How do you look back at the professional journey that you have traversed thus far? Please share some of the enriching experiences that you have come across.
I am extremely content with the career progression that I have achieved so far, and, each step has been an enriching experience in itself. I believe that I have been lucky to have served in companies across various sectors spanning B2B, FMCG, consumer services and now enterprise services. My latest and longest stint has been with Intelenet, which has truly been an overwhelming journey. Each day has been a value addition. I draw comfort from the fact that in my career, I could manage the transition from the profile of an account manager to being the HR Head of an organisation with a 55,000 strong workforce.
Within Intelenet, some of the enriching experiences that come to my mind include the first management buyout that happened in 2007. The change in management which brought about the need to embrace a new working culture and an environment, and, being able to take the entire organisation through it without any hiccups stands out as a noteworthy achievement. The Serco buyout in 2011 was an experience that was similarly enriching. Intelenet has always believed in enriching engagement and powering innovation through transformation in this fast-paced and ever-changing ecosystem. It is essential to bring to the table the flexibility to adapt to the changing times.
Today, the needs of the business have evolved, and, with it the demands on the CHRO. Long established business models face disruption across sectors, forcing human resources leaders to focus much more on radically different talent needs, including elevating the employee experience and encouraging diversity and inclusion, while strengthening corporate cultures. It gives me great contentment and pleasure to contribute my part in building and sustaining a healthy and productive environment at Intelenet.
How has working across industries made your professional journey more interesting?
I have had the privilege to work with people from different backgrounds and with those from various sectors. Hailing from a background in finance, I have now scaled and progressed to own up leadership responsibilities in a company that is in the enterprise services sector. I have worked with Fibre Glass Pilkington, Wipro Consumer Products Ltd. and BPL Mobile Communications Private Ltd. Working across such diverse sectors provided me with the opportunity to work with some very talented individuals and inculcate new learning that enabled me to re-imagine HR, talent, and organisational practices.
How different have the two experiences been for you- setting up HR from the scratch in an organisation to managing well-established HR frameworks?
It is always a pleasant journey when you start something at a greenfield stage, and witness it continually growing from there. Fifteen years ago, when I joined Intelenet, we were just about 100 of us who counted as the total headcount of the company. Today, we are a 55,000 strong unit with over 70 global delivery centres with presence in eight countries. The major difference that I recognize in setting up HR from scratch to managing a global company now is the manner in which communications are tailored for the people. With a 55,000 strong workforce, the ongoing challenge is to consistently ensure a mechanism for two-way information exchange and seamless integration across the organisation. Thus, tailored communications that align with individual thinking styles is always a critical element in consideration.
Having been long associated with the sector, what is your understanding of the business, and, how big a role does HR play in this sector? Were there any sector specific challenges and opportunities experienced by you?
HR as a domain has assumed importance like never before. From an earlier scenario, where it was mainly perceived as a support function, in the present-day business ecosystem, HR is an integral part of any decision making related to core business. In a services sector such as the one in which we operate, our core assets are our workforce and related expertise, as well as capabilities. Such collective synergies and capabilities have the potential to create a sustainable competitive advantage. Thus, HR is at the heart of this focus in a highly competitive environment.
The Indian BPO industry has evolved from basic process outsourcing to higher-end service delivery to selling Business Process as a Service (BPaaS) to its clients. Once synonymous with being termed as call centres, the BPO industry has now evolved to reflect mature market offerings which offer end-to-end view of the processes and work on improving productivity, by providing efficiency gains through robotics, automation, analytics, artificial intelligence, and digitisation.
The challenge always is to keep pace with the rapidly changing business dynamics, and, one way to address is to continuously retrospect and analyse. The opportunity to succeed through all this is in the form of growth of the organisation, and, the opportunity to engage with talent from varied industries and backgrounds adds up to the overall experience in a very positive way.
Furthermore, for the BPM sector, managing attrition and allocating resources to reduce the overall cost for the company were the other two major challenges experienced by me. The opportunities were in finding the right kind of talent to work with us. For instance, in the banking sectors, we had a few bankers working with us. For the healthcare sectors, we were able to source expert doctors and medical practitioners.
Who have been your figures of inspiration during the professional journey? What are some of the values and ideologies with regards to which you think, leaders should definitely walk the talk to win stakeholder confidence?
Mr. Susir Kumar, the Chairman of Intelenet Global Services has been a strong inspirational figure all through my professional journey. With regards to the values and ideologies that leaders should have for winning stakeholder confidence - a strong belief in people and a strong belief in the fact that if you treat your employees well, the output is going to be a subset of that stand as definite winners. A company that treats its employees well is certain to do well and is mutually beneficial.
“Best HR practices are built on a futuristic vision.” What are your views on the same and how have you practiced this during your stint with various organisations?
Yes. HR practices are designed keeping in mind the long-term outlook for the company, but what is more important is the alignment of people with the business objectives, and, HR being a part of that should not be seen as just a support function. HR should be considered as a critical business function.
A testimony towards this are two occasions when we at Intelenet Global Services witnessed a change in management. On both the occasions, after the M&A, the onus was on HR to scale through the mammoth challenge and rise to the occasion of ensuring seamless change.
As part of the Intelenet family, what will be your focus for 2018? What organisational goals have been set by you?
In 2018, we plan to take a twin-pronged approach to our transformation to embark on a digital journey. The Intelenet family as an organisation has a goal to further encourage and empower its employees with continuous improvement initiatives and reskilling training. We also have a few big scale initiatives that we plan to launch soon. These programmes will run as structured and closely monitored programmes. Digital skilling of our human assets is another area of high focus.
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