Organizational culture plays a critical role in talent ACQUISITION and talent RETENTION

Abhinav Vasant Paralikar holds 12+ years of Payroll experience with strong domain knowledge in Human Resource Management with a focus on Payroll Operations, HR Solutions, HR Technology, Project Management, Payroll Strategy and Transitioning & Implementation in pillars ranging from Hire to Retire (Payroll, Employee Master Data Management, HR Reporting, and Mobility). Abhinav is an Operational Excellence Practitioner for HR Operations and has a strong acumen of handling Large Projects, Client Management & Payroll Transformations.

Post Graduate from University of Pune, Abhinav’s decade of experience encompasses Regional Payroll Operations Manager at Syngenta Services Pvt. Ltd., Assistant Manager Global Payroll at Mercer Consulting India Pvt. Ltd., Payroll Analyst at BNY Mellon International Operations (India) Pvt. Ltd., Payroll Analyst/Subject matter Expert at ADP India Pvt. Ltd., Senior Executive (Insurance) at Capita India Pvt. Ltd. and Analyst at AXA Business Services.

Besides an affluent professional, Abhinav is a musician & Indian Classical Vocalist. Also he has been actively involved in Cricket & Football Teams at his various workplaces.

Thank you, Abhinav, for giving your valuable time to this interview. Your kindness is much appreciated.  We look forward to your candid responses.

We would be pleased to learn about your professional journey from the beginning. So, please share with us about your first job interview. 

This question made me a little nostalgic for the simple reason that once you move forward; there are very few instances where you get a chance to share experiences of your first job, especially the interview. Thank you for giving me this opportunity. 

For every aspired candidate, it is not difficult to clear any interview, however, let me explain another aspect of 1st interview process. What is important when we face such interviews? It’s the approach, what you think before your interview, and what made you apply for the position or if you are a fresher, what is your aspiration. One of the most important key factors is your confidence level. If you are confident, half of the things are done. Last but not least, how you introduce yourself which generally is the first question asked.

The same approach I followed during my first interview keeping a positive attitude/approach. However, clearing an interview & getting on board is only the 1st step. The important journey begins when you start performing your profile and keeping momentum for years without losing focus. Moving ahead is only possible when you choose your goals & start your journey to achieve them.

Which, according to you was the most intriguing interview? Can you share your experience in detail? 

Before I share my intriguing interview experience, I would like to bring forth an interesting part. Almost every interview will become interesting as the radius of your profile will increase, and there are other important skills required apart from your domain knowledge.

The same experience I had when I was interviewed in one of the important organizations which became a milestone for my career. The total length of the interview was 6 months & went through around 7 rounds of the interview including technical interviews. The company checked every skill which was required for the profile i.e. Service Deliver Leader for HR Operations. The interesting part was I learned a lot during the interview process itself as I was interviewed by some of the great HR leaders in the global industry.

What made me successful & how differently I prepared has only one answer i.e. understanding the profile, providing point to point answers & explaining why you are the perfect candidate for the profile. The more skills you have is an advantage.

Do you think workplace mentors and coaches play an important role in settling fresh graduates in their first job? How was your experience? 

Mentors & Coaches definitely play an important role in your first job. They help you to get settled in the organization. They may be your day to day trainers. There are dedicated teams/departments available in MNC’s where teams help you to learn basic responsibilities. However, I have a different point to explain. Coaches/Trainers may be the mandatory teams you have to deal with, but Mentors are hard to find as they are voluntary trainers. They not only teach your profile, but they help you to find the right path in any company. Luckily, I found one in my first job. She mentored me a lot & I could be a corporate professional. She is still in touch & I am still learning.

Some mentors go beyond their professional limitations & give you the vision of your career. I was lucky. One thing to remember, be a student, throughout your organizational journey. You will succeed for sure.

Please help us understand critical responsibilities and challenges of a Payroll Manager? What differentiates the role of a Payroll Manager and a C&B Manager?

There is a list of critical responsibilities of any Payroll Manager. First, let’s understand the difference between designation & role. The reason I am bringing this topic is, there are organizations where Payroll Managers play an individual contributor role where the profile doesn’t exactly match with the designation. It is not necessary that your designation will match your role/profile.

We will discuss Payroll Managers who also perform the same role. Payroll itself is a critical function as we cannot compromise or there is no tolerance on 1. Timeliness 2. Accuracy. Without these two qualities payroll cannot be successful.

Simple definition of payroll is “Pay Correctly on Time”. Every process in Payroll is critical & we cannot really categorize which one is the most critical responsibility. However; for me, the most critical is the outcome “Payment”. Any function which deals either with end-user or deals with transactions is critical & Payroll is one of them as it involves both.

We can differentiate the responsibilities of a Payroll Manager on Local, Regional & Global scale. If any person is handling only Local Payroll the profile may be limited, but when it comes to Regional & Global Payroll, it becomes a more critical profile in terms of responsibilities & challenges. Also, the headcount he/she is handling.

Now the difference between Payroll and C&B Managers - There is hairline the difference I would say. Also, these are interdependent roles. In small scale organizations these roles are combined. A simple explanation is Payroll Managers deal with Payroll Process where C&B Managers handle Pay Type and benefits that employers provide to employees like Bonus, SIP, Company benefits, compensation structure, group medical insurance, perquisites, etc. where for Payroll these may be inputted to process output.

Please list competencies one must have to be a successful Payroll Manager. And, a successful Global Payroll Manager.  

This is an interesting question. To be successful in the role of Payroll Manager, you will need to demonstrate that you have specific skills & abilities required to carry out this demanding role. Some of them are:

  1. Strong Analytical & Mathematical Skills
  2. Detailed knowledge of statutory compliance & local regulations whichever country you are handling
  3. Leadership & Teamwork skill
  4. Reliability (Handling sensitive/confidential data)
  5. Strong communication skills
  6. Experience to handle the pressure
  7. Should be able to meet critical deadlines
  8. Ability to resolve complex Payroll issues

Global Payroll Manager deals with multi-country payroll hence it becomes a large profile. To become a successful Global Payroll Manager, a person should have competency & capability to manage different payrolls, country regulations & should be able to work in different time zones. In addition, all the above-mentioned competencies will remain the same.

As a HR Leader with over a decade of work experience, what is your view on job eliminations?

Job elimination or involuntary termination is a nightmare for any individual or company. There are various reasons for such termination. Primary reasons may be compliance issues, performance issues or behavioural issues.

Most of or all MNC’s are very strict with their compliances & it is best practice to follow. You should know all compliance policies & should not fall under non-compliance/breach. Regarding performance issues, if you are working in a set profile, I recommend not to fall under the “unsatisfactory” or “Improvement needed” category. It is very simple, if you perform your profile well & meet your annual goals, you will meet expectations.

I also would like to suggest setting up your own annual priorities. Keeping track of company progress or keeping yourself updated on future plans of your organization also helps you to forecast the status of your profile. Behavioral issues are again self-explanatory.

Please share an experience when you acted under pressure from your management or reporting manager even though you knew it was wrong and shouldn’t have been done? 

This is interesting. There are few instances where I had to act under pressure however, there was a situation that I vividly remember. In one of my reputed companies, I had 2 open positions for Assistant Manager. For one position I interviewed the candidate & recommended him for further rounds where he got selected for the position. On the other hand, I received a recommendation from my senior leader for one of the candidates for the 2nd position. I had to reject him as he was not a suitable candidate. During my further discussions with Management, I had to select him. As a result, he became one of the unsatisfactory performers. We tried the PIP program. It didn’t help. His journey ended with elimination for 2 reasons. 1. Performance issue, 2. Behavioral issue.

What are your thoughts about Talent Shortage? What are a few practical tips you want to give to CEO’s and Hiring Managers to manage the challenge of Talent Shortage?

I had gone through the situation where we had to search a lot for the right candidate. First & the important message is you will never find a perfect candidate. If you rate the position as 10 & start finding a person who is meeting all 10 criteria, it is very difficult. I always go with a few points & if they are met, that is the right candidate.

  1. Domain Knowledge/Technical Knowledge
  2. Attitude/Approach
  3. What is his/her aspiration for the position he is applying
  4. Stability during his/her career
  5. If the right candidate is selected, do not delay the offer process

Again, it always depends on which position a person is being hired.

Organizational Culture is a key differentiator between successful and not so successful organizations. What determines the organizational culture? What is the role of HR in creating organizational culture?

This is a very important question or a topic to discuss. Organizational culture plays a vigorous role in any organization & HR also plays an important part.

Organizational Culture is a concept where we have many experiences every day through values, behaviours and habits which create an environment of any organization.

This culture is technically defined as Vision Statements, Policies, commitments, etc. & driven by various departments like HR, Legal, Compliance & Business. HR Department which has various downstream functions are responsible for key HR Policies like Pay Structure, Bonuses, Benefits, Rewards & Recognition, Insurance, Leave & HR Compliance which acts as a backbone for any Organization.

You are a successful HR Leader. What do you do to stay ahead of the competition?

As a Payroll Manager/Global Payroll Manager, I have to keep myself updated, especially for statutory compliance and legislative updates from every country I manage. I regularly read related articles, eBooks, and magazines. Example: Ready Reckoners

As a member of the Global Payroll Association & NHRD, I am always curious to read new articles, blogs, etc.

Last question, what is your message for young and aspiring HR practitioners? What kind of growth opportunities should they look forward to? And, what are the key competencies one must possess to be successful in this profession?

I would like to provide a very important message to my young friends, “There are no shortcuts for Hard Work.” Wherever you work, learn as much as you can, follow the process & be compliant at every stage.

There are different functions in HR & each function has its own importance or growth opportunities. It depends on your interests & aspirations where you want to make your career. Today, HR has grown & has become a very large function, especially in big organizations.

Here are some of the competencies one must possess:

  1. Communication skills
  2. Negotiation Skills
  3. Technical/Functional Knowledge (Related to functional HR/HRIT)
  4. Analytical Skills
  5. Statutory Compliance (Not limited to Payroll)
  6. Special Skills like “Personal Integrity”

Thank you.

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