In conversation with Sameer Nagarajan, Global President Human Resources, Cadila Pharmaceuticals on Skilling, Reskilling, and Upskilling
Sameer is a senior HR professional with over 33 years of experience in leading the HR function while partnering businesses to growth and profitability. Prior to Cadila, he was working with Dabur International Limited as Executive Vice President, Human Resources in Dubai.
He completed an MBA in HR from XLRI Jamshedpur in 1988 and has a proven track record in Strategic Business Partnering and leading teams to deliver organizational outcomes. Previously, Sameer has been associated with Unilever and Hindustan Unilever, AstraZeneca Pharma, BPB India Gypsum, Microland, and Hindustan Ciba-Geigy.
He is particularly interested in Organisation Efficiency and Talent Management with a specific focus on Capability Development and Leadership Development and has a wide intercultural experience spanning Asia and Europe.
Q- What are the key challenges that you’re facing as CHRO when it comes to the Skilling of employees?
The pandemic and its consequential effects have altered the developmental landscape irreversibly. First, the nature of the skills required for effective job performance in individual and group roles has changed. The world is VUCA as never before. Employees now require an ability to deal with much greater levels of ambiguity and complexity. Behaviourally and technically, these have resulted in new demands such as digital, e-commerce, online collaboration, teleconsultation, virtual reality, etc. Individuals, therefore, need to learn a completely new set of skills that will equip them to navigate the new order. Similarly, organizations as a whole need to develop new ways of assessing and measuring the extent and rootedness of these skills and capabilities, as an integral part of assuring survival in the longer term.
They also need to reconcile with the fact that the nature of work as we knew it has changed. Physical offices going forward will not be the same as they once were. Work will increasingly be done from non-traditional settings, and in turbulent and complex environments. As a result, the profile of the ideal individual employee will change to include the ability to learn in individual and remote settings. The past notion of learning in physically settings, in a group, maybe lost for good. The nature of training has therefore also changed permanently. Training now competes with a lot of other priorities and distractions that emerge in the context of a home office and it is unlikely that any single person will be able to devote large chunks of time, continually, to skill and capability development, regardless of the desire or wish to do so.
The emergence of gig work and shorter-term views on careers taken means that the delivery of training inputs has to be more focused and the results more intense, more quickly. The longer time frames available in the past are gone. Millennials are also impatient for results and growth and this means there has to be a greater focus on the sharpness and clarity of learning inputs. Measurement systems, often an ambiguous and little-studied – but critical – area in learning and development have also come in for more attention.
Q- Why employees’ Skilling, Reskilling, and Upskilling are so important in current times?
As I mentioned, it is very important to note that the very nature of the world of work has changed. Recent reflections shared by both academicians and organizational practitioners and leaders reflect this change. While it is fairly predictable that new-age companies in industries such as IT and digital have already announced a work-from-home policy until the end of 2021, what has been a real game-changer is that brick and mortar companies such as Unilever have also moved in this direction.
This will create a whole new playing field in terms of talent management as employment and learning opportunities become more accessible to a larger number of people across the country, putting pressure on the ability to attract and retain employees. Gig work will also naturally thrive in an environment enabled thus. This new world will make new and unprecedented demands on our individual and collective abilities to not merely cope with the environment but thrive in it.
Skill initiatives aimed at all employees are absolutely essential for something like this to happen. There are also various environmental and governmental enablers in this regard, given the availability of a large pool of human talent in the country and their willingness to learn. The private sector is also uniquely positioned to enable and facilitate such learning and that is for the better.
Q- What are some of the Upskilling initiatives taken in Cadila recently?
Cadila looked at the opportunity and initially conceptualized the idea of learning as a product that is accessible more easily as a result of the widespread use of devices as a result of the pandemic. Cadila explored the concept of “learning and training anywhere, anytime”, focusing on longer-term capability building to augment the capacity of employees to fulfil their roles.
L&D in Cadila catalyzed Digital Learning Sessions on various soft skills (relevant to field employees) that were facilitated by specially chosen experts. We also facilitated techno-functional skills like in-Clinic communication & Coaching abilities for first and second-line managers enabling them to build inclusiveness, improve effectiveness and stay relevant. As the team went ahead with the learning agenda, we also utilized platforms like YouTube and WhatsApp to reach learners, promoting reinforcement of learning. All of this went a long way in delivering a robust, learning-rich environment that has resulted in greater sales performance, as evidenced in various market monitors.
Q- Any concluding remarks?
Another challenging and dynamic year – 2021 – will see companies and Cadila moving ahead with speed to take creative advantage of technology and content and deliver optimized learning solutions to all employees.
Thank You, Sameer!