‘When You Are Humble, You Learn’ – Interview with Country Head – People & Change Advisory KPMG India

Unlocking the Talent Code

Mr. Nishchae Suri works as a partner and head of people and change business in India for KPMG India. He has more than 16 years of rich experience having led client engagement in the areas of HR transformation, leadership development, talent management and rewards with large global and Indian multinationals in more than 25 countries.

In his last assignment at Mercer Consulting, as Chief Executive officer, Managing Director and India Global Partner, he played the key role in positioning Mercer as leading and elite HR consulting firm in India.

He also serves as the president of the National HRD network Delhi-NCR Chapter. Mr.Nishchae is an MBA (gold Medalist) from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune and holds a Bachelor of Arts (Economic Honours) from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University.


Interviewed by: Parth M Doshi


1.What Makes Leaders Grounded & Approachable?

When you are humble you learn. When you are egoistic it actually inhibits your learning capacity. For a leader to grow he or she must learn on a day to day basis. For your own growth & evolution as a leader humility is a very important trait. For People that you interact with it is also very important because with humility you feel respected, you encourage ideation, you encourage straight talk & gratitude. For the organization the higher the humility quotient within the organization the more it can interact freely with its customers.

2.What is your vision for the National HRD network?

My vision for the Delhi Chapter of NHRDN is based on learning. At the center of the vision is how you create a learning discipline in institutions & people. First, igniting the spirit of learning thus managing to influence many more individuals about the importance of understanding, appreciating, assimilating new things along with my second part of the vision of providing a platform that enables learning with the objective that when they interact with people, products, machines or any ecosystem it is value added.

 3.What do you mean by your statement “The Heart of the Problem is the Problem of the Heart”?

Life is complex today with higher demands on people. Over the last decade our standard of living has improved but the quality of our living has deteriorated. Within the organization the level of emotional connection that individuals have with their organizations is on a steady decline which manifests in a low level of trust, doubting each other’s intent & lots of double speak i.e. I say what is right vs I say what I mean. In this environment you are not able to unleash the true potential of the individual. Increasing emotional connect with employees will help organizations reach far greater heights of success than that they are today.

4.Is there any room for innovation in the people & change advisory & the use of big data analytics in Human Resources?

There is a greater need for organizations today to understand the talent quotient within which essentially means understanding the knowledge pool, attitude of people, their intellectual & emotional connection within the organization, the depth & breadth of the skillset which are all the areas organizations are spending more time in understanding. The use of technology & analytics i.e. real time & predictive information which I call “Unlocking the Talent Code is locked for every organization now. Every lock is unique therefore every key is unique & in search of that key analytics & technology can play a big role.

The second area for me is Learning & Development. In L&D how people learn, how quickly they learn, what should they learn is again linked back to the talent code? If you haven’t got the right key you will continue to give your employees the L&D material without knowing whether it is useful enough or not. These two areas according to me are the most significant where innovation, investment & application is needed.

5.Tips for Management Students Aspiring to reach to the top of the ladder in an organization & the leader you admire?

“Always be Humble, Always be Respectful, Always be willing to learn & work hard.”

With youngsters so long as they are mindful of always wanting to work hard, being respectful & humble networking & being resourceful comes naturally. Growing up in a flatter organization does not necessarily mean less respect or humility. The leader I admire is my mother. For me she embodies all the virtues that I aspire & admire respect, hard work & humility.

6.Completing your MBA in Finance how did you shift & generate interest in People & Change function?

The universe conspires to make things happen sometimes. I wanted to become a banker. After Economic Honors & MBA in Finance, logically speaking you end up becoming a Banker. Part of the reason I shifted to People & Change Advisory was that I found banking less exciting when I did my summer & winter internships. Other reason was that it was the year of financial crisis in 1997 where very few banks came to campus along with placement policies requiring me to opt out after my selection through my first interview which got me into an MNC startup in HR Consulting called Noble & Hewitt. I am glad that I sat for the interview as this startup shared the passion & the entrepreneurial opportunity along with an excellent culture of respect & working hard & humility of the founders.

7.How do you manage your Work Life Balance & how should management professionals handle the same?

Pursue your passion, in that way you don’t have to balance things. I don’t think I have balanced work & life as I have pursued things I was passionate about. You have to balance only when there are opposing objectives. The second aspect is that be clear about what’s important to you. When you have the clarity it enables you to spend the majority of your time on what’s important to you which could be your family, friends or a hobby. It depends what you define as being important & therefore accordingly “Live your life that brings joy to you on day to day basis”.

Mr.Suri ended by saying so & wishing me all the best in my life ahead.

Parth Doshi

Currently pursuing my MBA from SIBM Pune.Formula 1 fanatic & write articles on automobiles in the Business Line & Cardekho.