Deepak Shetty is the Senior HR Director and Head HR for the Philips Innovation Campus in Bangalore, which is an Innovation centre for the 120 year old Netherlands-based Royal Philips Electronics, a company with global leadership positions in the key markets of Healthcare, Lighting and Consumer Lifestyle. Deepak has more than 22 years of experience as a HR Leader providing strategic HR direction and leadership to several multi-national organizations in India and around the world. His experience spans all areas of Human Resources including specialist and general management roles in multinationals like Nestle, Hewlett Packard, BEA Systems, Genpact and Philips, and several startups. Deepak has also been instrumental in leading M&A from a HR perspective, which included the entire spectrum of activities from due diligence to post merger integration.
In an interview with SHRM India’s Sanjay Joshi, Deepak talks about the raison d’etre of the Philips Innovation Campus, staffing strategies, culture of innovation, succession planning and role of HR certifications and professional development conferences.
SHRM India: Regular investments in innovation, R&D and technology development are necessary to stay ahead in today’s competitive landscape. What is the idea behind setting up the Philips Innovation Campus in Bangalore?
Deepak Shetty: Innovation is in Philips’ DNA. It has been central to the company’s mission ever since its inception 120 years ago. The Philips Innovation Campus (PIC) is one of the largest global R&D centers for Philips hosting over 2400 of the industry’s finest technologists, engineers, doctors, scientists and domain experts.
PIC started in 1996 as a software offshoring facility taking advantage of the cost arbitrage but over the years, it has been transformed into a full product centre for innovation in view of the availability of high quality talent and its presence in an emerging, high growth market like India.
While a large part of the work is still focused on global products, we are increasingly utilizing our presence in the India ecosystem and the related insights of our local talent to build complete products for the Indian and emerging markets. One such product is a low-cost ultrasound machine, developed completely at PIC – right from gathering market insights from doctors, radiologists and health care scientists, prototyping, product engineering, supply chain, verification and validation (V&V) to the final product release.
PIC Bangalore is the only Philips facility in the world where all the three sectors of healthcare, lighting and consumer lifestyle are co-located. Healthcare is the biggest R&D sector at PIC. It pursues product development and innovations in imaging systems, patient care and clinical informatics, and home healthcare. Although Philips is a world leader in Lighting, the landscape is shifting towards LED, which is becoming a key differentiator. Consequently, the need for LED solutions with software controls has resulted in the lighting sector, which was started in 2010 at PIC, growing very quickly. PIC plays an integral part in realizing Philips’ vision to improve the lives of three billion people around the world by 2025.
SHRM India: What has been your talent acquisition strategy to attract the brightest talent to Philips?
Deepak Shetty: Strategic Workforce Planning is the foundation of our overall talent acquisition strategy. Based on the outlined business plan, we do a very granular planning exercise every year, reviewing it half- yearly, to underpin our talent requirements over the next three to five years. This is dovetailed with the talent management exercise to identify our current talent gaps, projected talent needs and to make our build or buy plans.
Our employee value proposition (EVP), which acts as a strategic part of our talent acquisition strategy, conveys a mix of great work, a solid dual ladder with a technical career path, fantastic culture and global opportunities to current and prospective talent.
Employees are our best ambassadors. Employee referrals account for about 40 percent of our hires. Our retention record at 92 percent is amongst the best in our peer group. A fair number of people who have left Philips have returned, which is a testament to the culture we have built. It is a culture where people believe they have very high quality work opportunities and a fair, equitable work environment, which in turn leads to higher engagement. In fact in many cases, our engagement scores in Bangalore have been amongst the highest for Philips globally.
Our recruiters also proactively engage with potential hires on LinkedIn groups and other social networks by posting news about the latest innovations and initiatives in health care and lighting. The idea is to attract people to all the exciting work happening at the Philips Innovation Campus so that prospective candidates consider Philips first when they are ready to make a job change. Many “boomerang” Indians who returned or are returning from developed markets join us because of the strong word of mouth branding.
PIC has a good university relations department which believes in fostering open innovation. We invest time and resources in setting up labs or working on projects along with academia, which not only helps us identify talent early but also stimulates innovation. There is also good, subtle branding and visibility, which arises from such initiatives. Our relationships with institutions like MIT Manipal , IIT Kharagpur, and JSS University, Mysore strengthen our innovation processes and act as a useful recruiting tool.
SHRM India: Involving a greater number of employees in the innovation process offers the key to sustainable innovation. How are you tapping into the collective ideas, experiences and talents of your teams to drive employee innovation?
Deepak Shetty: Innovation is the engine that drives an organization like PIC. Various approaches are adopted to fuel this spirit. ‘Friday Afternoon’ experiments organized by our research department allow employees to work on any creative idea they have on Fridays, following which they present it to colleagues. If the idea is meaningful and innovative, it is funded and taken up. We also organize regular best practice competitions annually.
A series of talks are organized by our Technology and Innovation Management (TIM) teams to ensure that knowledge is shared, because we believe that knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied. As part of TIM talks, senior research fellows, domain experts and venture capitalists are invited to come and talk about different topics and trends. The whole idea is to create an ecosystem that encourages intrapreneurship while giving employees an understanding of areas beyond their specific work. A fair amount of inside-out and outside-in perspectives are shared by sending our teams to medical facilities and research institutions and inviting experts from the industry to the campus for a dialogue on different issues of interest in technology, healthcare and lighting processes.
Events like the Innovation Day and regular Roadshows allow our teams to showcase innovation to other colleagues in the campus. We also invite industry experts to give talks on and around the subject of these innovations. A robust rewards and recognition process spurs innovation through inspiration. The Golden Leaf Award and Techie of the Year given for outstanding contributions are the highest recognitions at PIC.
The concept of open innovation, especially in collaboration with academia, has led to actual developments in the healthcare space. Our partnership with leading universities has resulted in small innovations. For instance, ‘Sanjeevini’ – our mobile healthcare solution that ancillary nurses use to maintain records of patients in remote rural areas is an innovation that came out of our Base of Pyramid (BOP) chair set up at Manipal University. It has made a real difference to healthcare workers operating in the rural areas of Mangalore district.
SHRM India: Most organizations today recognize that grooming future leaders occupies a critical position on the business and planning agenda. What steps have you taken towards succession planning across the workforce?
Deepak Shetty: Leadership pipeline development and robust succession planning is the single biggest item on my agenda. Given the huge growth anticipated, it is necessary to have a solid plan to build leadership talent internally. We have taken focused steps to ensure this. First line managers are a critical link to strategy execution and it is here that we have built several key initiatives to develop and groom managers. It is my belief that leader-led initiatives are the best way of grooming internal talent and most of our training, coaching and mentoring programs are, therefore, largely leader-led, action learning based and highly customized to our requirements.
Traditionally, we had a high potential or top potential program where employees were selected based on their past performance, potential and perceived potential. The disadvantage of such a talent program is that the linkage to succession planning is not robust. Also, once an employee gets into a talent pool, a disproportionate amount of money from the leadership development budget is spent on these top talents, wherein high quality programs are offered which have no clear linkages to succession planning.
This year, we tweaked the program and branded it as “Everybody is Talent.” This puts the employees at the centre and gives them charge of their own development. We facilitate this with good developmental discussions. The idea is to look at what positions are critical to strategy execution and see if we have our best people in those roles. We also identify likely successors for them and target interventions to ensure readiness. So, the new approach is all about very granular succession planning. This is a more individualized plan in contrast to our earlier practice of giving generic inputs through various programs to everybody who was in the talent pool.
What we are saying now is that everybody is equal and as long as you prove yourself good enough to be on somebody’s succession chart, we will invest in you. Even employee engagement is much higher in this model as employees can take charge of their own destiny.
SHRM India: Having attended the SHRM Annual Conference in 2011, how do you think professional development conferences and HR certifications contribute to employee engagement and development?
Deepak Shetty: Professional conferences offer an opportunity to get best practices and learn about emerging trends in almost real time. HR certifications are a way of ensuring a certain standard of conceptual clarity and HR frameworks. As more companies go through restructuring and HR ratios increase, it is becoming progressively necessary for HR people to move beyond transactional work. These certifications arm them with the body of knowledge they need to be effective as sound business partners and change agents to their management teams. We are currently evaluating SHRM’s HR certifications for our HR team.
What I really liked about the SHRM Annual Conference that I attended last year was the diversity of the participants and the high quality discussions in the various sessions. I met HR leaders from around the world and came to realize that the HR challenges are quite similar across the globe. It was a great place to network with global HR colleagues. More importantly, the topics that were discussed in terms of Global HR and employee engagement in an international context led to very useful insights. Given the numerous concurrent sessions that go on around you, the trick is to choose the right sessions early on. The ones I enjoyed most were about International Business Partnering and Recruiting through Social Media.
Sanjay Joshi is an Editor at SHRM. Republished with permission. Copyright ©2012 SHRM India All rights reserved.