Article: NextGen leaders come together to take the big leap at the HRTech Conclave Mumbai Chapter

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NextGen leaders come together to take the big leap at the HRTech Conclave Mumbai Chapter

To celebrate the vast economical potential and explore the spirit of young and emerging enterprises, the People Matters HRTech Conclave for Emerging Businesses 2023, in association with Keka, kicked off with its first chapter in Mumbai.
NextGen leaders come together to take the big leap at the HRTech Conclave Mumbai Chapter


It was a galore of HR leaders, startup founders, people and culture influencers across industries at the mega event, attended by over 200 HR leaders, enriched with insightful sessions and engagement activities aimed to enhance your experience and knowledge. The conclave-themed ‘The Big Leap: Building NextGen Enterprises with HRTech’ highlighted the growing role of human resources technology (HRTech) in revolutionising the way businesses manage their workforce and drive organisational success.

The event opened with the unveiling of People Matters and Keka’s exhaustive report “Emerging HR Trends Atlas: Enabling Strategic Change for Growth”, which captured responses from more than 400 HR leaders across the board, building a resounding need to build employee-focused practices and leverage HR tech to drive both talent results and experience.

Technology in HR is the ultimate enabler for SME growth

While reflecting on the key findings of the report, Kshitiz Sachan, Leadership Coach, Keka said, “Digital adoption is the way forward. Today, we are trying to move out of the traditional frameworks where HR has been operating only on descriptive analytics and the possibility of harnessing the power of prescriptive analytics has not happened. With cloud technology picking up power, the ability to (use technology to manage people at work) is becoming more plug and play.”  

In his opening speech, he highlighted the evolution of small and medium enterprises amid the rise of AI-driven analytics and its impact on business decisions, talent management, HR practices and customer experience in fast-growing organisations. He also laid emphasis on the top capabilities that HR leaders aim to build in 2024 namely digital readiness, change management, strategic planning & project management. 

According to the Emerging HR Trends Atlas report, 92% of companies surveyed believe their tech-driven HR practices are key to driving business outcomes. Companies today want to invest more in HR tech solutions to further improve HR efficiency through automation and analytics. Also, employee experience is growing as a core HR concern. Every 8 in 10 companies state that HR tech is crucial to drive EX. And 6 in 10 companies say driving engagement and experience is a focus area for them in 2024.

Insider’s view on what will help Indian SMEs Reform, Rise and Roar

To further build on how HRTech will be the enabler in helping next-generation enterprises take the big leap and contribute to India’s trillion-dollar dream, the conclave hosted a special guest with an expertise in areas like Leadership Development and HR Advisory Services.

In her keynote address on strategic changes Indian SMEs needed to take the big leap and perform to their full potential, Anju Saini, HR Advisor, SME Chamber of India and Coach, ICF Mumbai Chapter spoke on the evolution of Indian SMEs and the urgent need to relook and re-evaluate traditional business practices to tap into new markets, improve efficiency, and cater to the ever-evolving needs of the modern consumer. She emphasised on the urgency of embracing digital technologies, fostering a culture of innovation, and reimagining traditional structures to ensure sustainability and competitiveness. 

In her 15-minute address, Anju also highlighted the role of technology in HR as the ultimate enabler for SME growth and top HR priorities that can impact SMEs in India. “Aligning HR strategies to business needs and contributing to strategic growth; raising employee retention and identifying top performers; engaging and skilling the workforce and providing good employee experience are some of the most important HR priorities pivotal for SMEs in India to enhance their competitiveness and ensure long-term success in the competitive business landscape,” she summarised in her keynote speech.

For HR, accountability comes before responsibility

The HRTech conclave was aimed at bringing together intellectual minds that believe in the power and potential of next-generation enterprises that will become the Unicorns of tomorrow.  

The sessions got even more interesting with fireside conversations with an emerging organisation that had been able to stride through challenges and build a people-centric mindset. Pushkar Bidwai, Chief Business Officer of People Matters, sat down with Debashree Lad, Chief People Officer of CredAble, to discover the journey of this growth-oriented company that redefined success through its unwavering commitment to a people-centric mindset in a freewheeling conversation.

“It’s first the accountability to business and not mere responsibility of a people function,” recalled Debashree on her first experience as the chief people officer of a young organisation. Building a talent pool and then bringing in support systems to nurture their career should be the first goal of human resources. From just 7 to 50 and now a 300-plus workforce, Debashree has led the people function with conviction at CredAble.

She spoke at length about how they digitised people processes like HRMS, and People Management System and customised it to make it more useful. “In an ever-evolving business like us, business and people's needs keep evolving. We have to be agile and fungible to identify requirements and implement them through physical or digital interventions,” she told Pushkar during the interaction.

Can enhanced EX help you win in the digital era?

This energetic exchange of ideas was followed by a discussion around the changing role of HR in improving employee experience and keeping talent engaged in enhancing business outcomes despite barriers of hybrid and remote work. Sheetal Bhanot Shetty, CHRO, Infra.market and Margaret Dsouza, Head HR, Zeta shared their winning strategies and people-centric practices to thrive in the digital era with ease. The conversation was led by Pallavi Verma, Senior Editor, People Matters.

On the question of HR leaders using employee experience to add value to business growth. Sheetal observed that, “Culture gets created when we, as HR, approach, deal and manage people. Allow them to have a purpose in the organisation that syncs with the larger connectivity in the organisation. That experience contributes to the business trajectory and growth of the organisation.”

She emphasised HR’s role in giving every employee a purpose for long-term career growth through personalised understanding and approach, while Margaret spoke on the changing definition of employee experience in the new era.

“Today, we let people strategy align to what they (employees) want to achieve in the next two years and then create a custom-tailored employee experience,” said Margaret. She also spoke on the importance of leveraging technology as a potent catalyst to achieve EX goals and the use of modern technology in HR to build the right experience.

“Identifying and rehauling any technology stacks within the HR space has employees at the heart of it. We focus on what the employees want when it comes to policies and procedures. Engagement tools like chatbots cannot be a surrogate for human interventions. Today, we have a listening strategy in place to identify the pain points in the organisation. We (as HR heads) need to ensure that technology is only an enabler and not the end,” shared Margaret.

Celebrating the contribution of unsung HR heroes

The conclave also presented the first edition of the SME Emerging Talent Awards - where we recognised and rewarded emerging HR superheroes to establish the future leaders of HR. 

Of the eleven recipients, selected from a highly competitive pool of over 400 applications submitted during the nomination process, Dhara Chokshi, Manager - L&D at Sandvik Mining & Rock Technology India Private Limited; Sanket Surendra Salvi, Human Resources Director at Servier India Private Limited; Krishna Prasaad R, Human Resource Business Partner at SPI Group; Anshul Rinwa, General Manager Human Resources at Bloom Hotel Group; Sandeep Kumar, Assistant Vice President - HR at Otipy Internet Private Limited and Tribhuvan Thakur, Director & Head HR, Accion Labs received the trophies at the Mumbai Conclave and were felicitated by our key jury members Mr. Yogi Sriram, Consultant to CEO & MD, Group HR, Larsen & Toubro and Ms. Debashree Lad, Chief People Officer, CredAble.

The winners were chosen based on their HR initiative and its impact on their organisation’s overall growth strategy by our 6-member jury panel, including Shalu Manan, Global Talent Supply Chain Leader at Genpact; Rajesh Lele, Employee Experience Consultant at Piramal Enterprises Limited; Debashree Lad, Chief People Officer at CredAble; Anurag Verma, Vice President of Human Resources at Uniphore; Yogi Sriram, Consultant to the CEO & MD at L&T Group HR and Yuvaraj Srivastava, Chief Human Resources Officer at MakeMyTrip.

Kshitiz Sachan from Keka and Pushkar Bidwai from the People Matters leadership team joined the jury members on stage for the felicitation ceremony. 

Aligning HR strategies with business goals

Varun Ramakrishnan, Product Management & Employee/HR Happiness, Keka facilitated a discussion between Bhakti Dharod, Head of HR, IDfy and Chitralekha Balachandran, Head - HR, Aditya Birla Education Trust in the second half of the HRTech conclave.

The conversation was around how HR initiatives need to be integrated with the organisation's vision, mission, and strategic priorities to directly contribute to achieving those goals and addressed the gaps between HR and business alignment exploring ways to bridge them. 

The panellists spoke about the initiatives that have empowered their employees and how HR has supported the larger purpose of their respective organisations. “Framing the (HR) policies, keeping in mind the business and then changing them as required is very important to align (with business) as we are an evolving resource,” said Chitralekha. “The biggest challenge (for HR) is to balance the humane aspect with the business requirement,” she added.

“The real shift happens when we stop thinking of ourselves as support functions but as enablers of business,” felt Bhakti. “Especially in the emerging business segment, everything begins with aligning your founders and leadership team,” she expressed.  

Analysing current Vs desired state of organisation

The conclave concluded with a live workshop session on ‘Employee Experience Matters: Maximising Productivity & Performance’ conducted by Kshitiz Sachan, Leadership Coach, Keka.

The participants of the 60-minute workshop were given eight challenges faced by young organisations and had to draw a gap analysis by evaluating the best possible strategies from their current situation to the desired one. The challenges or situations ranged from HR Tech as a driver of success to talent management and career development. Some of the other challenges were Performance Management, Enhancing EX, Workflow Management, Improving Rewards & Recognition and Diversity & Inclusion.

The leaders had to use benchmarks like process, performance, and strategy to evaluate the final outcome or best practices analysed during the activity. The workshop was aimed at looking at current pain points faced by organisations and possible ways to solve them.

Besides the live workshop, best Q&A activity, dipstick survey on #NextGenHR, and LinkedIn Author contest ran throughout the session, and winners were announced after every session. The conclave ended on a high note with a beer-up session and saw huge engagement from everyone. 

The Mumbai Chapter of People Matters HRTech Conclave for Emerging Businesses 2023 was held on October 18 at the Four Seasons Hotel, Mumbai.

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Topics: HR Technology, #SMEcorner

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