Wipro CHRO Saurabh Govil on HR: Moving to the Next Normal

Saurabh Govil, Wipro CHRO on HR: Moving to the Next Normal
Most important is cultural integration of employees in a remote context. Enabling business in these circumstances is the first and the most important expectation that all IT business leaders have today.

Rendezvous with Saurabh Govil, President & Chief Human Resources Officer, Wipro Ltd on HR: Moving to the Next Normal

Saurabh Govil is the President & Chief Human Resources Officer at Wipro Ltd and is also a member of the Management Team. In this role, he leads all Human Resources functions for Wipro. Despite having over 2 decades of experience Saurabh still  considers himself as a newbie who constantly maintains childlike curiosity to learn new things. Before joining Wipro he worked in organizations such as ITC and GE. An alumnus of XLRI, Jamshedpur he completed his Masters in Human Resources. He is on the advisory board of SHRM India and also a regular speaker at NASSCOM’s HR summit. He also contributes to NHRDN’s journal as an author.

Q. How do you see the business expectations from HR especially in the IT industry in the next couple of months?

If you look at the current global scenario, the pandemic is not showing signs of waning. Nations are seeing second and third waves. Closer home, while our fatality rate has been remarkably low, cases continue to increase and that’s worrisome. In these unusual circumstances, many organizations have taken tough decisions to ensure survival and they look to HR to provide the much needed stability in these times.

If we look at the IT industry, it has seen significant changes in the past few quarters. WFH has been enabled on a large scale; business has been growing in certain sectors while some sectors are stressed. In IT the biggest expectation business has is to support it in successful delivery of existing and new business with minimal disruption. It sounds like a normal expectation. However, in these circumstances when all systems for existing and new employees are remote, it is quite complex. From hiring new employees to training them, to ensuring that they have right system access and so on requires multiple teams to come together and deliver.

Most important is cultural integration of employees in a remote context. Enabling business in these circumstances is the first and the most important expectation that all IT business leaders have today.

Q. How many employees are yet working from home and what is your plan to see them in the office?

Majority of our workforce (over 98%) continues to operate from home as of now. We do see merit in people coming to office to experience the culture and build social capital via informal interactions. However, in these circumstances, our first priority is employee safety. We have implemented multiple safeguards for employees who are required to work from office such as zoning protocols, distant seating, isolation rooms, sanitization etc but we are enabling employees to WFH as much as possible. We must understand that we are yet to see the new normal.

Today a lot of actions are guided by fear/ safety and motivation for action will change once a cure/vaccine is found. As the pandemic subsides we forecast a hybrid model coming into existence. Even in a hybrid setup, there will be roles that always need to work from the office and roles that can work from wherever. Our plan will depend on the model and client requirements. We must also consider the employee perspective here. There is an implicit assumption that all employees are fine with working from home and would prefer that. This may not be true in a post-pandemic scenario.

Q. What are your hiring plans? May if you please elaborate on the numbers of Campus and Lateral hiring?

Our focus remains on hiring the optimal talent required for sustaining and growing the business. We will see a marked move on hiring people across the globe in line with our commitment towards localization and servicing the customer in the best possible manner. Diversity in hiring especially at senior levels will be practiced. We are proud to say that today 100% of our job listings are gender neutralized in line with our strong philosophy of equality & inclusivity.

Q. What are some of the key challenges Wipro is facing currently to aligning the talent with business needs?

Providing business with the right talent at the right time is always an area of opportunity. We have modernized our infrastructure through a new ATS and leaner processes for internal and external hiring to ensure the business has visibility to the most suited talent. The pandemic suddenly mandated new ways of working. Managers/ leaders across levels had to suddenly learn to manage teams spread across locations.

Wipro has found this is a challenge in the trenches and has been leveraging online trainings to equip managers with much needed virtual team management capabilities. The half-life of skills has been reducing for years. One area of focus has been to scale capabilities in the emerging areas of business- be it organically through learning programs or inorganically through acquisitions. We have invested both in building digital skills, design skills internally and also actively learning from entities that have become a part of Wipro.

Q. How do you see the future of jobs in the IT industry?

The IT industry has been going through a phase of transformation. Old models and assumptions are being challenged. Advances in technology, automation, access to global pools via technology platforms are some of the factors challenging current models and making them obsolete. We have already seen that L1 jobs in the IT services industry are increasingly getting automated. Skill redundancies are very much a reality. Hence what worked earlier won’t work now. Jobs that are currently hot may not exist in a decade. Jobs in data are likely to be quite in demand.

There are various estimates of how many devices will be connected to the internet by 2030 with some reaching up to 500 billion! Data from these devices will needed to be analysed and presented in a form to take business decisions. Due to the pandemic and increasing reliance on online consumption of services, risk of frauds and cyber attacks has increased. So that will be an area for jobs. Jobs in design will also be in demand. There are many more areas.

However, the point to note here is that all these require high-end skills and competencies. Future jobs in IT will be those that are at the intersection of disciplines such as technology and design.

Q. Any concluding remarks?

The pandemic has brought in many firsts. As IT organizations are now settling towards a new way of working, it has offered us a lot to introspect about. Technology has shown the power of global collaboration to surmount seemingly insuperable obstacles. It is now for each organization to choose a path to harness the power of technology. We strongly believe that with its capabilities Wipro is poised to succeed.

Thank you, Saurabh!


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