Ms Annapurna A is the Director of Human Resource at Inspirage. She shared insights into her journey as an HR leader, the current trends in the industry and the future of HR with IIM Shillong's Human Resources club usHR.
Please take us through your journey in the field of HR
The story goes back really back as I am celebrating 25 years of my HR journey. In fact, to start with the very day I took up HR, and how it went through. I think I started out somewhere in Coimbatore where I had to fight my battle out there with people telling me why I can't because I am a girl. Also the entry point, where you aren't told aware the processes and all. But yes, I had to see that I was integrated and given the right kinds of chance and worked with very multidimensional companies in multiple locations and geographies, and I think this is my ninth company, where I am working now. No two companies are the same and that meaning I had got with diverse companies starting from manufacturing to sales & distribution, IT, private and public sector, defence sector, and private sector. Now I am in IT consulting. So I think I learned a lot by seeing different business models and HR per se I don't feel is quite different from any industry because we deal with people, people have emotions, right? So that's where as an HR leader, you need to take care of that. So, in short, I will say that the journey has been beautiful. There have been lots of challenges and I think that every challenge has given me the resilience to build strength, to come back and fight back and be in the industry. I am glad to be an HR leader and more so proud of being a woman HR leader. And I think today in the country we don't really have many women HR leaders so I'm proud of being one.
Having worked for 25 years, what do you think has changed over the years in the HR domain?
So, a lot has changed, and I have been fortunate to be a part of that change. My degree is in personnel management, whereas now we have masters in talent management and MBA in HR, the degrees themselves have changed, and so have the specialisation in the field. So, previously we used to be called as welfare officers or IR officers, and while IR is still very relevant, back then we were more of catalysts or middlemen creating welfare. On the other hand, our tasks used to be associated with policing which made us unapproachable and formed perceptions in the minds of the employees. Then we transformed to make HR more welcoming, incorporated technology and analytics to it, and gradually became business partners. As we became more actively involved in the business and now with the extensive use of data we stand as business coaches to top executives and CEO’s. Understanding the business, people-centric issues and being able to form and transform organisations require HR to now be more dynamic to be able to develop and change with the organisations. There are various vertical and horizontal roles which have come up in HR, but today it is mainly about being a business coach and mentor.
With drastic transformations all around us, how do people’s lifestyles like that of the LGBT community, affect the HR’s stance of an organisation?
It’s not just about employing people from the LGBT community but being prepared for it wholly. These talent pools and these people have no communicable diseases which is how they were treated, and it was sinful on our part. So the supreme court’s ordered is a very welcoming change. What should we do next? Create a lot of awareness. What is this community all about? How can we integrate them? How can we bring their talents to the centre? The HR has a big role to play here. They must first seek awareness and train themselves and then each HR leader has a role to play in every organisation to implement new practices like they had done for sexual harassment awareness, maternity benefits, etc. Organisations should take this head on similarly and start by creating a lot of awareness first and work on integrating them.
What are the changing trends in HR currently that can potentially change the dynamics in the domain?
The HR roles and practices that are coming up now have great for analytics, which is one part of it. The second part of it is, as technology is integrated more into organisations and tasks are rendered mundane HR will have to do the real human tasks more and more. We also have to be more empathetic and people centric, and roles in HR will be focused of people relationships rather than just as business partners as it is now. So, out of the many new roles emerging up in HR one would definitely be specialist analyst, two will be the people relationship managers with a focus on empathy and third set would be more senior roles like business coaches.