Sarma Chillara, CHRO at SAVWIPL, has almost two decades of experience in HR practices across geographies, industries, and verticals. His earlier stints were in leading corporations such as Future Group, Citi Group Global Services and Tata Consultancy Services. Chillara has honed a global, forward-thinking perspective for HR business partnering (HRBP) and Center of Excellence (CoE) and steering organisational culture and change. He has also successfully led HR transformational projects and complex mergers with cost and workforce synergies. In an exclusive interview with People Matters, he shares some key insights on the digital trends in the automotive industry, some exciting DEI programs being championed by his organisation and more.
What are the most impactful digital trends in the automotive industry?
Digitisation, increasing automation, and new business models have revolutionised other industries, and automotive will be no exception. These forces are giving rise to four disruptive technology-driven trends in the automotive sector: diverse mobility, autonomous driving, electrification, shared mobility and artificial intelligence & connectivity. As a result, the process of buying cars has changed altogether. Today, we have the power to know a vehicle even without seeing it physically.
What is your take on the accelerated automation of HR functions?
Automation has helped towards running smooth and progressive HR functions. It leads to innovation and helps achieve excellence in functioning like quicker TAT, standardised responses, greater transparency in processes, and even measuring customer satisfaction.
However, some pain points still need to be addressed in order to truly reap the benefits of HR Tech. Firstly, people tend to be more comfortable using the conventional system, so digital adoption needs to be accelerated. Customised solutions are also not available to drive specific processes and functions, so curating digital solutions to unique business needs can be challenging. Moreover, HR Tech might not be the priority when calculating budgets and business costs.
What is the role played by technology in strengthening work culture?
Technology today ensures the continuity of “Business as usual.” Additionally, it empowers skill building through online platforms and even drives employee engagement through its innovative tools and systems. On the customer front, it strengthens the query management system through online chatbots and ensures that we deliver quality products and services.
Regarding the softer aspects of leading businesses, what are some DEI initiatives being run at Volkswagen?
At SAVWIPL, we believe that personal development is a crucial aspect of the professional development training that we provide here. Keeping that in mind, we launched an initiative this Women’s day - #LicenseToDrive, under which women employees across locations participated enthusiastically in the virtual training sessions and undertook the online test to avail of their Learner's license. Almost 100 women employees at SAVWIPL received their learner’s license, and most of them have now completed their training. We also have programs for developing potential women leaders in Management and training modules to encourage women to work in Production Lines.
When it comes to technology interventions, people analytics will play a critical role in checking the effectiveness of DEI initiatives and forecasting successful models through online platforms.
How can HR leaders build digitally empowered organisations at scale?
Some of the ways in which this can be done are by leveraging new age technologies such as the Metaverse in all HR functions from recruitment to upskilling. Organisations would also benefit from building a culture of eliminating bureaucratic processes while encouraging online platforms for collaboration and ideation. Finally, given cybersecurity concerns, continuous monitoring of technology usage is vital.