Succession is not the responsibility of the CHRO or the CEO, but of everyone who is in a critical leadership position
I make it my personal priority to drive all talent-related agendas across Schneider Electric India. Three areas demand the most amount of my attention – Succession, key talent engagement and diversity & inclusion – and I personally dedicate time and attention to all these initiatives. For a CEO, such talent initiatives are no longer ‘nice to do’ activities, but are an essential and integral part of what s/he ‘must do.’ For a CEO operating in the current times, all three demand equal amount of attention. While it is important to have a strong succession planning process and an internal leadership pipeline, it is also important for the organization to have key talent communities. As a CEO, I personally oversee the development of key talent communities of Regional Sales Heads and Key Account Managers critical for our business transformation. Third, my priority as a CEO is to build a strong team of women leaders.
In order to build a strong pipeline of leaders at the next level, we have launched an internal leadership development program spread over eight months. The program entails workshops, learning visit to an NGO, dialogue with external leaders and working on a real life business critical project. I, along with my management team, have attended some of the sessions with upcoming leaders to understand them better and to create an environment where participants can apply what they are learning. We have been involved in actively coaching and mentoring these leaders on mission critical projects. In any development program, it is important that we create the right amount of stretched expectations and a safe space for people to learn and experiment. I see my role in doing that. The challenge is to create joint ownership among senior leaders for development of the next line of successors. Succession is not the responsibility of the CHRO or the CEO, but of everyone who is in a critical leadership position.
For supporting diversity initiatives in the company, I personally mentor woman talent and actively encourage mentorship of women. In line with our focus on encouraging diversity & inclusion, I have ensured that my India management team has women leaders in key roles as it facilitates balanced and diverse decisions and policies.
It would be absolutely essential to build the right leadership capability from within and infuse the right fresh talent from outside, wherever necessary. This would help create a leadership pipeline to support business evolution and transformation. Attracting the right talent and retaining the key talent to mitigate business risk will continue to be my focus area.
The first of my key areas of talent focus for the coming months is the development of the next lot of 50 strong mid-level leaders. While this year we have focused on succession and development of senior leaders, it is important that we strengthen our talent pipeline at every level to have long-term sustainable talent base. This has to be done through an effective mix of build and buy strategy. Besides that we will continue to focus on diversity. Our teams will be developing a “Women leadership development and mentoring program”. We will also continue to focus on hiring women talent in key roles.
As an organization, Schneider Electric believes in providing development through mobility and exposure to new opportunities. I will continue to encourage mobility including sending many more Indian leaders to the global offices within Schneider. I also think that the vast young population in India can be developed for niche roles through innovative partnerships with academia. We would like to explore such possibilities.
Anil Chaudhry is the Country President & Managing Director, Schneider Electric India