The students of HR batch of TAPMI had the chance to interact with Mr. Sanjeev Somasundaram, APAC Heads-Programs Staffing at Google over an audio video session. The one premise Mr. Sanjeev set for the interaction was asking the students to have a free, open minded discussion post which, he gave a small introduction of himself- about his career starting from him being a ”Sales guy” to Heading a department in Google. He spoke about working in other companies as well, some of which included Berger Paints and Infosys. He also spoke about trying his hand at entrepreneurship. After his introduction, the students, coming from very different walks of life, gave their own introductions as well.


The session then began with the students and Mr. Sanjeev discussing the traits of an emergent leader. “It’s the ability to step back at times, to contemplate things is what makes an ordinary person an emergent leader,” he said. Stressing on how it’s not the person who gets into everything head-on, but the one who contemplates and thinks things through with an open mind, he defined ‘leader’, the concept of which is very important to the students pursuing management as a career.


The discussion then moved on to company-specific. Naturally, one student was curious about the culture at Google and if it inculcates learning. “In Google you are not penalized for making an honest mistake but you are constantly encouraged to take learnings out of it… more than success it’s failures that teach you the most! Such culture doesn’t let failures negatively impact or dent one’s self esteem & that’s what we practice at Google. If you have an idea, you don’t need lots of money to give that idea a shape. Be scrappy in your approach. You’ll be encouraged to try fast & if you fail, move on…all that will lead to effective learning.”


One key take-away for the students from this discussion was knowing differentiating factors a recruiter looks for, in a CV, specially from a student pursuing management course. “Work on getting certifications which enhances some skill,” he advised, “it’s generally not a herculean task but when you work for a certification, you’ll end up reading lots and lots around that space and that’s what helps you in the long run. And the certifications should ideally be from digital landscape, so your mind would start moving in that digital tangent & add the necessary x factor in your resume.”


But why is it important for a Human Resources Professional to know about digital landscape? Shouldn’t our first priority be people?


No. He said, “it’s a myth…one over the other. In today’s day & world you need both to be the focus. Nowadays, with the onset of trend in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Human Resources professionals need to be good with data and analytics. It’s not just about being a people’s person anymore but being an effective partner who has the ability to identify patterns… trends… and offer right level of engagement at the right time.” He also encouraged the students to take up projects. “Ultimately, projects and certifications are your big X-factors which the corporates look for. Those are the key differentiators for a recruiter who goes through hundreds of similar-looking resumes.”


The discussion then moved to the context of B-Schools and the pedagogy of case studies approach. “It’s to eradicate the prescriptive nature of Indian education system and encourage learning. It also gives students the opportunity to see diverse perspectives which different students from different backgrounds  bring on to the table & this is the first step towards appreciating the true value of diversity”. When you go through the concepts via cases, you map the concepts even more easily as well.


One of the students wanted to know the importance of being good at communication for an HR professional. “It’s certainly very important,” Mr. Sanjeev said, “but it’s not the only thing. It’s also about articulation- about how your structure your narrative in a thoughtful way and not about using colourful language.”


And what about the CGPA? How important is that for a B-School student? – These were the final two questions, which were on every students’ mind by now. He gave an answer, much to the relief of most students- “It’s just a validation of presence of grey matter in your head. It’s not the most important thing. If you utilize every opportunity B-School throws at you, you’ll do much better professionally than a person with higher CGPA.”


The entire session was very interactive, from the introductory session to the closing conversation revolving around life of a B-School student and how to get the maximum benefits out of the experience.