Article (July-2017)


My one mantra: Keep expanding ones capacities and pushing abilities

Manisha Nayar Vohra

Designation : -   Associate Director

Organization : -  Macmillan Publishers India Private Limited, Noida


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HR is a domain where you can impact, transform and manage the resources which are the very foundation of any enterprise. How can you not be drawn in with an impact value like that!

Few were choosing HR more than 15 years back and I was asked to reconsider also. For the familyin fact, teaching would have been a preferred choice. In my placement interview I shared my preference to be located outside my hometown Chandigarh. My family while first not fully convinced of my working in another city, supported me once I had taken the decision. I joined in 2003 as Management Trainee at Bharti Airtel Limited and was placed in Mumbai. Being in a new city was exciting and daunting at the same time.

Most women professional face the issue on relocations, the tendency remains to stay close to family instead of shifting for a new and bigger opportunity. In fact, post marriage and kids such a possibility or flexibility further reduces.

Looking back I feel this decision helped me in so many ways, professionally lending much wider exposure early on and personally becoming an independent and stronger as person.

In my growing years I was continuously part of school cabinet which taught me early lessons in team work and leadership. I was extremely interested in elocution events and went on to participate through my school and college years which instilled the understanding of the sheer power of having a plan and preparation for it, as two important ingredients for success.

As a part of Bharti, I was extremely fortunate to have role changes every 2-3 years ensuring no moment was dull! From handling operations, compensation, talent acquisition, learning and development, talent management, each and every day was engaging and more often than not, stretching.

When I had my child, at that time my organisation had just started the facility of a day care in the premises. As a result, I was able to manage my new responsibilities and continue working.
For new mothers, every day is demanding and your guilt of leaving the kid behind can be overpowering on most days. Having a supportive spouse or family member can be extremely critical at this point. I was fortunate and received whole hearted support from my husband.

I have joined my current company, Macmillan Education over three years back. It helps to be a part of an industry that is seasonal, paced andtransforming. As a functional owner you need to look at new and varied ways for delivering for the business continuously.

My one mantra is to keep expanding one's capacities and pushing one's abilities. As a professional one should never get too comfortable. If it's getting easy, you need to ask for more or different responsibilities. I think that's where one's learning opportunities increase and growth happens.

HR Function
HR function can impact the organisation like no other. Overall changes in the environment including competitive employment scenario, and technological changes have seen HR function shift from administrativeto strategic. Every intervention that is taken up by the organisation needs the foundation of itspeople. If they are not available, capable, compensated for and in addition to the above, not inclined, no organisation can move forward.

HR plays a fine balance between organisation and its people. The organisation requires numbers, performance and productivity to be achieved, however, the demand of the latter is softer and remains fluid of being connected, motivated and of wellness.

Instead of introducing whirlwind of complex processes, HR must simplify things. It needs to become a business consultant and solution provider as it is in a unique position of being able to deeply connect with not just business but across functions.

Women in HR
Women with their inherent tact of linking with people, managing varied multiple tasks, emotional acumen and organisational abilities have the much needed capacity to ace the functional requirements.

However, my fear is women hold themselves back from setting career goals for themselves let alone pursuing them. They keep a check on their aspirations and career goals. This may be biggest challenge to overcome.

More women are dependent on others to take decisions for them. Clarity of what they want from themselves helps define and achieve - in fact anything.

Women also suffer from constant guilt factor or tend to overcompensate for what they are expected to do. If there is need to spend extra hours at work, they are consumed by their guilt of not spending that time with family.

Additionally, more often than not, women shy away from networking. In fact they always severely constrained for time and usually end up spending their time in closing work responsibilities. You would always see more women absent during events, dinners and even coffee breaks as opposed to men who naturally look forward these.

Women should take active interest in things beyond their immediate work areas, with the domestic responsibilities to juggle snatching out time is still important whether to interactor even register for new online course.  Women must take active interest and strengthen their belief in their own capacity to impact. Functionally they must keep enhancing their skills and abilities through creating and asking for constant learning opportunities.

Way forward
Looking around one feels women have fair representation in HR. Looking a little deeper one find that women representation at top levels is still skewed. The journey has started but there is ground to cover.

Organisation globally and increasingly in India are rising to diversity as a sincere agenda. Changes in overall environment whether in Company Act for representation of women on Board, or maternity benefit changes, all are coming forward to support this. Companies have come to realise that if customer base in diverse the employees need to be diverse, it makes perfect business sense! Also, if an organisation constraints it's talent pools and does not hire from these, it will be limiting its own capacities. This has given big impetus to more doors opening for women across management and HR. But the real change will happen once women realise their own capacity and aim to reach out for even greater heights.

About the Author

Manisha has 15 yrs of extensive experience in handling responsibilities covering varied HR spheres including Talent Management, Learning, Talent Acquisition Performance, Productivity & Organisation Effectiveness. Experience in Telecom, Publishing and Education domains. Pass out of 2003 Panjab University, University Business School. Worked at Bharti Airtel Limited and currently working with Macmillan Publishers India Private Limited as Associate Director - Human Resources. Married to an Architect, she has a six-year-old son.