Good Human Before Good Hr!

Dr. Adil Malia (group president, hr, Essar Group) is one of the most respected professionals in the hr space. with decades of experience under his belt, in industries spanning fmcg, services, infrastructure, retail and more, he has transformed the way hr is perceived in progressive organisations like the global behemoth essar group…

Dr. Adil Malia (group president, hr, Essar Group) is one of the most respected professionals in the hr space. with decades of experience under his belt, in industries spanning fmcg, services, infrastructure, retail and more, he has transformed the way hr is perceived in progressive organisations like the global behemoth essar group…

You are a stalwart in your stream and industry space. How did HR initially become your professional field of choice?

My professional career began upon completion of my law degrees, as a legal assistant at Godrej handling labour law matters. The more I handled the issues, the more I realized that it was easier to resolve labour issues and disputes by listening, convincing, conciliating and bringing the disputing parties together. Adjudicating or going through the legal route was only time consuming, money losing and raised the pitch of egos higher. Personally at that point of time my knowledge of law, my desire to work with people and my strength in interpersonal skills prompted me to seek higher education in the field of Human Resources Management; and thus I graduated from TISS.

xzcHow were the early years of your experience? What all formative lessons influenced you during those times?

The initial years of my career were engaged in management of strategic employee relations. At that point of time I thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, few people know that I was a visiting faculty teaching labour laws and employee relations at TISS.

Looking back I think it is very important for all HR professionals to do IR in the foundation building years of their career. However it is equally important for them to know when to systematically transition into managing HR learning and OD to build a holistic career.

One lesson I learnt was that to build a successful career, one needed serious focus, dedication and a burning desire to succeed. You have to be a student and a learner all your life if you want to climb the echelons of professional success.

Any significant and impactful moments of your career?

Whilst I have many happy recollections in my career with Godrej, GE, Coca-Cola and Essar, I enjoyed the OD assignment we handled when I was at Coca-Cola.

The Coca-Cola Company entered India in their second innings by buying over brands from Parle Products. What came along were more than 30 franchisee bottlers, each of who was an independent company employing over 300 to 500 employees, having their own systems, processes and policies. And above all, each had its own unique culture.

Over two years, 30 such independent bottling companies had to be integrated into one company under the aegis of Coca-Cola India.

They all had to be migrated and integrated into a common set of policies, programs, systems and processes. Above all the greatest challenge was to enculturise 30 unique cultures of Indian entrepreneurial family run companies into one common new culture managed by a multinational corporation.

This was the real challenge. However, with the help of my excellent team and total support from our management teams, we effectively led the Change Acceleration and Migration Program and thus integrated these independent bottling units into one company: Coca-Cola India. This is one of the biggest OD challenges I handled successfully and I consider this as one of my best experiences to recollect. The lesson I learnt was that every organization has its own unique way in which it manages its critical life-giving processes.

These processes nurture people behaviours. Collectively, the behaviours of people around all these life-giving processes is what culture is about. Culture indeed eats strategy for breakfast! Unless an enterprise systematically works on fostering the right culture, it cannot succeed.

Key guidance and advice you would like to suggest to HR practitioners…

My teachable points of view:

  • To be a successful professional, first one has to learn to be a good human being. If you are a good person, everything will fall in place… You will be a good son, a good brother, a good father and a good professional • Learn to be a student all your life. Unless you read, you will be left behind in time. You will be like Rip Van Winkle waking up when your juniors will run ahead of you in their careers.
  • Careers are like marathons and not sprint races. Only those who invest reap dividends.
  • Emotional equanimity, spiritual values and ability to manage adversity make a successful professional. Authenticity is important.
  • Learn to position and manage your personal brand effectively. Build an inspirational brand for yourself.

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