An Interview with CHRO, GE Healthcare South Asia & Director – GE BE Private Limited
Divya Srivastava is a member of GE Healthcare South Asia's senior leadership team and brings with her 15 years of rich and diverse HR experience and has been with GE for 11 years spanning roles across businesses and geographies including organization design, talent management, business partnership, total rewards, M&As, divestitures and change transformation.
She is an alumnus of 2 global leadership programs at GE – the HR Leadership Program (2011-2013) and the Accelerated Leadership Program (2016-2020). With international experiences in the US and multiple global roles at GE, she has a track record of success by delivering results and impact across diverse roles of scale, scope, and complexity. She became the youngest and first diverse CHRO of GE Healthcare South Asia.
In the last year as CHRO for GE Healthcare South Asia, Divya prides herself for driving breakthrough thinking in the HR Function and people practices. By listening to the voice of employees and tapping external market trends, she is leading a high impact change management agenda for HR which is people-centric and talent-focused. Divya is a member of the Board of GE BE Private Ltd, a joint venture between GE Healthcare and Bharat Electronics.
Divya began her career with GE in 2011, in the HR Leadership Program (HRLP) where she delivered high impact projects focusing on career development, competency framework design and EVP strategies. Upon graduation, she became the GE Healthcare South Asia Total Rewards Leader where she designed and implemented the Total Rewards strategy in the region. Subsequently, Divya took on the role of the GE South Asia Benefits leader, spearheading the GE South Asia-Alstom integration across a complex landscape of payroll, compensation, and benefit platforms. In 2016, she was selected to be a part of the GE Accelerated Leadership Program (XLP) and held several HR positions in South Asia and the US, including leading a global project to contemporize the GE Rewards program; Global HR Business Partner for the Global Operations Commercial Shared Services based in Cincinnati; Global HR Lead for the GE-Genpact Strategic Partnership and the Global HR Lead on Variable Pay for GE Healthcare.
Prior to GE, Divya worked at Unilever India for more than four years, where she held a variety of HR roles, such as Business Leadership Trainee with rotations across sales, manufacturing/factory HR and Operations, corporate; HR Transformation Lead, HR Business Partnership, leading the HR function for the western region and the Modern Trade business and Talent & Capability Lead, managing the capability agenda for the customer development function and leading the biggest sales transformation project at HUL.
She has a degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering and a Masters in Personnel Management and Industrial Relations from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
In February 2022, she was recognized by Business World as one of the emerging leaders in HR in the HR 40 Under 40 List of HR and by ET as one of the 40 Emerging Leaders in HR.
1. What is your leadership philosophy?
I believe in M.A.G.I.C - M-Meaning. A-Accountability. G-Growth. I-Independence. C-Coach.
As a leader I steer the team towards a meaningful purpose; trust and empower my teams by giving them a larger playing field; drive accountability, differentiate on performance & impact and coach them on their growth. I am inspired by this favorite quote of mine, “Never tell people how to do things, tell them what you want, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
2. What is your definition of work ethics?
My ability to do things that I committed to do on time and consistently defines my work ethics. In GE we often use the word “say do ratio” which is a measure of your one's personal credibility. That to me speaks volumes about work ethics. My advice would be “Be impeccable with your word”, as said by Don Miguel Ruiz.
3. What is your advice to young HR professionals?
Invest time in understanding your own self (what motivates you, what are your strengths and opportunities for development), be bold enough to take risks in your career (there are no templates here, you create your own) and build a learning mindset (what is this experience/opportunity going to teach me). As someone said, if you didn't win, you gained an experience!
4. What motivates you the most?
What drives me is personal growth and an impact to make a difference to the people around me. I enjoy working in an environment that thrives on change, creativity & challenge. I love taking on challenges to test my limits and push the boundaries for myself. I am intentional about learning new skills, gaining exposure across business functions, and raising my hand for experiences that can help in elevating my impact, learning and contribution to the business.
5. What makes you motivated in HR?
What truly inspires me about the world of HR is the sheer potential and power of people, which is often untapped or unrealized.
6. Name the top 3 labour laws that all HR professionals must know.
I started my HR career in Unilever's Personal care factory at Barotiwala, HP, subsequently I had an opportunity to be a part of the wage settlement process at Rajpura, Punjab. I must mention that these foundational Industrial Relations experiences truly made me the person I am today. I firmly believe that one must not only know, but also understand and be in a position to apply the labour laws on the day-to-day running of plants/establishments. The 3 that come to my mind are The Industrial Disputes Act, The Factories Act and The Shops and Establishment Act. I still refer to my PMIR course book by N.D Kapoor in my role as the HR Leader to understand nuances and interpret the word of the law.
7. What factors have helped you most to build a successful career?
At GE you carve out your own career path, there is no formula, or one size fits all approach to careers. And that's what keeps me here. I have traversed multiple tracks in the HR function, be it specialist roles within Compensation & Benefits, generalist roles as HR Business Partner across geographies, project roles of leading acquisitions and divestitures, and now the HR leadership role for South Asia region – my career path has been unique to me. What has helped me is shaping my mindset of owning my own growth and getting used to living in-between as at time we have to live in ambiguity and uncertainty of what's next for me - we must prepare for multiple scenarios, take bigger bets, and think beyond the boundaries.
8. How to work smarter and get ahead?
In my career journey of 15+ years, I have not been able to crack the code on “working smarter”. Frankly I don't know what it means. What is important is to understand the task at hand, the level of focus/prioritization it needs, the depth it entails and the quality of the output that is expected from you at your role. If you pay attention to these factors, you will be able to complete the job at hand and do it well. One cannot have shortcuts to success, at least I don't know if those exist. Successful people have put a lot of hard work behind the scenes so instead of investing time to find shortcuts, I would say use that time to learn more on the job and build your credibility as an individual contributor, team member or leader.
9. What was the biggest risk you took?
I thrive in an environment of change and seek challenge in personal and professional experiences. Jumping on to new and diverse experiences has always been exciting. I can say I have taken bets on myself and taken the leap when I could have settled in a comfortable territory. Few examples include – 1) pivoting from Engineering to HR – an entirely new domain 2) leap-frogging from an established career in Unilever to pursue unknown experiences in GE with the HR Leadership Program 3) changing domain to step out of my expertise area (C&B) and explore diverse experiences on GE's Accelerated Leadership Program, taking on the personal challenge of relocating to US by myself to work for a new business in a new role. My learnings in each of these experiences has been to keep pushing the bar, continuing to surprise myself (and others) and testing my limits. It has helped me grow immensely as an individual as well as a professional.
10 What's your story?
I am currently the CHRO of GE Healthcare South Asia, a company with footprint of 5000 employees with business in 6 countries, with 4 manufacturing plants and 2 Joint Ventures.
My journey is one of perservance, resilience and courage. Having lost my parents at different stages of my life, I have learnt some of the toughest life lessons at a young age. In what were the lowest points of my life, I tapped into my inner strength and resilience. Since the day I graduated from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai with a gold medal, I incubated a dream to become head of HR one day, and I have relentlessly worked towards that by building myself up, taking bets on myself and staying open to diverse experiences at Unilever & GE. What stands out from the last decade at GE are 2 global leadership programs, an international stint in the US and global roles of enterprise-wide scale and complexity. When I look back at these 15+ years, my ability to stay grounded, humble, and curious stands out through ups and downs. I hope that my career trajectory and personal journey will inspire young talent to chase their dreams by staying grounded, focused, and open.
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