Amit Chincholikar is the Global CHRO of Tata Consumer Products.
He has been with the Tata group since 2010. Prior to joining Tata Consumer, Amit was with Tata Sons as Senior Vice President – Group Human Resources. He has also worked in organizations such as Mercer Consulting and Aditya Birla Group in leadership roles in India, USA and Singapore.
In his current role, he leads the people strategy as well as the sustainability strategy, commitment and execution for the global organization.
In this exclusive conversation with People Matters, Amit talks about what continuous reinvention represents for TCPL, behavioural attributes critical to maintaining and building business sustainability and reflects on reimagining inclusion to meet the needs of the emerging workforce construct.
As a talent leader, what are your key priorities in navigating the ongoing disruption?
The priority for us has always been the health of our people and their families. In particular, our colleagues who have been in frontline roles are the ones who have kept the wheels running. Our other priorities have always been aligned to the needs of our consumers and the country. This meant realigning our supply chains, product capacities and distribution channels.
We proactively supported our people by enabling remote working, ensuring flexibility in schedules and approaches, and introduced multiple helplines to support any physical, medical and emotional needs that people may have felt. Communication was a key element and we worked continuously to ensure that we kept in touch with all our employees not just to update them on everything that was underway in TCPL but also to hear them and understand how we could support.
Setting up these “listening posts” enabled us to be agile, supportive, and relevant in our people connect.
It has been a tough journey but our people have responded admirably to ensure that we kept the system running, thriving and delivering through these difficult times, all so that our consumers could get the products that they needed.
What are some dilemmas that you face today? How are you addressing them?
The dilemmas essentially are around how do we keep our social networks – something that presence at the workplace offers – thriving. Social networks are the opportunities for ideation, innovation and a sense of belonging. Our attempt to address these has been through a series of connect opportunities we have offered to all our colleagues virtually– these have essentially been informal, non-work related chats and forums that have enabled people to feel closer than ever before. As part of our initiatives to ensure that health and wellness was top of mind for employees and their families, we not only introduced several changes in our medical policies and health access protocols but also communicated and established a strong and continued emphasis on mental wellness, managing stress and encouraging options to rejuvenate and refresh whenever needed.
What does ‘continuous reinvention’ represent for TCPL? What are some significant shifts that the organization witnessed, in mindset and practice, as an outcome of the instances of 2020?
For us, continuous reinvention is almost a way of life ! As Tata Consumer Products, we are a company in the midst of transformation as we seek to build a larger play in the FMCG space. As an organization that looks at fulfilling fast evolving consumer needs in the area of foods and beverages, it is about ensuring that we keep finding better ways of delivering products and services, experiment with innovative offerings and proactively respond to changing lifestyle of consumers at all times. In mindset and practice, this means agility, creative thinking and risk taking. One key element to make some of this happen is building a digital ecosystem that allows for data-based decision making and future thinking. We always say that if we have to fail, we should fail fast and fail cheap! That allows us to learn lessons and move on without compromising our ability to continue to take risks in the future.
Our big shift has been for each one of us to not only think like consumers but also like entrepreneurs – and this has served us well in this difficult period.
What behavioural attributes do you think are critical to maintaining and building business sustainability? How are you connecting these attributes with talent practices such as hiring, skilling, promotions and rewards?
We announced our Vision, Mission and Values as Tata Consumer Products earlier this year and we identified empathy, ownership, agility, integrity & excellence as our core values. The last 12 months have taught us the importance of these behaviours like never before and we see these behaviours as core to the way we do business. All our people practices including hiring, skilling, promotion and rewards are being aligned to reflect these behaviours. As a Tata Company, the values of integrity, working closely with communities and enabling environmental sustainability are inherently part of our DNA.
What does the working model look like for TCPL going forward? What are some of the ways in which you are reinventing the workplace at TCPL?
We have taken a slightly different approach when we are defining our working model as we move forward and reinvent the workplace. We are, in conjunction with our employees, determining what roles can be performed from where – and we will then offer that flexibility to our people to deliver in their roles. Having said that, we understand the relevance of the social network and how critical it is to ideation and innovation.
We expect to see a hybrid working model that combines work from markets and factories, work from home, work from office and in some cases, work from anywhere !
How is TCP reimagining inclusion to meet the needs of the emerging workforce construct?
Inclusion and diversity are critical for us simply because it mirrors our approach towards understanding our consumers, who are a diverse group. Being inclusive is about understanding and appreciating diverse points of view and always allowing us to get better at what we do. For us, inclusion comes before diversity – because if diversity is about counting the numbers, inclusion is about making the numbers count.
The emerging workforce understands and appreciates organizations that practice and advocate inclusion and this is critical for us to continue to be a preferred employer of choice.
What role will ‘purpose’ will play in the new post-pandemic world of work? What is the role of business leaders to embed purpose into business strategy?
At Tata Consumer Products, we recently defined our Vision as ‘To build better lives and thriving communities’ and our mission as ‘Passionately growing and innovating everyday.’ This informs our long term thinking as well as the way we approach our work everyday.
Purpose for us is about thinking long term, having a broader perspective and being aware and influencing future trends to impact and influence business success.
For us this is essential to build a future ready organization – one that builds and delivers on its people, profit and planet objectives. This sense of purpose guides our leaders in decisions to deliver in the short term and inspire for the long term.