We are committed to the fact that people matter for our growth and our sustainability as a business
Face to Face with Pratik Kumar, Executive Vice President – Human Resources, Wipro Limited
Wipro was one of the first major companies in India in formalizing a systematic process for Leadership identification and development. How was this program envisaged and how has it evolved over the years? How is the program deployed across the group companies?
We started this journey more than three decades ago, the focus on leadership identification and development has been key for our success and goes back to its origins. Mr. Premji grew the business from scratch and someone who is able to do that really understands what it takes to build an institution. There are no shortcuts. For companies to have sustainable success they need to rely on its people and they need to be nurtured. This is how we started, back in the seventies by putting the foundation of what today seems to be a very common place.
How much of judgement versus system is there in the current process?
Judgement plays a very important role in the process of identification of talent and in assessing capabilities of individuals. To make our judgment more objective we have the benefits of multiple data inputs which establish fairness and objectivity. However you can’t completely take away the role of intuition and managerial judgment.
Do you think you have been able to create leaders at a rate comparable to the growth of your group companies and the general economy?
I would think so because otherwise we would not have grown. We are committed to the fact that people matter for our growth and sustainability as a business. We need to ensure that we are grooming the right talent and we are bringing talent from outside to complement as well.
How do you implement this process globally?
The process of talent review happens on a global scale. Training is the challenging part as we are scattered across geographies and you cannot only depend on conventional methods. The Flagship Leadership programs happen in Bangalore, and we have a high participation of employees from outside of India. We do these programs here in this campus as we believe it also allows for a cultural immersion which is important. There is also a Leadership Development team abroad and they train in the local countries.
How do you track effectiveness of the leadership program? How effective/successful has it been to be able to identify potential for future roles?
We track effectiveness based on our ability to build and demonstrate internal talent pipeline when we need them most. That to us is the real litmus test
There is minimum representation of women in your top management and board, what are the challenges that Wipro is facing to attract and retain women leaders?
There are two parts of the process of building women leaders in the organization. Firstly, what we can do from within, and second the role the family has to play in extending support.
Internally we need to look at how we can be more flexible, more supportive, create internal role models and support groups without appearing to be patronizing. At the same time, we need to make people realize that women employees seeking careers in this world will require support from their spouses and families. There is no guarantee of success unless they tackle the requirement of getting support from their families. It will not work otherwise. Whatever we do internally will not be sufficient. I also believe that internal programs are required for sustaining growth of women leaders, you can get lucky for a period but if there is no program behind supporting this it will not sustain.