What would lead to your preferred career path always stays uncertain. For some, it is a clearly charted course, but for majority of students, it is a self-searching path that leads them to what they love. We spoke to one such students, Bitan Banerjee, who after his engineering found his love for HR and never looked back. These are the excerpts of the interview:
Engineering from WBUT and then doing a Master’s in Immunology & Allergy from the University of Nottingham. How did then Bitan decide to go for an MBA from IMT Hyderabad?
My academic forte was Biotechnology. I had a knack for Biology since school and I always wanted to pursue a career in that space. Later on, when a full scholarship from the University of Nottingham came, it was like a dream come true. Being an international student, we were allowed to work part-time, 20 hours per week. There was an open part-time position at the university as a Recruitment Assistant. I casually applied for the position and was taken aback when I was called for an interview. Fortunately, I cracked the interview and worked for a year. It was around this time that I thought of pursuing a career in HR. Then in 2011, when I joined a startup in Kolkata, I realized an academic knowledge in HR will bolster my career aspirations, which led to my journey with an MBA.
When did your love for HR grow? Were you always sure that you were a people person and would like to explore this field?
I was always an explicitly extrovert person, and I loved interacting with people since my school days. I never thought to turn this particular proclivity into a profession, but with my nascent experience in Recruitment, I was sure – this is a profession that is meant for me.
You took part in the media relations and placement committees at IMT H. How has been your experience? How do you think it has helped you grow?
The experience was intriguing. Being a part of MRC (Media Relations Committee) and SCOP (Student Committee Of Placements) helped me a lot, especially in time management, taking ownership, and branding. Being in MRC press releases, photographs, blogs was my area of expertise, and our batch was the harbinger of IMPELZ (The Annual Management Fest of IMT Hyderabad), so you can imagine the workload. Also, in SCOP, helping my fellow batchmates, interacting with company representatives, helped me a lot to network and improve my communication skills.
Tell us about your interesting journey at 1 Million 1 Love? What was the genesis of the company and how did you find yourself a fit there?
I was approached by the CEO of 1M1L on the AngelList platform. The company was founded to help to curb down the refugee crises that most of the European countries were facing back in 2017. We started as a non-profit organization where we helped the refugees with housing, sanitation, education, and job. I was the 7th member of the team, and my role was Global HR – this was the first time I started working as a Remote Employee. Now that we all are working remotely, might seem like a new normal, but at that time Remote work and office work happened to me through a strainous learning expereince. I gained a plethora of experience in the international HRM space working with them. Overall, it was a role that paved way for my future responsibilities.
What were some of the skills that you learned during your B-school years at IMT H that came in handy while you worked for 1 Million 1 Love, taking so many responsibilities?
My journey in 1M1L would not have been successful if I had not opted for the following courses at IMT – International Business, International HRM, Business Negotiation, Services Marketing, Performance Management, Change Management, Strategic Staffing, and HR Analytics.
In 2018, you joined as a Global Talent Specialist at VanHack? How has this shift been for you?
VanHack is headquartered in Vancouver, and we are a fully remote organization. We work tirelessly to make things happen for our users. The transition to a Global Talent Specialist has been smooth enough, and I love what I am doing right now.
Your company works with big names like Coursera, Deloitte, Shopify, etc. What does Bitan do on a daily basis as a Global Talent Specialist at VanHack?
I have an array of different responsibilities in VanHack. My daily chores include – Sourcing, Screening, Interviewing, Talent & Industry Mapping, Candidate Management, Client Management, Learning & Development, Salary Negotiation, Offer Management, Global Mobility, Event Management, Employer Branding, and Candidate Experience Management, across LATAM, North America, EMEA, Asia.
What are some of the must-have qualities that anyone should possess, when they are in the ‘recruitment and hiring’ space? Do you think a B-school can teach you these?
I believe, if anyone wishes to pursue “Talent Acquisition”, that person needs to be a great listener, highly patient, transparent, and always willing to make a difference. The feeling that you get once you place a candidate is surreal. It will give you a better identity – at least your job is making a big difference in someone’s life. These skills are innate in almost everyone, but they are dormant. A B-school sensitizes a trigger to activate these skills with their curriculum and courses.
What is your advice for students who want to pursue a career in HR and are unsure about their selection of a B-school?
My advice would be – challenge yourself with the question of what you really want to do? Most people take up HR because they think it is easy, no number crunching, or field job – but trust me, HR is not about making Rangolis, it is not for the faint-hearted. If you are sure about a completely unpredictable and challenging environment, go for it. If you are looking for something more certain, HR might not be the profession for you. If you have a hunger to learn and streamline your learnings to make positive changes in the policies and people, then just go for HR.
What next for Bitan? How is he planning to make it big as a ‘Career Match Maker’?
I feel ecstatic when I get a message from someone who got hired through me – “Thank you for your help and support. You made this possible”. As I mentioned, I love changing people’s lives, and I will keep on doing this. As a Career Match Maker, I shall thrive on my principles to create an environment that will not have a single negative spillover effect from the prospective candidates.
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