Yashwant Mahadik on Leadership, Humanize work culture, and HR Challenges in India

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In an exclusive conversation with SightsIn Plus, Yashwant (Yash) Mahadik, President – Global Human Resources & Co-Lead Business Transformation Office at Lupin Global.

Yash is a seasoned global HR professional with over 25 years of experience across industries/sectors and geographies in top-class companies viz. Crompton Greaves, Colgate Palmolive, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Royal Philips, currently is the Global CHRO of Sun Pharma and all it’s subsidiary companies. His experience is diverse and varies across industries/sectors (Technology, Consumer and Healthcare) and geographies (India, UK, Japan, USA, ASEAN, and Europe).

He is recognized amongst the top 50 most powerful HR professionals coming from India and is a leading HR thought leader who has worked in association with leading academicians in USA for conceptualizing and executing global strategic initiatives in areas of Human Resource Management.

Yash has a high social (development sector) orientation – believes in sharing his earnings and time with social developmental causes related to education for the underprivileged. He is an avid golfer and enjoys traveling and reading. He is a very keen photographer and is a creator of many professional levels, highly creative images using digital photography equipment and technologies. He is incubating his new and personal venture “Yash Mahadik Photography” in the dedication to a noble charitable cause.

Q- You are an influential HR leader, having more than three decades of experience in human resources working with top-ranked companies globally. How do you look at your career journey today?

Thank you for your kind words. My career journey over the past years has been indeed very enriching and rewarding. It has been my good fortune to have worked with top-notch companies and leaders in diverse roles within and outside the HR function globally. This has enabled me to inculcate skills and values that make me the professional I am today. As I advance on my career journey, the plan is to never give up learning, contribute toward raising the bar higher for the HR function by amplifying its impact on the business and nurturing fresh talent to take the baton ahead.

Q- You have joined Lupin in the mid of 2018, what is your vision for HR? What are the significant changes that you brought to the organization and how?

Lupin is known for its value-driven culture, carefully built over 50-plus years, with employee-centric policies. The company has received numerous accolades and consistently features high on the list of “Top Employer Brand” in the pharmaceuticals segment. I take immense pride in being a part of this dynamic organization that is continually transforming itself to drive greater outcomes and be future-ready – all this while staying rooted in its core values.

Our HR vision is to make Lupin the No.1 employer brand in the country. We plan to achieve this by simplifying processes and establishing strong people practices, enabled by modern technology applications and platforms. Building contemporary and strategic HRM capabilities in People Managers and HR Managers to constantly create value for the business and our customers is and will remain our top priority. The HR function has to move from a tactical function that adds value to a strategic one that delivers greater value for the business.

Few of the transformation programs we have embarked on since, I joined Lupin, include:

  • Revisiting our HR strategy to align it with our business strategy
  • Establishing a contemporary HR operating model based on HR Business Partners and CoE’s (Centers of Expertise) aimed at delivering an enriched employee experience
  • Enhancing focus on leadership development and talent management by setting up a CoE
  • Building a global enterprise-wide total reward and career framework that is aligned to performance and talent aspirations; we have formed a CoE for this
  • Create a robust enterprise-wide HR Technology platform which enables harmonization and standardization of global systems, processes, and ways of working while retaining their region-level relevance
  • Create an HR academy that would focus on and invest heavily in developing HR skills amongPeople Managers and HR team members.

All these transformation programs are in an advanced stage of execution. The next big one, in the design stage, is the “Learning and Capability Building Transformation” – the way Lupin people learn and build capabilities to create more value for the business and society.

Q- What is culture to you? How do you ensure to humanize your workplace?

Culture to me is consistent, an exhibition of behavior, values, and beliefs in an organization that is primarily driven from the top, forming the internal environment of the company.

For any workplace to thrive, it must be human emotion (EQ) sensitive because ultimately, it is people who are at the core of the business. We at Lupin always ensure that we do not lose the human essence. This is achieved by setting a clear purpose for everything we do and communicating it across levels. There’s also a significant focus on creating enough platforms (or touchpoints) for employees to address concerns and be heard. In addition, we also encourage building cross-functional teams to brainstorm together on the challenges we face and increase trust among employees. We also recognize our talented employees as our value bearers and make learning and knowledge a foundation at all levels.

Culture, for us, is an environment in which our values are practiced and lived every day. The most important part of our culture is the Emotional Quotient (EQ) & Decency Quotient (DQ), something that was ingrained by our founder Shri. Desh Bandhu Gupta. Respect & Care and Decency is role modelled right from the top by our CEO – Vinita Gupta and MD – Nilesh Gupta. The way people in Lupin’s ecosystem are treated is what separates us from the rest. Some examples are, treating people with dignity and respect when they are separating from the company (voluntarily or involuntarily), when managers engage with their people in difficult conversations regarding their performance or behavior, at all times everyone is treated with respect and care.

We do not confuse Culture with Climate. Culture of a company is ingrained and is much deeper than the climate; culture is value-based, is a part of the company’s DNA is long-term and is a source of competitive advantage. The climate, on the other hand, is temporary and is largely influenced by many current internal or external factors. It’s essential to get a sense of the climate too and make sure that it’s made conducive.

Q- What are mindfulness and mental health HR practices at Lupin?

At Lupin, there is a constant focus on facilitating employee health, both physical and mental. Being a leading Pharma company globally, our endeavor has always been to make a positive difference to human health through our scientific capabilities, medicines, products, and services. Our focus on facilitating good physical and mental health is equal and high. On mindfulness and mental health, we have various programs and offerings for our employees. Employee assistance program, access to coaches and counselors, regular yoga and meditation camps across company locations. Also, we are in the process of setting up mental well-being assessment tools and calendar to help employees self-assess their mental health, seek help and support from professionals as required, de-stress and achieve a high level of mental fitness which will ultimately help employees perform at their best at all times as well as have a balanced, happy and peaceful life.

Q- How do you evolve the digital ecosystem with humanity to fetch the best employee experience?

Various aspects should be kept in mind while evolving and establishing a digital ecosystem, this includes understanding the readiness of the organization in terms of the current position on the maturity curve, need of the hour and the resources available. To create superior employee experience, it is essential to understand the current as well as future needs of the employees. Following this, it is essential to understand the gap between the current state and future state. Then implementing a Digital and Technology Transformation program to achieve the future state builds the foundation for creating superior employee experience.

From my experience and view, it’s important that the CHRO and his/her HR leadership team should themselves lead and design their company’s People/HR Technology Platforms, Applications and Ecosystem including, process automation and digitization. Don’t leave it to the CIO and Consultants. Seek help from consultants and tech experts to understand the technology platforms and applications in detail but leave it to them to design and execute.

In Lupin, over that past one and a half years we have been carefully and speedily transforming the People/HR Technology Platforms and Applications. In about a year from now, we will have a world-class digital ecosystem that will further enhance the ability of self-service and managed service to ensure superior employee experience.

Q- Few people had predicted HR will be dead by 2020. Does HR have a future?

Of course, HR function and professionals have a future, I would say, it’s going to be brighter than ever in the past. However, HR, just like any other function, has to evolve and innovate to remain relevant always. The key is to constantly and proactively create value for the business instead of only adding value. This can be achieved if HR professionals strive to understand the levers of business and help the business leaders and the organization achieve its strategic business goals.

Q- Many new HR titles are having a moment, like- Human Relations, Humanity in Relationship, and etc. Why are we rethinking new titles? Is the future of HR to put the human/ human spirit back in HR?

HR as a function has evolved significantly, from being “Personnel Department” mainly focused on industrial relation issues, recruitment, payroll, and people operations activities to becoming a “Human Resources Function” steering more towards partnering with the business and creating value in the organization. I believe that the essence of the “human element” will always sit at the core of the function, today and tomorrow irrespective of the title and the name was given to it. The idea and endeavor today is to align more with the business, be technologically advanced yet humanizing the workplace. It’s the nature of the role and its detail that is important and not just the title. In the future, it will become a purely strategic function responsible for talent contracting and productivity (on-roll/contract workforce or gig workforce) and will be creating value leading business transformation within the organization.

Q- What are the top 5 HR challenges in India?

In my opinion, the top five challenges that HR leaders face today day include:

  • To continuously be aligned with the business
  • Creating an HR operating model that’s best serving the HR clients efficiently by leveraging technology and yet balancing the workforce and business leaders’ need for high human touch.
  • HR leaders becoming skilled at leading and spearheading business transformations within their organization.
  • HR leaders becoming skilled in understanding the continuously evolving technologies that are disrupting business models and workplace practices and workforce models.
  • CHRO becoming a credible and competent partner for the CEO along with the CFO. The golden triangle of leadership in any organization.

Q- The government has done many labour law reforms, what is your opinion on these reforms especially on minimum wages code? 

The code is considered to be a good step in the Government’s endeavour of “ease of doing business.”After the ascent of President and publication in the official gazette, central and state government shall make their rules prescribing various authorities/boards under the Act, returns to be filed and other compliances to be adhered. The Code on Wages replaces the existing laws such as Payment of Wages Act, Minimum Wages Act, Payment of Bonus Act, Equal Remuneration Act and therefore, it simplifies the entire labour legislation that will prove beneficial to the industry at large. It’s a very welcomed step.

Q- What is the future role of human resources 2020 -2025?

In recent years, HR has undergone a significant paradigm shift in its role, function and the overall impact they make in shaping organizations and their culture. The purpose of HR today is multifold, that of an organizational designer/architect, expert in culture building and designing experiences, coach for leaders and talent, business transformation champion, data miners, and champion of strategic agility and digital transformations.

Q- What is your best piece of career advice for HR aspirants who wants to be great at their job?

 HR aspirants should always strive to sharpen their business acumen and invest in developing their skills for the future. I urge all mid-career and early-in-career HR professionals to imbibe the spirit of continuous learning work hard and live a life of integrity and you shall achieve/realize your own definition of success.

Thank you, Yash!

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