Malvika Assija | Manager - HR | Nestle India Ltd.
“Serendipity of a curious mind!” Malvika describes herself as an agile individual who is a quick adapter and learner and someone who possesses a streak of creativity and sharp communication abilities.
“I am an optimist, a strong believer of the power of good karma!” she exclaimed.
Evolving along with the HR function
As an ardent science student and after spending a reasonably decent time as an engineer, Malvika’s curiosity led her to explore different areas which always fascinated her since school days but did not get a chance to pursue further. These include the streams of humanities, history and anthropology. That’s when she came across the prospects of studying and charting a career in Human Resources, a discipline that is as much a science as it is an art.
This exploration further led her to appreciate a fast-paced evolution HR has made over the years from becoming a process enabler to a people enabler to now being a business enabler.” Given my areas of strength and interests, I envisaged myself enjoying and contributing in this function more than others and that’s how and why I decided to finally enter the field of HR,” shared Malvika.
The ability to strike a balance between on-ground execution and big-picture thinking
The HR professionals of today’s age and time are encouraged like everyone else to think ahead of the curve at the pace of the businesses they support. However, many times the pressure of this shared responsibility and big picture thinking takes away their grip from the realities of the ground. That’s where Malvika thinks lies her biggest strength and core differentiation point, the ability to strike a balance between on- ground execution and big-picture thinking.
“A lot of what we do in HR, besides operations impacts a large number of people together at the same time and for some time to come,” said Malvika. Hence unless equal attention is paid to what our stakeholders really need vis-à-vis what they seem to be asking for, what to communicate and how best to communicate, are for instance finer aspects that differentiate an intervention that hits the bull’s eye from one that is only a lip service. “My experience across functions of Employee Relations and Talent Acquisition has amply built in me the ability to discern this,” Malvika added.
Managing the gig workforce & building an inclusive culture: Key priorities
Businesses today need to innovate at a much faster pace to stay in the race. This innovation comes from diversity of thought which in turn is bred through a culture of inclusivity and trust. Another business reality however at the same time is that to outpace competition organizations today need talent that they never hired before - simply because the need didn't exist earlier or the demand of ready talent fell drastically short of supply or this talent was too difficult to attract or costly to hire.
Enter, the gig economy, “The freelancer talent pool is here to stay,” said Malvika.
Smaller and younger organizations that are more agile by design show little hesitancy towards hiring the best freelance talent in a cost and time bracket that suits both the parties and hence have dared the foundations of even century-old organizations.
It is the larger and older organizations that are yet to first open up and secondly find ways to attract and engage with this freelance talent pool. Doubts around transparency, confidentiality, trust, labour laws and fair compensation for the members of this talent group are yet to be recognized fully by employers, let alone be addressed.
Malvika shared that this need state however shall be the biggest talent priority for organizations to solve in the near future if they wish to remain profitable yet competitive.
With these priorities in mind let’s read what vision Malvika has for the future of HR.
The one thing I will change in HR
A noteworthy phenomena as part of Industry 4.0 is the rapid and strong emergence of new-age organizations that have not just challenged the legacy companies but also created new industries in themselves. Eg Google, Amazon, Tesla etc. What has emerged with such companies is an equally rapid pace of innovations and models in Sales, Marketing, Finance etc. However, we have not seen the same pace of innovation and emergence of newer path-breaking models in Human Resources.
As a function hence what she would like to change and be a part of the change that would do away with the inertia of HR fraternity in making bold experiments HR needs to be able to imagine new experiments in organizational and employee psychology to be able to foresee the talent issues of tomorrow before the businesses come to HR with them years later. HR teams across organizations must come together to use the richness of data they sit on to test and pilot new and evolving people paradigms that reflect changes in society and industries.
The one thing she will retain in HR
She would like to retain in HR the ability to separate wheat from the chaff and by this sheI means the ability to see beneath the people issues that appear on the surface and provide systemic people centric and business focused solutions. As HR professionals while we support businesses and provide expertise in talent management, we must retain our pivotal responsibility of providing the business with an empathetic yet dispassionate view of talent management and HR solutions.
Vision for HR's future growth
Post-COVID world is already seeing changes to business models and paradigms. Organizations are now beginning to have a distributed talent network. Organizational learning models are changing and technology is becoming an overpowering tool in every aspect of operations and business.
This is hence an interesting time for HR to take a big leap into its future. HR’s future must lead break-throughs in having policies and systems to manage and engage talent in a virtual set up with the same empathy and human touch as had been prevalent in a pre-COVID world. All this while ensuring that business is run as usual. In her vision hence, the future of HR will see a lot of data science, technology and human values converging together in a never seen before manner.