On 9th March 2018, Ms. Mitali Chitre took the special session of Friday Night Series (FNS) on the topic “Private Equity”. Ms. Chitre has eleven years of experience in private equity and is currently Principal at Baring Private Equity Partners India, one of the oldest PE funds in the country with the US $1.5 billion in assets under management. She leads investments in consumer durables, energy, logistics and capital goods sectors. Additionally, Ms. Mitali is the Chief Economist and head of Deal Origination at Baring.
Ms. Chitre started the session by sharing her experiences in the industry and how close the topic of the session, “Private Equity”, is to her heart. Before going into the crux of private equity, she gave a brief overview of what private equity is and the importance of venture capital funding in a business. Ms. Chitre then detailed the life cycle of a company which comprises of R&D, start-up, Take-off, Development, and Maturity & sale stages. She introduced the cohort of finance enthusiasts to the concept of Leveraged Buyout (LBO), which is still uncommon in India, but predominant in US and European countries. In US and Europe, 80% of private equity is LBOs and only the rest is growth capital. Next, Ms. Chitre discussed the functioning of a private equity firm, illustrating it with an example. She also discussed the difference between General Partners (GP) and Limited Partners (LP). Ms. Chitre explained that in private equity, the first stake to any claim goes to the Limited Partner and from the profit, the General Partner will first take out their fees and the rest is split between GP and LP.
The second half of the session was focussed on the various risks related to dealing in private equity, which include execution risk, currency risk, macro risk, geopolitical risk, technology risk, illiquidity risk and alignment of interest. Ms. Chitre said that currency risk is beyond the control of the firm and one of the easiest ways to overcome this risk is to invest in companies which are exporters, which earn dollar revenue, thereby creating a natural hedge in the portfolio. In order to avoid macro risk, she advised choosing the right sector rather than the right company for investment. However, in Ms. Chitre’s opinion, from the limited partner’s point of view, choosing the right manager to manage the fund is extremely crucial. She concluded the session by stating that, even with high levels of risk, LPs still invest in PE because they are getting paid for the risk that they take. She illustrated this through the trends in PE investments around the world and in India.
The highly insightful session saw the active participation of students, with Ms. Chitre encouraging the students to pose questions.
On 3rd March, 2018, Ms. Archana Newaskar, Director-IT, IQVIA, engaged the students of TAPMI in an invigorating discussion on the scope and opportunities in the IT sector. She initiated the discussion by saying that the global IT industry is predominantly present in regions like United States of America and Asia Pacific followed by UK and other geographies of the world. “There is in fact”, she said “a global growth of 5% year on year in IT”. The crucial part of IT is managing workforce, working under senior management and being able to get the task done in time. Networking, experimenting, planning and transparency helps us in getting work done quickly and effectively. One of the key focus areas of coming year would be Cloud, Blockchain, Internet of Things, Automation, Artificial Intelligence, etc.
Talking about automation she explained that some of the highly susceptible areas of workforce replacement are domains of data processing and predictive analysis. Jobs like managing others and unpredictable physical work are difficult to be automated and therefore are less threatened by automation. Some barriers however, which automation faces infrastructure needs, organization size, technical feasibility, scarcity of skill, cost of workers, social acceptance and overall value proposition.
India is the leader in providing Offshore Business Services followed closely by China. Reasons for India being the leader are that we are demographically perfect to position our technical excellence and we make better geographical partners to international firms compared to other nearby countries. Various digital initiatives have been taken by the government like universal mobile phone connectivity, automation of delivery of government services, free wi-fi services in large cities, digital lockers and setting up fiber-optic network across the nation.
Talking about hiring in IT industry, the fueling of growth is majorly due to lack of skilled and competent workforce. Firms like people who are trained in soft skills, have an experience in emerging areas like IoT, AI, etc. and those who are competitive and energetic to bridge their skill gaps. Critical soft skills like teamwork, communication, integrity, conflict resolution, negotiation, leadership, adaptability and communication are very important in the IT industry.
Ending on a note that the IT industry provides bread and butter to a huge population she discussed the opportunities available in it such as those of an Analyst, Research Associate, Content Writer, HR Professional, Finance Professional, Project Manager, Consultant, Marketing & Sales Executive, Business Development Expert, etc. and mentioned how it provides exciting roles for management graduates.
On 26th February 2018, Dr. Akhil Prasad addressed the students of TAPMI on the current scenario in Aviation and Defense industry of India and the how the sector is expected to grow in the next couple of years. Dr. Akhil began by recounting his illustrious career as a working professional. A firm believer in lifelong learning, he stated: “All of us should strive to learn new things and not remain stagnant”.
He then talked about Boeing and its plans for expansion in India. He threw light on the challenging work environment at Boeing and the experience of being a part of a growing and important industry. Globally, Boeing operates in three sectors – Defence, Civil Aviation and Space & Security, and has been growing in strength in India. Boeing has also teamed up with Indian companies like TATA and is in talks with ISRO to manufacture aerostructure for helicopters and solar cells respectively. He expressed confidence that the UDAN scheme launched by the Government of India would serve as a fillip to the aviation industry. He also spoke about Boeing’s plans to focus on small aircraft in India.
Dr. Akhil then talked about the reforms in the defence sector of India. Being a major importer of defence equipment, India serves as an attractive market. The Indian market is set for robust growth with a population of 800 million below 35 years, 3 fold GDP growth and 15.25% growth in manufacturing sector. The recent decision to raise the FDI limit on civil aviation has several important implications for the sector, he added.
Dr. Akhil also spoke about the civil aviation sector in India and how government initiatives have encouraged growth. The session was highly interactive and was peppered with questions from the students.
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.
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.
Student: How has been your experience in TAPMI so far and how are you finding SCOPE 2018?
Dr. Harish Pant– My experience has been great. SCOPE is a unique initiative. The students have constantly been communicating with me throughout for a comfortable trip. All responses were prompt. I am enjoying the event. I gave a session on India 20-20 and Industry 4.0 to the students and I look forward to the various future events of SCOPE.
Student: You have worked for organizations like GM, Maruti Udyog, JSL and now leading Hampson industries; what is your take on the future of manufacturing industry in India?
Dr. Harish Pant– Because of the multiple disruptions happening at the same time, manufacturing would change rapidly and my view is that about 30% to 40% industries would close down because they might be rendered irrelevant. For example, manufacturing engine parts would become obsolete with the advent of new electric vehicles. Similarly, many structural changes that are taking place would change the industry.
Manufacturing as a core is taking a backseat and Tech companies are now investing in automotive. Google, Apple, Tesla who were not in existence a few years back are now being valued more than General Motors. These changes are inevitable and therefore manufacturing would not be the same again.
Student: You have worked across various domains, and across the years you have worked with organizations with varying cultures, your industry experience spans over many years, how has it contributed to who you are today?
Dr. Harish Pant– It has enriched me substantially and I find myself in a unique position where I can contribute and impact the society at large. This combination has given me depth and span that I can contribute at the national level.
I have joined Networking Council of Business and Academia’s recently as its Founding Member in Leadership Council where I will actively contribute as the Thought leader, with other prominent Thought Leaders from Ivy of Academia, Industry and Businesses across India and abroad.
Similarly, at the international level, I have started contributing as Advisor and Global Mentor through various platforms like 100 Open Startups. All this would not have been possible if I would not have had such a rich experience.
Student: The work culture and the attitude of the employees have changed over the years. What difference do you perceive in the people working for you, coming all the way from when you started until today?
Dr. Harish Pant– Definitely, the employees back then were more loyal and had a sense of fear for their jobs because they had mouths to feed. Today the generation has a safety net with their parents still working so their longevity in the job is less and they prefer to jump between jobs.
The resources previously focused on “bare necessities of life” and now they are focused on “aspirations of life”. And this, there is a definite Generation gap where three generations would be working under one roof. Because of this, there is a chasm which many leaders today are unable to fill. A successful leader is one who is able to manage and connect across to take all along on his/her journey.
Student: While we know automation has greatly enhanced manufacturing capabilities, are there any problems that you have seen arising due to it?
Dr. Harish Pant– I think there is more of a hype than substance. Like in the recent budget people complained that the middle class has been squeezed of its resources. The tiny fraction of people (1%) pays direct taxes so 99% don’t. The people who don’t pay also join the chorus.
Indian Economy is at $ 2.3 trillion GDP while the top 3 Tech companies in the world are valued more than the Indian GDP. So, when Indian employees complain that robots and automation have taken away their job they are not being realistic as we contribute a tiny percentage to the global economy. We have to go a long way when this becomes a threat.
The second perspective is that automation helps society and it enhances our capacity, quality, productivity and helps manage our costs and thus benefits society immensely. There is a dilemma whether to accept this evolutionary change or stand still.
Keep evolving is a better proposition than simply worrying about the job loss.
The third viewpoint is, as and when robots replace humans, there will be a relative reduction of consumers too – robots work but do not consume as humans. Also, work will be there but not the job as the jobs which are Dirty, Delicate, Duplicate or Dangerous are automated.
The benefits of automation are so huge to that society will be called upon to take care of unemployed. There is a call for deciding Minimum Unified Payment across the world.
Student: Would you like to convey any message to the students of TAPMI?
Dr. Harish Pant– Indian economy is growing and India would see the highest continuous economic growth in the coming decade. It is the responsibility of the management graduates to think big and not get constrained by problems, challenges and corruption. Beyond all these noises are huge opportunities. I have written an article “A trillion-dollar challenge” wherein I have articulated that what happens if our prime minister invites directors of the top twenty management institutes of our country to take up this trillion-dollar challenge.
These institutes are producing the top future world leaders. They should take the challenge to formulate a team of their best alums and students, who in turn would develop a plan to contribute one trillion dollars plus value to our society. The directors need to pay attention to the kind of education they would give to their students. This emphasis should put on the core of foundation of learning where they identify the students who have the required mettle and train them to contribute to the society. Business will learn in academics rather management intern in business!