‘Millennials And Digital Natives Are Very Different From The Past Generations’

Aarif Aziz, CHRO, Diageo India, is of the opinion that social impact of technological disruptions will be bigger than before

Q. Tell us briefly about yourself, your career and key achievements and awards.

I am a father to a wonderful 8 year old who is a joy in life and a husband to a very intelligent and beautiful woman who is my best friend. I am also a runner, travel enthusiast and avid reader.

By qualification, I am an electrical engineer and MBA in HR and Marketing. I chose HR because I find it fulfilling and challenging.

Most of my professional career was with GE (18 years). Nine month back I moved to Diageo. I have also worked in manufacturing, service and sales. During the course of my career, I have been in various kinds of roles – regional, functional, global HR leadership and have been leading HR function for teams in Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. These assignments have helped me immensely to appreciate cultural nuances and intricacies of running businesses in different parts of the world.

Q. What’s your success mantra? 

Be humble and keep learning.

Q. What has been a major challenge for you in your career as an HR professional?

Culture is not a model or a framework. It’s about behaviors and those are the most difficult to change.

Q. What are the key forces shaping the future of work?

Technology, which is disrupting faster than before. The social impact of technological forces will be bigger than ever before. Entire job categories will get eliminated. It will also impact mid management roles unlike before. We are under-prepared.

Socio-political landscape is changing significantly. In some areas we are moving forward, while in some areas we are going backwards. We need to deal with this ambiguity.

Millennials and digital natives are very different from the past generations. Employee engagement principles are getting redefined. We need to unlearn and learn. 

Q. What role do you think social media will play in the future of the workplace?

It started as a channel of communication both externally and internally and has now evolved to engaging in a two-way dialogue to solve real business problems with employees or engage with customers to understand their pain points or to engage with communities to form an opinion of your brand or organization. Social media will also be used to help build culture and employee value proposition, to energise talent internally and externally. 

Q. How does one ensure quality of hires? Today, we see people everywhere but employability remains elusive, why?

As organizations and individuals we forget our due to the society. We got to help change the landscape of talent. There are many ways in which we can partner with educational institutions and industry bodies to make a difference. If we don’t do it, economic disparity will lead to social disruptions.

Q. Will humans become primarily ‘consumers’ of output produced by automation? 

No, we have an amazing value proposition – Technology can compete on various fronts – intelligence, creativity, reading emotions but absolutely cannot build “empathy” or “ human connections”…these will differentiate us in the future.

Q. What’s the future of the HR function in the age of AI, Automation and RPA? 

Automation is a reality. We have been really behind in embracing technology. We need to make it our core strength while going back to basics – empathy and human connections. If we don’t know our employees and connect with them, none of the HR interventions or processes will add any value.

Q. How should new gen HR professionals keep themselves updated and relevant?

Nothing can replace reading and being aware of how the world is evolving.

Self reflection is critical – it’s like rejuvenating yourself, continuously. 

HR is not rocket science – the differentiation comes with our ability to solve people’s problems proactively through influencing.

People strategy needs to be looked at holistically —- it’s not just talent plan for the coming year.

About Aarif Aziz
CHRO, Diageo India

Aarif Aziz is currently the CHRO for Diageo India. An HR professional with 20 years of diverse industry experience, Aarif has done various roles in HR with increasing leadership responsibilities. Prior to that, Aarif worked for 18 years with GE, across multiple businesses of GE like Power, Healthcare, Industrial, Energy, GE Global Research and has been an HR partner for teams across regions – North America, Europe, South America and Asia. He has cross-functional experience in functions like manufacturing, services and a six-sigma black belt certification, which contribute to the in-depth knowledge of business. Aarif’s hobbies include reading, travelling, running and adventure sports.

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