Student Interaction with Prof Chandrasekhar, ISB

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On 30th June 2018, the PGDM-HR batch of TAPMI had the honor of attending a student interaction session on ‘HR as a career choice’ by Dr. Chandrasekhar Sripada, a top management professional with over 40 years of experience in the industry in different arenas ranging from corporate to academics. As a small batch of 32, in the end, the students got to take up their queries with the (now) Professor Chandrasekhar, who answered them crisply, with a dash of humor thrown in. Here’s a brief of the session.

Starting with the basics, defining what exactly a career is, he said- it’s not just a job; it’s a series of jobs, from one company to other, growing and improving with time, and in a single professional domain. Emphasizing on how important career is, especially for our generation, he said that owing to the improved lifestyle and consequentially the longevity of the same, our careers are going to be much longer lasting than our previous generations’, and hence, the whole hurry of achieving a position doesn’t make a lot of sense. So how exactly do we define a good career and can HR fit into that picture? He looked at the students for answers- money, recognition, work environment, the contribution to the field, and work-life balance were some of the prompt replies from enthusiastic future leaders. And surely, HR, like any other domain ticks off all these points on a check-list. Commenting on each criterion defining job satisfaction (a primary metric for most to choose a career) he said that every aspect of job satisfaction is same for an HR as it is for, say, a marketing executive or a Finance guy. HR professionals make just as much money as their counterparts in other domains. Job security is the same; it comes from how valuable you are and how indispensable as a resource you are to the company, and even the top management level executive, like a CEO, is just as likely to get fired nowadays. Statistically, the average CEO tenure has now fallen to 4 years. Growth, in ordinary terms, is what hierarchy you end up seeing- and like there are CMOs and CFOs, there are CHROs. Therefore, there isn’t much contrast between other domains and HR, now more than ever.

What about recognition?

“To choose a profession for its recognition potential is a stupid thing to do because recognition doesn’t come from the profession, it comes from what you do with that profession.”

Moving on to the Q&A session with the students, a student was quick to ask- are HR professionals really required to have immense “people skills”- is empathy an imperative? Myth, he said! “People skills are a bonus, yes, but not a mandate,” he added, “it’s almost noble. As HR professionals, you’ll be helping others to fulfill their visions- you’ll be guiding other managers, not people.”

Another curious future HR leader had a question- “why is HR always looked down upon? Why do the employees from other departments hate them?” To which, he gave his humble opinion that, it’s not the case. It varies from person to person- a marketing executive can be just as “hated” as an HR person and in the end it all boils down to how effectively you handle your domain.

So, where does an HR leader stand amongst all the domains in an organization, especially considering it’s not given enough credit? Every domain has its own edge, its own area of importance. Marketing handles promotions- the formidable 4 Ps- and likewise HR has its own areas of expertise and importance in an organization. It guides. It compensates. It decides.

He also spoke about how important HR is as a domain- specially its rising importance with analytics. On being asked about his preference when it came to academics and corporate, he charmingly responded that it was a classic case of apples and oranges and that it wouldn’t be fair to compare one sector to other.

The Q&A session ended and it left students wanting for more. In conclusion, he left no stone unturned in making the students believe that HR, in fact, has no difference when it comes to career choices. It’s just as good as any other domain, maybe even better!

Ms Neha Setia
Student PGDM (HR) 2018-20

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Neha Setia
Student, PGDM-HR