Being a CHRO - Being You
Human Synergizer Series

SHIKHA RAI
VP and Head-HR, Canon India
Being a CHRO - Being You - Human Synergizer Series

Could you please share your journey of becoming a CHRO?

A mechanical engineer from IIT Kanpur, I started my career as an Engineer Trainee on the shopfloor of BHEL’s transformer plant in Bhopal in 1988. Transitioning from mechanical engineering to IT, I then worked for Bausch & Lomb as their MRP (Material Requirement Planning, the earlier generation of ERP) Project Manager in the Rayban and contact lens factory in Bhiwadi. Later, worked as the IT head of Duracell.

In 2002, I joined Canon India as the IT head. As a leader with strong people skills, knowing the business model and strategy, possessing a diversity of experiences and understanding how to transform, I was entrusted with the additional responsibility to lead the Human Resources function as the Vice President and Head-HR & IT.

As a CHRO, I wish to know each of the 1000 employees in the organization – their aspirations and their expectations; and help them reach their potential.

Can you describe some of the best moments being in HR?

As an HR person, I find that each day is a new day. Bringing head & heart together to – put a smile on an employee’s face, or help an employee make some crucial decision, or give a listening ear to an employee in a difficult situation are the moments of truth for any HR professional. Few specific achievements can be listed here:

Logical thinking, fairness while dealing with conflict situations and an empathetic attitude is what I practice every day.

Can you describe some tough situations handled in HR? 

The pandemic brought a big jolt to our operations. With the first wave, the transition to remote working and adapting to the hybrid working culture became a challenging situation which was overcome with the deployment of apt IT infrastructure and strategic WFH policies. By the time situations looked somewhat stable, the second wave of COVID brought tragedy in the form of losing a few of our colleagues. It was heart-breaking for us. Training the spouses on computer skills, supporting them get jobs, expediting settlement of life insurance policy, extending health insurance to the families for 2 years were some of the initiatives taken. Provisioning of oxygen concentrators, introducing Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and helplines for health and mental wellness were rolled out.

What do you see as the future of HR? 

Future of HR is going to be challenging, as well as, interesting.  New models of work are emerging in the form of remote/ hybrid working. Usage of technology in the HR domain will increase. HR professionals would need to think beyond the conventional methods to build strong organization culture, encourage collaboration & connect amongst employees, while the workforce may work in a remote/ hybrid format.

Your Message to budding HR professionals?

  1. Be passionate. Know your organisation and know your employees.
  2. Understand the pulse of the organisation.
  3. Challenge the status quo. Be the change agents for the organisation.
  4. Bring best practices into the organisation.
  5. Put yourself in the employees’ shoes before making a change.
  6. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  7. Make data your friend. Keep an eye for details.
  8. Think out of the box. Bring creative ideas to enhance employee experience.
  9. Never stop learning.
  10. Embrace change and adapt to the evolving new-age methods.
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