Re-imagining HR With Digital


Today we are going to be talking about a very interesting transition that the world of human resources is going through, in different parts of the world, in different industries, big and small. And there are a lot of myths about is this the right time? Is this the right stage? Is it the right sequence to be following but we are going to be talking about this shift from manual to digital HR in a world which is getting digital.

You know, I want to talk about something I tweeted sometime back. It starts from a fundamental premise that HR is not for business, it is business, and therefore it must be more about anticipation and re-imagination than about reaction and transaction. And if we have this at the core of our thinking and our belief system, the way we look at this entire agenda of digitising HR and therefore digitising a culture and therefore making it a real-time reality, I think the perspective is all that it takes to change. As we look at this entire transition, I think it’s equally important for us to start thinking about re-imagining HR. I do admit there are many companies; there are many leaders, there are many practitioners who are still in the old format of HR of being a personal or administrative function. But I want to highlight a couple of things that I believe has changed the context and nuance of HR and if it has not, it must change itself too.

So one is, we are not talking just about human resources, I am not saying people are not important but I think there’s a big change in emphasis. We are moving away from human resources to talent resources, and that is a big change in thinking. Because earlier HR has always been flaky, has been soft fuzzy and things like that, but today, it is really about the migration to talent, which takes me to the next point about talent being a moving definition.
What is talent today may not necessarily survive being talent in the world of tomorrow? Talent must redefine itself, and talent can get redundant. The talent of today may not be the talent you need tomorrow and therefore this entire nuance of calibrating talent through times is a very important focus of contemporary HR.

The third bit is really about now what is almost clichéd – change is the new constant, it is. But what is HR’s role in transforming organisations, transforming thinking, and transforming perspective? At the end of the day, are you going to be just a downstream implementer of things or is your role going to be about anticipation? Is your role going to be the influencer of change and I think I believe the time has come for HR to play its expected center stage role and actually drive, envision, visualize that change and the last is really what today we are talking about – HR and how does HR actually re-imagine itself to being a technology-driven function. People focused, talent focused, technology-driven function because this is what helps us give the experience, helps us get real-time responsiveness and therefore business impact. So I think these are four important dimensions that we must keep in mind as we look at the subject because it all starts with re-imagining HR.

A little flavour of some of my current experiences of what we are doing in my own company, in Cipla. So it’s an 80-year-old company, different parts of the world, different businesses, different functions, how do you get it all together in the spirit of what we call #OneCipla. It’s also about the power of digital communication, how do you get 25000 people across the world altogether to understand Cipla experience, live Cipla, breathe Cipla the same way. So whether it’s a digital magazine which has video inserts or it is webcasting that we do as a matter of ritual every quarter, every other leader does it for his/her respective function or even radio, which we call Cipla Unplugged that plays across all Cipla locations across the world on every alternate Friday. It’s the power of actual digital that brings everyone together in a world where demographics are changing, where most people are on smartphones, where everyone beyond the office, in any case, is living a digital world. It is about unleashing the same reality, the same power within the company.

HR is the true business partner, so what are the big things that we have done is we have outsourced almost all our HR transactions, and these have become available on smartphones so you can do almost all your HR transactions on your smartphones. What it also does is, it frees HR to play its true role that of a business partner, a business support, a business enabler or possibly business itself and therefore the nuance of that new HR is very different than from the old classical world of just doing a whole slew of transactions. We’ve also done hugely on simplifications. So instead of having multiple platforms, multiple databases, multiple ways of doing the same things, we’ve actually simplified life, we moved everything to a single platform. And the idea is to do things quicker, simpler and most of all shift the onus of doing this on the employee or the manager. It frees HR again to do its job today which is really around coaching, envisioning and making sure that line managers and HR and individual employees can do their responsibilities more completely. We’ve also moved to social hiring, which is a part of digitisation today. It expands your reach; we don’t typically use consultants, you know to get people in. I think through our network, through our associates, through the part of a huge canvas of social media network that we have, social hiring has become a way of life. Your reach has expanded, your ability to filter people out has expanded and therefore your ability to close things more real time has improved, and all of this has meant that you can do more with less.
Our HR headcount in the company itself, we have reduced by 45%. So while we have leveraged the part of technology, while we have improved experience, while we have improved agility, while we have improved response time, while we have simplified the organisation, you can do that with a better HR function but with lesser HR headcount. And I think this is also one of the things about walking the talk, doing it first in your stables. So we are not going to be getting into details of what else would be the things that will be driving change, but it’s important for us to remind ourselves that change if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen in a variety of ways.

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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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