Soumyadipta Chakraborty | HRBP | Amazon
I was passionate about getting into the army in my younger days and had cracked the Service Selection Board interviews with a national merit rank. Leading an army unit is all about managing people and maintaining composure under stressful conditions. While I had to give up my army dreams due to a medical condition, it gave me a sense that I might be talented in working with people. This coupled with a call from XLRI Jamshedpur, arguably the best institute in the field of HRM prompted me to opt for HR as my career of choice.
However, what has kept me in HR is my passion to deliver results through people. I believe that organizations can win if they get their talent strategy right and I strive to get that done.
Points of differentiation
I think the one thing that differentiates me is my courage and willingness to take bold bets. My career is full of examples of taking up challenges which were deemed extremely difficult and then delivering on them. Be it delivering on a complex business reengineering project early on in my career, or making a laggard business unit the top most performer in talent acquisition nationally, or delivering a global technology product in the field of HR from India, I have been able to learn, unlearn, build relationships, manage stakeholders and hustle to get the job done. I think this helps me to be agile, and lead change initiatives and earn trust and respect of the business.
Biggest Talent Priority to solve
I would look at the priority in 2 parts: Outside HR and within HR. Outside HR, the biggest priority that I would like to solve for is the workforce diversity and inclusion. India ranks in the bottom 20 of a list of 130+ countries in terms of labor force participation. Supporting a technology business which requires employees with background in STEM, I have found that the representation of women is even poorer. Diversity of thoughts and perspectives within business contributes directly to the innovation quotient and hence long term profitability of the business. Therefore, increasing the diversity representation, not just of gender, but backgrounds, experiences, cultures is going to be my biggest priority.
Within HR, my observation has been that the desire to develop a keen understanding of the business in HR function has found expression through the movement of business leaders into HR leadership roles across many organizations globally. However, the opposite is yet to happen, partly owing to the fact that it becomes too late in the day for a leader to develop a keen understanding the business and then deliver at that level. It is therefore important to build that expertise from grassroots level. A good example can be extending the concept MT programs where young talent gets rotated in and out of HR function for fixed term stints as a mandatory part of leadership development programs.
The one thing I will retain in HR
Our willingness to be change agents: Be it diversity, performance management or employer branding, HR has been willing to experiment, learn and lead from the front when it comes to initiating and managing change.
The one thing I will change in HR
The one thing I would like to see in HR is to be able to build more rigor around core principles and not be considered as a common-sense function. And in order to do that it will require HR professionals to be able to apply concepts of theory while designing actual solutions. For example, while designing a training program is a L&D specialist applying concepts from adult learning theories keeping the audience in mind or creating content in a one-size-fits all approach?
Vision for HR's future growth
Three factors that are going to be game changers in the future of HR are:
- Shift towards a gig based economy where employees will gradually become independent consultants coming together for an assignment and rotating out afterward.
- A workforce comprising of millennials who are digital citizens requiring organizations to have a different approach to talent engagement.
- Mainstreaming of disruptive technologies like AI, blockchain, automation and big data.
Growth of HR will depend on being able to embrace these game changers and delivering value to the organization. For example, in a gig base economy, HR will be expected to deliver customized learning solutions that will help employees to learn and unlearn quickly and move on to skills as perthe demand of the market. Similarly, engaging a millennial workforce will require HR developing innovative technology-driven solutions like app-based learning available on demand in byte-sized format, peer-driven recognition frameworks, building flat organizational hierarchies to name a few.
Mainstreaming of disruptive technologies will require HR to come out of their comfort zone where all transaction driven services like recruitment, onboarding, payrolling will get automated. HR will be expected to develop expertise in areas like Data Sciences to be able to make data-driven talent decisions and advise the business on its talent strategy. Areas like employee engagement, culture and coaching will be key differentiators for HR practitioners of the future.