Topic – “Talent management in a cross-cultural environment.”

Day 3 of Disha 2014 hosted the fourth panel discussion in the “Onimia” series, where four corporate titans collaborated to give their unique perspectives on the topic – Talent management in a cross-cultural environment. The panel discussion was moderated by Professor SushantaSarma, HR Area, TAPMI. The discussion revolved around how talent management is important when the organizations are going global since several cultural dimensions come into play and the challenges are faced by these organizations in handling them.

Mr. Mohit Shetty, AVP – HR, Reliance Capital:He started the discussion by stating that diversity has its own advantage by getting in different thoughts, ideas, and innovations together.India being a diverse country, throws many challenges for cross-cultural talent managers. It’s not only about managing diversity but also about providing a support structure for managing diversity. The panelist gave various examples of cultures followed across the globe and how Indians need to be sensitive to them.

Mr. Jayakumar David Alexander, Head – Human Resources (Zonal), Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages: He contributed to the discussion by stating that Talent Management has gone through a series of evolutions which includes the inclusion of diversity and how to handle it, as every organization aims for a global footprint.He explained how the process starts with the top-down driven passion of the CEOs and how HR experts need to have robust Talent management processes which are inclusive in nature. He said that female employees and leaders should be ready to take up the challenges in order to increase gender diversity in sectors with field work in an organization. The panelist also gave insight on how various companies follows various models like CDC(Career Development Centre) and TT4G (Top talent for growth)as an initiative to empower rural uneducated and underserved youth through training aimed to enhance their employability.

Ms. Reena Tyagi,Head HR, Cigna TTK Health Insurance Company Limited: Her opening statement, “All managers are HR practitioners” compelled the audience to think. She justified it by stressing on the fact that there is a huge diversity of cultures and thought processes these days and trivial things may vary from country to country, thus employees in India need to be specially trained in order to learn the functioning of organizations in different countries like Japan and the USA. She added, “If you need to be successful you cannot be a follower, you need to do things differently”. Ms. Tyagi talked about the male and female ratio in organizations and how sectors like Insurance and Sales which were dominated by males are now female friendly. This shift is primarily because a woman brings different things to the table, for example, a woman is more empathetic, better planner and would use a more organized approach. She ended with a piece of imperative advice, “Be careful when you work with cross-cultural groups and learn from your mistakes. Cross-cultural teams need to understand each other and also adjust accordingly.”

Mr. Sunil Wariar, Sr. VP and Head Human Capital, Future Generali India Life Insurance Co.:Mr. Wariar emphasized that management per se is all about people. He used mythology as a guiding principle to deal with management & leadership challenges in a cross-cultural environment.Our mythology has a deep impact on our environment, which ultimately affects our working methodology. For example, Western people are bent towards the target, task, and talent, because their environment is much more finite, and regimented. In India, however, an ancient culture persists, which over time, has gone through many changes. In India, we believe, ‘Pehle vishwas, phir vyavahar aur phir vyapar’ (First develop trust, then relationship and then business).The concept of belief, behavior and business are very relevant in this case, as the policies are not written in stone; they are reviewed and altered frequently. He emphasized that if a company is considered a great employer, then it is because of the working environment they provide. He also talked about how utmost sensitivity is required in HR world while dealing with people, taking into consideration their caste and cultural biases. ​

Concluding, the panelists gave insights on how diverse the culture across worlds are and how Indians need to be sensitive about it.The discussion ended on a positive note with great participation shown by both students and faculty with the guest panelists.