Prioritising Human Touch

Q. Was opting HR as your career a conscious choice or accident? Please share how and why you took this decision.

A. Not many people know that getting into a HR field was actually an accident rather than a conscious decision. I started my career as a public relations (PR) professional. It is when I joined an organisation with the same department, I realised my people skills are very good. I had immediate connect with people and could develop good relationships with my colleagues and the external world.  With communication being my forte, I felt if I choose a career in HR, it will provide me with a broader avenue because of its people connect. That is how I decided to enter this arena. I feel, this is one of the best decisions of my professional life, and do not regret spending 20 years of my life in HR.

Q. With nearly two decades in HR, how would you define effective people management strategy?

A. I feel  people management strategy has to be very close to the organisation’s strategy. Every company has a strategy in place that is the best
for them. But as far as people management strategy is concerned, lot of things work together to make it effective. To me, an organisation that connects with people competently has the best strategy as it knows what its employees are thinking, and what it is doing for them. Secondly, a trusting and transparent culture of the company is another positive point the top management should give importance to. A good working environment further helps in strengthening relations with employees. In addition to  progressive work practices and strong leadership, effectively  dealing with stress-related issues scores high in people management. All these policies work in coordination with each other, creating an effective plan for people management. Here, customisation is the key word, in terms of what you feel your employees will think and do. It will emerge as the strongest strategy for any organisation.

Q. Tell us about the two HR practices of Zydus Cadila that have made an impact on the organisation.

A. Over the years, Cadila has numerous good practices that we have inculcated in our system. Our HR motto is ‘we build people to build our business’. Our organisation has grown along with our employees. One of our initiatives has been to empower our people. Entrepreneurship is one of the leadership competencies that we promote in our company to encourage more and more entrepreneurs. Trust and support, which our people receive from the senior leadership, have contributed to our success. For continuous learning and development, we provide numerous opportunities to sharpen their skills through our tie-ups with the leading business schools, like IIM-A and ISB.

 

22 (1)Q. What are your key concern areas while managing a nearly 17,000-strong workforce at your organisation?

A. We have grown both in terms of business turnover and employee strength.  Managing diversity is one of our key concern areas at Zydus. As we have grown, we have added new markets, countries and cultures to our portfolio. Understanding their languages and cultures is important as not every country is an English-speaking country where you can connect with the population. Until and unless you speak to them directly, it always remains a challenge for the HR department. It is difficult for them as well to accept that an Indian organisation has grown beyond its boundaries and crossed a billion-dollar mark. So, managing this diverse workforce is the one of the key challenges that my team and I faced. Another concern is to manage key aspirations in today’s times. Our organisation has a mix of different generations, which have different objectives and aspirations.

Q. Today, freshers/trainees get the best options and the finest workplace at their disposal. How can they make the best use of the opportunities available to them?

A. We did not receive the opportunities, which today’s generation get. With ample opportunities around, they should use it by learning as much as possible. One big thing that I feel they need to learn is to be patient because new entrants of different industries are always in hurry. They are in hurry to climb ladders, make more money, receive wider platter of responsibilities, and so on. It emerges as a challenge for them to understand an organisation’s culture and adapt themselves to it by giving it their best.

Q. How would you rate the importance of emotions at a workplace? How have you seen emotions evolving at the office amid different generations?

A. If you have people, you are dealing with emotions. You can not cut that cord and connection. On a personal note, I am a rational and practical human being. But no one can deny that emotions play a very important role in an organisation. At a workplace, you can not detach yourself from emotions. Emotions play a different role in different generations because mentoring and reverse mentoring happen differently among them. But emotions should not be overplayed. Sometimes, heated conversations occur between a supervisor and subordinate. Be present at that time, but do not think too much about it and grow over it.

 

23 (1)Q. Having won the ‘Woman Super Achiever Award’, what is your take on the women leadership in India Inc.?

A. I feel, women leadership still has to cover a long way to leave a lasting impression on the world map. We are lucky to have some prominent women entrepreneurs in the country who have created a niche for themselves globally. I am sure, it has not been easy for them. Though we are as efficient as our male counterparts, women have to work twice harder than men to prove their worth. With more and more opportunities in multifarious fields coming their way, many mentors and organisations are supporting and encouraging them to progress, opening new doors of growth. If you see the ratios, success rate is still not very high. But, I am optimistic about the future and feel these facts and figures will change. After a decade probably, we will be looking at different ratios.

Q. How can HR leaders project and promote women as leaders within the organisation?

A. Today, many organisations have numerous women-friendly systems and policies in place. In terms of support, it is coming into vogue. We need more and more women leaders supporting women, facilitating more areas of growth for them. I feel, the opportunities in an organisation that are provided irrespective of the gender are very essential. Give them equal opportunities and chances. When a woman is promoted, it is considered she is lucky to receive that chance, ignoring her hard work. Whatever efforts a man puts in, a woman gives her equally best to her company. The support that an organisation provides to the women workforce will be influential in improving the situation in the long run.