Be Loyal To Your Profession And You’ll Be Loyal To Your Organisation

HR insights for successful professionals
Recently, I had the pleasure of talking to some bright students at TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences), a premier campus for future HR leaders. As a profession, HR has undergone a sea change and the time is ripe to change the script, to challenge and disrupt the classical HR model of yore. Today, HR should be viewed as a core function of business with a central and strategic role. A successful HR professional must be discerning and possess objectivity and tact.

Do not plan your career
I firmly believe that one shouldn’t over-plan their career. You never know what the future holds and where life is going to take you. When you look for the larger meaning of life, you will find your #TrueNorth. Balance your attention from the imagined future to the very real now. I believe it is more productive to focus on building your skills and competencies and creating your personal brand.
Choose your career wisely. I have seen people stray into HR because of the belief that excellent people skills are all that it takes to succeed. HR is more than just connecting with people; it is a strategic function and is as important to business as any other core function. It is a wonderful time to be in HR; and right now, it is the best function to build your life around.

HR does not enable business, HR is business
Many organisations still operate with the archaic assumption that HR is a business enabler or a support function. I believe that HR does not enable business, it is business and it is imperative for all HR professionals to understand the nature of business of the organisation they serve.
An HR professional working in robotics or pharmaceutical or oil exploration company need not understand the scientific technology behind the business. However, he must categorically comprehend the nature of its business. HR must be business savvy, understand the value chain, and definitely know where value is created and eroded in the business. When you are this discerning, it will become absolutely clear that HR is central and strategic to business.
Without knowledge about the nature of the business, creating performance systems or engagement models are mere exercises in futility.

Link HR strategy to business strategy

When viewed as a strategic function, HR is all about creating and nurturing the human capital. Human capital is an organisation’s biggest strength, making the role of the HR function central to the business. HR professionals must always talk the language of business. I have presented my ideas to some very distinguished Boards, and I realise that when you are clear of the business imperative, the HR agenda easily gets the requisite endorsement.

Once you understand the central role of HR, it is imperative to ask the right questions. Asking questions like – How can I contribute so that the inventory turn is doubled? What kind of talent will help double the inventory turn? What reward and recognition scheme needs to be put in place? What performance matrix should be used? What kind of leadership and managers are needed to drive this behaviour? – will ensure you are contributing to the business and solving an HR problem at the same time.

The impact of influence

In a business, contrary to popular belief, HR has no real authority or power. What HR has is influence. An effective HR professional is a master of influencing and the best way to influence is with the right data. When you align HR’s business case with the company’s strategy, you influence the management to make decisions that have consequences on the company’s future.
When you wield this level of influence, it is essential to have a strong point of view and conviction in yourself, and more crucially, the ability to stick to your convictions. Many people in HR don’t develop a point of view or choose not to hold on it. My experience tells me that a senior manager needs an HR with a strong point of view. The CHRO must have the conviction to be able to show a mirror to the CEO and be a friend, philosopher and guide. In my opinion, being a rajguru is a far more delicate and responsible job than being the raja himself. Therefore, HR is all about influence, objectivity and striking the right balance.

Essential HR skills
The first thing an HR professional has to learn is to enjoy the success and recognition of others. The CHRO is never typically going to be applauded; it is usually the sales head or some other line function head that gets all the applause. Learn the sophistication of being happy at someone else’s success. Your role is that of the coach, the guide, or the mentor – the pillar of strength behind the champion.

A big part of HR involves hand-holding, tenacity, perseverance and resilience. A strong personal brand and a reputation for integrity will hold you in good stead. It is best to start building these competencies as early as possible.

The HR function is constantly evolving. The workforce of tomorrow might be completely different. Instead of hiring employees, the project manager might have to outsource skills to get the job done. We need to emerge from the rut of the classical HR model and anticipate new futures and new solutions.

You don’t have to be an expert or even the class topper to achieve success in this complex world. If you understand business, have high EQ, tenacity, and can be objective, you already have the hallmark of a good leader. An outstanding CHRO has to be fair, have the gumption to speak his mind and have a strong opinion about the business. I put my money on people who show great strength of character, intellectual curiosity, learning agility, the ability to handle ambiguity, and the ability to multitask – these are the values that separate the wheat from the chaff.

Innoventia – Search For Disruptive Innovation in Healthcare

Keeping up with Cipla’s innovation-driven credo, happy to share one of our big initiatives towards the same. Check out Innoventia.Cipla.Com to participate & reinvent the way we deliver healthcare.

I take this opportunity to also write my thoughts on why an initiative like Innoventia is much needed in our times.

They say when data is tortured enough, it will confess to anything! This couldn’t ring truer than now- when ‘sharing’ has become a way of life, thanks to the digital takeover of our lives. Everything is under the impact of the fastest moving phenomenon in recent times: CHANGE. In fact, change is the new technology, permeating everything, especially healthcare.

We are already witnessing applications for blockchain and more uses for AI, especially in diagnosis. Analytics has become the new buzzword. In the broad sweep of AI’s current worldly ambitions, machine learning healthcare applications seem to top the list for funding. Clearly, healthcare is no longer about the passive delivery of diagnostics, drugs and infrastructure. Guess why?

Along with the diseases, patients are changing too – across the spectrum of understanding, knowledge, and management of diseases given the emerging technology canvas.

So what’s next? Innovation is the only answer – to tide this wave of life-altering times to transform the delivery of care.

Therefore, is it healthcare or tech care? A question that will perhaps be answered through the lens of innovation.

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#WorldBookDay: Books That Have Influenced My Life

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Meet Challenges Head On – Dr Ranjana Pathak To Women Leaders In The Making

My journey has been a roller coaster ride, filled with laughter and some tears. The challenges were numerous, since I started at the very bottom, this forces you to learn, understand the nuances of the job, the expectations of the organisation, and the regulators.

This job soon became a career and now a calling. I have always been driven, spent hours reading trade journals, studying books on key topics such as chromatography, the USP etc. By the way, the USP is a great book to learn from if you are in the lab. When I started my career, I was the only girl in the QC lab, it was daunting because I had zero experience, this was a challenge to overcome. For me it was a new country, working for the first time in my life, so I suppose the survival instinct kicked in. I have always been very focused. I have the drive to be the best in what I do. These two traits have enabled me to be a perennial student, keeping me in the learning mode. I never liked the status quo and always opted for harder tasks, taught courses because it would force me to learn and be challenged by pharma executives. The need to excel has been with me literally all my life which drives me to take challenges head-on.

In summary, it is my purpose, drive, doggedness, persistence and courage that have enabled me to overcome the numerous challenges that faced me and I know I am not alone! I have also been blessed with having a very supportive family, bosses and colleagues.

Challenges for women leaders

Time is the biggest challenge, the pharma industry is competitive and by nature, timeline bound. There is seldom tomorrow, everything seems to be needed yesterday, a very fast paced, exacting and demanding industry, full of challenges, some anticipated and others binding. For women, to play their classical roles in society and families becomes difficult, because of their innate nature.
Women from time immemorial have been jugglers, they must juggle the needs of their families, children, work, friends, communities etc…the list goes on and on.
Given that the number of hours is limited for all, women need to be able to prioritise the ‘must dos’, and let go of those tasks that cannot be done and will not matter in the long run, ‘take help’ from family members, friends, neighbours to be able to juggle everything on their plate.

Creating a conducive growth environment

The government can and should execute laws that are conducive for women to work, the organisations then must follow through to make the workplace environment safe. School and universities should promote science and maths so children join science rather than hanker for business degrees alone, don’t get me wrong we need those as well but I think I see a tip towards business. If there is no product, there will be no business to manage. Today’s generation wants instant gratification, the millennials are different from the baby boomer generation, their needs and tolerances are not the same. Careers in disciplines other science seem to be more popular. The pharma industry needs sharp scientists, engineers, biologists, microbiologists, physicists, computer science etc. to ensure that new drugs/devices are developed, existing drugs are made more affordable, the quality is uncompromised. This is a daunting task where the government can help in ensuring the platforms exist. The government can do a lot to make this feasible for women/ girls in urban and rural schools.

Need for regular campus placement

There are more number of science graduates coming out of universities who want to join the pharma sector. However, due to lack of job opportunities, they have to change their career goal. To address this, the pharma industry needs to be present on the campus to educate the graduates of tomorrow about the needs of humanity (need for medicines) and the need of society.

Success Mantra

To my newcomers and those that are stalwarts: Always do the right thing, be courageous, know your subject, believe in yourself, look at yourself in the mirror each morning and say—Wow, I am looking at a great piece of art that is going to make a huge difference today!!! If I can do it…You can do it better!!

This article originally appeared in Express Pharma.

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Books: A Cerebral Affair

“A Reader lives a thousand lives before dying. Those who never read live only once!”

All of us enter youth and the corporate world with the quiet confidence that we can change the world. Alas, this lasts only “until the coarse necessities of physical existence drag us from the height of thought into the mart of economic strife and gain”. Our everyday challenges – finding and then doing well in a good job, keeping up with an often fragile relationship, the heavy load of expectations from our parents and ourselves, lack of clarity on what we really want to do in life, the rat race and constant comparison with our peers – often pull us down into mediocrity. And the grand idea of being the very best we can gets quietly put aside.

So Why Read Books?

If we agree that good counsel can help us become much better, what better guide than books? Mentors and teachers can come and go and may turn out to be false Gods. Why not drink from the ageless wisdom of good books, learning from the myriad experiences of some of the best of our species?

As Durant said, “When life is bitter, or friendship slips away, or perhaps our children leave us for their own haunts and home, let us come and sit at the table with Shakespeare and Goethe…”

But What Exactly To Read?

There is a book for every mood and occasion. Choosing few recommendations is not easy (±130 million books have been written!), so let’s decide how we will choose:

  • Life-changing: Will make us wiser. That can bring fundamental changes in our thinking and attitude, answer the big Why questions.
  • Engaging and Fun: We want to grow, but also enjoy the journey. We may not have the patience (yet!) to go through deep but boring books.

Let me start with a few recommendations from my side (click each link for more recommendations and a short summary)…

(If you want more, see my blog on 100 Books To Make Us Wise).

Part of what makes a book memorable is our own life experiences that can relate to it. So look out for what appeals to you. Obviously, choose the books very carefully. Good books can be an everlasting love affair, just as bad books can be more enervating than a date gone horribly wrong.


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