Rendezvous with Madhu Srivastava on Talent Strategy and HR Practices, Vedanta Resources

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In an exclusive conversation, we are privileged to have Madhu Srivastava, for detailed discussion on Vedanta’s Talent Strategy and HR Practices. Madhu is Group CHRO, Vedanta Resources Inc. She has been part of the Vedanta Group for 6 years now and in her earlier role; she was the CHRO for Cairn Oil & Gas business of Vedanta for more than 2 years. In addition to the Cairn CHRO role, Madhu also led Talent Acquisition and Diversity & Inclusion for the Vedanta group.

An alumna of IIM Ahmedabad, Madhu brings around 20 years of rich & diverse experience spanning across industries like FMCG, Telecom, ITES, BFSI and Natural Resources in Sales, Operations and HR with organizations like Citibank, Genpact, Reliance, and Godrej

Madhu started her HR journey in 2006 by joining Genpact as an Assistant Vice President Talent Acquisition where she was heading the middle management hiring for Genpact. She was then with Citibank for 2 years heading recruitments for India before joining Vedanta in 2012

She has been instrumental in launching Vedanta’s flagship Global Internship Program, L&D execution with focus on e-learning platforms and in-house programs like Leaders Teach, Employer branding through innovative initiatives like Talent roadshows, Market mapping and leveraging LinkedIn & Social media in recruitment. As a member of HR Council, Madhu has played a key role in launching some of the best-in-class & progressive people policies in the group.Madhu is a fitness enthusiast and loves running in her free time

Q- Many Congratulations on your new role as Group CHRO. You are an influential HR leader; tell us how you were able to shape up your rich career journey?

I have been in the industry for close to 20 years now beginning my career in Sales & Marketing and later foraying in to human resources in diverse business sectors wherein I had an opportunity to work closely with varied internal & external stakeholders. Being open to new things is something which makes one more aware, agile and receptive to a plethora of on job learning.

I have always seen challenges as opportunities and have always had an analytical approach towards problem solving. I also believe that having a strong education background provides one with a solid foundation to become an astute professional.

Two things that have aided me to succeed in my professional life are:

1-Self-drive & motivation – I have always been self-driven and translating theory / concepts into clear cut actionable have been my forte. As a leader I believe that having confidence in oneself to achieve something is paramount because only then one can cascade it down to the team and they will be able to drive any agenda with same rigor and commitment. Employees look up to the leaders who challenges them to give their best and I believe that only a self-motivated and confident leader can make their team creative and productive

2-Anchoring – I have been lucky to have been anchored by the right leaders throughout my professional journey that has helped me tremendously to grow as a professional be it Citi Group, Reliance, Godrej and now Vedanta. To mention, I have had an opportunity to be directly anchored by the Chairman of Vedanta Ltd, Mr. Navin Agarwal. His leadership style, attention to business nuances and sheer passion has been inspirational and helped me grow within the organization. Developed on the same lines we have a one of a kind V-Connect Anchor-Talent program covering 13000+ employees across Vedanta.

I believe learning is an ongoing process and as a leader don’t be afraid of making mistakes but imbibing the learnings from them. Always believe in yourself and you will surely reap the fruits of your hard work.

Q- Many new innovative practices in HR are improving the people agenda, organization culture, engagement and employee wellbeing. What exactly are they?

  • There has been a rapid increase in leveraging of Analytics & Digitalization in the field of HR for predictive analysis. Artificial Intelligence is also vastly being used in training (VR & AR Platform) and onboarding, talent management dashboards,along with Social Recruitment through LinkedIn, iimjobs etc.
  • Enhanced focus on rewards and incentives with a bouquet of health & wellness benefits which are customized to sync up to individual’s interests, preferences& needs
  • As workforce demographics shift and global markets emerge,Diversity hiring (gender or geographical)has become paramount for having a cohesive cosmopolitan work force, to bring in a fresh perspective, ideas and outlook towards business and unbolts the organization to a wider pool of qualified applicants.

Q- Tell us few best HR Practices of your organization?

Vedanta is known for its best talent practices. Some of our key practices are:-

  • Internal Growth Workshop– Aligned with the philosophy of recognizing internal talent and promoting them to leadership roles, the Group conducts ‘Chairman’s Internal Growth Workshops’ to identify potential candidates across the Group. These workshops have resulted in the identification of 600+ cross-functional high potential New Leaders to date who have taken up significantly enhanced roles and responsibilities.
  • V Connect- A best in class “Anchor-talent” program focussed on enhancing the employee engagement levels.To facilitate the program, a specialized app was introduced.  The app allowed participants to schedule their “connects” with their Anchor/Mentors; get the latest business updates; access to articles and videos that focus on effective leadership, skill-building etc.; and participate in quizzes/learning challenges. 13000+ professionals are covered V-Connect Program
  • 360 Degree Feedback & Coaching– 360 Degree Feedback is conducted across the Group for all SBU ExCo members and senior leadership. Feedback on the participants is collected from four levels- peer, subordinate, manager and self. Basis this, IDAP is created by HR in collaboration with managers. Coaching provides employees right anchoring to use the feedback constructively to chart their developmental journey and enable them to work on their growth in the organization
  • Job Rotation– In line with our philosophy of promoting growth of internal leaders and adding a diversified perspective to business strategy, it is important to provide cross-functional exposure to senior leaders. Leaders who have been in a function for more than 3 years are moved to cross-functional roles to further enhance their competencies and capabilities
  • Wealth creation (Stock options)- Vedanta has one of the best Employee Stock Option scheme in the industry. This ensures that there is a sense of ownership in our employees and they are involved in Vedanta’s growth story. This contributes to fulfilling their long-term desires and align their personal ambitions to the organizational goals.
  • Performance Bonus– This helps to promote a performance-driven culture in a way that importance is given to both individual and business performance. This fosters delivery of high performance, teamwork and involvement in Vedanta’s growth story

Q- What is talent strategy of Vedanta Resources?

At Vedanta, acquiring, retaining and developing talent is one of the priorities and we believe in driving our organisation towards high performance culture to empower our high-quality talent pool in a way that will unlock their potential.

We promote growth of internal talent by giving them cross-functional& cross-business exposure which will ensure maximum contribution to business growth, challenge the talent pool to think above and beyond their line of work and learn how to do things better while being engaged to the task at hand

Q- How do you see talent strategy trends in 2019 and what are the key elements of a successful talent strategy?

  • Talent Analytics will form an important part of the talent landscape in all best practice companies. As organizations are increasingly adopting digitalization and automation, harnessing this important in this trend will play a greater role in trend prediction in talent acquisition, talent management, performance management etc. and drive process improvements.
  • Companies are also increasingly moving towards a more flexible work culture to enhance employee satisfaction and engagement. This will also lead to greater productivity.
  • A renewed viewpoint on Diversity & inclusion policies not just limiting to gender but also geographies, ethnicities etc. will result in a rich talent pool brimming with innovative ideas and newer take on business challenges
  • Ambiguous work scenarios will always persist which will result in ever changing organization dynamics and structures. This makes talent agility and mobility of prime importance. Hence HR needs to make sure that talent is prepared to handle such level of organizational undercurrents. This needs to be ingrained in the organization culture.

Q- What do you think is the biggest challenge that HR leaders are facing today when it comes to HR Innovations and what can HR do?

A key challenge for HR Leaders in driving Innovation is managing Diverse Stakeholders. HR Leaders should ensure that a culture of leveraging digitization to achieve efficiency in Work and Practices is sustained where every individual is motivated by the vision, mission and objectives of the organization.

Any innovation in HR will have an impact at the organizational level. It will require the HR Professionals to manage transitions which would further create a necessity to have Change Management Experts leading the Human Resources.

Q- What is an Agile HR to you? Can HR become Agile? If yes how would it be done?

Being able to deal with the cryptic and speculative environment through brill responsiveness is agility. HR is needed to be agile for any organization to sustain in the dynamic economies. For attaining agility, it is advised to strengthen the competence of employees through regular upskilling. It is imperative that all the tools adopted by the organization are deployed with an equally astute mind set. At Vedanta, the Business dynamics is based upon shift of commodity prices. This shift requires HR to strategize with different priorities daily which we have been successfully accomplishing through agility. HR should be equipped to modify even Budgeted Plans if there is a shift in Focus of Business Operations.

Q- Talent is greatest asset for organizations, how to recruit and retain the best of the best talent?

Majority of the hiring at Vedanta is through Campus Programs where we hire from premier Global and Indian institutes and nurture them to take on leadership roles in future through structured interventions. We have our flagship campus programs like ‘Global Internship Program (GIP)’ and ‘Vedanta Leadership Development Program (VLDP)’ through which we hire talent from Ivy League and similar institutes of high repute to infuse the high potential individuals into the Vedanta Workforce.

We hire senior talent with technical and functional expertise from global best in class organizations across industries to bring in best practices to support our vision to be the Employer of choice. Vedanta is proud about its structured onboarding program which is very carefully designed for each category of hires in the organization. As an industry leading practice, we ensure that each new hire is attached to a senior anchor to help them in smooth integration in the system. Our Chairman ensures to meet all new senior hires in the organization to align them with the organizational priorities and to deliberate on how these individuals plan to contribute to the success of the organization in the short and long term.  

As part of engagement, the new hires in the organization are exposed to and are involved in various Senior Management workshops, Decision making Councils and Project task forces to enable them to understand the organization better and to thrive in their roles.

At Vedanta, there are ample examples of individuals who have joined through Campus programs and have taken up leadership roles like CFO, Chief Commercial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer & Technical Heads and many others. We also leverage various social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook & others to share the success stories of our employees

Q- Diversity recruitment aims towards greater gender participation in the workforce and gives a bigger boost to growth and organizational productivity. What is your winning strategy for Diversity & Talent Acquisition?

Diversity is one of the most important pillars at Vedanta which is driven from the Board level. It brings a much-needed variety and boost in the overall culture and productivity of the organization which is the most important ingredient in the success of any organization in the current age.

To enhance the diversity across organization, we have strategic hiring programs in place which includes hiring of gender diverse talent for critical roles, Global Talent recruitment for niche roles and specific campus programs to hire talent from local communities.  

We have internally set hiring targets to look at gender diversity, for our lateral hires that target is to hire 20% women professionals and for our campus programs it is 50%. In addition, we have also committed to the board to have 25% Diversity in all our Exco roles across various businesses to strengthen our workforce fabric.

The success mantra for Vedanta is to involve all such diversity leaders into Decision Making bodies and continuously engage with them. These leaders are allotted anchors from the first day of their joining who guide them through their initial period of their career.

Thank you Madhu!

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