Will hiring and recruitment change drastically due to COVID 19? Will the class of 2019-21 and 2020-22 have to struggle with summer and final placements as well as internships? What skills and qualities will recruiters be looking at when hiring, now that the future (and the present) of work has changed completely? In order to understand recruitment and hiring during & post COVID 19 better, as well as take a look at the synergy between studying HR and implementing HR policies in real life, we spoke to someone who knows the corporate world very well. Meet Priyanka Nandan, a psychology major from Delhi University and an MBA in HR from TISS. Priyanka has worked with companies like ITC, Glenmark and Nomura over the years. Currently, Senior Manager (HR) at Philips, Priyanka tells us what recruiters look at while hiring, how HR has evolved and grown thanks to Coronavirus, and her own interesting career journey. Whether you're interested in HR as a career, hope to get into TISS, or just want to know how the job market is evolving, this interview will have answers for you! Continue reading to find out.
Excerpts From Our Conversation With Priyanka:
Q.1 What are the kind of skills and attitudes do you look for when you are hiring from campus?
I look for hiring high potential talent which can be molded and groomed into future leaders. With this pretext, attitude takes precedence over any other achievements. I will also look for how your career aspirations can be fulfilled and also be a value-add from an organizational fitment perspective. All this because it is important that one sees value in what they are committing their early years of career to.
Q.2 How do students work towards becoming more attractive to recruiters during these tough times?
I think instead of looking outwards, one should utilize this time to look inwards! Go back to your whiteboards and think about your career goals. Think about what all skills you can add to yourself to gain more confidence for realizing that aim and work on that.
A bright candidate never misses the cut to be on the A list. Aim to be that bright candidate! The world has seen many such dips in the past and history has proven that the ones who are resilient, focused and forward looking have survived anyway. This time is no different.
Gauge the changing trends in talent requirement, be closer to the business fraternity through various mentoring sessions/training sessions/knowledge sharing sessions.
The way you have dealt with this seemingly disappointing situation can be a great success story to display to your future employers. Every challenge can be an opportunity – it depends on us how we leverage it!
Q.3 What made you pick HR and apply to TISS?
My interest in HR started building during my undergraduate days. While preparing for MBA competition exams, I got to know about top colleges which offer HR specialization. TISS stood out on the list because of its rich legacy of creating management professionals with a high human quotient.
The selection process creates a pool of talent which is further groomed into HR professionals with increased proactive thinking along with Inclusive and progressive mindset towards the business world. Those 2 years of academic and industrial exposure sharpen the HR professional in making – getting them ready to take on the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex & ambiguous) world ahead.
Q.4 What were some of the skills and attitudes that you picked up during your time at TISS?
I think my time at TISS played a defining role in shaping me up as a person overall, not just professionally but changing my general outlook towards life. You get to be part of a very inclusive and diverse batch; this itself presents a great opportunity to broaden your thought process and perspectives. The social conditioning the environment offered me, made me more inclusive in my thoughts and how I processed information around me.
There was a very effective blend of seasoned professors and industry experts from various fields that ensured that you learn from the best. The concept of field - work also comes in very handy, where I got to experience corporate ways of working even before I stepped into it full-fledged.
Learning from the best helps you become the better version of yourself – I think this is what TISS has done for me.
Q.5 You spent more than 3 years in your first job out of campus at ITC. What were they like? What did you learn about HR in the real world during this time?
Early career years for a campus graduate are very crucial for setting a robust foundation. This is the time when organizations invest in you, so that they reap the output of future leaders later. I was placed with ITC from campus and this was my first corporate experience. Grabbing on to the opportunities to learn new things comes naturally to me and I think ITC became a perfect launchpad given its diverse conglomerate presence, which provides campus talent a huge array of opportunities for early career grooming.
While studying theory, the situations can be dealt with linearly. But real time situations can be far more complex, like a ping pong ball, which way it will bounce is difficult to predict..:). The real time skill of a HR professional comes into play with the developed ability to find sense in chaos and lead the way in the right direction. ITC invested in me by giving me exposure into various HR domains, be it talent acquisition, campus program management, SAP transition or factory HR. I got excellent mentors who invested in my learning and pushed me to do better. During this time, I realized the power of on the job learning as the most effective means to hone your skills in order to deal with complex situations and how this ability sets successful HR professionals apart from the crowd.
Q.6 Nomura has been your longest stint so far. Tell us about your favorite project over there and what were your top learnings from it?
My stint at Nomura taught me a great deal on top-notch global HR systems and processes, which becomes the backbone of organizational culture and performance. Being part of a highly matrix-ed organization, I learnt the nuances of managing global stakeholders and business alignment to deliver on business strategic goals. At Nomura, while I managed the core HR processes like performance management, talent management, rewards, employee engagement etc., I also got opportunities to drive critical interventions on capability building and organization productivity with business. During this process, my biggest learnings have been how to train your mind to think long term to manage the implications/desired output and how the success or failure of any project lies in the grit with which it is executed!
Q.7 What do you do now at Philips?
I am in the role of early career recruitment, campus engagement and branding. It is an extremely exciting space to be in. Mostly because I work with young talent and this pipeline is a very rich and important source which sets the basis for any talent strategy. I am a peoples’ person and this role gives me ample opportunity to get infused with the vibrant energy of the millennial generation!
Q.8 How useful is the knowledge of psychology to the practice of management?
Usefulness of studying Psychology has been manifold. I studied Psychology (Hons) from Delhi University in my under graduation. For me psychology led to the foundation of developing the understanding of our ecosystem through human behavior in a scientific manner. One of the subjects that I thoroughly enjoyed was organizational behavior which deep dived into understanding human behavior in an organizational context – this was a direct linkage between nuances of practicing management in an organizational set up. I would like to believe that a combination of psychology with management equipped me to become preemptive and foresighted in various situations – personal or professional, hence enabling better decision making and better preparedness to handle them.
Q.9 What has been the impact of COVID on HR as a profession?
I think COVID has created many unprecedented conditions around the world. The business environment is no different. The situation has pushed us to be more agile, quick on our feet, for business continuity. Having said that, I think since we have been dealing with this situation for some time now, and there may be lingering side effects for a considerable period, organizations are moving towards a more responsive approach from an Initial reactive approach. We can see it in how business models are undergoing mid to long term changes.
This pandemic has accentuated the indispensability of people resources in organizations. People agenda has taken the front seat in critical business discussions. In my view, HR as a fraternity is largely anchored at the business partnering space for most organizations. But now, it has catapulted to a business driver position in many aspects. Be it creating value through a new, imagined workspace, leveraging technology to build people capabilities, employee well being and engagement or envisaging apt talent strategy to deliver business goals in this new defined environment.
Q.10 What is going to be the impact of data in the area of hiring?
In the space of talent acquisition, data becomes very critical to optimize processes. Data is also important to give quality insights into trends and bottlenecks. Such data points help in creating better value for business. A data driven hiring process leads to:
- Removal of biases – helps in standardizing the process
- Better quality and fitment of hires
- Improved time to the hire cycle
- Improved cost per hire
- Enhanced candidate experience
- Better forecasting
Given that now virtual is going to be the way for us going forward, data will be the guiding light which will help in more informed decision making. This is even truer in the absence of physical face to face meetings while hiring for sure.
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