One must understand HR is a skill-based role and not everyone can be a good HR professional.
Introducing buddy system, employee centric process improvements & innovative employee engagement initiatives – Ramya shows that- It’s not always about doing different things, it’s about doing things differently.
Ramya is a passionate HR professional with over 13 years of experience across multiple domains in the arena of Human Resources. Her forte includes Talent Acquisition, HR Business Partner, Compensation & Benefits/Payroll, Learning and development and People Services. Ramya holds a Dual Master’s Degree in HRM from TASMAC and MBA from Adam Smith University, USA. Ramya is currently associated with General Motors Technical Center India Pvt. Ltd. as Senior Manager – HR. Ramya joined this company as Executive HR and through her passion, employee centric focus and hard work; she climbed up to the current position. Prior to General Motors, Ramya worked with Kareer Kraft Consulting Firm as an Executive HR Recruiter. Over the years, Ramya acquired several core competencies viz. organizational & strategic agility, developing others and managerial courage and many more. She is also been awarded as the “Diligent Champion” in the Corporate Diva-Edition 4, organized by the HOW Forum (Health Of Women Forum).
Thank you, Ramya, for giving your valuable time to this interview.
We would be pleased to learn about your professional journey from the beginning. So, please share with us about your first job interview.
Interview day is a day when a candidate experience both excitement and nervousness. I too felt the same. I had applied to many openings through job portals and eagerly waited for the call that would give me an interview opportunity.
The day I got a call I was super excited and ready to give my best shot. Interviews were split into multiple rounds conducted by different senior leaders. There was a combination of generic and the subject based questions for the role that I had applied for. I felt I had done well as I could see positive responses from the interviewer. Post the interview, I was asked to wait for some time as they continued to interview the other candidates. After few hours, they shared their feedback which was very positive, but, also stated that though I had the talent needed, the role demanded an experience which I was lacking and hence they would not be able to hire me. This came as a shock for me as I couldn’t digest the reason communicated.
When I reflect about that interview today, I feel glad for not being part of such an organization where there was discrimination based on a misconception that roles of importance to the organization cannot be handled by candidates who are young.
It’s important to be open for feedback and also courageous to ask for help when necessary.
Do you think workplace mentors and coaches play an important role in settling fresh graduates in their first job? How was your experience?
Workplace mentors & coaches play a huge role in all stages of career. They will help to eliminate myths and help provide perspectives about the workplace. It’s important to be open for feedback and also courageous to ask for help when necessary. I was fortunate to have found a mentor early in my career; I would discuss pros and cons of a decision I was about to make, day-today actions like identifying right participants for the meeting, medium of communication with senior leaders, etc. I had a mentor who was sharing perspectives that would help me make the right decisions. I am lucky to have several such mentors and coaches throughout my career. Trust and Transparency plays huge role in this relationship. If I get stuck or feel that I have lost the direction or when not sure of my next career step, I can always fall back on them.
You are an HR Practitioner for so many years. Could you please tell us why did you choose this profession? If not in HR, what another profession you would have chosen?
Well, I am youngest of the three sisters and while growing up, I wanted to be unique and do something different from what my sisters were choosing to do. When I was out on the quest to find the job – self-introspection made me realize that I love interacting with people, be it setting up a new process to enhance engagement, continuous improvement initiatives, problem solving -- I loved it all. I loved seeing a positive impact on people I interact with. That was the trigger for me to dive into becoming the HR professional. In the last 13+ years, I have performed several roles in HR and enjoyed each phase of roles as it brought new experience and also new opportunities to transform/make an impact.
I have a great interest in music & dance. Growing up in a humble background with hardworking parents trying to make the ends meet, music & dance were not professions that were explored as career choices. As I look back today, If I was not HR professional, I would have liked to make an impact as a musician/dancer.
There is need for HR function to be extremely agile and also strategic at the same time.
Having worked in a leadership role, what do you think are the expectations of a CEO or the Management Team from its HR Function in general and HR Head in particular?
I see expectations in two aspects –
1. Set by the leader of the organization based on the business scenario
2. Cultural priorities of the organization
While the business scenarios keep going through change; cultural priorities are rather foundational and are in for a long time; hence, there is need for HR function to be extremely agile and also strategic at the same time. Some common expectation from most of the leaders is to be a strategic partner, keep us future ready and run the business like your own.
When it comes to HR Function, the expectation becomes like an “Eiffel Tower”, one must be multitasking, should be a magician to solve any problem, provide data driven solution, build capability, hiring should be done in lightning speed and help retain best talent, create a cultural transformation and the list goes on.
According to you, what are the key challenges of being a representative of employees as well as a representative of company management? What kind of conflicts you have faced and how did you manage to overcome them.
HR faces multiple challenges, or I call it as opportunities from being an employee advocate or representative of management. Each side of the coin has same expectation that we do the right thing and make the right decisions which are in their interest. However, HR is a function which needs to be taking decisions based on facts/data and also is fair strategically. Some of the common conflicts arises are retrenchment, appraisal cycle, Turn around Time (TAT) v/s business exigency when not met. It’s important to practice patience as everyone is trying to do the right thing; take them along with your data and solution path to arrive at common understanding, only then we can be successful.
Based on your experience, what are the FIVE essential traits every HR Professional must have?
Winning is possible only if you take your team along on a shared vision. The important essential HR traits are:
- Ability to act as Team player
- Dealing with Ambiguity
- Organizational Agility
- Learning Agility
What do you like the least about the world of Human Resources?
I enjoy being the HR professional and feel privileged to be in a role where I can positively impact people. There are a couple of things that disappoints me - One is the perception about HR role as a relaxing role and/or anyone can do this role; several organizations are evolving and making HR as a partner in the decision making, but the journey towards changing the perception is not complete yet. One must understand it is a skill-based role and not everyone can be a good HR professional.
Second one is the documentation required for statutory regulations which is still not digitalized even though we are automating and digitizing in several aspects of the organizational process.
As a HR Leader with over a decade of work experience, what is your view on job eliminations?
Job eliminations are bound to happen across all sectors and across all levels - skill set is getting redundant, organizations are restructuring to be lean and head count freezes. The only answer is to anticipate and upskill the talent to make them future ready.
One must start investing on talent for Upskilling them for future technologies, future roles which will hit the market in the near future.
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 don’t believe we have shortage of talent; I believe that we don’t adequately invest in Upskilling the existing talent. One must start investing on talent for Upskilling them for future technologies, future roles which will hit the market in the near future. Everything is not readily available; you need to sometime think outside the box and be agile in making your talent pool prepared for the future.
HR is at the crossroads, yet again. According to you, what will be the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robots, etc. on the future of HR Function? Please also highlight how social media has changed the world of HR practitioners?
New technologies will evolve with the change in the way we operate today v/s future. This does not mean that we will have job elimination, this will increase the efficiency how we operate– for example, how we moved from typewriter to computers. There is an increased need for data driven approach and hence AI/Robots can help parse data, slice & dice the data that we can use to make effective decisions much more quickly than what we can do manually. AI/Robots can augment human tasks but cannot replace them fully. HR function is completely based on need for adapting to the environment around – needs of people & needs of organization. However, I do see that AI/Robots can certainly make the several aspects of HR function more effective.
Social media segment is changing the way we see the world of HR now. Hiring TAT is reduced since we have multiple platforms to search the talent pool. Experiential learning is becoming vital part of social media, be it participating in the webinar or running a campaign on the initiatives, and also branding the organization, it impacts all.
HR is the pillar of the organization and it is emerging and evolving in this era.
Last question, what is your message for young and aspiring HR practitioners? What kind of growth opportunities should they look forward to? And, what is the key competencies one must possess to be successful in this profession?
Don’t give up,”beginning is always the hardest”. HR is the pillar of the organization and it is emerging and evolving in this era. There are a number of opportunities available in HR, one must be willing to explore and get varied experiences. There are varieties of roles that are available - traditional roles like HR Business Partner, Learning and Talent Development, Compensation, Operations and new trending roles like Robotic Automation, Shared Service Centre expert, Diversity & Inclusion. Both traditional and trending roles are evolving in this century and study says it will be the most impactful and critical roles in the near future
Any role you pick will need certain required competences but, I rate having right behaviour (Integrity and Trust) as the foundational need for any individual.