Chhavi currently works as Vice President & Zonal Head-Human Resources at TATA AIG. She is an HR professional with 10+ years of experience in various roles of HR. She has been into HR Business Partnering for a large part of her career. Her expertise lies in Talent Management, Performance Management, and Learning and Development. She holds a PGDM from IIM-Kozhikode and is a graduate of Delhi College of Engineering (which is now Delhi Technological University). She is married and is blessed with a baby boy who is 11 months old. She loves reading non-fiction and cooking. She also likes playing Badminton.
1. Describe your personality.
My strength lies in being optimistic and resilient. I have come a long way in changing myself wherever and whenever required, whether in my professional or personal life. I have a hunger for learning at any stage of my life. Focusing on my goals and striving hard to achieve them keeps me going.
2. Name the most important skills and competencies people leaders must possess to become successful leaders.
I believe that people leaders are the heart of the organization. They must lead by example. They can create such an impact on his/her team, which can either make or break the organization's culture or even any change initiative, for that matter. They should also have a good understanding of the organization at large, apart from being busy with their daily routines within their department/function.
3. As a leader of the organization, how do you inspire your team and organisation?
I always believe in walking the talk, which sets the path for my team to follow. I put forth my expectations clearly with the team and in case of any support required to get there. I also provide enough freedom to think and act. When it comes to organization, people will look up to you only when you add value to it and leave some legacy behind.
4. Future work is about employee well-being. How would you describe it?
Employee well-being is the need of the hour. I will describe it as the summation of physical and mental health. When a human comes to work, we need his/her 3 Hs: Head, Heart, and Hand. Head for the mind, Heart for an engagement at work, Hand for the skills or competencies that one brings to the table. It is important that we observe our employees' overall well-being and take steps to mitigate the risks.
5. Name the biggest risk that you took to succeed as a leader.
The biggest risk is taken when you are not sure of the outcome. Though I have taken many risks in my profession but that is where I believe true innovation comes from or we get to the door of endless possibilities. One such risk I took was when I accepted the opportunity to shift to a brewery manufacturing setup after completing 5 years of corporate experience within one organization. I was clueless about how to handle Blue collar employees and was fresh to the IR environment. But now, when I look back, I find that tenure was one of the best learning phases in my career, where I faced some or the other challenge most days.
6. How do you connect with people at every level of the organization?
I connect with people mostly through Focused Group Discussions wherein I get to know the pulse of the organization. For one-on-one connect, I categorize employees based on potential and performance and then plan. For any HR leader, people connect has always been a big ask, and it is also one of the major challenges for the leader when the employee strength is large.
7. What major threats do you anticipate for HR in the near future?
HR has evolved in many ways, be it the roles it has to offer, such as HR Business Partnering, or the new subjects which has been added to it such as People Analytics. The major threat can only creep in when HR seize to evolve further according to the changing business scenario. It is very important that HR processes and systems sync well with the business. Business Acumen is a very important skill that all HR leaders must possess to excel and help organizations perform at their best.
8. What experiences can you share as a female leader?
As a female leader, I have always kept the role in my mind; the organization has trusted me, irrespective of gender, and things have been easy that way. I have never faced any discrimination, but yes, I have been mostly in the manufacturing industry, where I did feel myself standing alone amongst the male business stakeholders during the early years of my career. However, with an increasing number of females joining male-dominated industries or niche roles, this feeling has also been taken care of. I have experience working in a brewery (beer manufacturing setup), looking after HR and IR, which gave me immense learning. It taught me how to bring in innovative ways of dealing with situations you never know will exist.
9. How important is real-time HR analytics in the current business scenario?
HR analytics is required in every area of the subject. Just like most of the business processes are automated today to bring in great customer experience. Business-related dashboards are ready at the click of a button; similarly, HR analytics is important to make real-time and quick people-related decisions. It is also required to bring in great employee experience.
10. Being a woman leader, how do you balance work - life?
For any woman leader to balance life with work, a very good support system is required at home. Otherwise, it becomes a compromise between the two. When you also have a responsibility to nurture the next generation, it becomes all the more important that your partner also takes equal responsibility for household chores.
11. What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Do not shy away from getting your hands dirty. That is when real learning happens.
Get out of your comfort zone, and you will find growth personally and professionally.
Be fearless: don't be afraid to say something in a meeting that you think might be unpopular but know in your heart it's the right thing to say and will contribute to the group or the organization at large.
12. Diversity and inclusion are the HR focus area in the current days; what are your views?
D&I is a very hot topic nowadays, with more awareness of human rights and laws. Recently I came across a concept of neuro diversity at work that talks about people with autism, Dyslexia, ADHD, etc., so diversity is a very wide subject. There has been enough research wherein it is clear the more diverse the organization, the more profitable it is. By sensitizing our employees on the topic and curbing our unconscious biases, we can initiate many of our D&I initiatives.
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