'India, Inc today needs HR specialists with domain specialization'

DQI Bureau
New Update

Hema Ravichander is one of the most dynamic HR heads the IT

industry has ever had. She pioneered some of the most innovative practices in

the industry as the head of HR at Infosys. Today, in a more strategic role in

the industry, post her stint at Infosys, Ravinchander provides advisory services

to clients pan industry. Speaking to Srinivas R of CyberMedia News, she

explains the need for HR heads with domain knowledge and how HR has the power to

create brand building for the employer


You said recently that companies need to enhance HR

effectiveness through recruiting, retaining and leveraging talent. Could you

elaborate on this?

Human capital strategy of an organization is a key differentiator in
corporate success. As organizations battle the challenges of intense global

competition, rapid technological change and a changing demographic base, it is

critical that they have in their armory a sound human capital strategy that

creates global learning, and a stakeholder focused empowered workforce. This is

impossible without the design and deployment of an HR strategy that ensures the

right talent is acquired, retained and, most importantly, leveraged.

Additionally, HR strategies must 'future-proof' organizations by helping

them manage risk, execution, diversity and scale. When this happens, HR's role

will be truly appreciated and become a key USP for the organization.


What kind of domain specialization are you referring to when you

say 'India, Inc today needs HR specialists with domain specialization'?

India, Inc is facing a huge paucity of professionals trained in the concepts
and practice of the HR profession. The number of professionals graduating from

the leading management schools in the country has remained almost stagnant over

the last two decades. A number of tier-2 and tier-3 MBA schools have mushroomed

in the country but even there, the focus on key domain HR skills in the

curriculum is weak. Faced with this paucity, a large number of generalists have

migrated into the HR profession especially in the junior and mid level roles.

There is no harm in this per se. But no focused efforts are made by

organizations to train such profiles in HR theory. More often, they are forced

to become 'administrative handmaidens' to HR processes, which they do not

understand. Such professionals, when they get promoted to more senior roles, are

unable to effectively partner with their internal customers, challenge them

where appropriate and truly bring added value to the executive roundtable. This

is the HR domain specialization that I believe India, Inc needs today.

Do you think the role of HR head is changing with the changing

business requirements?

Demanding customers, impeccable quality and crunched timelines are key
business factors for organizations today. HR has to help create an innovative,

nimble and, most importantly, a networked organization. This means, of course,

understanding the business and, ultimately, the customer thoroughly, and then

shaping and driving HR policy to meet the business and customer needs. During

the customer acquisition phase, especially in the services and knowledge-based

industries, the HR head must be an integral part of the customer presentation

and business model discussions. She or he must be a Change Agent, with maniacal

focus on execution excellence and in ensuring that HR policies meet the acid

test of balancing stakeholder interests. And finally, to help create a truly

high performance work ethic in the organization, the HR leader has to focus on

not just creating an organization that is a best employer for all employees, but

a better employer for better performers.


What exactly you mean by employer branding?

Employer branding involves managing and communicating the image and the
unique employment proposition of the organization to prospective hires, current

employees and society at large. The employer brand helps differentiate

organizations from their competitors by creating a distinct image of the total

employment relationship and clearly delineating the Employment Value Proposition

the organization offers to the defined stakeholders. In today's cluttered

marketplace, the employer brand is a very valuable tool in brand recognition,

talent attraction and increased employee ties. While defining and promoting an

employer brand, organizations must, however, take great care to ensure that the

internal perception of the employee stakeholder is clearly aligned and in

synchronization with the same. If not, such an exercise can actually be more

detrimental to the organization.

The HR

person must be a Change Agent, with maniacal focus on execution excellence

and in ensuring that HR policies meet the acid test of balancing

stakeholder interests

Don't you think it becomes difficult for a large organization

to find the right talent, when it's hiring thousands of employees?

Managing scale is a challenge most growing IT and ITeS organizations are
today faced with. Yes, it is difficult to ensure quality in hiring and intense

employee engagement when the numbers are of this scale. However, organizations

with a mature HR mindset invest early in creating a competency based recruitment

process which identifies the core competencies each role requires and then

targets selection methodology to identify these competencies.

In addition, the IT industry is widening the talent pool

continuously through innovative resource scouting to meets its aggressive hiring

targets. Remember the top 7 IT service organizations in this country will hire

close to 150,000 new hires this fiscal, taking away a significant chunk of the

graduating class. This poses a tremendous challenge to the availability of

suitable engineers across other sectors. This is where the crunch really comes.

Add to that, the consistent feedback from concerned stakeholders that the

graduating engineer pool is not as high on employment suitability as some of

their peers in other parts of the world, and the challenge increases.

Organizational interventions and investments in training, re-training and skill

building becomes an imperative.