The People Summit 2016 got underway with a panel of business and corporate personalities divulging the latest trends and discoveries with regard to creativity, innovation, talent retention and employee productivity.
Held at the Oak Room in Cinnamon Grand, the audience and the panel were welcomed by the Chairman of SLASSCOM — Mr. Mano Sekaram. (While it’s impossible to relate verbatim with regard to the material presented, a succinct and concise explanation of what was presented will be attempted at.)
The first presentation to take place was that of Mr. Ranbir Singh who is currently the CEO of Ekam Evolution Ltd., and who was the former MD of JP Morgan in India. Paying a great deal of importance to ROI, Mr. Singh offered an insightful look into the concept of ‘passive talent’ and how to employ talent that is ’employable’. While allocating a great deal of importance to the role companies play in the curriculum of universities, Mr. Singh also stated that social networking was mandatory in this digital age where mediums such as LinkedIn and Facebook could, in fact, offer a platform to recruit people you get to network with. He proposed asking some pertinent questions: How are your networks behaving? Do they offer ideas? What problem-solving proposals do they give?
Mr. Singh went onto mention how companies such as JP Morgan are never short of employable talent. The reason being that such companies give out the right message of who they are and what they are expecting. It’s vital that companies add onto their employer brand, and not project a personality that’s not consistent with its company culture.
As mentioned previously, social mediums such as Facebook and LinkedIn need to be leveraged in order to gain a competitive edge when it comes to employing people. What better way to project your company personality than to make your employees brand evangelists like how Google does. Although there’s the issue of risk capital, this is something that needs to be managed and considered, too.
After the conclusion of Mr. Ranbir Singh’s presentation, it was Ms. Anjalie Chatterjee’s chance to elucidate on organizational climate for creativity and innovation. Ms. Chatterjee is currently the Vice President, Talent Management and Learning & Development for TATA Communications.
Ms. Chatterjee started off her presentation by portraying the differences between creativity and innovation with the former being concerned about coming up with ideas while the latter was more to do with executing such ideas. She mentioned a very relevant quote featured on The Economist — Innovation is the single most important ingredient in any modern economy.
It was this quote that set the stage to her presentation where she adroitly pointed out how Kodak was well aware of Apple and its creation of the iPhone, but how they were too late when it came to execution. In this day and age, it is vital that companies keep innovating if they want to survive.
One may wonder how such a presentation could’ve been of any importance to an audience that were largely from the HR fraternity. That question was answered when Ms. Chatterjee quoted the Harvard Business Review of January 2016, which stated that companies are making innovation everyone’s job. Innovation is integral to the very survival of companies and even the workforce. A rather dystopian outlook of a world where robots will one day take over the jobs of people was spoken of. At present, robots are taking over call centers; and Google and the likes of Elon Musk are designing driverless cars with Apple reportedly joining this bandwagon.
Ms. Chatterjee, while talking of how TATA is almost rabidly insistent on fostering a culture of creativity and innovation, mentioned a general outline of how a company could be innovation-friendly. As per her statistics, 31% of executives state how a risk averse culture is their company’s biggest innovation set back.
But how does one foster an environment that’s conducive to innovation, she echoed the sentiments of the audience. She pointedly stated that companies should tolerate failure; innovation needs to be encouraged from the top down; there needs to be openness to new ideas; and, an atmosphere of ridicule must be done away with while challenging the status quo must be the norm.
The conclusion of her presentation segued in smoothly to the last presentation of the day by Mr. Prasenjit Bhattacharya who is the CEO of a Great Place to Work Institute in India. Mr. Bhattacharya’s presentation was on the future of work and how companies must change in order to stay competitive.
The current reality is that the proverbial ‘big fat organization’ that has thousands of employees will cease to exist. Technology, in essence, will make many jobs disappear. This has thus far been the trend for many decades and years. Consider the fact that long distance truck drivers and translators are minuscule at present. In the last 100 years, there has been a phenomenal increase in GDP along with technological innovation. But those data points should also be looked into consideration with the fact that there’s been a population explosion as well. As technological advancement increases, employment decreases — this is the present trend.
He mentioned the current dilemma that we are facing domestically, where the population are of an employable age, but are not employable in the job. He also went onto say how analytics will change the way we work and employ people. For instance, one of the current indicators of possessing potent leadership skills is how effective one is at playing video games. Compare this to how employers recruited people a few decades ago, which was based purely on academic qualifications.
A very pertinent argument presented by Mr. Bhattacharya was how companies in this age should be flexible in how they treat employees. The fact is that one size does not fit all; just as there’s no ‘average’ customer and companies treat all customers equally, the same is true when it comes to employees. When it comes to the treatment of employees there shouldn’t be a hierarchy as such, rather what is required is proactive communication.
At this particular juncture, a panel discussion took place that revolved around innovation, diversity, talent management and employability, which featured Mr. Madu Ratnayake, Head of Digital, Senior VP & GM, Virtusa; Mr. Dulith Herath, CEO/Founder, Kapruka.com; Dr. Nirmal De Silva, Country Manager, Regus; and the keynote speakers. The panel was moderated by Mr. Hariharan Padmanaban, COO – Xcendant/Board Member of SLASSCOM.
After a generous buffet was laid out by Cinnamon Grand, it was time for two separate workshops: The Shifting Workplace was conducted by Mr. Prakash Hedge who is the Principal Consultant & Vice President of QAI Global, and Unleashing The Potential In A Multi-Generational Culture by Mr. Ameer Ahamed who is the CEO of Franklin Covey in Sri Lanka and Maldives.
The day was finally concluded at 6.00 pm where cocktails were served and an evening of networking was encouraged. Sponsors for People Summit 2016 included: IFS, HSBC, Regus, TATA Communications, Daily FT, Daily Mirror, LearnTV, Hemas Travels, ReadMe, Franklin Covey, QAI, The Kingsbury, Hemas Travels and E FM.