Piyush Mehta is Senior Vice President-Human Resources at Genpact, where he heads the Global Human Resources Function. Genpact is a leader in the globalization of services and technology and a pioneer in managing business processes for companies around the world. It combines process expertise, information technology and analytical capabilities with operational insight and experience in diverse industries to provide a wide range of services using its global delivery platform. It has delivery centers in 17+ countries including India, China, Hungary, Mexico, Morocco, the Philippines, Poland, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Guatemala and the United States. As a member of the Genpact Leadership Team, Piyush has played an active role in the organization's journey to becoming an Employer of Choice by contributing to various aspects of people management in both business and corporate roles, including Employee Relations, Organization Capability Building, Mergers & Acquisitions Integration and managing the function for P&Ls and geographies.
Piyush joined Genpact in 2001, leading HR engagements across businesses and assumed his current position of Senior Vice President - HR, in 2005. He has over 22 years of experience in Human Resources. He began his career with Hindustan Lever and has held the position of HR Director for AT&T - India, and was the Organization Capability Director for Frito-Lay - Asia Pacific.
He is an alumnus of XLRI, Jamshedpur, where he studied Personnel Management and is an Economics Honors graduate from Delhi University.
In an interview with SHRM India’s Sanjay Joshi, Piyush talks about the challenges in his current global role, the measures used for grooming talent, gender diversity initiatives, the discussion agenda for the 2012 SHRM Annual Conference in Atlanta and the benefits of such professional development conferences.
SHRM India: What are the key challenges in your current global role? In what ways do you seek to overcome these challenges?
Piyush Mehta: Globalization of the world’s economy is a dominant trend today. A highly skilled and experienced global workforce translates into a strong competitive business advantage. Historically, our company has been global in its work. We have always served global customers across global locations through our global leadership teams. Some of the broader challenges, however, include:
Hiring top notch leadership talent globally: In today’s competitive market, sourcing talent with a strong mix of domain expertise, leadership skills, cultural fitment and integrating them quickly within the organization is of paramount importance. This is critical to us as we expand in newer markets like China and Latin America. We have designed a robust recruitment process that leverages psychometric profiling, multiple face-to-face interactions with diverse senior leaders, culture “reality check” discussions and extensive reference checks to corner the best talent pool. A senior leader dedicatedly handles the function of integrating new hires at a leadership level. There are well-structured programs tailor-made for 30-60-90 days post-joining with a focus on deep immersion in our operating centers and business processes.
Sustaining employee engagement and retention: This is vital in a service industry like ours for creating a sustainable workforce. For enhanced employee engagement across different businesses and geographies, open and frequent communication of concerns and feedback is encouraged through intranet, town halls, web chats, and employee surveys. Our digital platform iThink makes it easier for employees to regularly submit new ideas for increasing business efficiencies and driving cost productivity.
Attrition rates are typically very high in our industry and this is something that affects clients directly. Our current attrition levels, however, are around 21 percent, which is less than half the industry average. We have recently done a Six Sigma project to identify specific root causes of attrition and put in place some cutting edge practices to mitigate the risks.
Our unique Education@Work program in partnership with leading B-schools like XLRI, IIMs and others helps employees develop career skills while working with us and diminishes attrition risks. Various innovative people practices targeted to help supervisors right from the pre-hire levels to integrating and growing their teams ensure talent retention in the current turbulent economic scenario.
Staying cost competitive: As part of our smart location strategy, we have a first-mover advantage in adopting Tier-II and III cities for expanding our talent pool and maintaining price advantages for our diverse clients. Our strong philosophy of “making” talent rather than “buying” it is actually a deep commitment. So we have structured “build” programs, which help employees develop skills in-house and remove the need to hire from outside. This has proved particularly helpful in grooming employees involved in basic transaction processing jobs to move into higher end jobs in analytics, IT or finance and accounting.
SHRM India: What are some of the critical steps you have taken for grooming talent at various levels within Genpact?
Piyush Mehta: We put great emphasis on promoting people from within the organization into higher management roles. We have laid down the guidepost that 70 percent of all roles above entry level should be filled through promotions only.
We have a very intensive, year-long integration program for people we hire at the senior levels, where we work with them and let them travel to different centers across the world to gain exposure to other cultures and organizations. It gives them an opportunity to learn about our operations, delivery, sales, and marketing in centers across the world.
We even have an online tool called GlobeSmart on the intranet to assist employees learn about the countries in which we do business and our overseas colleagues from those regions. It is a fantastic tool in today’s global business environment for employees looking to develop a global mindset and cross-cultural competence. A large number of our frontline employees also travel to overseas locations in order to transition jobs from those locations. The whole concept of global exposure is an integral part of our business model and not something that we got into right now.
Various leadership development programs figure high on our people agenda for growing top talent into leaders of tomorrow. We have collaborated with a few leading universities worldwide, including Duke University, to build our leadership curriculum for us. Our GOLD Program is essentially an operating leadership program where we take around 100 middle managers off the floor for a period of 18 months and take them through structured and intensive leadership development training to become future operating leaders. It is very useful in terms of developing technical and operational depth in our potential leaders and involves job rotations across regions, functions and businesses coupled with classroom training and interactions with senior leadership for better immersion in organizational culture.
We also have executive education programs in place for our senior leaders with a strong focus on leadership, execution, strategy, talent management, execution, finance and commercial skills.
Each of these programs is a critical part of our investment in our people to bring out their best. These programs provide the foundation for building our leadership gene pool. It is our belief that with the right platform and encouragement, high-potential employees can be groomed into influential leaders, who will lead us to success in the future.
SHRM India: Genpact has a diverse workforce. Women constitute 35 percent of the Indian and 40 percent of the global headcount. Can you tell us a little bit about Genpact’s diversity initiatives and how they have added value to the Genpact culture?
Piyush Mehta: Genpact was quick to realize and value that gender diversity, particularly in senior cadres, would be critical to its performance and growth. The commitment to diversity initiatives is a business imperative given the fact that gender diversity is almost 50 percent of our global talent pool and even 50 percent of our customer base. Hence, having women in top leadership profiles makes good business sense and is not just something that is “nice to do.”
We strongly feel that diversity as a business agenda needs to be driven top-down and interestingly our CEO is hugely passionate about it. At VP-plus levels in the top 400, there is an 18 percent diversity rate, which is quite good when compared to a number of other organizations. Our President and CEO, Tiger Tyagarajan has two direct reports who are women.
Our GENWIN or Genpact Women’s International Network is basically a worldwide affinity group for women employees aimed to address their individual needs and enhance their exposure by providing numerous networking opportunities. It offers a fantastic opportunity through sharing best practices amongst the female workforce to cultivate a global perspective. It effectively fulfills a business need by promoting a culture of diversity and boosting talent retention by offering various top level career opportunities and stretch assignments.
We have also recently launched the WeMentor program to spot and pair 150 high-potential mid-management women with senior business and functional leaders in the company to guide and assist them on professional fronts. It becomes the personal accountability of the senior leaders to oversee the development, retention and career advancement of the shortlisted female employees. In addition, a number of leadership development programs exist that allow women to acquire the necessary skills to grow within the organization.
Various targeted initiatives like work-from-home, part-time work, extended maternity leaves, crèche facility, education and training, onsite medical check-ups, security guards in transport, an Ombudsperson process and concierge have also been implemented to create a favorable work-life environment for women.
SHRM India: What are some of the topics that you would like to discuss at the 2012 SHRM Annual Conference in Atlanta?
Piyush Mehta: We would like to take this opportunity to share the people @ Genpact story. We have been fortunate to have pioneered a new industry and during the course of that journey created some really interesting HR interventions and initiatives.
Some of the salient points we propose to discuss would include:
- Top five things we do as a company to help our clients achieve business outcomes giving relevant examples
- Pioneering an industry in various cities and countries around the world
- HR Tools that we developed to stay ahead of the curve
- Focus on leadership development and “building” our own talent
- Our identity as a “talent” and not an outsourcing company
SHRM India: What are your expectations from the forthcoming SHRM Annual Conference in terms of professional growth and benefits?
Piyush Mehta: Professional development events like the SHRM Annual Conference present a tremendous opportunity to connect with the peers as they attract thousands of delegates from several countries.
Besides networking as a way of gaining insights into other organizations and getting global professional contacts, this mega event will offer an exciting time to share HR challenges, ideas, best practices, and approaches on a host of burning HR issues.
This conference will be packed with structured talks, workshops, lectures and panel discussions leading to newer ideas and insightful conversations. It will be a time to for us to benchmark our challenges and attainments in the areas of talent management, employee retention and collaborative people performance with peers from around the world.
Sanjay Joshi is an Editor at SHRM. Republished with permission. Copyright ©2012 SHRM India All rights reserved