Surma Guha | HR Manager | General Electric
Curious, creative and always open to a new challenge – that’s how Surma describes herself.
Born and raised in Kolkata, she has lived in Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore. Besides HR, writing, music, fitness, food, and travel are a few other things Surma is passionate about. Along with the experience she has earned by working with companies like Infosys and GE, it is her supportive husband, parents and highly accomplished twin who inspire her every day to dream big. Not to forget, Surma also mentions her Indie dog that continues to teach her about patience, loyalty, and unconditional love.
"I believe that I can learn something new from everyone that I meet, and I carry this value through my personal and professional adventures," says Surma Guha, HR Manager, General Electric.
Helping people to unlock their limitless potential
When Surma was pursuing her MBA she realized that unlike finance, marketing, operations and other business functions where professionals often work with limited resources to maximize business outcomes, in HR there is an opportunity to tap into people's talent and create business value. The potential talent holds is limitless, all that is required is an ecosystem where people can discover their potential and harness their skills.
Surma recalls, "While studying for my business degree, I remember reading through my first book on Organization Development and a light bulb going off inside my head."
"I realized that as HR professionals, we have the power to design and drive an optimal ecosystem where people can bring their best selves to work and grow themselves and the organization to new heights of success and well-being," she adds.
This boundary-less aspect of the function convinced Surma to take up HR as a career, and the domain has continues to excite her about her work everyday.
Balancing compassion & critique
As an HR professional, Surma strives to create limitless business value by leveraging people's talent. She shares that she works to design and drive an optimal ecosystem where people can bring their best selves to work, feel connected with the organization's goals and are able to grow themselves and the organization to new heights of success and well-being.
"Like a good coach, I practice "ruthless compassion" in my work everyday - compassion because I constantly partner with and support my business leaders, and often serve as the voice of the employees," exclaims Surma.
However, at the same time, Surma is also ruthless in challenging and critiquing her leaders to think through their actions, so that not just short term but long term value is created for business, employees and customers.
Keeping an eye on the big picture with relentless attention to detail is her forte and something that differentiates her from the rest, feels Surma.
Removing the short-sighted tendency of business: Key priority
Business leaders often hoard talent within their immediate teams or businesses. They don't realize the strategic value of releasing their talent to other parts of the organization, and are not open to taking on new talent from other teams who come with less domain knowledge but a fresher perspective and energy.
"The biggest talent priority I would like to solve (and which I have worked on throughout my career) is to remove this short-sighted tendency of business leaders," declares Surma.
She wants to enable business leaders to not just rely on their immediate teams but view their entire organization as a talent marketplace and strategically create conditions for free flow of talent across teams. Surma believes the openness and flexibility increases retention, reduces cost of hiring externally and allows business leaders to leverage talent as and when required for short term or long term needs.
Surma shares, "A fluid workforce armed with a critical set of broad competencies, constantly rotating through different functions, goals and teams in an organization, is the workforce of the future and facilitating that outcome is the talent priority that excites me!"
As Surma continues in her endeavor to design and drive an optimal ecosystem where people and businesses can grow, let's see what things she has in mind for the HR function.
The one thing I will change in HR
The tendency or the desire for us to become surrogate managers. To appear useful or approachable, we often end up creating a parallel channel for employees to reach out to us with their queries, concerns and suggestions.
Instead HR professionals should focus on strategically enabling people managers to become the most effective resource for employees. It will empower people managers to lead from the front and build their own leadership skills in the long term, with HR becoming a facilitator. Additionally, this will alsol create bandwidth for HR professionals to partner with business leaders more strategically to create long-term value.
The one thing I will retain in HR
The increased focus on business understanding and partnership that the function in India has embraced in the last decade. We are as integral a part of the business team, as any other function, and we should continue to spend more time with business leaders, understand their challenges and goals, and leverage our seat at the table to solve not just people problems but hardcore business problems as well.
Vision for HR's future growth
HR professionals in every company will become a critical part of the organization's business success and business leaders will rely on their HR partners to solve hardcore business problems by strategically leveraging talent - to create not just short-term but long term sustainable business value.