Praveena Gupta, the Chief Human Resource Manager of Super Milk Products Private Limited, avers that in the service sector continuous business expansion requires mobile, flexible and adaptable talent
Q. Tell us about yourself, your career and key achievements.
I am a seasoned HR professional, in the past associated with brands like Aditya Birla Group, Reliance Industries Limited, Future Group, Sven Genetics and Crescent Therapeutics.
As the Chief Human Resource Manager at Super Milk Products Private Limited, I am responsible for leading the brand’s HR, Training, Admin and CSR functions. I am interested and transcend beyond core and traditional HR management, which has resulted in me leading SMPPL’s journey to build its technological and digital capabilities in people metrics and integrating it with business. I got the opportunity to build the core management group with strong cultural synergies. This in turn helped in achieving the vision of becoming the most loved beverages and fastest growing milkshake brand (Keventers brand of milk products) in the country.
Q. What’s the talent management strategy in the services industry?
Talent management as a discipline owes its origin to the 1990s because of the need for retaining talented people and curbing attrition.
In my view, talent management in the service industry is all about deploy, develop and connect the resources to the business objective. The primary levers in this journey would be capability, performance, alignment, commitment and passion. Continuous business expansion within the sector/organizations require mobility, flexibility and adaptability. Our people practices, policies and processes should be evolved around this with highest amount of agility.
As the current talent/generation does not believe in the concept of one size fits all, tailor-made strategy is the need of the hour without disturbing the transparency.
Q. Is engagement and retention a challenge in new age companies?
Yes, of course, and it is. We need to overcome the same with continuous communication and engagement. The role of leadership in this journey decides the success, as the goalpost also keeps on changing. In the dynamic environment, constantly redefining the roles and projects which gives challenge and allows employees to upskill and deliver. The supporting environment around this will decide the success mantra.
Q. What’s your view on the mega trends in HR? Will the function fully transform over the next few years?
AI, Big data, IOT, Robotics, Predictive Analytics and other technological advancements will be the big trends in HR, However, the core of the function will remain the same, especially in these areas:
- Continuous conversation and feedback mechanism
- HR as a culture facilitator
- The new role of a coach
Data/fact oriented decision making would definitely improve with technology coming in but the bigger challenge would be changing/making the organization ready to face the transformation brought by technology, which would be the bigger challenge for HR.
Q. How do you see the world of jobs emerging in the future of work?
The future of jobs will vary between high technical jobs and basic humanitarian jobs like alternative energy technicians, actuarial science, back-end developer, cyber security, data scientist, digital marketing specialist, drone developers and operators, full stack engineer, machine learning, robotics engineers etc. On the other side, nurses, retail salesperson, dieticians, physiotherapists, teaching, marriage counsellors, banking, financial planners, event managers, career counsellors, physical therapists, OT specialists and elderly care etc
As a function, we must work on below skill sets for our survival:
- Critical thinking
- Inter-disciplinary knowledge
- Mental elasticity and complex problems solving
- People skills
Q. Do you see millennials to be different than the previous generations? If yes, in what way? Do you have a different strategy to manage them?
The millennials are different and some of the strategies to manage them can be:
- Cocreate the strong culture at workplace
- Work life balance – flexi time
- Leadership and guidance
- Quick recognition
- Transparent and openness
- Collaboration and involve them in the decision making
- Continuous communication
- Individual learning/engagement
Q. What traits do you try to see in budding HR professionals when you hire them?
I go for professionals who are better and more knowledgeable than me, especially in the areas of technology, understanding millennials, analytical ability etc.
Some of the traits that I look while HR professionals are:
- Love for numbers and data
- Excitement about sharing, developing, coaching and counselling
- Inter-disciplinary knowledge
- Personal ethics
Q. What’s your success mantra?
Business partnering, connecting with the business and people at all times, networking and investing on what is happening with the business and competition too.
Q. What’s your message to HR professionals? How do they make themselves relevant for the rest of their career?
HR professionals primarily drive change. The biggest challenge is that no one wants to come out of their comfort zone. In fact, when I took up HR, I thought it would be easy, but what I have learnt in my over 19 years of experience is that HR is the most difficult job. We are not the messenger of good news to the employees as we take tough decisions. So the crux is, how you do this complex job and how well you do that only. We will be relevant in our career only when we start investing in technology and its know how and also by constantly upgrading our skills.
About Praveena Gupta
Praveena Gupta is the Chief Human Resource Manager of Super Milk Products Private Limited, (known for Keventers brand of milk products). He has over 19 years of experience in managing the various facets of HR function, Business HR partnering, Volume hiring, Engagement, Compensation & Benefits, R&R, Workforce planning, HR operations and compliance. Prior to joining Keventers, he was working as GM-HR, leading technology, analytics, compliances and benefits at Jubilant Foodworks Limited.