HR Stories: Girish Karnad in conversation with Pexitics


Girish Karnad

Vice President & Head(Recruitment, Facilities & Procurement)-Mastek.Ltd

Girish Karnad, who has led and headed the HR function in multiple established companies, took time out to tell Pexitics what HR meant to him. He is a leader with a visionary approach who understands the need for continuous change and improvement.

1. What motivated you to enter the field of Human Resources?

In my career spanning over three decades, I have been in the HR function for just over 16 years. My initial move into HR was to get cross functional experience, which would help me take on higher responsibilities. However, the complexities of human behaviour and the dynamic nature of HR made me choose this function as my career. Modern HR practices have brought about more predictability, along with an analytical and scientific approach. Considering my engineering background, the idea of matching people skills with business and engineering skills has continued to excite and motivate me.

2. What according to you is the biggest HR Challenge today?

Over the last few years, partnering with the business has been the focus area for HR. It is one of the biggest HR challenges even today! Putting oneself into the shoes of the business heads, understanding the nuances of businesses’ requirements and decisions and anticipating business changes is extremely challenging for an HR professional. The expectations from the business to be more analytical and adopt a data driven approach means learning skills which HR professionals never learnt in their career and probably never expected to learn.

Employee engagement and creating an attractive company culture are among the top HR challenges today.

Implementing Change in today’s VUCA world is another big HR challenge.

3. What drives you personally, to excel at your job? Is it an event, an experience, a person you admire or something else?

I have always believed that motivation comes from within. I do not believe in competing with or comparing myself with someone else. One must learn to always compete with oneself. Am I a better person today compared with what I was yesterday? Small, incremental improvements on a regular basis ultimately have a compounding effect which makes us excel in anything we do. One must of course have the required discipline and a system in place to keep track of our progress towards our goals.

4. Does the way we hire need to change?

Absolutely. Despite technological advancement in recent times, the actual hiring process has not changed much over the years. The first step in the hiring process is sourcing the right candidates. This is a very important step and determines how well a recruiter has understood the manpower requirement and screened potential candidates. Sourcing the right candidates relieves the hiring manager from the pressures of screening large number of resume. Technology has, at the most, helped to make the process faster and less tedious for the recruiter. However, the core selection process of interviewing and evaluating a candidate has not seen much change. The interview process should be competency based and objective. I have experienced scenarios where a candidate is rejected by an interviewer for a particular skill and a few moments later cleared by another interviewer for the same skill in the same organisation! There is a need for standardising the job descriptions with focus on competencies and skill levels, bringing the interviewers on a level plane and implementing objective and competency based interviewing and selection tools, which may also include psychometric tools. These processes tend to get overlooked, particularly doing mass hiring situations.

5. If given a chance, how would you want to use your position within the Human Resources Fraternity to bring about this change?

In today’s world, continuous learning is the only way one can remain relevant and survive in the industry. This is true not only for the IT professionals, but for other professionals as well. I have myself tried to keep abreast of the latest developments in the industry and it has not been easy. The best way I could contribute to the HR fraternity would be by sharing the knowledge and experience through training programs, seminars and workshops.

6. What defines you as a person apart from your profession? Do you pursue any hobbies or believe in living life a certain way?

I believe in living a simple and healthy life. Exercise regularly, eat healthy and try to maintain work – life balance to the extent possible. Stress has become an integral part of work today. Learning to reduce stress helps to maintain a healthy body and a healthy mind. Hobbies are good stress busters. I love to read, write, practice martial arts and occasionally draw. Develop good relationships – they help you in the long run.

7. What message would you have for young HR Aspirants?

Functional expertise is not sufficient to give a person competitive edge in the industry today. Adding business skills to your repertoire would go a long way in consolidating your position. The world is moving more and more towards big data, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies. While one cannot expect HR professionals to develop expertise in these areas, they should learn how to use them effectively in their work. At the same time one cannot become slaves to technology. It is important not to lose relevance of people skills and the human touch. Business management skills, negotiation skills and people skills will ensure success in your career today and in the future.

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