Blog: 5 Intriguing Questions from TechHR India


5 Intriguing Questions from TechHR India

As we gear up to come together with our Southeast Asia Community in Singapore on August 24th and 25th, here are five thought-provoking questions sparked by the diverse keynotes from the recently concluded TechHR India event.
5 Intriguing Questions from TechHR India

Greetings from the culmination of the India edition of Asia’s Largest HR and Work Tech Conference, People Matters TechHR. Our recent gathering was a resounding success, marking a decade of impactful conferences and 14 years as a vibrant community. As we gear up to gather with our Southeast Asia Community in Singapore on August 24th and 25th, here are five thought-provoking questions inspired by the diverse keynotes from the recently concluded TechHR India event.

Question 1: Dave Ulrich - Where are you? 

In a riveting exchange with Ashish Kumar Jha, Co-Founder and CEO of, the visionary Professor Dave Ulrich, synonymous with modern HR, imparts wisdom drawn from the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Understanding the Deeper Meaning: Reflecting on God's question, "Where are you?", Dave transcends its apparent simplicity. This query isn't about physical location; it probes the emotional and mental stance relative to failure.

                   Prof. Dave Ulrich during his fascinating keynote at People Matters TechHR 2023

Dave posed a question that cuts deep: When failure knocks, do you face it with helplessness or hope? Does fear overwhelm you, or do you stand fearless? Does failure halt your steps, or does it push you forward toward progress?

The compass of resilience: The pivotal question, "Where are you relative to your failure?" becomes the compass guiding our next steps. Dave brilliantly weaves this concept with a profound line from Carol Dweck's book, "The Growth Mindset": "I'm not failing, I'm learning." This transformational mindset interprets failure as an opportunity for growth. It breeds hope in the face of setbacks.

Dave succinctly encapsulates the heart of the matter: "If I'm not failing, I'm probably not progressing." He underlines that as long as failures translate into learning, advancement is inevitable. His mantra is clear: Test small, fail fast, and learn always.

As we reflect on Dave's words, let's dive into the heart of this question: How do you embrace failure? Share your thoughts below! Your insights could spark inspiration for others on their journey of growth."

Question 2: Dr Shashi Tharoor: What can be automated, yet demands a human touch?

Imagine this - in a captivating conversation with Dr. Shashi Tharoor, the acclaimed Author, Politician, and Former International Civil Servant, he posed a crucial question: What can be automated, yet inherently demands the human touch?

Unleashing Imagination Beyond Limits: He firmly believes that our scope of potential should never be confined by present convictions. The power to envision beyond the ordinary, visualizing the unseen possibilities of tomorrow, has become an essential trait in the 21st century – across every realm and occupation. While automation threatens to claim 30% of existing jobs, a simultaneous technological surge promises to birth a remarkable 40% of roles yet undiscovered. 

Reshaping Roles in the Face of Automation: Dr. Tharoor draws from the near-extinction of the transcription industry owing to the rise of software solutions. Processes that once fueled businesses offering these services have been seized by automation, a transformation was unthinkable just a decade ago. “No one would have imagined that when they took out car loans and mortgages in the first decade of the century,” he reflects.

The fatigue and exhilaration of our times led Dr. Tharoor to reflect, “It can be both exhausting and exhilarating because every company process, even in a fantastical way, can be streamlined, enhanced, or optimized through technology. This defines the thrilling challenge of the 21st-century workplace.” 

                  Dr Shashi Tharoor at People Matters TechHR India 

Preserving the Essence of Connection: At the same time, Dr. Tharoor reminds us that although certain roles are automatable, the story of Ayurvedic massages holds a deeper truth. Robots may excel in massage, but the essence of human connection remains unmatched.

The path forward hinges on our readiness to embrace new avenues, yet, it calls for a touch of mindfulness: what can be automated, but requires human intervention?

Many aspects of human life thrive on the human touch. Within your organisation, consider roles that, even if automatable, are better performed by humans. For instance, the delicate task of terminating employment. While automated letters can be generated swiftly, the decency of a humane conversation is irreplaceable. 

The more senior you are in the organisation, the more important this question is. Where should we safeguard the irreplaceable human touch? Share your insights!

Question 3: Vineet Nayar - Why do people visit places of worship, invest their own money, and experience a sense of upliftment, but when they step into the workplace on a Monday, earn their salary, they feel disconnected?

Our exploration into the driving forces behind organisational success led us to a profound conversation with Vineet Nayar, former CEO of IT giant HCL Tech and Founder and Chairman of Sampark Foundation. In this exchange, he posed a question that resonates deeply with HR professionals.

Imagine this: a place of worship where people willingly invest their time and resources, leaving with a sense of fulfillment. Now contrast that with an office scenario on a Monday - employees receive their pay, yet often experience a sense of detachment. What underlies this disparity?

Igniting Inspiration and Transformation: According to Vineet, HR's responsibility, along with leadership, isn't just about adhering to policies or structures. It's about delving into each individual's mind, extracting their unique aspirations, and igniting a purpose so profound they'd climb Everest to reach it. And once you do that, they will be a completely new set of people.

"Inspiration stems from understanding individual aspirations and igniting purpose"

But how can HR make this happen? Vineet challenges us as a community. He points out that often HR gets entangled in "doing the little works," rather than its true role. In a candid wake-up call, he provoques, "HR is lazy. They don't do the hard work of finding the individualism in that individual." Yet, he extends an invitation, “If HR could take the responsibility of inspiring every single employee and making the manager responsible for inspiring every single one of them, their organisation will transform, their own life will transform.”

"HR should stop doing the little work and focus on finding the individualism in each individual"

Cultivating Individualism for Collective Intelligence: Fostering individualism enables us to tap into collective intelligence, as each employee possesses a unique spark. The culture we weave should be a tapestry of diverse perspectives, opinions, and solutions. Unity should stem from our actions, not our thoughts.“Divergence in views, convergent in action, that what HR is trained for and that’s what HR’s focus should be,”  Vineet concludes. 

As we contemplate Vineet's words, consider how HR can lead this transformation and how can we accelerate “divergence in views, convergent in action” in our organisations. 

                   Vineet Nayar delivered a thought-provoking message at TechHR India 2023

Question 4: Papon - How do I know that I am good? How do I know that “this is it for me”? 

In a heart-to-heart moment, soulful singer and composer Papon graced us with a mesmerizing musical performance, but before that, he shared profound insights about pursuing one's passion and the unique role of HR.

                   Papon in a captivating conversation with People Matters CEO Ester Martinez

A Journey of Patient Success: Papon's journey to success was not a swift one. He candidly revealed, 'My breakthrough song came when I was 31. it took me a long time to get me to see that this was it for me.”

How do you recognize that you should stick to your passion? Firstly, thoughtfully assess your options, always keeping plan Bs in mind; Secondly, explore through trial and error, keenly sensing the inputs and insights you receive; Thirdly, when you sense there's enough evidence, trust and commit to your path, believing that your work will inevitably shine through. 'I may not know how much, but I will surely shine.'

HR's Unique Gift: As for HR professionals finding their passion, Papon offers an intriguing perspective. Human Resources is essentially about nurturing Human Relations. Studies reveal that human interactions contribute more to longevity than other factors like health and yoga. Your profession inherently requires you to connect with people, understand them deeply, and respond accordingly. In his words, 'You are in a great profession!' Embrace it.

Question 5: In these unconventional times, who do you choose to be?

The People Matters team designed a fantastic campaign requesting the community to embrace their superpowers and make an intentional choice to be the driver of change we aspire to embody. Here is my avatar as I choose to be Captain Marvel, a strong, independent, fearless, and determined leader who elevates emerging people and work practices.

How cool is that? If you want your avatar designed, add your request in the comments box! 

Which question resonates most for you? Why is that? Will love to read your aha moments, your insights, and reflections from our keynotes, let’s make the learning deeper and more meaningful for all. 

See You in Singapore!

P:S: Join Us at People Matters TechHR Singapore: we continue to frame questions to help us Become the Answer in our society.

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Topics: Leadership, #TechHRIN, #BusinessTransformation

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