In Conversation with Ajay Ambewadikar

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In an exclusive interaction with SightsIn Plus, we have Ajay Ambewadikar, Head-Human Resources India at CNH Industrial.

Ajay has over 24 years strong manufacturing base HR experience. He started from basics of Personnel Management to transformation management of people and organization at diversified organizations and has seen three phase of transitions of change in manufacturing from traditional manufacturing process to the WCM (world class Manufacturing). He has worked with European, US, German based MNCs and some good Indian companies. Ajay was recognized as one of the top India HR persons in 2017.

He started his professional journey after his post graduation in 1991. He believes that the learning of management starts when one is a child, from one’s parents. He has varied experience in different industries, such as luggage, heavy engineering, pharmaceuticals, automobile, and project organization; and has partnered handling setting and re-setting business and HR processes. Having stayed in the business for more than 24 years has helped him lead, and driving change. The journey has also given him an opportunity to learn the dynamics of different businesses, and drive HR with an “outside in” approach. Ajay’s strength is his ability to relate to people, even at the very first meeting. His open style of management puts him at the top of his league. He expresses his opinions freely, and does not shy away from taking a stand, even if it is unpopular.


Q- Thanks for giving us your precious time. How leadership is changing and what is new/modern leadership to you?

The leadership is changing toward customer centricity and becoming more and more enabler in the system. The new leadership is LEAD the SHIP, its setting up the direction and lead the change. The modern leadership is also to be expert in designing the strategy of long term but at the same time also be a execution master.

Q- How leadership is changed because of technology and what is its role in leadership and team development?

The leadership has got new angle to it with the technology, from customer angle the technology and quality is given, moreover it’s not enough to talk about the “Feature” but the “Benefit” The leadership angle due to technology is to become more focused on “Added Value” in what you do and sell.

Team development remains as key role for any leader in order to maintain the continuity in the business and at the same time bring innovative ideas. It’s beyond just talent pipe line and talent retention. It’s more to see how it impacts to the business.

Q- How does new leadership help in boosting employee morale, productivity and engagements?

The new leadership needs to be more customer centricity and it means to bring customer angle in the way of working. When the top leadership is PULLED in to the customer angle, they have no option but to PUSH back to the team on execution and engagement to be more efficient. It’s a chain action when we talk about being enabler; it starts with top and cascade down as a culture. Walks the talk makes employees more productive and boost in their morale

Q- What is role of leadership is transforming organizational culture? And how does cultural transformation impact on performance?

The role of leadership is first to understand organization values and philosophy and start practicing it first from their own style and behavior. The team will usually follow toward the principle of “Shadow of Leadership” With engagement strategy, Leader needs to create an atmosphere of healthy Diversity and Inclusion in the team. This transformation impacts positively on the performance of any individual and then to the organization.

Q- In your opinion, what are the attributes of transformation leaders?

  • Walks the Talk
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Performance driven approach

Q- How effective leadership is key to driving HR functions, accelerating effectiveness, and building high performing teams.

HR is considered more as a support function and which is a cost centre. The value for money is the most important aspect for HR in today’s world. HR needs a quick shift from being transactional to being Tactical and also partnering business to hand hold them for building people capital. HR Leadership demands to be more technological so as to eliminate the manual interface. HR also needs to be more externally focused than internal focused. It means to bring the change, bring the best practices, and make people engaged.

Q- What is the most significant change that you brought to the organization and How?

The great change was to build your own team (building your own house) first toward customer centricity approach; it takes a lot to bring the change from so called “Controller” to “be enabler” The second important change I worked and continue working with is handhold Managers in order to make them HR expert for their people. And the third change was to design and build the organizational capability by identifying the bottlenecks. It was also to build the right Org structure and framework to engage the top line people together.

Q- Looking at your career journey as leader, what have been the key milestones in your career?

The great milestone which I consider would be recognition from top leaders and business about the way HR operates and brings value to the business. It also bring respect to the function which is cost centre, bringing People first and Customer second approach in people was a great experience. Secondly, driving Change from top but at the same time bring bottoms up approach.

Q- Any piece of advice for new generation leaders?

The new generation Leader will have new set of challenges and opportunities. What I see going forward that we will be more and more advanced and technological in the future, it also means that any organization will struggle to be Lean and flat. Secondly, customer will have more and more options available in the market. It means that organization will face a lot on competition and pricing will matter. With this scenario expected, the new generation leaders needs to start their journey today to see the bigger picture and align their action accordingly. Again who will sustain in the market? The organization and people who are on the track of “Customer Centricity” . The only advice then is build this up in your own area and it’s not just a baby of our Sales Staff.

Thank you Ajay!

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