Priyanka Anand is Vice President and Head, HR, Southeast Asia, Oceana, and India at Ericsson. In this role, Priyanka has the responsibility of leading HR strategy across markets such as India, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Bangladesh. She brings to the position a vast experience from her 19-year career, of which more than seven years have been with Ericsson. In her current role, she is leading an HR team of 60 resources spread over more than 10 countries & driving the HR strategy across the geography with around 9000 employees.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Priyanka throws lights on Industry 4.0, employee reskilling, and the rise of next-gen technologies.
How has the role of HR evolved over the past few years?
Today, we are in the midst of a massive transition as we see the steady shift towards industry 4.0., putting us up against new challenges in workforce equations. Factors such as digitization, younger generations at the workplace and dynamic business-customer relationships have fundamentally changed the HR practitioners’ role. Emerging technologies have rendered the workplace “smarter” with increasing simplification of technologies as well as enhanced overall efficiency and productivity. At the same time, millennials are also driving changes in the way they view professional interactions as well as mobility opportunities. According to a PWC report, 71 percent of millennials expect and want overseas assignments which indicates a shift from a workforce being mobile to mobility being a need.
On the one hand, HR practitioners now have to be tech-savvy and comfortable with open, transparent and constant dialogue and regular feedback on a variety of conventional and digital communication channels. On the other hand, organizations will have to devise a “smarter” and more efficient way of designing mobility in order to be successful.
How has talent requirement in the telecom sector evolved in the wake of the Industrial Revolution?
Telecommunications is an extremely dynamic sector where we are constantly advancing towards new emerging technologies. With the arrival of the fourth industrial revolution, it has all been about experimentation on the edge, machine learning, data crunching, and automation.
Industry 4.0 requires a very different and evolved set of skills. We require individuals who can reskill themselves while keeping up with the upcoming technologies and automation in the industry. The talent we need today are the people who understand our customers’ needs, with the capabilities of helping them simplify as well as accelerate their growth through technology. Techno-commercial skills with strong business acumen are highly sought after these days.
We are seeing a massive change in data, analytics, and artificial intelligence and their impact on people and work. How is Ericsson pursuing next-gen technologies to streamline its HR operations?
At Ericsson, we are continuously integrating cloud-based processes and automation in HR tools to increase efficiency across different levels.
We deploy a range of high-end applications for a wide gamut of hiring and retention functions - benefits administration programming, date-book applications, candidate following frameworks, talk with input programming and many more. We also launched a new initiative called HR Made Easy to further enhance our Go-To-Market value proposition. This will enable a higher degree of simplification in HR processes and delivery. At the same time, we have other initiatives like Total Rewards, Workforce Analytics, etc. to ensure best in class workplace practices and to build value as a high impact business partner.
With the evolving technology, it is safe to say that HR will focus on creating solutions that are accessible and easy to use, providing enhanced convenience for aspiring candidates, employees as well as senior leadership.
What is Ericsson's approach to talent acquisition and retention?
Emerging advanced technologies have opened up previously unknown verticals for the aspiring workforce.
2019 will see a definite rise in the requirement of skilled network engineers with the advent of 5G and IoT. New roles will emerge in the area of R&D and analytics as we get closer to 5G deployment in the region. This will also open up the need for forging the right academic collaborations to get the right talent on board.
At Ericsson, we provide a chance for candidates to work on cutting-edge projects in a diverse working environment as well as mobility opportunities to work and live across the globe. To retain talent, we try to understand their needs and create avenues to enable their growth. Thus even as our employees have the responsibility to deliver, we as an organization try to provide opportunities and rewards that will work for employees.
The need of the hour is to invest significantly in creating modules and infrastructure to build up technical competencies that can keep pace with the changing requirements of Industry 4.0
How are you upskilling your employees especially in markets like Singapore?
At Ericsson, we believe that learning is a continuous process. Our biggest focus is for our talent to be ‘future-ready’ and this applies to every market. We chart out development plans and programs for our teams based on market and industry trends as well as our overall organizational strategy.
In technologically advanced markets like Singapore, endowed with a digitally-savvy talent pool, Smart Nation vision as well as publicly announced plans to deploy 5G, we need to ensure that we consider the advent of Industry 4.0 throughout our upskilling programs, in order to better accompany our customers in their digital transformation.
In addition, we continue to execute our major upskilling efforts via on-the-job training as well as classroom sessions. We also partner with vendors and customers to co-create products and services that are fit for the purpose, helping to drive growth for our customers as well as providing them with a technological edge.
How do you address the needs of millennials, who want greater flexibility in the way they work and career progression, while meeting business needs?
The arrival of millennials at the workplace is rapidly revamping business strategies as well as infusing more vitality in engagement, reviews, and feedback processes.
As a result, we are veering away from the old approach of annual reviews, replacing it with regular feedback processes. Millennials value openness and transparency, appreciating frequent engagement with their managers. This change warrants the synergizing of our efforts to build a culture that is highly dynamic and team-oriented, cultivating an environment with more hands-on mentoring as well as free-flowing feedback sessions.
The idea is to foster a highly productive and efficient workplace that is tailored to the needs of this generation.
What will be HR's biggest challenges in the coming year for Southeast Asian countries?
While ASEAN countries have been projected to become the fourth largest global economy by 2050, the availability of skilled workers with a strong tech and data-driven backbone is certainly a challenge. Often, the courses and curriculum offered by education institutes do not ultimately level up to industry requirements.
Today, the market expects a highly skilled digitally savvy workforce conversant in AI, Big Data, Machine Learning, and IoT. The need of the hour is to invest significantly in creating modules and infrastructure to build up technical competencies that can keep pace with the changing requirements of Industry 4.0.
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