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Dr. James Thomas
Worked as “General Manager – Organization Development/Corporate HR” in Shahi Exports Pvt. Ltd.,(www.shahi.co.in) (for all Business Divisions) from January 2010 till June 30, 2010 (Total years of work at Shahi was 8 years). Shahi is the largest exporter of ready to wear apparel in India and has an employee Strength of more than 65000.
1. Introduction about your job/career, define your career?
Presently, I am heading HR function along with Administration, Legal, Social, Environmental and buyer compliances of Gokaldas Exports Ltd., one of the largest exporters of Ready to wear Apparel to USA and Europe. Gokaldas Ltd., is one of the portfolio companies of Black Stone Group. I am a part of the Senior Management team of GE. I have been trying to infuse professionalism in HR, though a tough task, migration from promoter driven company to a professionally driven company is a tough task. I have been focussing on developing HR systems and driving them. The thrust areas appropriately in the areas of Talent Acquisition and Management, Employee compensation and benefit administration, Performance Management System, Learning and Development, implementing 5 S and so on.
I have started my career with NGOs and taught in the Department of Studies in Social Work for a year and then worked with a couple of Software companies before moving to Apparel Domain. Started my stint in Shahi Exports Pvt. Ltd., in the Knits Division and later moved on to Corporate HR functions for the Group in Bangalore.
Heading HR Functions of Gokaldas Exports Ltd., is a very challenging task, factories spread across more than 33 locations and an employee strength of 40K plus.
2. Qualification required for this job
A person should have competency in handling a large workforce with a thorough theoretical understanding of the subject. The most important aspect of this job is that one should have a large heart to become a good HR person, though education and other skills are also very important. I have secured 1stRank in my MSW course specializing in Human Resources and also completed my Doctoral Studies from the University of Mysore.
3. Personal qualification/skills required for this job?
The person should have handled a large workforce coupled with understanding of employee relations, managerial effectiveness, good communication skills etc.,
4. Best aspect of this job
It is good to handle the complete gamut of HR function for a large organization like Gokaldas exports Ltd.
5. Challenging aspects of this job
The most challenging aspect of this job is to sustain the Human Resource pool. Since Human talent is scarce in this domain we are facing a lot of challenges to hire and retain talent. We do require about 5K people for the month of January 2013.
6. Your achievement
I have been working hard in this Apparel Industry to bring about a change and highlight the role of HR in business performance. With confidence I could say that there are a number of initiatives to bring up the organizational culture of this industry, where by HR fraternity has recognized my work in this field.
To turn around a company with family oriented work culture to a professional work culture has been a very challenging task. It requires a lot of top Management intervention.
7. Your secret of success in your career
I believe that hard work pays. One has to be in constant touch with the developments taking place in his own field and also outside. I have been a part of the core business leadership and have got involved in business HR. Been a part of quality management initiatives, LEAN management including implementing 5S and TPM and once HR gets into the business we could add much more value to business and HR will be recognized as the integral part of the business.
8. Give some interesting accounts of your academic/education days
I cherish my college days of St. Philomena’s and ManasaGangotri campuses, University of Mysore. I was a part of the College basketball, shuttle cock, football and hand ball teams and represented ManasaGangotri in Shuttle cock.
I have secured Fr. Didian Scholarship for securing highest marks in Sociology exam and also received National Merit Scholarship during college days. I was the topper in MSW and secured 1st Rank.
Participated in two10 days rural camp and also taken students for a 10 days camp in Molakalmuru.
9. How did you plan your career?
I have exposure to various fields and that has given me good understanding of the various nuances of working with people. From NGOs to teaching to consulting to HR function.
10. Describe your experience of your first day at work in your first job
My first commercial assignment was with a Professor for a Research Project, data collection work. Even though it was only for a shorter period I felt very happy to work and earn money
11. Your major achievements
Could establish as a forward looking HR professional, HR fraternity recognized my contribution to apparel industry
I have received the HR Leadership Award based on the following parameters.
HR LEADERSHIP AWARDat the 7th EMPLOYER BRANDING AWARDS (Regional Round) is the most prestigious Award. It is a highest honour which an Individual can receive for his or her contribution
The task of choosing an award winner was given to a global research cell. This cell constitutes of professionals from different parts of the world. These professionals are then asked to submit their recommendations. This Cell is chaired by a Chairman who reviews recommendation. The Jury meets and identifies award winners.
Competencies are judged based on the following frame work:
The criteria adopted are:
12. Being a leader what do you think you possess as a leader that sets you apart from other leaders?
My exposure to various fields has given me immense opportunity to get involved with various teams, worked with them to achieve the results. A Leader can perform only when the team performs. I mingle very freely with the team members and other colleagues.
13. How as a Leader you go about developing yourself today
Abreast with the latest development in the field and clued on to what the business requires, that’s the most important. We need to deliver what the business wants and I am trying to be ahead of the requirements.
14. What keeps you passionate about social work
I am very font of Social Work. I am presently the Managing Trustee of SNEHA (Society for New Environment and Humanitarian) an NGO working towards the improvement of marginalized sections of the Society especially Women and Children. SNEHA also work for the children afflicted with Cancer, organized a no. of medical camps, free cataract operation camps, awareness programs for school kids related to HIV/ AIDS, free educational facilities to destitute children and so on.
15. What are your ambitions for the next phase in your life/career
I want to advance in my career as HR Director rep. in the Board.
And also I want to develop the NGO and start a School of Social Work. Since I am the President of MSW Alumni Association of the University of Mysore I would like to form an Alumni Association of the Schools, Colleges and Universities of Social Work and create a Council for Social Work Education and that would be the monitoring Body for all Social Work Education like Indian Medical Council.
16. Your reading
I have been trying to catch up with the latest books, however, due to other pressing engagements indulging in books have come down.
17. What are your interest/hobbies
I am very much font of sports; however as of now there are no much activities. I love horse riding, shuttle cock and Karate.
I have a very good lovable family. My wife takes care of home front as well as she is an HR Consultant to various companies. She has a Doctorate in Human Resource Management from the University of Madras. She is also learning various foreign languages and presently she takes care of SNEHA (Society for New Environment and Humanitarian Action). My elder daughter is in 9thstd and second daughter in 3rd std.
19. Tips for aspiring professionals Social Workers
Follow your heart and definitely you would succeed.
20. Bitter experience in your career
Someone takes the fruit of your hard work
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