was India’s official entry at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004.
About a third of India’s entire automotive industry is based in or around Chennai. It is therefore not surprising that plenty of international automobile companies have manufacturing plants in the city. Hyundai, Renault, Ford, BMW, and Mitsubishi are just a couple.
Chennai’s manufacturing sector also produces vehicles for the Indian Army — at the Heavy Vehicles Factory — and passenger coaches for Indian Railways. These factories provide employment for numerous people in Chennai.
International software companies have established themselves in Tidel Park and in the “IT corridor” along Old Mahabalipuram Road. For some of these businesses, Chennai is their largest base in India. Regarding its contribution to India’s IT sector in general, the city is second only to Bangalore. ICT companies are the main generators of high-skill jobs, and are the reason why many expats end up working in Chennai.
Chennai has its own computerized stock exchange (the Madras Stock Exchange) and hosts an impressive amount of world banks, including Standard Chartered Bank, Bank of America, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, ING Group, and Allianz. There are therefore plenty of expats working in Chennai’s banking industry.
Chennai’s port, which handles mostly industrial cargo, plays a vital role in India’s international trade. There are thousands of people working in Chennai who are involved in the thriving economy of the port area.
In 2014–2015 the port of Chennai had 1.55 million TEUs in terms of containers passing through it, which is more than a five percent increase from the previous year. Chennai also has a second satellite port — Egmore Port — which mainly ships cargo like coal, iron ore, and petroleum.
The variety of sectors described above increases the chance that expats in Chennai can find a job tailored to their own individual skill set. As there are so many international companies here, expats are usually sent to Chennai on foreign assignments in the Indian branch of a multi-national business.
However, if you do not have a job when planning your move, you can try India’s main job website, 123oye.com. Otherwise, major international job search engines like Monster and NaukriHub also cover the Chennai job market.
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