Yashwant Mahadik (Yash) is a seasoned global HR professional with over 29 years of experience in top-notch global and multinational corporations. His experience is diverse and varies across industries/sectors (Technology, Consumer and Healthcare) and geographies (India, UK, Japan, USA, ASEAN and Europe).
A Journey Of Values ξ Culture
With a collective experience of nearly three decades, Yashwant Mahadik, Chief Human Resource Officer, Sun Pharma comes across as a person who is very affable and easy going. All Things Talent spoke to Yashwant on the genesis of a new age HR and the enhanced demand for talent which has necessitated the need to bring in an ecosystem that instils organizational culture and values among the new employees irrespective of rank, and thus ensures that everyone develops a feeling of self-pride, belongingness and ownership with the employer.
ATT: With a collective experience of more than three decades, working in multiple organisations across various verticals, your corporate journey must have been truly exciting. How would you describe your journey?
YM: The journey has truly been fantastic, and, if I were to re-live my career again, I would like it to be replicated in the exact same manner. My career so far has been a perfect mix of challenges and opportunities, and in the process, I have learnt immensely, and, I hope to continue to be doing so in the future as well.
ATT: In spite of being indispensable, HR as a function has been underestimated. What are your thoughts on this, and, can you share some measurable KPIs that reflect the effectiveness of the function?
YM: Over the last 10-15 years, HR as a function has evolved significantly from being a mere personnel and administrative unit to a strategic business partner. The only way HR shall continue to remain indispensable is by continuously evolving, disrupting, and creating value. We can segregate the measurable KPIs for HR into two buckets namely; strategic and tactical KPIs.
Some of the key strategic KPIs could be around the productivity of the function against relevant benchmarks, health and depth of the talent pipeline for critical positions, employer branding, culture, and its drivers measured by organisational surveys. And, tactical measures would be the ones related directly to the health of various employee lifecycle related processes.
ATT: What are the critical differences observed in the cultural amalgamation between hires made at leadership and entry level and how do you facilitate a smoother integration?
YM: My assimilation at SunPharma was executed in a very structured manner which was co-facilitated by Egon Zhender, focusing on the company, people and culture. Apart from this, informal coaching and mentoring happened continually, and, this is true for every leader who joins our organization. When it comes to the younger workforce, although most progressive companies would have a structured induction orientation programme in place, and, expect the younger lot to start contributing from day one, the reality, however, is entirely different.
Today’s youth are well informed and have a mind of their own. They seek a particular type of culture that is in sync with their value system, and hence, assimilating such a workforce requires going beyond the prevalent design, which focuses primarily on classroom based inductions, and rather create an ecosystem of continuous coaching and mentoring, at least during the initial six months of joining.
ATT: With the Indian economy experiencing a period of intense growth and investment at present, what are the main challenges before the HR industry in the coming years?
YM: The biggest challenge that stands in the way of growth for the industry in the future will be the wide skill gap, and the same stands for the HR function, for it is the custodian of attracting the best talent. Various government initiatives such as National Skill Development Programme and its efforts towards remodelling the curriculum of school/colleges to align them better with the needs of corporates is a ray of hope.
Another challenge I foresee is of India becoming the youngest country in the world by 2030, which implies that the workforce in other countries are ageing at a faster rate and also their birth rates reducing drastically.
India as a whole will have to work harder at attracting and retaining the young workforce in order for them to choose to stay back here or there shall be a talent exodus to destinations where opportunities and lifestyle are much better. Apart from these two challenges, I only see opportunities ahead of us.
ATT: Some employers adopt personalised mentoring, whereas some believe that learning is more self-taught, particularly when training is delivered online. What are your views on the same?
YM: Irrespective of whether learning is imparted through training or is self-taught, it is the ability to learn that shall always be the key. Today, there are plenty of resources available, but it is the individual’s ability to curate and apply that content that makes all the difference. The learning process is very much in existence, and that has been the shift that has transpired, irrespective of the fact whether the organization provides online training, mentoring or gamified learning content. Thus, the erstwhile training culture has now transformed to become a culture of learning.
ATT: Do you believe that Social Media has impacted HR strategy? What trends do you foresee about the role of Social Networking in HR?
YM: Social media has completely evolved and changed the way we communicate, and, this is one area where HR has taken a lead over marketing. I absolutely believe that one of the recent strategic evolutions within the HR function has been that of creating value through employer branding.
The ability to create creative and targeted content has helped build a stronger engagement within the workforce. The other advantage of social media is that it provides the individual the ability to create and host his or her own content, thereby eliminating advertising completely.
ATT: How can an organization balance out the presence of multi-generational workforce ranging from Baby Boomers to Gen Z especially from the perspective of processes, practices and policies that exist in it?
YM: Generational segmentation of employees has been happening for years, and the truth is that it is being blown out of proportion. I have personally witnessed some of the “baby boomers” to be more adept at technology than even the millennials. Again, we have several articles and news pieces that depict the millennials in poor light, for example, quoting that the millennials come with a high sense of entitlement, or want to work less but earn much more simultaneously. However, my personal experience of working with millennials has been quite different, and, I have found them to be committed to learning, hardworking, and with a negligible sense of entitlement.
I think the key for the right balance lies in understanding the needs and aspirations of every generation, and, then ensuring that the organization works towards their inclusive growth. However, trying to dissect too much will make one discriminatory, and thus, a message needs to be delivered to the industry to stem the growth of content that generalizes and labels a generation.
The true sign of a good leader is to be sensitive to the needs of people who belong to a different stage of life cycle than his or hers. For instance, marriage or a new-born coming into a family is a life event and a huge commitment, which is not temporary. This phase may last up to 2 years and the pertinent question posed to a leader is can he or she as a leader be sensitive to keep your employee engaged and nurture their talent during such a transition.
Discriminating any talent on the basis of the stage they belong to would be wrong, and if the organization really cares for the talent they would be bound to contemplate ways of nurturing their needs and engage them. Stereotyping an entire generation is in fact tantamount to doing them a disservice.
ATT: As a leader, what are the most important decisions that you are required to take in your organization?
YM: As a leader, one does not make a lot of big decisions regularly, but takes impactful decisions to change the course of events that follow. A lot depends on the lifecycle of the organization or the stage of the financial year, but 90% of the time, one is busy executing the decisions that have been made either by him or her or the company.
It is my feeling that a leader spends 10% of his time in making decisions, whereas, 90% of the time gets spent on executing those decisions.
Among the decisions made, I believe the most important ones would be about hiring someone, engaging your employees, and helping others in making a design choice or a system choice.
I invest a lot of time on talent since it is the initial five-six months that are really critical for grooming and inducting an employee into the organization and engaging them. After this period, I take a back seat and let them command their job role.
ATT: There is a perception that the HR function, particularly in India, has taken longer to adapt to technology. What is your advice to companies who are just beginning to change their traditional way of working in HR?
YM: On the contrary, I believe that companies in India have been amongst the first to leverage Technology in the space of HR, and they have done it quite efficiently as compared to those in the US or UK. Indians began with the development of smart in-house HR Technology tools and processes, which in fact, created room for a lot of Indian HR Technology companies to grow.
The real issue was that there were not too many Indian companies that were global. For example, SunPharma today is an Indian multinational company with offices in USA, Europe, Australia, Malaysia, Middle East and Latin America. However, being able to find a global enterprise wide technology, say for instance, in the area of central payroll management, developed by an Indian company was next to impossible a few years ago, but now, we have companies offering it.
Thus, there has been a significant shift, and, there is more waiting to happen. This is owing to the fact that the dependence on the hardware and software has reduced over time and increased towards artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, analytics etc. To summarize, I believe that the while most of the Indian companies are on course, some of the global companies are in fact struggling to get back on track.
More on Mr. Mahadik
He has a high social orientation, and believes in sharing his earnings and time with social developmental causes related to education for the underprivileged. He is an avid golfer and enjoys traveling and reading. He is a very keen photographer and is a creator of many professional level, highly creative images using digital photography equipment and technologies. He is incubating his new and personal venture “Yash Mahadik Photography” in dedication of a noble charitable cause.