Article (July-2016)


The Unicorn

Suma Poduval

Designation : -   Head - Talent Acquisition & Talent Management

Organization : -  Hindustan Zinc Ltd., Udaipur


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Am I successful? Is my story - inspirational?  I really don't know. There is no end to my aspirations and for me, the definition of success is being happy and contended with life.  

In the year 1991 when I was in my 9th grade, - one day I was called on the dais during the school assembly to talk about my school, an unannounced extempore planned by the school management.  Unaware about the motive, bubbling with energy, I rushed on to the podium to share my thoughts.  Being an all- rounder with strong academic results and in co-curricular activities, the school management had shortlisted me for the School Captain role - Student of the Year.  This was my first milestone - being chosen as the School Captain- Kendriya Vidyalaya - Range Hills Estate, Pune. My academic pursuits transitioned from graduation in Electronics to an MBA in Human Resource Management and a Rank Holder from the University of Pune.   Year 2003, I got married and like any woman my priorities as a woman also changed.  After my daughter was born, I experienced intense maternal instincts.  I believe that it's important for a woman to understand, acknowledge and respect this stage of biological and emotional change within you.  One tends to yearn to work closer to home, so that one can spend more time with the newborn; joint families are a boon in this situation.  I must acknowledge that I always had a very supportive family.  They are a pillar of strength, standing by me, at every stage of my professional development.  

Soon I moved from the Manufacturing sector to Shipping - Maersk Line was the next milestone in my career. I joined as the Head HR for its Global Service Centre at Pune. My career further advanced working with the best- in- class companies. The best part about working in a structured HR environment was that their systems, processes were well established and time tested.  What I have enjoyed most working with mid-sized organizations, is that opportunities are galore in terms of implementing and testing new methods and practices. While working with established and renowned organization gives an exposure on how to accept and acknowledge the processes and follow it strictly by the book. The leadership qualities at both such environments differ and it's necessary to smoothly bridge the gap of expectations. The strong values imbibed in me, working with Maersk, have continued to guide me in my profession, even today.

As a leader, it is important to identify the right successor within your team and groom him / her well to take over your responsibilities. It is important to give opportunities to each of your team member and then choose the one, whom you can pass the baton to.  This quality has helped my transition in each of my career moves.

My next stint was in the Automobile sector - the Italian MNC - Piaggio. This organization challenged me to explore my capabilities and strengths in the HR field. Being responsible for recruitment to PMS to Compensation & Benefit, Piaggio tested each of my niche skills in the HR field.  The Green field assignment of Vespa Plant set up with the right leadership in place, was both exciting and satisfying.  

Nearly five years at Piaggio, life gave us a beautiful gift - a new member added in to the family -my second daughter was born. This time while joining Hindustan Zinc, Corp. at Udaipur the pastures were new, not only the industry was different, the location too.  This was a big turning point for me, as a female professional, whose family is established in a city and where she has spent her entire academic and professional career, making this choice wasn't easy. Sometimes people tend to delay their decision to move, presuming their inability to justify in an interview process.  However, it is important to differentiate and demand what you want from your career.   Changing careers because you hate your job - don't make the mistake of confusing hating your current job with hating your current career. Take the time to analyze whether it's just the job/employer/boss that you hate, or whether it's the career/skills/work that you dislike.  And take the decision at the right time.  

It is utmost important to plan your progressions well.  The rewards are good and so is your exposure.  Each opportunity paved my way to become a better professional with multi-locational and multi-cultural dimension.Some of the success is character driven-the ability to recognize and fuel the fire in you.  Maintaining success also takes strategy, which is cultivated over time through learned habits and systems that encourage it.  As Head Talent Acquisition and Talent Management, my challenge has been to hire the best talent from the country, and responsible for the talent identification, development and engagement at Hindustan Zinc. From a Leaders Connect Program for the Senior Management team to a V Connect program for the budding leaders, we have programs chalked out for every segment of employees. Life throws up challenging opportunities to everyone, but it is purely their own actions, behaviors and approaches that make them succeed.  

One's initial career trek is more of being pushy, impatient and dissatisfied with every small achievement and there is no end to this yearning for more.  More tasks, more challenges, more money, more achievements, more recognition, more appreciation, everything more.   But as one matures and takes life in its stride, one realizes that there comes a time when you need to sit back, and observe and acknowledge the pains and gains of life.  Plan your life ahead in a more contended way.  Being happy for the things you have, being ready for the future which will unfold, and being prepared to face the uncertain turn of events in your life.

In these 17 years of my professional life, with an exposure to multiple industry work environments, certifications to my credit, I am ready to face new challenges which life has in store.  I have been lucky to have mentors from both my academic and professional life who have guided and coached me.

My Guru mantra for young women professionals
1.    Define your life goals. Write it or mail it to yourself. Maintain your daily diary to monitor these goals.

2.    Choose your life partner well.  One choice gone wrong, can spoil your first mantra. Be patient and try and adjust to this important member with their extended members in your life.  If you handle this well, there will be more peace in you at your workplace.

3.    Enjoy your job.  Give your best to it and expect the best in return for your efforts.  Don't be too patient to wait for the return.  In case, it is not giving you the desired results, make your decision to move.

4.    Take time with yourself to enjoy and have fun.  You need to have time with yourself to detox all the stress at work and home.  Decide what activity de-stresses you and ensure you are spending this valuable time.

5.    Make learning important in your journey and ensure to check your learnings every year.  Join a course or read a book, but there has to be value add in this for you as an individual and professional.