Interaction- Mr Tojo Joseph, Manager- Human Resource, Gale Partners

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Student- Gale Partners started in 2014 but before that, you have worked with big companies like Mphasis, AOL, Target and SLK software. So, what is the difference in the work culture in a big firm and a start-up like gale Partners?

Mr Tojo Joseph- One of the main difference is people-centricity. I am not saying that the bigger firms aren’t people-centric but here, the work totally depends on the people. For example, in my company itself, I am the only person in HR. If I am not there for a week, some things may come to a standstill. And this the case for a lot of things including operational work or some technology-related work. Even if it is a junior employee who is not available, things may come to a standstill which does not augur well for a start-up. This is because start-ups are supposed to be agile and are supposed to churn out products and services faster than the regular organizations.  They work on really tight timelines.

The other big difference that I can think of is the learning that you can get by working in a start-up. I keep talking about the big organization having a lot of people manning a department and you just end up becoming a part of an assembly line. But in a start-up, you can come up with something new as well. That is something a start-up can offer but a big organization might not. But the previous organization that I worked with was SLK software. There were about 2000 people in SLK software and the group had 5000 people. The group had suddenly grown big and it was an opportunity for us. There was a team called the ‘Organizational Transformational Group’. They basically grilled people to ensure that their processes were tightened. And HR was the custodian of a lot of these processes. It was challenging but we pulled it off and it was one of the big changes for SLK. It even included changing some values and culture that they have worked on for so many years. Even prior to that, when I was working in Target Technology Services, I was one of the business partners. The MD of Target India, who was also the Sr. Vice President of Target Technology Services. He used to have a direct reportees meeting once in a fortnight and I had a 15-minute slot regularly in that. HR must get a seat at the table, but I already had a huge seat at the table. And the culture of the organization was such that they were open to these changes. That was another opportunity that I got to work on where I got to do a lot of transformational changes.

Student- From being considered a support function once to now, among the most important functions in an organization, what are your views on the changes in the HR industry?

Mr Tojo Joseph- I would say, in the mindset of a lot of people in India and in the IT space, we are still a support function. But the good part is that a lot of people in HR are making a difference. HR business partner is supposedly the most important role in the HR industry now. Earlier, it used to be employee engagement or generalist. Now, the business partner is the one who runs the show in HR. And when we talk about the business partner, it is someone who actually helps make projects and programmes happen in an organization.  For example, in Gale Partners, now they have started to think about how to improvise the entire delivery and the best part is that I own this project. For me, this is a win for HR because the one who built the idea is the Sr. Vice President who joined us from a bigger organization. But he felt that this has to be a project that HR runs because this involves people and it involves change.  Change management, business partnering and an HR’s knowledge of different domains are going to be the keys to ensure that people stop looking at HR as just a support function. There are instances where the decisions regarding who has to be placed in projects rest with HR now as opposed to the managers because everyone has a silo view of their teams and their projects, but the good part is that the HR is for all. And our main focus is to look at people, where they stand and their developmental track. So, at the end of the day, we will be able to take a better decision as opposed to someone else taking that decision. In Target, there used to be program kick-offs, sprint kick-offs and transformation kick-offs and they were very clear that each of these kick-offs will have the HR people in them. Even the brainstorming for a project will be cofacilitated by the PMO and HR person. So, those kinds of things make a difference in terms of that seat at the table for the HR.

Student- Sir, how is HR Analytics changing the HR sector?

Mr Tojo Joseph- HR Analytics is in its initial stages. As of now, HRMS is the norm in all the organizations. But even though data analytics is emerging, I am not sure about the extent to which Analytics helps shape our decisions. We are in a phase where we have to make that transition but we still have not done so.  A few large organizations like Wipro have no choice but to adopt it because the way they previously functioned has not worked out well for them. So, analytics is seen as a way that can help them retain their people, give recognition and keep the employees happy. Particularly because the competition for talent is getting tougher. So if these measures can help predict people’s behaviour, maybe not to a large extent, but at least around 80% (following the 80-20 rule), that would by itself be a win for them.

Student- With the advent of automation, there is growing apprehension about people losing their jobs. How does the HR function deal with this situation?

Mr Tojo Joseph- There are two sides to this. One is concerned with the HR operations automation and the other side is concerned with the strategic aspects of the business. HR operations automation is already happening; however, I do not believe that this has led to massive job loss. In fact, HR’s shift to a more pivotal role could be seen as an outcome of automation. That being said, a lot of HR functions are already being automated even in startups. This doesn’t in any way diminish the importance of HR, simply because an artificial system would not have the people connect factor.

However, the issue will come in when AI comes into play and this is particularly expected to impact the Banking and Financial Services in the HRM sector. So, yes, handling people’s expectations and helping them deal with job loss will definitely be a challenge faced by HR in the next couple of years. No book or program can teach you how to handle such crucial communications to the people at the receiving end. I can tell you this from the exit sessions that I have had; they’re not easy to do. It’s a very emotional conversation that you’re holding, and it is a very tough thing to do. Sometimes, people do not take smaller things like feedback very well, so you can imagine how tough such conversations can be. As to what will happen to the people who will lose their jobs, we’ll have to figure it out as and when it happens. I cannot predict how this situation will turn out to be, particularly with regard to the BFSI domain.

Student- What are the key things that companies do for employee engagement?

Mr Tojo Joseph- One of the things that I’ve noticed as a difference in a start-up, is focused on employee morale for employee engagement. We don’t use the term employee engagement at all. We look at the morale of the people and morale is a huge thing because it’s not just your salary, it’s not just your work, it’s how well they’re recognized, how well they’re rewarded, how impartial the awards are. All these things are very important in a start-up because if it leads to one or two people deciding to move on, that can be a huge hit on the business. So, employee morale is the single biggest thing HR works on and that’s what I work on. Simple things like CSR events, social events, there’s a social committee which I run, there’s a book club that doubles as my knowledge management, there’s robotics club, we’re trying to bring in wellness benefits. So overall a lot of these are very small things that can make a huge difference and that attention to detail is what I think is the most important in a start-up. I don’t think employee morale can be controlled in a bigger organization because it is way too many people and the number of HR people who are involved are much less. In a start-up, it’s one HR is to maximum 100 people and here you have 1:1000 or the lowest will be 1:200 or 1:300, which is really tough to manage. In SLK, the way my manager, who was the HR Head at that point, used to think about employee engagement was employee engagement is employee development, which to me was a “shake-me-up” kind of moment. I realized that there’s so much that we did for their development and that actually converted into people staying back even though their salary weren’t the highest in the industry. But just the developmental opportunities and the mindset the organization had from the inception time, that learning and development and growth of the people is key, has helped SLK retain a lot of its people. The other important thing I’ve noticed in SLK and other start-ups is people being empowered to make decisions even though they might be junior. There have been instances where I’ve seen junior team members, just out of college, talking to the customers and making decisions.

Student- When you come to hire in a B-school, what skills do you look for, apart from technical knowledge?

Mr Tojo Joseph- The good part is that you all have technical skills. When I started up with the job, I didn’t have any experience. So I took it up as a challenge and I was able to do it. In my case, I will look for that as one of the key things. If the person is willing to take up challenges and has an urge to learn, that makes an impact. The first thing is learning. If the learning automatically happens, growth will automatically happen. If I’m doing an interview for hiring someone, not just HR but in general, I look for that urge to learn and that mindset that I will do anything it takes to surpass those challenges that are thrown at me.

Student- How do you find the place Manipal and TAPMI?

Mr Tojo Joseph- I’ve heard a lot about Manipal. The way it looks and feels, better than I thought. I thought it will be more like a concrete jungle. But there’s a lot of green and it’s a good campus. I think the most important thing, after speaking to your Placement Head Gurudutt and to all of whom I’ve interacted with, one of the things I noticed is you all are doing a lot of things to stay up with what is happening in the industry and it’s not one of those cliché things. I see that onus on everyone to see if there’s something that is required in the industry and take

that in and plug it into the program and curriculum. The best thing I heard was about Analytics being a minor. I know there are specific courses in Analytics, but this is the first place that I’ve come across where anyone doing MBA can take up Analytics as minor. I don’t know if once you do MBA in Analytics you’ll be able to land an analytics job, but just having that in your curriculum and talking to someone when you’re going for an interview, that will put a thought in that person’s mind that this guy might be a lot more analytically and logically better than a person who hasn’t done Analytics, which gives you that edge. The other thing that I noticed was because you all are aloof from the city, both the faculty and the students are more towards learning and excelling at what you are studying as opposed to learning something to find a job. During my time of study, we never thought of getting a job. I hope that is the mindset that exists in everyone because I feel that way you are not narrowing down your vision to a job. You’re actually keeping it wide open. That is another plus point I see here.

Student- We’re launching a PGDM-HR program next year. What are your thoughts on this?

Mr Tojo Joseph- I’m interested to know more about it. I think it will be really helpful. I’ve worked in the technology line, I’ve worked in the training, I’ve done L&D and then I landed in HR. But am I planning to go back to any of those? Maybe I am. But, now that I’ve chosen HR as the place I want to be, it doesn’t make any sense for me to study anything else like Finance. It might help me, and I might learn something new. But if you have decided you want to learn HR and there’s a course specifically for that, then why not take it.

 

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“Prominence of HR in start-ups”- Mr Tojo Joseph, Manager- Human Resource, Gale Partners

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Mr Tojo Joseph started the discussion with an introduction to the present-day scenario of start-ups. He said that ‘start-up’ is not a new concept. It has been there since time immemorial. People with entrepreneurial drive, business acumen, sellable idea and access to funding have built their own businesses. It is just the way of doing business and technical focus that has changed now. Earlier we focused on satisfying basic needs at a cheaper cost, while now with the advent of technology and greater disposable income at hand, these startups are focusing on improving lifestyles and adding elements of luxury. The products and services they provide are making our lives simpler and better.

He took the discussion forward by highlighting that start-ups are a growing trend these days. The benefits are provided in the form of higher employment, more technology and ease of life. Thus, they make our country more technologically developed and at par with the developed nations.

Going forward with the discussion, he discussed the HR policies that play a major role in a start-up culture. He talked about the recruitment policies, new and regular staff orientation, staff retention, attendance and leave policies and employee relations. He also threw some light on other factors influencing HR such as drug/alcohol abuse, personal debts, feedback and coaching, performance evaluation and termination policies. All these need to be carefully planned and monitored for a successful HR functionality.

Further, he spoke about employee satisfaction factors which play a major role in a start-up organization. Alignment of vision and mission, opportunity, rewards and recognition, the structure of organization, leadership and business competitiveness are some of the key focus areas.

Moving forward, he also talked about the process of managing complex change. Here, he highlighted certain factors change, confusion, anxiety, resistance, frustration and false starts that impact the key stakeholders of the organization. The HR function should be very strong to cope up with the change or any possible deviance.

Mr. Tojo Joseph ended the discussion by mentioning that start-up provides an all-around learning and development to an individual which improves his power of decision making and also provides experiential learning.

“The role of HR in the present industry”: Mr. Santosh Bolar – HR Manager, Country Garden Group

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On 25th January 2018, Mr. Santosh Bolar had an interactive discussion with the students on the topic “The role of HR in the present industry”.

He opened the talk with a discussion on the role of HR in the industry today, as well as the differences in the way the HR function operates across geographies. He spoke about how the employment laws and work culture prevalent in different countries influence the HR function as a whole, from recruitment to retention and employee engagement. “In today’s scenario, retaining talent is proving to be a difficult task”, he opined.

Reflecting on his career spanning over a decade in the real estate sector, he emphasized the need to cultivate good relationships and building a rapport with one’s colleagues at the workplace. Negotiation, good communication, and team-building skills hold the key to a successful career in HR, he said.

He then offered several tips on how to crack the GDs and interviews for the placement process. He advised the students to keep themselves abreast about the latest trends in the industry relevant to HR. The students were also advised to read and understand the job profile being offered, thoroughly. A key element of one’s preparation should also involve a study of the company and the industry as well, such as facts about the leadership, turnover, products/services, competitors, company policies and labour laws. Gaining proficiency in advanced Excel was also advised. He asked the students not to be swayed by the packages offered by recruiters, but to focus on the job profiles on offer. Acquiring connections on LinkedIn would be immensely helpful in understanding the career path in this industry as well as scouting for openings in companies, he opined. He signed off by encouraging the students to look at every opportunity at the workplace as an avenue for growth, urging them not to be disheartened by setbacks but to focus on enhancing their skill sets.

Atharva 2018: Day 1 – Interactive Session with Mr. Deepak Kulkarni, Head HR, Bajaj Electricals Ltd

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On the first day of the 31st edition of Atharva, Mr. Deepak Kulkarni, Head HR of Bajaj Electricals Ltd held an interactive session with the students on the topic “Employer Branding”. He started the session by giving a brief introduction about himself as well as the company. He explained that the vision of Bajaj Electricals is “Enhancing the quality of life and bringing happiness with sustainability”. Before going into the topic of the day, he asked the students about the definition of the word “Contract”. According to Mr. Kulkarni, the word can be defined in three steps. The first step is a combination of offer and acceptance which leads to the formulation of a proposal. This proposal along with consideration in the next step gives way to agreement. When an agreement is combined with legal enforcement, we say we have a contract and this is the definition of contract according to Indian Contract Act 1956.

Talking about employees and organization, Mr. Kulkarni emphasized that it is important for one to know about the labor mentality in the organization, even if they’re in marketing or finance department. Then Mr. Kulkarni went on to talk about the difference between HR at the time he started his professional life and HR now. According to Mr. Kulkarni, over the course of years, HR has evolved from Personal Management to Strategic HRM. In simple language, he defined strategy as a game plan. In a more technical sense, Strategy means to align and synchronize the longtime business of the team.

Towards the end, Mr. Kulkarni talked about the importance of employee development which includes performance management and talent management. Mr. Kulkarni concluded the session by explaining the current challenges faced by HR. These include skill shortages, economic flux, competitive pressure, aging population and global competition for talent, to name a few. Overall, the session was more of an informal interactive session, where Mr. Kulkarni made sure to actively involve every single student from the audience.

Atharva 2018: Inauguration Ceremony

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The 31st edition of TAPMI’s annual management fest Atharva commenced with the Inauguration Ceremony on 19th January 2018. The ceremony began with an invocation song followed by the lighting of the ceremonial lamp by the Chief Guest Mr. Deepak Kulkarni, CHRO, Bajaj Electricals, the Chief Guest of Honor Mr. Ashneer Grover, PC Jeweller Ltd, President of New Business and Strategy and the Director of TAPMI, Dr. Madhu Veeraraghavan. This was followed by an overview of Atharva and the theme of the year “Modulate the Mayhem”.

The Director of TAPMI Dr. Madhu Veeraraghavan spoke warmly about the event and complimented the team of Atharva for bringing this event together successfully. He said events like these make a B school life complete. He then spoke about the newly launched PGDM HR program and how TAPMI is a forward-looking B School. TAPMI is also looking forward to taking major leaps in the field of management in coming future. He also spoke about how the life in TAPMI is not just about academics but also much more. There are a lot of student events lined up in coming few weeks and the Director is looking forward to all of them. He thanked the Chief Guest for gracing the occasion and asked the students to learn whatever they could from the guest lectures which have been scheduled during the event.

The Convenor of Atharva Mr. Harshvardhan Sheth then gave an overview of the 31st edition of Atharva. He walked through Atharva’s history back when it had modest beginnings and how the event grew over the years. He elaborated on the theme of the year “Modulate the Mayhem”. He then elaborated on the plethora of exciting events which have been lined up this year. These events range from Business Plan competition to a marathon for a cause. Other events cater to the enthusiasts of Marketing, Analytics, Finance etc. This was followed by an introduction about our Chief Guest Mr. Deepak Kulkarni and our Chief Guest of Honor Mr. Ashneer Grover.

Mr. Deepak Kulkarni then addressed the gathering. He thanked the college for inviting him to this event and praised the college for organizing an event of this scale. He then spoke about the theme of the year and elaborated the importance of modulating the markets. Being an HR, he spoke about the importance of HR in markets. He also asked the students to improve their skills as there is an acute shortage of skilled workers in the market. He spoke on the importance of grassroots experience taking examples of situations from the industry. He spoke on regulations and legislation related to labor management. He emphasized on stress management among the employees. He asked the students to spend a couple of minutes every day to focus on mastering oneself and cleansing the mind of stress.

He appealed to the college to incorporate Kaizen philosophy in its way of life. He then spoke about his experiences during his corporate internship days in Godrej Soaps. He spoke on how we can build on the branding strategy of TAPMI. He spoke about organizational hiring strategies and the different competencies which must be considered before hiring an employee. He concluded by once again thanking the college for inviting him and showered praise on TAPMI for being a center of excellence bring an end to an engrossing speech. The next few days are promising to be intellectually stimulating, fun and a great learning experience.

Jigyasa 2018: “Data Visualization and Analytics”: Ms. Nisha Sullia, Senior Project Manager, Gramener

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On 14th January, Ms. Sullia engaged the students of TAPMI in an invigorating discussion on Analytics. Emphasizing on how colors, representation and shapes play an important role in organizing data, she said understanding how to extract information and reading data is as important as collecting it.

“It is imperative to spend time with data to come to a conclusion and derive information”, she said, “The main visualization challenge is in deciding what we want to extract from the available structured or unstructured data. Florence Nightingale used Data visualize to depict the number of deaths during wars. We can also similarly extract many details out of data once we know what we are looking for and then decipher it correctly”.

She talked about Audience, Data and Author as the three components of designing data visualization. Analysis, Info-graphics and Data Art help in interacting between these components. We start by methods to Expose Data and Show Data. These are low effort techniques to know what is our data and what is happening with it. After this we move to Explore Data and Explain Data which require more efforts because we try to analyze the impact and relationship inside the data. We try to decipher why is the phenomenon happening.

Ms. Sullia shared various data sets and cases which left the students awed at the huge application of Data Analytics and Visualization in today’s world. Be it the class X mark of students or the variance of number of births on various calendar days Data Visualization and Analytics finds its way into all domains.

She moved on to talk about Advanced Analytics. This can be descriptive (analyzing portfolio performance of stores, partners and product mix), diagnostic (energy utility to study losses and gains), predictive (employee churn ratio of banks), and prescriptive (using heuristics to analyze data).

The two approaches to decision making Business-Driven approach or Data-Driven approach. The organization is based on business requirement which in turn involves factors like regions, types of market. Ms. Sullia concluded the interesting session by emphasizing the importance of data in today’s world and how the representation and stories that are formulated around that data are equally necessary.

Leadership Lecture Series: Mr. Ramakrishna Vyamajala, Director-Human Resources, IDFC Bank

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On 5th November 2017, Mr. Ramakrishna Vyamajala talked to the students of TAPMI about Employee Stock Options. He started the lecture by asking the students having a prior work experience if any of their previous employers offered them any stock options. He explained that the Employee Stock Options or ESOPs as they are called, are long term incentives that the company gives to its employees whom they want to retain for a long period of time.

He talked about the different types of ESOPs like Employee Stock Purchase Plans (ESPPs), Restricted Stock Units and Stock Appreciation Rights. Between the time when employees get the stocks and the time they finally sell them, there are four stages involved. The first stage is Granting, where the company issues the grant letter to the employee. The next stage is Vesting, when the employee becomes eligible to buy those shares. And then comes Exercising, when employees exercise their right to buy the stocks. Then is the stage where the employees finally sell their stocks and get the money. The ESOPs are good for both the employee as well as the employers as it attracts employees, motivates them, enhances their job satisfaction and aligns the employees with the company’s goals.

He gave the examples of companies like HDFC, Infosys and Citrus Pay where the employees made a lot of money by selling their stocks. But there is a chance that the stock prices go down after the employees receive the ESOPs and to avoid the problem, the best times to exercise ESOPs are when an increase in stock prices is expected, prior to expansion plan or listing of shares or prior to any merger or corporate events.

He ended the session with some recommendations to the students on when to accept ESOPs from their employers. He asked to students to choose the right instruments basis the life cycle of the organization and if there is too much uncertainty involved, it is better to go with the cash component instead of stock options.