Article (July-2017)


My teachable moments

Hema Mani

Designation : -   Director - Human Resources

Organization : -  LITC & LASEC, Chennai


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Not very often we get a chance to voice our thoughts and share it with likeminded people. I do believe today I am bestowed with one. Here I go.  My journey into the world of human resources was and is filled with learning and curious questions through different phases of growth. The beginning was riddled with confusion in my mind, if this was really the space I wanted to play in. 
I had no clue of my inherent strengths as a student and was not as precocious as kids these days are. I had no inkling of the world beyond my favourite books and the world they created for me, I therefore, had no understanding of what it meant to be in human resources, let alone lead an organisation, which I am doing today. It was a slow process of discovery much akin to a caterpillar realising it had colourful wings to be a butterfly. One thing lead to another and then bang. I was in human resources. What kindled my energies and motivation were some teachers and professors who taught me and made me realise some of my strengths. These people remain my mentor till date.

Through these phases, I have traversed many avatars of being in HR - that of a being a Recruiter, Consultant, Advisor, Teacher, Trainer, Coach, Business Partner and a Strategic Thinker.  In each of these roles, I have learnt lessons that sprung me to the future. In each of these phases, I met people whom I retained and who today nurture me and support me. One of the most common questions I get these days when I meet with youngsters is what your teachable moments through this journey were.

Here today, I share with you some teachable moments, which have helped me learn and sometimes even unlearn.

Moment one
No job is a small job. Every little piece of task you do helps you accentuate your work product and leads to a positive customer satisfaction. The respect for an individual is articulated in the appreciation of his or her craft. To accentuate the craft, it is but important to focus on every little detail that gets into the craft. I am reminded of a story of a sculptor. There was a sculptor who has the fine art skill of creating highly defined sculptors. One day a man was keenly observing him and he found that the sculptor kept breaking his own works of art. The curious man questioned him as to why is he destroying his own work. The sculptor responds that those art works had mistakes. The man responded back stating that he did not find anything wrong with them and the sculptor retorted back stating, "But I would know!". This lesson stays on in mine every time I look at a piece of work and has been my anchor for a long time.

Moment two
Put out your hands and volunteer out. There is a beautiful saying: Opportunity knocks but once and I would like to extend that to state, when it knocks, grab it by its horns. It is important to remain an evergreen enthusiast and reach out to grab out opportunities that come by your way. Most times, these opportunities do not come with the best of their garbs and may seem very mundane, rudimentary even less interesting. But when you garnish that opportunity with your high energy, enthusiasm and excitement, the same mundane activity can develop itself into the most fascinating assignment you have done. Volunteering out for activities also provides one with visibility and some hidden skills get uncovered. Many young leaders were identified in my own time in the organisations; I have worked for from affinity groups and clubs.

Moment three
Each peak is a moment to get ready for another peak - complacency has killed many careers that I have seen in my own journey. The compelling attraction to fall into a comfort zone and being seat happy has destroyed many good intelligent minds. To have a sustainable and long lasting career, it is extremely vital to remain agile in our minds and maintain our physical health. Agility in minds comes from continuous learning and exploring new areas in our forte. It's about having an un-satiating curiosity to know more and do more that will keep us ever ready to scale new heights and allow us to explore new horizons.

Apart from these three nuggets which I have shared here with you, there are many more that have helped me sharpen my saw and keep my own pace in my journey through HR. I will at this point stop and let you ponder over your own teachable moments in your life.

About the Author

Hema Mani has over 20 years of experience in leadership capacities in various Human Resources functions such as strategic HR business partnering, Talent acquisition, Talent & Organization Development, Talent Management, Compensation, HR Operations, HR Legal, Employee Relations.

Her strengths include operating in a global environment in matrix and virtual setups, strategy formulation and execution.

Hema Mani, from Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship began her career at Kelly Consultants, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Jain Group of Institutions, i2 Technologies, Honeywell Technology Solutions and Lennox India Technology Centre, where she is presently the Director- HR For the group in India & China

Under her leadership, Lennox India has won several honours for HR such as the 13 best workplaces in Tamil Nadu by Times of India, 100 Best places to work for women in India 2016 by Avatar and Dream companies to work in 2016 by Times Ascent. She is recognized as one of the 30 Women Super Achievers by World HRD Congress.