Being born and raised in a city which gave India its first steel mill and a manufacturing plant, instilled the desire in me to make a name in the manufacturing industry. Yes! I am talking about Jamshedpur colloquially also know as Tata Nagar. The first steel mill of India, the idea conceived in 1904 and came to life in 1912, is in Jamshedpur. The date 16th February changed the life of millions of Indians and needless to say some six decades later, mine too.
A commercial vehicle factory followed the steel mill in 1954. And by the time I walked on this earth, Jamshedpur had a matured ancillary base to support Tata industries. And being from a family, whose two previous generations had served this industry, my childhood was filled with stories of Tatas and other stalwarts of Indian industries and their influence on making India an industrialized nation. When I look back now I can see the seed of inspiration was sown at a much early stage of my life.
After completing my Masters in Business Administration I joined RSB's gear-manufacturing unit as a Management Trainee and later I was put in the Quality Assurance to assist the implementation of TS 16949. My first big career shift came when I was offered to implement the ERP System in the group. The knowledge I had acquired in quality system came very handy in my ability to handle IT system project. And in due course of time, I progressed to head the IT support team of the group. The biggest shift in my career came in the form of a big challenge. After 4 years of work, the IT support team had become self sufficient in addressing the need of RSB group. During this time, the Head of Corporate HR requested to be relieved from his position, as he wanted to pursue other interest. This created a vacuum in the HR function. The top management wanted to find a suitable match for the post from within the organization. And after weeks of screening and deliberation I was proposed and questioned if I would be interested in taking up this challenge. I requested a time of few days to assert my decision.
This proposal, though was morale booster, put me in a dilemma. I had established myself in the IT function and with maturing of knowledge of the team had made my work a little more comfortable. And in my personal life, with my second child reaching a school-going age, put strain on the time I could give in taking up a new challenge. The question kept coming in my mind; do I take this new challenge and most importantly do I have what is needed to head this function? HR, as a function, differed from any previous function I had worked as it was more people-oriented. Understanding of people as well as organizational behavior was a key in guiding this function. During the sojourn of few days I had requested, I went into details of the function, the structure, the systems and the demographics of the work force. Further, I also interacted with all concerned with regard to HR and what they expect out of the function. And lastly, I interacted with top management to understand what their vision is and how they believe HR could contribute in achieving the vision?
My analysis of the function bought some clarity in my mind and also a understanding that I can harness my knowledge of systems and IT to bring about a systematic change in the HR function. I wanted to shift working from a people-driven function to a system-driven function. With this in mind, I accepted the challenge and with the support of colleagues, I chalked out a 3-year plan which included implementation of IT in policy deployment, appraisal mechanism, training and most important talent retention. Now looking back in time, I find the opportunity that was disguised as a tough challenge, gave me the most satisfying years of my personal life.
My message to any woman, who is embarking on professional life, is to not get contented and satisfied with the level they have reached. Push the limits and take up the next challenge. There is nothing more enriching and satisfying than testing your limits and pushing it higher.
I would conclude with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi "Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning."