Friday, October 08, 2010

Krish Shankar, ED-HR, Bharti Airtel @ XLRI

“The future of HR is all about strategy. Ten years down the line, the foremost concern of HR managers would be harmonious alignment of organizational goals and strategy, capability building and talent sustainability. And the biggest challenge then will be managing distinctive aspirations of a diverse set of people,” said Mr Krish Shankar, Executive Director, HR at Airtel. He was delivering a talk on ‘The past, present and future of HR’ to management students at XLRI Jamshedpur on Friday.

Shankar, an alumnus of the 1984 batch of the institute, joined Airtel in 2007 after 21 years at Hindustan Unilever Limited.

Describing the strategy of top Silicon Valley companies like Facebook and Apple, Shankar said, “They just do not let the best minds leave. If an employee is the cornerstone of your firm, there is a need to recognize that fact and do everything possible to retain him.”

Of all the changes taking place in businesses across India, he identified three major fields of opportunity. The first is technology, which is now “completely out of this world” and even the most incredulous of ideas cannot be discounted without due thought. This advance has resulted in an accelerated cycle of changes and transformed business dynamics, which form the second field of opportunity. “There are new winners, new losers every 5 years. Nokia, which was earlier the undisputed King of Mobiles, is still wondering what went wrong after the iPhones and RIM took away their share of the pie. The lesson is that you have to be on your toes to keep ahead of the market,” he explained.

Talking about the youth, whom he termed as Gen I owing to their impatient, indulged and individualistic attitude, Shankar said they would spur faster growth. “None will be content with waiting 25 years to be CEO. Also, talent is coming from Tier II cities and that is what corporates should look for,” he added.

Leaving students with a final nugget of advice, Shanker said: “We are about to embark on the age of entrepreneurship and widening choices. As managers, always understand the big picture.”

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