Posted on: February 20, 2012
Janardan: Delphi Automotive System is a supplier to the automotive industry. I am part of the technical design centre stop located in Bangalore. My role there is primarily of C& B (that is compensation benefits). I handle employee engagement and performance enhancement. In addition to this I am designated as the Human Resources lead for more than 300 employees. .
Interviewer: Describe a typical day at work.
Janardan: Thirty to 40 per cent of my day goes into meetings. It includes dealing with my own team, and I have a team of 10 people reporting to me, in terms of planning for the day, planning for the week and meetings with the business leads to understand what kind of human resources issues they are facing and the new initiatives that have to be rolled out. We come up with a lot of initiatives and implementation takes a lot of our time. On a typical day I end up spending 40 per cent of my time on this and 30 per cent watching the progress of these initiatives and what needs to be done to enhance them and so on. The other 30 per cent goes into responding to employee queries. Being in human resources somebody will come to us regarding their salary, policies, benefits because compensation includes everything related to policies as well. For example if a policy regarding a team outing policy comes in they would definitely check with me if they have any queries. So basically 30 per cent of the day goes into responding to mails checking queries.
Interviewer: Do you basically enjoy your day at work?
Janardan: Yes I do. And so a typical day cannot be all work and no fun. Our entire team of 10 spend an hour a day catching up chit-chatting, lunch and having coffee.
Interviewer: Can you tell us about the things that you like and dislike about your job?
Janardan: Three things that I like about my job are:
One is the responsibility that has been given to me. Even though I do report to a manager, the manager is only there to help us if anything goes wrong. Otherwise I have got complete discretion to come up with initiatives and I can run the operations the way I want. The second thing, though it would differ from company to company, in this company particularly I like this support extended by the leadership team. When I talk about the leadership team I mean the director at the centre and his entire board of leaders. They are very supportive to human resources as a team. We design the process, but they are the ones who actually implement it in their respective teams. They are the endorsers of our ideas and are strong supporters of the initiatives that we come up with. The third thing I would say is generally the working environment is very relaxed. When I say relaxed I mean there is no micro-management. There’s not too much of pressure, by that I mean that if there is something that we have to do in a timeframe you’re not told to do something else the next morning. With something new sufficient time is given, so the work environment is pretty relaxed.
When I say relaxed I mean we generally do not encourage employees to work beyond their designated working hours, and we would never, ever encourage people to work on weekends. Saturday and Sunday is meant for family which everybody respects.
Interviewer: I guess it is going to be a bit difficult for you to pinpoint what it is you dislike?
Janardan: No definitely not. There are certain things that I dislike. Our organisation has gone through a lot of restructuring in the past years. We were basically a part of General Motors until 2000 and after 2000 we started operating as a separate company. In 2007 they filed something called a Chapter 11 which is very similar to bankruptcy. In 2009 we actually came out of Chapter 11 and now are a profit-making company. In the process there were a lot of programs and initiatives that were given a backseat and what I don’t like about this now is the process is not completely seamless. If you talk to India you get a different perspective; if you speak to China you get a different perspective; sometimes in the West you get a very different perspective – so the process is not standardized. That is one thing where I feel there is scope for improvement.
Secondly, we used to have lots of fun as a human resources team, but overall we are not a very big and we do not have enough funding for recreation. My previous experience at Accenture was nice but they had 10,000 employees at that site. So for 700 employees, to invest in entertainment is not considered very lucrative.
The third thing that I dislike is that most of our processes are not automated and documented so as I said at different site levels, they have different perspectives of the same policy. Standardisation and documentation across different locations needs to be implemented.
Interviewer: Is there nothing you dislike about human resources as a field?
Janardan: I am passionate about Human Resources and took it on as a career by choice, not chance. Like everything else, there are a few things that I dislike about HR. One of them is that HR is often viewed as a function which does not add too much value. The whole function is actually two-sided, you know. From our side, we look at adding credibility to the business. The other side needs to see HR as a function that will help them. For example, doing the performance appreciation process in the right way actually helps an organization with retention. I think HR as a whole, needs to step forward and stake a claim in industry.
The second thing that I would like to say is that with some of the initiatives that are taken up it is very difficult to measure the effectiveness. For example we keep talking about training effectiveness, but saying this training is 100 per cent effective or 80 per cent effective is very difficult. In a behavioral program the results will not show up immediately, but maybe two years or three years later the desired result will come up. So measuring the effectiveness for all the processes is still a challenge. I won’t say that these are the things that I dislike but certainly feel that these are the fields where much needs to be done.
Interviewer: What are two of the most important skills which you think are essential to succeed in your field? What can an MBA student do to work toward it? What is the advice you’d like to give them?
Janardan: The most important thing according to me is integrity. When I say integrity I do not only mean about your behavior but I mean being truthful to yourself and going ahead and doing what you plan to do. Thinking and believing in what you think and then taking up the initiative and effort to accomplish it and having integrity toward the company as well as to yourself would be the first advice I would like to give. The second thing that I would like to say is be flexible. When one enters the corporate world you are still a fresher. Whatever your scores were in the MBA, whether you were 60 per cent or 90 per cent you are a fresher. The demands in the corporate world are different than the demands in an educational institute. So do not be hell bent saying I want only this and only this and I don’t want to join any other kind of company. It doesn’t really matter if you are getting a very good company as long as your prime focus remains the same. So do not be choosy about the kind of role or the kind of company that you will get into. Be flexible because one should get into what company you can, work hard and get to whatever role you want to get into and that is something which totally depends upon your performance.
Interviewer: Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
Janardan: Right now I’m heading a small section but I want to head an entire area. I would like to head an entire region in, say the Asia-Pacific or something with about 5,000 employees. That is what my aspiration is and I’m quite confident that I will get there.
Interviewer: Is there something you’d like to tell to KIAMS student in particular.
Janardan: I see the current KIAMS students are very bright and I think they will make extremely creative people. I would like to repeat what I said earlier and that is go out for what you want, show integrity to yourself. People say show integrity to your company, to your role, don’t let the company secrets out but I guess I will stress having integrity to oneself – be truthful to yourself and never cheat yourself.
Interviewer: Please describe an interesting event during your student life that you would like to share with the KIAMS students.
Janardan: My favourite times when I was in table tennis. We were a group of four people and if we started playing table tennis we would not know when it was day and when it was night. Once we started after dinner at 9 or 10 and used to be so engrossed that we used to play until 4 a.m. We would actually play for four to five hours consecutively and we used to play 30 to 40 games in a row. Then we used to go to bed and come back to class at 8 a.m. I think those were one of my best times as far as anything and the message for the KIAMS guys is that it is very important to progress in your career, but please, please, please, do not forget to have fun in your life. I think these two years are the best years of your life and although the primary focus is on completing your MBA, do not miss out on having fun.