Article: Our 25 winners of Are You In The List Awards 2012

Benefits & Rewards

Our 25 winners of Are You In The List Awards 2012

They are as vibrant and as diverse it can get. A quick preview of the winners of 2012.
Our 25 winners of Are You In The List Awards 2012

From a black belt in Six Sigma to a hockey player, from a blogger to a professor, the Are You in the List Class of 2012 is a bag of surprises. They offer a glimpse into their motivations, proffer advice to those beginning a career in HR and question their CEOs.

The Coveted List: 

Aishwarya Datta, 28, Lucknow, Manager, Human Resources, ICICI Lombard GIC Ltd

Role Model: Chanda Kochchar, MD and CEO, ICICI 

Reason: She is one of the most powerful businesswomen we have today. I like the way she has grown from a management trainee to become the MD of the same organisation.

Word of advice for a student of HR

More and more youngsters choose their stream because of peer pressure or market scenario, and not on the basis of their talent or what they like. I feel that to build a career you need only two things: passion and interest. Everything else will be taken care of. From the very beginning, figure out what your talent is, work towards it, and aspire big.

Anita Bhatia, 30, Gurgaon, Service Delivery Leader, HR, American Express India

Role Model: Manu Narang, Director Human Resources, American Express India

Reason: She has an amazing strategic vision, and strong business and financial acumen. A leader who leads from the front, she has been instrumental in enabling tremendous learning for me in my career as an HR professional.

Word of advice for a student of HR

Always remember to keep learning and evolving your skills. Have a ‘growth mindset’ at all phases of your career.

Avinash Kohli, 32, New Delhi, HR Manager, GE India

Role Model: Senior leaders

Reason: I look up to many senior leaders with whom I have worked. If I have to name a few, it’ll be Pankaj Bansal (PeopleStrong) for his genuineness, Janice Semper (GE) for her ability to bring her best to work every day, Rohit Hasteer (MakeMyTrip) for his attention to detail, Rohit Thakur (Microsoft) for his humility, and Susan Peters (GE) for her people management and execution skills.

Word of advice for a student of HR

Try out the difficult roles first (like IR, HR Ops, C&B) to build overall HR expertise. Accept any work that comes your way, dig in your heels during difficult situations.

Avirup Mukherjee 28, Gurgaon, Student-HR, School Of Inspired Leadership (SOIL)

Role Model: Anil Sachdev, Founder and CEO, SOIL.

Reason: I admire the ease with which he is able to create an amazing mix of business excellence and self-awareness. I think this is important because in today’s times, it is essential that all businesses focus not only on the bottom line but also ensure that they are giving back to society.

Word of advice for a student of HR

I would want today’s HR students to understand the business perspective and utilise their uniqueness in contributing towards achieving business objectives. The former simply means asking 3 simple questions: What are we trying to achieve? What impact will the action have on the business results? How will we know that the impact will be a positive and sustainable one?

Dhruv Desai 33, Mumbai, Sr. Vice President & Head HR, Angel Broking Pvt Ltd

Role model: Every one of my managers

Reason: Every manager I’ve worked under has given me exposure to a new competency. Sheldon D’ Souza, a mentor and manager earlier in my career, showed me that managing is not only about people but also having a grip on the subject matter. I learned a lot from my mentor Amardeep Mallik, who, through his knowledge about Six Sigma and Lean, helped me bring in a new level of sophistication in my HR role.

Word of advice for a student of HR

Get cross-functional exposure if you intend to be a successful HR professional. Work and spend some time in Marketing and Finance, or maybe get a Marketing MBA, and then move into HR. It sounds radical but it’s the difference between chalk and cheese. The quality and efficiency difference between HR managers who have had cross-functional exposure and who don’t is immense. Get this exposure at an early stage of your career.

Diana Mirza, 30, Bengaluru, HR Business Partner – ESIIC at Hindustan Unilever Limited

Role Model: Nobody specific

Reason: I believe there is something to be learnt from the variety of people one encounters. For example, I am inspired by the attendant in a coffee shop who exemplifies ‘service with a smile’ or the colleague in a meeting who demonstrates real time influencing skills or the business leader I read about, whose innovative ideas change my outlook. Anyone who makes me realise that there’s something else that I can do to be a better leader and a better human being becomes a role model for me.

Word of advice for a student of HR

A role is not merely a role, it is what you make of it. Do not let yourself be constrained by self-limiting barriers, especially at the beginning of your career when you may feel your role is small or comparatively insignificant. Always strive to think strategically, look at the bigger picture and make the maximum impact.

Girish Kohli 30, Noida, Consultant-HR, Mercer Consulting

Role model: Arvind, Head Janitor, ‘Comics’

Reason: Arvind is a character from a story that I wrote on my personal blog, who decides to start ‘Comics’, a theme bar based on superheroes and lets his partner take on the role of CEO, and himself assumes the title of ‘Head Janitor’. In Arvind’s words “A customer’s experience in a pub is made by two people: the barman and the janitor. I found a guy who juggles five bottles in the air and makes a drink. I made him the head barman and preferred to be the Head Janitor, because I can mop well. In my organisation, nobody looks down on the job of a janitor. If the top people of the organisation can be found washing the dishes on a busy day and nobody finds anything odd about it – that’s how organisations are built.”

Word of advice for a student of HR 

Exercise and be active because the corporate world demands a lot of stamina. In the first few years of your career, blind yourself to how much money you are making, and focus on learning. Seek opportunities and people from whom you can learn.

Hema Rengaswamy, 34, Chennai, Senior HR Relationship Manager, Standard Chartered Scope International

Role Model: Hema Ravichandar, Board Member, Marico Ltd

Reason: I was privileged to work as part of her HR team in Infosys Technologies, where I observed enormous respect for her -- from both the HR and business quarters, and this had a lot to do with her expertise in keeping business strategy at the centre of HR strategy.

Word of advice for a student of HR

Firstly, as an HR professional, you will enjoy proximity to business leaders. However, it is important to be an employee champion as well. Second, it is vital to build credibility as an HR professional. To earn credibility, you need to understand the language of business. Third, it is important to build a good network –among your contemporaries and seniors in the HR field, business leaders, and professionals.

Indu Kapoor, 32, Bengaluru, Sr AVP HR, EXL Service Pvt Ltd

Role Model: Nelson Mandela

Reason: I really admire Mandela’s leadership style, and found his eight leadership best practices very relevant for us in HR. He believes in leading from the back and letting others believe they are in front.

Word of advice for a student of HR

As a HR professional you possibly won’t know everything about your business. So spend time to understand the intricacies of your business. Most importantly, believe in yourself, speak your mind, and question the status quo, if required. If your intention is right, and your actions are aimed at the larger good of the organisation, don’t be afraid to take a stand.

Nidhi Sharma, 34, Gurgaon, Associate Director-HR, Ernst & Young

Role Model: Chanda Kochhar, MD and CEO, ICICI Bank

Reason: Her strategic disposition and business acumen balanced with a strong hold on managing execution speak immensely of her qualities as a leader.

Word of advice for a student of HR

It is rightly said that the only thing constant in this world is ‘change’. With business paradigms becoming obsolete by the hour, one piece of advice that I would like to share with others is that it is imperative to be a ‘lifelong learner’. I define this as being open to new ideas and experiences, internalizing these to learn, and at the same time being ready to unlearn with equal rigour.

Parjit Singh Bhatia 29, New Delhi, Senior Manager-HR, Max Healthcare

Role Model: P. Dwarakanath, Director, Group Human Capital, Max India

Reason: He is a leader who has the ability for ‘tough-love’ – he can take some tough decisions, but at the same time also remain soft and empathetic towards people.

Word of advice for a student of HR

Always be mindful of the need to keep yourself abreast of the latest trends, methodologies, concerns and their solutions. Professional networking provides a perfect platform for not only showcasing your own strengths but also gives an opportunity to learn from other people’s experiences. Also remember that personal branding has now become one of the basic needs of a successful professional.

Prachee Sonchal, 30, Mumbai, HR Development Manager, TATA Services Ltd

Role Model: Ratan Tata

Reason: During the development of the Nano, the development team followed his statement, “A promise is a promise”, like an anthem every working day. I strongly wish someday to command such respect in the organisation that I will lead in future.

Word of advice for a student of HR

HR students think they don’t need to understand business issues as they feel HR is a support function. It is not so. One can contribute effectively and efficiently only when one understands the customers and the business of the company one is working for. It’s the only golden advice for a student of HR today.

Rahul Kandhal, 28, Gurgaon, Regional HR Manager, North, Glaxo SmithKline Consumer Healthcare (GSKCH)

Role model: People driven by a strong sense of purpose

Reason: I see my professional role models in all those individuals who are driven by a strong sense of purpose with a focus on adding value to both the business and the community. And they also tend to be people who demonstrate consistency between their words and actions. Two such have made a huge impact on me: Manish Sehgal (Sr. Manager, Procurement – GSKCH), and Ritesh Pandey (GM, Sales, GSKCH).

Word of advice for a student of HR

Everything you do in a professional capacity adds (or subtracts) from your personal brand. All of it reflects your personal benchmarks, and adds up to define ‘You’. Don’t lose any opportunity to build that brand, for there is no better investment than in brand ‘You’.

Rakhi Chauhan, 28, Pune, HR Business Partner, Mphasis, an HP Company

Role Model: Sangeeta Rohera (Director, The Redwood Horizon)

Reason: She was my previous manager and has been instrumental in grooming me in my foundation years in the corporate world. Despite the major ups and downs a consultancy goes through, she was always able to get the team motivated, and worked like a well-oiled machine without ever losing her patience or making anyone feel less important. She taught me that it is not the age that matters but your passion and determination to excel. I knew that if I reached out to her for a solution she would show me a way out. I admire her humility, thoughtfulness, and amazing work ethic. She helped me to believe in myself.

Word of advice for a student of HR

Both employees and employers have needs to be meet. Organisations would be successful only when HR initiatives are able to maintain an equilibrium between business and employee needs.

Rashmi Sharma, 30, Mumbai, Consultant, Aon Hewitt

Role Model: Kalpana Morparia, CEO, JP Morgan India

Reason: The story of how she rose through the ranks to build ICICI Bank in her 33-year-long stint there, and her attitude towards her work, her organisation, and her life inspires me as a woman.

Word of advice for a student of HR

I wish someone had told when I was student that a business understanding is a must-have skill to succeed in HR, not a ‘good-to-have’ skill. A lot of students say that they want to do HR because they are ‘people persons’. That’s not enough or even the right reason. To do well in HR, you need to be passionate about business, understand how it works, and only then you can leverage human capital to make business succeed.

Reju Mathew, 27, Bengaluru, Manager-Talent Management, ITC Infotech

Role Model: My parents, Rahul Dravid, NR Narayana Murthy, Chairman Emeritus, Infosys

Reason: My parents for their work ethic and commitment to their work, Dravid for his sheer tenacity and will to succeed, and Narayana Murthy for having the courage to pursue his passion and build a world class organisation based on values.

Word of advice for a student of HR

Do not expect to transform the HR function overnight, or expect ‘strategic’ roles from day one. There will be a lot of transactions and maybe mundane work to be done as you start. Only slowly, with successful transactions, will you build credibility and move to bigger and better roles, where you will be in a position to influence business. The early credibility achieved, and the experience of performing those tasks will come in handy later on.

Sanjana Vaidya, 33, Pune, Head, SSU HR, Zensar Technologies

Role Model: Anyone with a ‘never give up’ attitude

Reason: My professional role models have evolved as I matured in my career. But one characteristic that has been common to all of them is a ‘never give up’ attitude, which is very important for HR professionals to ensure the results they want.

Word of advice for a student of HR

I wish each HR student finds a mentor who guides her in the right direction early in her career. There is great merit in starting off in the delivery/operations function, and then moving into HR. But if your instincts have a people-orientation, HR is the way to go.

Saurabh Kalra, 31, New Delhi, Head – Talent, MakeMyTrip India Pvt. Ltd.

Role Model: Deep Kalra, CEO Makemytrip

Reason: His humility, wisdom, foresight, and ability to build a family-like company make him an admirable leader, mentor and businessman.

Word of advice for a student of HR

Think big, learn how a business makes money, and take risks. Don’t succumb to the high of momentary achievements; look for newer challenges. Rest equals Rust.

Saurabh Nigam, 32, Chennai, Vice President, HR, Beroe Inc.

Role Model: Dr. Santrupt Misra, CEO, Carbon Black Business, and Director, Group Human Resources, Aditya Birla Group

Reason: He is one of the few HR practitioners in the country who has broken the myth that HR folks cannot become business leaders. I had the honour and privilege of working on a small assignment under him during my tenure at Aditya Birla Group. His attention to detail, simple yet effective way of explaining things to you, deep insights on human psychology, and ability to connect with people makes him a perfect role model for any budding HR professional.

Word of advice for a student of HR

It is important to build your awareness about other functions which make up an organisation: sales, operations, marketing, finance. Also, stop seeing yourself as just a support function - only if you believe that you are a strategic business partner of the organisation will you be treated as one.

Shikha Braria, 32, New Delhi, Service Delivery Leader - Human Resources, American Express India

Role model: Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo

Reason: Her leadership philosophy is simple yet impactful: “Leading with head, heart and hands”. I also want to be my own role model -- to me this means doing things that I would admire someone else for doing.

Word of advice for a student of HR

Grow your thinking, your skills and your leadership like there is no tomorrow. Business and market realities across the world are changing all the time. Those who treat their careers, in any function, but especially in human resources, as a constant educational course will be the ones who see the changes well before they occur.

Sujal Patwardhan, 34, Mumbai, Associate Vice President-HR, Ambit Holdings Pvt Ltd

Role Model: Hema Ravichandar, Board Member, Marico Ltd

Reason: She is a true leader, and has played a key role in building Brand Infosys. Having had an opportunity to be a part of her team, I always found her to be super-prepared, thinking ten steps ahead, and with an uncompromising rigour in maintaining HR practices that helped create a culture of meritocracy and innovation.

Word of advice for a student of HR

There is nothing ‘soft’ in HR. It’s as ‘hard’ as any other line of business. So focus on data, numbers, analytics and forecasts. Make an effort to get the ‘business requirements’ right. Know your people and conceptualise relevant practices and policies. Following competitors will never make you a ‘leader’ in HR practices, innovating will.

Sumit Neogi, 33, Mumbai, Participant - Accelerated Leadership Program, Reliance Industries Limited

Role Model: Jack Welch, former CEO of GE

Reason: He believed that people are the most important asset of an organisation, and focussed on involving employees in change management. He was on the verge of quitting in his early years at GE but stayed back and created the GE of today.

Word of advice for a student of HR

Success should not make you arrogant; it should make you feel proud that yet another milestone in the professional journey has been achieved. Remain humble, focused, grounded, and yearn to achieve more.

Suraksha Subramaniam, 27, Bengaluru, Asst. Manager HR, MphasiS

Role Model: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, CMD, Biocon Ltd

Reason: Initially, while pursuing my bio-tech engineering, I would follow Kiran’s activities, as she was a pioneer in getting India a place on the global bio-tech map. But over time, I began to admire her leadership style, which has made her one of India’s most successful CEOs, and an icon for business women. I find her journey truly inspiring.

Word of advice for a student of HR

Textbooks are a mere resource, but experience is the true teacher. So as you start your career, keep your eyes and ears open to soak in all you can through experience, and constantly up-skill yourself.

Tahseen Wahdat, 30, Mumbai, Senior Manager - Learning and OD, Corporate Human Resources, Essar Group

Role Model: Dr Adil Malia, Group President, HR, Essar Group

Reason: He brings in a creative twist to everything that we do. He has taught me that learning doesn’t ever stop, no matter what level you may be in.

Word of advice for a student of HR

You can’t do everything at once. Make a list of things you’d love to work on and set a target for it.

Vishal Gupta, 29, Kolkata, Assistant Professor – HRM, IIM Calcutta

Role Model: My father

Reason: He served in UP’s Pradeshik Cooperative Dairy Federation (PCDF) as a General Manager for about 23 years. He was able to rejuvenate a loss-making organisation by working hard, leading by example, managing professionally and ethically, and by being an upright officer. I learnt lessons in honesty, ethics and morality from him. Whenever I have to take a professional decision, I remember how my father would have acted in this situation and try to emulate him.

Word of advice for a student of HR

Be proud that you are a HR professional. One may think that all the glamour is in the other functions such as finance, marketing, and operations. But nothing in an organisation works without humans (employees). Be patient and build your HR skills. The world will take note of you.

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Topics: Benefits & Rewards, #AreyouintheList?

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