It is not every day that bright young students get to interact with a corporate professional who has brought value to organisations that are giants, such as General Electric, Toyota and Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), and who has worked in so diverse a set of industries. But that was exactly what happened on the 30th of March, 2014. TAPMI played host to Mr. Sreekanth K. Arimanithaya, presently Vice President of Human Resources (HR) at CSC.
Mr. Arimanithaya is a seasoned HR professional whose career spans close to twenty years. He has worked in various roles in companies such as Britannia, Computer Associates (CA), GE, Philips and Toyota. He brings with him immense experience and valuable insights into the HR function, and is well versed with strategic HRM, Recruitment and Selection, Competency building, HR operations (TQM, PCMM and Six Sigma for example), Performance management and HR excellence among many other fields.
The talk was nothing liketure a typical one sided lecture – Mr Arimanithaya engaged with the TAPMI students and so, the session was interactive throughout. After clearly defining the expectations and deliverables from the session based on inputs from the students, he started off by briefly describing his journey in the corporate world. He talked about what is similar between the companies he worked for, and more significantly, what is different. This led to some insights and debate about the portability of the HR function.
He then pondered for a while on the topic of competency building. Mr. Arimanithaya explained through the use of an elegant framework what is required to be learnt and applied at what stage of one’s career: student, trainee, manager, and leader. He talked about the competencies that need to be built at each stage so as to be able to progress to the next stage. For example, as a manager, the core competency is to be able to get the core operation done. But to become a leader, one of the competencies to be acquired is the ability to provide direction. The moment such competencies can be acquired in addition to the expected competencies of the manager, a person is ready to move on and become a leader.
Finally, when asked what was the biggest challenge faced by him as a HR professional, Mr. Arimanithaya responded that creating a culture change was probably the toughest thing to do for a HR person. He deliberated on this point with an apt example. The processes that are followed at Toyota are widely known and accessible to companies worldwide. And yet, no company has really succeeded in emulating the kind of success Toyota has with its system. The reason for this, according to him is that it may be easy to imitate processes, but culture is far more difficult to imitate. And so, imbibing and creating a paradigm shift in culture in an organisation is a very difficult task.
Mr. Arimanithaya also gave the eager students several suggestions with regard to books to read to enhance their knowledge. He concluded his session to a vast round of applause, following which he received a token of appreciation for spending his valuable time with the students.