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Executive Focus

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Xerox in black and white
Manmohan Kalsy (Executive Director – HR, Xerox India) points out that a manager must be able to provide clarity on the role, responsibilities and a direction for growth, in conversation with Shishir Parasher
Issue Date - 01/07/2012
Heading HR at Xerox, Mr. Manmohan Kalsy has over 21 years of experience in managing the function across manufacturing, consumer goods and telecom sectors. Mr. Kalsy’s previous role was with Vodafone, where he led the HR function for India captive shared services and was a part of the global business transformation team. A seasoned HR professional, he has driven initiatives and implemented practices that are best in class, while working with DCM, Gillette, PepsiCo and Hutchison.

Q. What introduced you to HR as a career?
A. There are childhood instances that influenced me to take up HR as a profession. My father used to work as an estate manager with a Swedish multinational and we would stay on residential premises inside the factory complex.

I witnessed multiple incidents leading to industrial unrest which brought this realisation that handling workforce is an important job.

Q. How has it been working across sectors?
A. It has been immensely satisfying. I have had the privilege of learning from the best leaders and talented teams as these industries scaled up. During the 1990s, I worked in the FMCG sector with Gillette & PepsiCo where I experienced great local initiatives besides institutionalised global practices.

My next decade was in the telecom sector – the mainline business as well as captive offshoring side. I headed HR operations for Airtel’s mobility business at an exciting time when the company was ramping up from 16 to 23 circles. Later, I worked with Hutchison’s captive CRM back office of over 7000 employees, servicing 3G customers across Australia, United Kingdom and Ireland.

I was the first person to be sent for Vodafone’s greenfield project under which we set up a global shared services centre for finance, supply chain and HR. Sectors may be different but the ‘people’ element is consistent across locations and industries.

Q. What has been your most substantial accomplishment?
A. I was part of a unique experience where I led HR in transition of more than 1000 people from Bharti Airtel to strategic partners such as Nokia, Siemens and Ericsson in the space of managed services for networks. I led the Airtel HR team in partnering with the HR professionals from these companies to map each employee in the new structure. We also conducted employee road shows in each telecom circle along with partner teams. We managed to move 100 per cent people within very tight schedules across 23 locations. It was a challenge, but ultimately there were no legal cases or ethics issues in even a single case.

Q. How do ensure the employer brand Xerox is as strong as the product brand?
A. Through employee engagement and employee value proposition. I believe the best and strongest vote of employer brand has to come from within the workplace. If we have satisfied employees, we are likely to attract superior talent. The advocacy of the workplace by employees is important to retain and hire talent. Our senior leadership regularly interfaces with industry CXOs and opinion makers to reiterate our belief in strong people practices.

Q. What strengths and opportunities do you foresee in HR?
A. I see HR professionals enjoying a greater say in shaping companies’ future, as people availability and capability will determine the size and shape of most businesses. The global dependence on shrinking workforce will strategically place the HR function high in planning investments. The corporate planning function is likely to witness a higher accent on HR inputs than finance, as businesses will need accurate estimates about skill availability and the location’s ability to ramp up employee numbers.

Q. Which three practices would you call the backbone of HR?
A. 1. Performance management.
2. Compensation and rewards.
3. Development planning.
Q. How do you ensure the human capital is utilised best at work?
A. The role of immediate manager is most important here. A manager must provide clarity on the role, responsibilities and direction for growth. He must be able to utilise employees’ past experience, knowledge and potential in shaping the team’s overall output. Finally, the manager must be able to demonstrate willingness to play a role in developing his team members and must exhibit a caring attitude.

Q. What is your HR vision?
A. Xerox is a people-centric organisation and the business has an interwoven people aspect. The learning environment at Xerox has always been a trailblazer and we see many ex-Xerox managers running large businesses successfully. Xerox is committed to its core values and ethics and has a zero tolerance approach on these matters.
Shishir Parasher           

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