Ascent Transformational Series

The second installment of the Ascent Transformational Series was held at IFIM Business School on Saturday, 20th December 2014, Bangalore.

The event included three panels consisting of distinguished and accomplished professionals and academicians so as to bring academia and corporates on a single platform. The topics discussed included

1) Workplace 2020

2)The Diversity Dividend

3) The Talent Ceiling

Workplace 2020

Workplace 2020 was a panel discussion that threw light on the workplace of the future. The associated panel members included Mr Arindam Sen, VP- Employee Experience Domain at Schneider Electric, Mr Kamlesh Dangi, Chief People Officer at Religare, Mr Mahesh Guru, Vice President HR at IGATE Global Technologies, and Professor Anand Narasimha, Dean Academics at IFIM Business School.

The panel agreed that the main aspect that would change in workplace 2020 was eradication of monotonous practices in organisations. Mr Arindam Sen’s views on leave management were very strong. He pointed out that productivity is as important as social enablement. It is essential to eliminate hierarchy and bring about digitization of the workplace.

The next point discussed was millennials enjoying early leadership. Mr Kamlesh Dangi pointed out that in 2020; there will be a major challenge in the industry of ‘young’ leaders leading other youth. Leadership maturity is what the youth need to focus on since not only the workplace, but ‘work’ itself will change in 2020. Organisational structure will collapse and be flat instead of hierarchical. He also explained how in the future, the youth will have niche and specialized knowledge, and may be engaged in more than one workplace at a time.

Mr Mahesh Guru then lead the discussion into how technology in 2020 will make doing any work ‘faster, better and cheaper’. Practices like video conferences will become the norm, reducing the inconvenience

Professor Anand Narasimha brilliantly pointed out that 2020 will have a virtual workplace with digital natives. 62 – 65% of millennials have a ‘here and now’ culture. This new workforce will resist domination, and have a thorough concept of loyalty. Hence, it is essential to move towards digital migration and establish innovative terms of engagement. Work- Life balance has now become work – life flexibility.

In conclusion, when asked about the one major change they would like to see when they enter the workplace on 1st January 2020, the panellists gave  insightful answers. Professor Narasimha said it would be ‘flexibility’ – Log In to Office rather than Walk In to office. Mr Mahesh Guru stressed on ‘employee sustenance’. Mr Kamlesh Dangi said that workplace 2020 would demand’ productivity’ rather than hard work. At the same time, we must not lose out on our core competency. Mr Arindam Sen said a major change he would like to see is integration of all office technology into a ‘single multipurpose device’ to avoid clutter and provide seamless integration.

The Diversity Dividend

This panel discussion established how crucial it is to hire and capitalize on strengths of people from diverse backgrounds as this is the key to attain organisational excellence, higher productivity, and business results. A large talent pool lies vacant, which can be filled with people from varied nationalities, differently enabled people, members from LGBT community, returning mothers etc. The esteemed panel consisted of Mr N Balachandar , Group Director HR at CCD, Mr Pankaj Khanna , Vice President Revenue Assurance at Mindtree Limited, Mr Shakun Khanna, Country Manager at Right Management , and Professor Shaji Kurian from IFIM Business School.

The discussion opened with a look into why organisations are vary of hiring diverse people, especially women, even though a capitalist survey has shown that productivity doubles when you have women in the organisation. Mr Shakun Khanna said that middle management has only 33% of women, at the top level it is hardly 10 – 12 %, and at the board level, women may or may not be present at all. Organisations need to let go off cognitive biases, since women have fundamental natural expectations like pregnancy and motherhood. Intentional Inclusiveness gives rise to true diversity.

Mr N Balachandar remarked that a diverse workforce is of utmost importance since the customers themselves are heterogeneous and not homogenous. Diverse workforces enable us to be innovative and have intellectually conflicting debates since every person has a different experience. Our whole legal system is currently driving this.

Understanding and appreciating the diverse work ecosystem with a humane approach was what Mr Pankaj Khanna believed was important. Corruption starts with our own thinking since some people have biases towards other communities. Reservations are not just a ‘feel good’ factor, but a step taken so that there is diversity, and an opportunity for every community to be well represented in an organisation.

Professor Shaji Kurian said companies now a day look for only the ‘creamy layer’ with less concerns about real attitude. A dedicated employee from a marginalized community could give a much better output than an engineer from a top university who is uninterested in the job. It is the managers who will be future leaders who can actually make a difference by ensuring complete diversity and equivalent representation.

The Talent Ceiling

Using mundane and ancient techniques to hire people is being replaced by scientific, behavioral and practical ways. This panel discussed the possibility of Indian companies putting a cap on the quality of people they hire, just because they is an emergency to fill out positions. The honored panel consisted of Mr PBS Srinivas, Country HR Manger – Tech Support at HP India, Mr Jatinder Salwan, Senior Vice President at Societe Generale, Mr Sujitesh Dash, General Manager HR at Microland Limited, and Dr Sunil Parameswaran, Adjunct Faculty- Finance at IFIM Business School.

The discussion opened with Mr Srinivas explaining how they distinguish between just ‘good’ candidates, and those who are exceptional. Besides checking for only consistency in marks, they also use social media to judge a person, and new age hiring tools like LinkedIn. In talent acquisition, the world growth rate is 2%, while in India it is 39 %.

Every country needs to sustain their GDP, and will open gates for people across all nationalities. Mr Jatinder Salwan said that Hackathons have increased, and the recruitment process is changing when it comes to identifying talent. People now need to show their productivity and not just their degrees. There is no cap in talent as innovation and ‘different thinking’ is being encouraged.

Mr Sujitesh Dash threw light on the changing recruitment process, but was of a strong view that fundamentals of hiring don’t change. Although technology is an enabler and a helper, personal interviews are very important. Jobs which are transient or contractual actually helped improve retention.

Getting students ready with work skills and not just technical skills is vital according to Dr Sunil Parameswaran as this can make academia enable students to be job

Putting then bought puffiness slight shipping. A I’d  of and – this beats using and color.

ready. Interaction between students and the corp orate acts like a laboratory experiment as it helps them learn, first hand, the industry demands.

Mr PBS Srinivas spoke about how organisations actually look for talent. He agreed that basics won’t change, but social media has changed a lot, especially mobile technology. Besides social networking sites, they have receives referrals through SMS and Whatsapp. Social media and digitalization can build a whole brand. However, one needs to be careful in virtual hiring.

When asked about the one important thing that HR managers need to retain and search for the right talent, the panel had exceptional views. Mr Srinivas said it would be ‘retention’. Show employees their growth opportunities and stop lateral hierarchy. Mr Jatinder focused on ‘limited period work’ and the age where consultants have greater talent. Mr Sujitesh Das was of the opinion that there is a ‘build and buy’ morality. We are in the age of the instant. He then gave a unique example of how his company Microland provides insurance for even in-laws. Dr Sunil Parameswaran ended the discussion saying people constantly need to upgrade themselves. ‘Refresher programs’ need to be introduced and there should be re-skill collaborations between corporate organisations and academic institutes.The three panels were moderated by Mr Viren Naidu, National Editor for Times Ascent.