Regional HR Director,
What do you look for in young leaders? I am strong believer of passion and that is the starting point for me when I scout for young leaders. After passion comes the ability to learn fast and quick. In today’s world, you are in a permanent state of ‘beta’ as things around you change at rapid speeds. This means that you need to have the ability to ‘unlearn’ and ‘relearn’ things even faster. Hence I look for passion and the ability to learn fast and quick in young leaders. The other trait I look for is the ability to empathize and connect with others on an emotional level. I believe this particular relationship skill should be cultivated.
What are the three top HR priorities on your plate right now? Not in order of priority, the top three things that I focus on now is:
- Building HR credibility – Often HR takes a beating in situations where employee and employer expectations turn out to be completely different from what HR has been communicating when in reality, it could be due to other reasons. It is important to identify the causes and work on them using a top-down approach to make sure all business requirements across the organization are aligned.
- Sustainable growth – Very often, organizations get overly hyped up about their own growth story and start a hiring spree. Unfortunately, economic realities take a toll after some time, leading to restructuring and other employee reduction exercises. As an HR leader, I try to see how the organization can be more responsible towards employees and be more pragmatic and frugal in hiring so that when tough times come, we are not caught in a bad situation.
- Leadership Development: This is an important area especially in emerging markets as we are focusing on developing more local leaders for the future.
What is the best way to reward employees?
This is very contextual azs there is no one way of rewarding employees across the board. What is required is to create a total reward system, which combines career development, growth, recognition and pay. The mix can vary and be tailored according to the business units and each individual’s job level.
Which great leader do you admire and why?
Gandhi – for his unwavering commitment and humility. I believe that leaders need to realize that as one becomes powerful, he or she needs to be even more humble, and displays an emotional connection with people.
Is a leader born or nurtured?
This is a tough question and there is a huge amount of research on this topic that supports both views. I believe it is a mix of both. You can have innate leadership qualities that are dormant for years but at the appropriate time and situation, these qualities take center-stage and you eventually evolve to become a leader.
How do you upgrade yourself for your career progression?
I am a strong believer of continuous education. It does not necessarily mean you need formal degrees but you should find ways to tap on various means of learning through formal and informal methods. I use the web as a great source of my learning. Also, it is important for one to keep abreast of what is happening beyond his or her own area of specialization.