Saturday, 26 September 2015

Future of HR

NHRD Hosur chapter organized a program on the above subject at Hotel Claresta Sarovar Portico, Hosur on   10th September 2015. The speaker was the national president of the NHRD network Mr K.Ramkumar, ED of  ICICI bank. Right from the beginning of the talk, it was evident that the speaker would be engaging in some plainspeak without any sugar coating to please the audience.

Mr Ramkumar began by stating that the qualityof HR people will determine the future of HR. People working in HR  should know the technical details pertaining to their companies; otherwise they tend to be exposed in meetings for want of business and technical knowledge.Another declaration that he made was in respect of IR and labour legislations.He stated that the importance of IR is going to come back in a big way. Regulations and legislations are the basis for running a business and cannot be wished away. In this connection he complimented the NHRD Hosur chapter for running  an advanced certificate  course on "Labour laws and Compliance audit." Knowing labour laws is a must to run a business and HR practitioners should know the various sections in the legislations by heart.

Definition of a professional

Mr Ramkumar exhorted the HR executives to become true professionals.A professional has deep knowledge and ability in his/her field."Find out what motivates you and work towards becoming a professional." The speaker opined that in any case all this concern about the "Future of HR", was misplaced since people will need to be managed as long as commerce and business exist. Deep knowledge of economics is a must for an HR professional.

HR people need to realize that all the people engaged in an industry are business people and that includes HR who are not special and exclusive.The speaker scoffed at the concept of "HR partner". If others are business guys, you are also part of the business. How then do you become a 'business partner'? he asked. Always think of yourself as a professional,a business person.

The speaker then gave instances of how he had practised this in his own work life.At a very early stage in his career, while working in HR, the boss offered him the role of the production manager.Mr Ramkumar accepted the challenge of handling production on the condition that he be allowed to continue handling HR.The boss laughed and said "If  you want to play two roles for one salary, I have no objection, but you will be evaluated on your performance as a production manager."

Mr Ramkumar revealed that although butter flies were there in the stomache initially, he found that it could be done.The science that one had learnt in class IX was sufficiant to run the show and an indepth engineering knowledge was not required.According to the speaker "If you fear something, you will never learn."

The speaker also shared experiences of later life, when he went back to HR role and was posted to Kolkatta in 1993.He was required to deal with three unions reputed to be very tough. One and half months of his posting there, he wanted to organize a quality training program.He immediately met with resistance from the union .They wanted that Bengali be the medium of instruction and not English..The union leader who was only SSLC qualified, posed a very challenging question"You expect us to learn, will you also learn?".
Accepting the challenge, everyday Mr Ramkumar taught himself Bengali."If you get obsessed with grammar, you cannot learn a language". Watching movies in the language you want to learn is an effective way to pick up the language.

Mr Ramkumar winded up his talk reiterating the importance of becoming a true professional."Do people have respect in their eyes when they meet you?"  If yes, you are on the right track. All you have to do is to be a competent professional and the future of HR would be safe and sound. "Courage is the key. Do boldly  what it takes while engaged  in the the work that  you love, or leave it!".

During the interaction after the presentation, Mr Ramkumar underscored the point  that learning is possible for anyone at any age.He cited the example of his own mother who though widowed at a young age with educational qualification of of only class V, was today at  the age of 88, computer Savvy and was being referred to in her neighbourhood as "I Pad Mami"!

As I left the venue, I had the satisfaction of listening to an HR professional adorning the position of National president in a premium professional body speaking "Straight  from the Heart" to drive home his points without sugar coating or mincing words.The two thoughts that reverberated in my mind from the talk were "being a learner for life" and "being a thorough business professional while playing the HR role".


  1. Loved these that have great relevannce and are indeed quotable quotes:

    "If you fear something, you will never learn."

    ."If you get obsessed with grammar, you cannot learn a language".

    Mr. Ramkumar has made some very forceful points esp. with regard to the importance of IR. His points on the course HR should tread in future for organizations to succeed and make all round development, are very timely and relevant.

    As usual a great report, Rajeev. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you so much Padmaja! Your feedback is always motivating!

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