Rendezvous with Rachna Mukherjee

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In an exclusive conversation at SightsIn, we have with us Rachna Mukherjee; she is currently the Chief Human Resources Officer of Schneider Electric, India, Rachna Mukherjee has worked extensively in the areas of Talent Management, Career/ Succession Planning, Organisation Capability, Change Management, Leadership Development, Employee Engagement, Compensation and Organisation Design. She also has a rich experience of managing HR operations which enhances her ability to evolve and implement long term transformational initiatives.
Prior to joining Schneider Electric, she was Vice President HR at Aircel Ltd. She has managed HR for the organisation through its exponential growth phase. Rachna has also played key strategic roles in organizations such as Microsoft, IBM, Escotel Mobile Communications, NIC and Blue Star – Hewlett Packard. Rachna is a recipient of the Business World Woman HR Leader of the Year Award, 2016.
She carries a diverse experience of over 25 years. She is a certified Executive and Life Coach from International Coach Federation and certified to conduct a series of leadership and employee development interventions by organisations like Hay, Gallup, DDI, Covey Institute etc. and is an achievement motivation trainer. Rachna is an Electronics & Electrical Engineer from BITS – Pilani and after an initial contribution to Engineering roles, she moved to Human Resources.

Q-In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges for women in a leadership role?

Challenges in a leadership role is no different for a male leader or a women leader.

According to me, a leader is the one who has conviction, courage and confidence in people. At Schneider Electric, we believe ‘Great People make Schneider Electric a great company’.

Women at times need to manage multiple roles in the journey of their career, be it at the entry level, middle management or as leaders, but one of the things that ensure consistent growth, is to align priorities in the direction of overall vision. Once the priorities are clearly stated and streamlined, the goals become more achievable, realistic and towards the desired direction.

Q-What has been the greatest challenge in your career and how did you overcome it?

Like most of the career women, my journey has also been one that consistently aimed at striking the right balance between my professional and personal life. What has really worked for me is ‘prioritisation at every level of the journey’ and making decisions aligned to the career vision.

I am a strong believer of the fact that one needs to identify what is most important at a given moment. It also calls for setting expectations for oneself, and also, for people around you. This is important both at personal and professional front.

Q-What are the significant changes you brought in the organization, especially for more women in a leadership role and How?

My focus in the organisation has been largely on the successful manifestation of Diversity & Inclusion, ensuring Well-Being of our employees and facilitating an all-inclusive learning culture.

Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) is one of the most critical pillars of Schneider Electric’s people strategies. Facilitation of work life is supported by our policies such as Maternity Leave Policy, sabbatical policies, Flexi work options and family leave policy. Our commitment of achieving gender equality has not been confined to internal and organisational initiatives, we have taken prominent strides to impact the society at large.

To encourage women empowerment and entrepreneurship we have institutionalised programs like Prerna awards – felicitation of women entrepreneurs in male dominated fields of work-, HeForShe mobilization and periodic gender sensitization workshops internally as well as externally.

Equally important is our Well-Being initiatives. In order to provide an enabling environment to the employees, we have incorporated robust wellbeing practices and manifested them as a part of Schneider Electric’s policies. We encourage well-being across four levels; physical well-being, mental well-being, social well-being and emotional well-being. At Schneider Electric, we strongly believe that ‘Well Being drives Performance and Performance drives Well-Being’.

Since, the future of an organisation is going to be diverse, dispersed and digital, we are preparing ourselves by way of building these capabilities for leaders and all others. Lot of our trainings are being re-designed to be bite sized, digital and blended. We do track the percentage of trainings being delivered digitally or virtually. It has increased from 20% to 40% in last two years. We have a very robust and vibrant Internal training community (ITC) that contributes to almost half of our organisational trainings. Today, ITC has almost 800 employees who are passionate about learning and sharing their learnings. Our women leadership development program Urja is blended to not just equip the women employees with leadership skills but also create opportunities to apply the acquired skills and knowledge.

We have brought Learning at the centre of our strategy and employee life cycle. Today all our leaders are being trained for striking meaningful learning conversations in their regular interactions #whatdidyoulearntoday.

Q-What is Leadership & Culture vision of Schneider Electric?

The Leadership and Culture vision 2020 outlines how our leaders are expected to build the culture of the organisation by upholding specific behaviours associated with the high- performance culture that we drive in our organisation.

This vision has been created by the topmost leaders of our Company including the global CEO and the CHRO. It is both an inspiring as well as pragmatic approach to living our organisation culture, as it has been created by actual practitioners and is not the product of an academic exercise on the subject.

The vision explains that our culture is that of Customer Centricity, Innovation, Speed and Trust. And accordingly, it outlines Leadership Expectations that all leaders must live up to in order to live this culture.

Our company values are five behavioural elements that all employees are expected to demonstrate and in are fact even assessed on as part of our performance management approach. These are Straightforward, Challenge, Open, Passionate and Effective.

Our leadership and culture vision 2020 elaborates how the interplay of leadership expectations and scope values bring to life our customer obsession and strong desire to create meaningful meaningful impact on our planet. It further connects the principles of our High-Performance Culture to the associated domain of Diversity & Inclusion, which is intimately linked to fostering a climate of innovation, trust and more.

Q-What is Inclusive Leadership to you and what are its competitive advantages?

Our world is changing rapidly and so is the world of work. Today, organisations are global, hyper-connected, less hierarchical and ideas can come from anywhere. Inclusive leadership, that brings together people from varied backgrounds, genders, nationalities and generations, is able to leverage diverse perspectives, enable better collaboration, innovation and creativity that further enhances a high-performance culture, and finally leads to profitable growth of the organisation

Q-How Diversity & Inclusion is good for organizations and what are your D&I policies?

Intrinsic to our continued success is the diversity and inclusion of our people and therefore thinking. The basic principle is to recognize the characteristics of our unique people, we embrace all backgrounds and experiences, with a high-performance expectation in all that we do. Our diverse teams work together with a meaningful purpose in over 100 countries. Our inclusive culture enriches creativity, innovation, and problem-solving abilities. Considering the critical phases in a woman’s life– such as marriage, maternity and mobility (of the spouse), medical care of elders – policies and programs designed by Schneider Electric India to adopt an overall approach whereby a female employee gets the right boost in her career journey.

Our D&I policies:

  • Schneider Electric was selected as one of the Impact 10x10x10 corporate champions for the HeforShe movement initiated by the UN to promote gender equality. A large proportion of men at Schneider Electric have signed the pledge.
  • Maternity Leave Policy benefit to 6.5 months with full pay introduced three years back. Schneider Electric has been the forerunner in the industry to bring in this initiative.
  • Flexi work options policy – Flexi timings, work from home and part-time employment
  • Sabbatical policy enhanced to include elderly care and children’s education.
  • Adoption/Surrogacy & Paternity leave Crèche/Daycare facility at each office
  • Internal campaign to create awareness on various D&I initiatives

D&I initiatives externally

  • Institutionalized Prerna Awards to recognize social women entrepreneurs.
  • India Women Leadership Program (Urja) aimed at harnessing leadership skills and capabilities of high-potential women.
  • Gender Sensitization and Inclusion Training for managers.
  • D&I module integrated as a part of central Induction

Q-How do you see that 40% of the workforce will be Millennial by 2020, What are your plans for retaining & engaging them?

Millennials will comprise the largest workforce by 2020. They are enthusiastic, high on energy and open to taking risks. Hence, it is important to channelise their energy and motivate them in achieving desired goals. The world is undergoing a digital transformation and the millennials are highly-tech savvy making them an important workforce for every organisation for an overall growth.

These group of employees largely seek three strategic elements in employers: meaningful purpose, career growth and work-life balance. And I would say, the need of the millennial is well aligned with Schneider Electric learning and culture vision.

At Schneider Electric, our core philosophy is to innovate in a sustainable manner. Our innovations are founded on safety, reliability, efficiency, sustainability, and connectivity and are the key values we want to provide to our customers. The Internet of Things — combined with the convergence of IT and OT technologies — is really the foundation of this digital strategy.

Our people are at the heart of our organisation, we are focused Enabling professional development through leadership coaching, recognition, and ongoing learning opportunities. Our customers see our company through our people and we aim to create the right environment for our employees: an accessible leadership, shared accountability, and superior teamwork fuelled by our common culture and purpose.

Q-What is your advice to women leaders?

Self-belief, conviction and courage, passion for whatever one does and continuous learning are imperative.

Thank you Rachna!

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