Harshil Sethi | Manager HR – International Business Unit | Asian Paints
I had a crush on HR when I started working in my first job after engineering. This crush led me to give CAT and subsequently I landed up in MDI from where I have done my specialization in HR, this was the phase when I fell in love with HR and realized it is whom I wanted to spend my life with, professionally.
Post this I started working for Asian Paints, in their Ankleshwar plant for around 3 years as a Manager HR. I was responsible for handling the entire gamut of HR functions for 630 on-roll employees and over 500 contract workmen. This has given me exposure in different areas including Employee Relations, Industrial Relations Maintenance, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Learning and Development, Statutory Liasoning and ensuring compliances, Performance Management, and Process compliance. I also had a chance to work extensively in the area of change management, with initiatives like Behavior-based safety, manufacturing excellence, and innovation agenda.
I am currently the HRBP for International Business. Handling the HR for International Business of Asian Paints, with 12 international subsidiaries, including 1 recent acquisition and 1 ongoing integration. This role again includes the entire gamut of HR, but the additional challenge is the huge geographic spread and setting up processes from the scratch. This includes international policy creation, International compensation management, managing expatriations, repatriations. Driving learning across the 12 countries, due diligence of new entities and working on post-merger integration of acquired ones.
What differentiates me from others
‘Influencing without authority’ and ‘People Connect’ are constructs that I resonate well with which get manifested as my core differentiators in the following manner. My core differentiator is my ability to adapt myself and speak to people in the language and way that they understand, this helps me in building great relationships in small timeframes. This ability helped me in all my endeavours so far, whether it be my first role where I was handling union and government stakeholders or it be my current role, where the units and my stakeholders are geographically spread. These two constructs have helped me in being successful in both my roles so far.
What is my Biggest Talent Priority
There are two parts to this, First one is my biggest talent priority for my business and team: Since my team is spread geographically across the globe in emerging markets, where competition is the highest and the available talent doesn’t make the cut in most cases. Hence people development becomes a key business imperative. So my talent priority would be to leverage the power of ‘Social’ in building collaborative learning interfaces which would be sustainable and scalable.
The second part of the question is about my personal talent priority as I believe that any professional who doesn't work on his skill upgradation will lose out in the long run. In the next one year, I want to acquire skills in the domains of Storytelling as a means to drive learning, to learn more about organizational psychology and write a research paper on knowledge management.
The one thing I will:
Change in HR: One thing that I will want to change about HR is that we as a community sometimes think of an agenda and then force the same to business, this not only leads to rebellion from the line but also decreases overall credibility in eyes of our primary stakeholders.
As HR we have the difficult task of influencing without power and authority, we must understand the context before we start using influencing skills else we will never be treated as equals by our peers in Line.
Retain in HR: One thing that I will want to retain about HR is that we are forerunners in bringing about changes in our respective organizations, our ability to understand how any change whether big or small impacts people and processes is one of our key value adds to the organizations that we work in. This is something I think as HR professionals and HR community as a whole should continue honing further.
This is how I will disrupt HR
When the HR function came into being, it was a purely Administrative function which then evolved into a strategic role in assisting businesses. This massive transition has made HR future looking and I want to further disrupt the current paradigm by using ‘Data and data analytics’, I still remember a lot of time in my post-graduation, finance majors used to engage in friendly banter with us over how HR is all about stories and no data and we used to retaliate saying how wrong this is. I want to continue that battle and win it by making People analytics the basis of all people and business-related decisions, from whom to hire to who will quit, from what skills we have to what we need, from engaging in conversations with employees who seem disengaged basis the data to deciding the cross functional moves.
I think if the general perception of HR changes to being highly data driven and data focused, I would have done my job well.
Here are the other winners:
- Anurag Shrivastava | Manager – Business HR (Commercial) | Vodafone
- Chandni Narang | Manager – Org Design & Effectiveness | Flipkart
- Divya Amarnath | Head – HR Services Delivery, India | Hindustan Unilever Ltd
- Kamiya Choithani | Sr. Manager – HR | Myntra
- Madhushree Mehta | AGM – OE & Change Management | Vodafone India Limited
- Natasha Boparai | HR Business Partner – GBS, IT, Global Functions | Boston Scientific Corporation
- Pooja Shetty | Senior Chief Manager | Aditya Birla Finance Ltd.
- Preetha Santhanam | Senior Manager – HR | Ernst & Young
- Saswati Subhasmita | Assistant Manager | Bosch
- Sneha Arora | Senior HRBP Consultant | SAP