We took the opportunity to interact with our alumni who are currently working at Aditya Birla Group, to get inspired from their side of the stories. We took interviews of people who are at managerial positions within the organization. This initiative helped us to understand their journey and how they have tackled various situations in their career.
Mr. Madhavan B., Human Resource Leadership Associate, Birla Carbon, SCMHRD Batch of 2014.
We connected with our Alumni Mr Madhavan B, who is from the batch of 2014. He is currently working as a Human resources Leadership Associate at Birla Carbon. He is working on designing a common scheme of Contract Labour Management for Birla Carbon. The following is the interview of his journey at Aditya Birla Group.
Interviewer- What were the challenges you faced when you were part of the ABGLP?
Madhavan - I had worked in a French company before MBA. The process, culture was very different here. I thought that is what the corporate world was.
ABGLP, in your first year, gives you different stints. I had four stints with different businesses, a different area of work and a different manager. You just get three months to settle down in a team, understand the business, understand your project and you have to deliver. So you, literally, have to do everything within three months; you do not have a choice. I had never done anything like this. It was like four internships in a span of one year and each of them live. You will be working directly with senior leadership. A couple of the projects that I worked for were with the head of HR or our own CHRO, while another was with transformation head. The stakes are high and you need to be on your toes since every time things are changing.
In the first project, I worked on in the corporate office, I got to work with the HR Director and group rewards head and I had the opportunity to meet the chairman. The second I did was with contract labour in a plant in a remote area. So look at the width, the spectrum of work we get. They put me through different experience and it made me more adaptable and very agile, ready to change anything, quickly learn, deliver. So don’t blame that you did not have time or constraints - you just learn and deliver.
Interviewer - It really sounds fun and crazy from your perspective.
Madhavan - Yes, it is, fun and crazy. You will love it.
Interviewer - What is one key change that the program brings in a person’s growth?
Madhavan - One key thing is that you should question the status quo. If you are okay with what it is and you are mentally prepared to run the things the same way, you are going to vanish and you are going to fail. You will survive only if you question the status quo. You have to get into the white part of everything and figure out how things can be done differently to impact the employees, to make the things productive and efficient. So questioning the status quo will be your survival kit, making things better than what they are for yourself, fellow employees, and the company. You should never be satisfied with the way things already are and should always seek to better/improve them.
Interviewer - How is the culture at ABG? What would you say was the best thing you experienced there?
Madhavan - This a very tough question to answer. ABG, literally, has 15+ businesses, spread across numerous countries and each business is its own world. So manufacturing has a culture, sales & marketing has a culture.
So the culture is vast, diverse. It is different to every business.
Two things I would like to highlight which are very common, connecting thread, irrespective of where you are - one is the five values we hold, that is something which is close to everyone’s heart, that you will feel, practice here or anywhere irrespective of which part of the world in ABG you are. It cannot be compromised. It is something that earns you self respect.
And always trying to do better, trying to transform yourself, always trying to be agile. The best always have that urge to transform, the urge to change is always there.
These two things actually drive from where it was a few years back to where it is right now.
Interviewer - ABG has come up with this concept of ‘big in your life’. What are your thoughts on it?
Madhavan - Big in your life’ is actually there to make people aware. The basic thought process is to bring in a sense of __ amongst employees and to the outside world to show how we touch peoples’ lives. ABG touches a normal person’s life more than any other brand. We have a lot of manufacturing businesses and also service. So knowingly or unknowingly, these products and services play an important role in your day-to-day life which people are not aware of. For example, we have a business called Birla Carbon that manufactures Carbon Black. Most people do not know what it is, but it is the main ingredient in producing tyres. So every time you travel it is being enabled by an ABG business. Anything you see in black which is not natural has some form of carbon black in it, be it the mascara girl’s use or dye used for a linen shirt.
People do not realize how big ABG is in their lives, so this campaign is there to bring about that change.
Interviewer - People at ABG often talk about this line, ‘think about tomorrow, today’. How is it actually brought into action in a person’s daily work?
Madhavan - Every review, every planning, the work that we do, we are always asked and we are mentally trained to check how things are going to be tomorrow and are we prepared for it. Be it a review, a presentation, a discussion, we always think about how will we be prepared for it tomorrow. So if disruption comes to a certain industry we are involved in, we are already thinking about what changes can we bring and can we get into that. The way we work, we are always prepared to tackle challenges.
Interviewer - Would you like to give any last piece of advice to someone who aspired to be part of ABGLP?
Madhavan - First, anything that you do must have a sense of purpose, be clear on why you are doing something and that sense should be the thing that drives you.
Second, have a grit. You need it to keep ongoing. You will see a lot of roadblocks and failures on your way. Have that grit in you, that you are not going to give up irrespective of whatever you face.
Third, it will be completely unpredictable, volatile and ambiguous and you must be okay with it. You are there precisely to manage it, to bring predictability.
To be a successful professional in this age, you need to have these three things.
We thank ABG and our alumni for this wonderful opportunity to interact and get inspired by their stories.