The responsibility of the HR division is to develop soft skills and leadership skills amongst the employees, who are mostly engineers
STMicroelectronics is one of the world’s largest semiconductor companies with net revenues of US$ 8.49 billion in 2012. The group has approximately 48,000 employees. Almost one quarter of its employees work in research & development and product design. Ashish K Chawla, Country Human Resource Director, STMicroelectronics – India, talks about how the company engages and retains talent, its views on leadership and much more
What are the kinds of HR challenges faced by the semiconductor industry? What systems and practices have you put in place to address those?
One of the foremost HR challenges faced by the industry is finding the right candidate. To deal with this, ST has a referral hiring process, long-term internship for eligible students etc. We keep in touch with our ex-employees as this helps us during referrals and also in case they wish to return. The second challenge is the lack of understanding of industry needs at the ground level by graduates. ST follows practices like professor on board, Back2Basics sessions, campus connect to overcome this gap. Retention of talent is a key concern. In ST, all youngsters who join with less than a year of experience can volunteer to go through the COMPASS (Company Mentoring Programme to Align, Sensitise & Stabilise) process. Beside this, we also have the Engagement Forum Task Force and projects to give special attention to processes and engagements for the critical talents in divisions.
The responsibility of the HR division is to develop soft skills and leadership skills amongst the employees, who are mostly engineers. By their very nature, engineers are analytical and bent towards logic. Aspects like self-awareness, emotional quotient, leadership and cross-cultural sensitivities need to be explored, inculcated and infused.
How different are the HR policies at ST Microelectronics when it comes to attracting, engaging and retaining talent?
More than different, I would rather refer them as ‘deep’. Our philosophy at ST is E3 -Every Employee Engaged and we aim to achieve through 3C values viz. Commitment, Care & Credibility. We encourage our employees by recognising them internally, polishing their skills by educating them and keeping a good work-life balance. ST takes due care of its employees by organising initiatives like health check-ups, festivities, cultural events etc. ST also has special communication forums which enhance transparency.
Is diversity at work place a forced agenda or is it based on business imperatives?
Being a multinational workplace, diversity is a business imperative. In fact, people from different countries, cultures and ethnicity need to work together owing to the complexity of the projects and diverse customer base – involving Europe, Asia and the Americas. This could be a challenge to a person who hasn’t worked in such an environment as it will have diverse psychological influences. At ST, we offer advanced cross culture training, with lots of theoretical concepts (like Halls Iceberg theory, Trompenaars 7 Dimensions Model etc.) and real-life practical experiences, to emphasise the challenges and excellent learning a diverse environment presents.
What makes a great workplace?
Irrespective of the business, there are some core truths that help in creating the ‘aura’ of a great workplace. Employees must have a clear understanding of their higher goals and the management should leave no stone unturned to help them understand the way to reach the mission and vision. Merit should not be seen at an individual level as a great company culture is built by uninhibited teamwork that celebrates sharing and contributes to better work. To create a great workplace, people must get the feeling of ‘space’: to think independently, to act, to make their mistakes, to suggest and enhance and to learn & grow. Passionate people are also another key ingredient of a great place to work. We need to make work fun and not treat employees as one-dimensional contributors.
Organisations across sectors complain about the lack of leaders to take the business forward. How is your organisation building the leadership pipeline to bridge this deficit?
The reality of lack of leaders is ‘lack of intent’. Lack of leaders is nothing to ‘complain’ about, but everything to DO about. Three years ago, ST embarked on an exercise of first identifying its ‘leadership potential’ and that has led us to some serious talent mapping. We have had reviews, which necessarily involved assessing our current and potential leadership in 360 degrees. Inputs from engagement scores, feedback from senior managers and self-awareness modules have all contributed to availability of robust data points to measure them for performance and potential. ST has a programme to build a pipeline of leaders. The ACE programme has multiple learning modules, which help build specific competencies at particular leadership levels and prepares the employee for the future role. Beside this, we have Local and Corporate Booster Programmes for the ‘Highest Potentials’ identified at different levels.
What are the traits a future leader needs to have?
A future leader should have a clear vision and the capability to communicate the vision to its team member. The future leader must be hugely self-aware about the kind of impact he/she has and also inculcate the ability to make modifications. The person needs to have a global vision and should be able to make globalisation work in his or her favour. The best leaders are natural teachers and coaches. They should be passionate about helping others learn and grow. Future leaders need to be decisive in dynamic environments, notwithstanding the high pressure to perform.