Article: Ruchira Bhardwaja on unconventional leadership to master human-AI balance


Ruchira Bhardwaja on unconventional leadership to master human-AI balance

As we look at 2024 and beyond, Ruchira Bhardwaja, Joint President & CHRO, Kotak Life envisions a workplace where technology amplifies human potential, leaders champion diversity & inclusion and sustainability is embedded into every aspect of business strategy.
Ruchira Bhardwaja on unconventional leadership to master human-AI balance

In a constantly evolving landscape where leaders need to be prepared for what’s next globally and locally, Ruchira Bhardwaja, Joint President & CHRO at Kotak Life believes in embracing the uncertainties and looking at each challenge as an opportunity to grow. In the last 25 years as an HR leader with IHCL, Croma, Axis Bank and now at Kotak Life, she’s always stayed ahead through her mantra of resilience through reflection, followed by action. 

As she gears up to be a part of People Matters TechHR Pulse Mumbai on March 14, she shares the technological leaps, essential principles to complement human-AI collaboration and the traits integral to leaders steer the workforce towards productivity and the workplace to success. Through a series of rapid-fire questions, she sheds light on what’s in store for the future of work and how can HR leaders be at the heart of change in these times of uncertainties and technological leaps. 

Excerpts from the interview:

What’s the one technological leap that you think will dominate 2024?

The integration of quantum computing with mainstream applications will be the technological leap that will dominate 2024. This breakthrough will enhance the computational power exponentially, enabling advancements not just in the field of HR but cryptography, complex systems formulations - basically everywhere!

Where do you think companies are going to invest heavily in 2024 to strengthen the empathy economy?

Companies are likely to invest heavily in AI and ML technologies that are going to interpret and respond to the human emotions in 2024. These investments will be aimed at practically improving customer service, creating personalised experiences, developing products that better meet the emotional and psychological needs of the consumers as well as the employees. 

What will be the one essential principle leaders will need to follow to master Human-AI balance?

I think it will be ethical AI use, which includes transparency, fairness and accountability of AI systems as they complement human skills rather than replace them. I believe the focus should be on fostering a symbiotic relationship between humans and AI. 

To lead in this era of constant change, what is one trait integral to leaders?

It is adaptability - the ability to pivot very quickly in response to change in technologies, markets, workplace dynamics while maintaining a clear vision and keeping teams motivated. That's what is key to thriving amid constant change. 

What is the mantra you live by when the going gets tough?

It’s always been resilience through reflection, followed by action. When problems arise, I focus on learning from the situation and staying grounded in the present. Taking calculated steps to navigate through the challenges has been one of my strengths and aligning it all with business at that point in time, so I am able to get and provide support wherever required. 

What is the one trait that you want the next generation entering the global workforce to imbibe?

The new generation has heard it ample times but it is emotional intelligence and critical thinking. When one is able to understand one’s emotions, empathise with others and navigate social topics, whether it is internal to the organisation or external, is crucial. These manifestations happening through various social platforms are essential for their wellbeing, collaboration, leadership and creating a positive workforce and workplace culture. 

What is the one thing you would change to boost the productivity of the workforce?

If I had my pick, I would enhance flexibility in the workplace, allowing employees to have more control over their work hours and location. I think that really boosts productivity by catering to individual working styles, promoting work-life balance and reducing burnout. 

What is your message for emerging leaders, who are starting out in the VUCA world?

It will have to be embrace uncertainty and take it as an opportunity to grow. The world challenges us to become more innovative, agile and empathic and the moment you are ready to work around those uncertainties, you will learn exponentially. Even if you fail, don’t take it to heart. 

In one sentence, how would you summarise the future of work and leadership in the next decade?

My vision encompasses human-centric technology, human-centric technology integration, fostering inclusivity and embracing sustainable practices. I want to see a workplace where technology amplifies the human potential, leaders champion diversity and inclusion at all levels and sustainability is embedded into every aspect of business strategy and not just HR. This vision will reflect a more balanced ecosystem where innovation can thrive, empathy will lead people to stay within an organisation and contribute more. I think ultimately ethical responsibility will drive progress and bring about prosperity for all. 

If you are eager to meet Ruchira Bhardwaja and understand the roadmap to design the workplaces of tomorrow or unconventional leadership styles, join us at People Matters TechHR Pulse Mumbai on March 14 at Grand Hyatt, Mumbai. Register now!


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Topics: Technology, Diversity, Leadership, Strategic HR, #TechHRPulseMumbai

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