The HR Leaders Fighting The Crisis From the Front

BW People in association with BW Businessworld hosted a webinar on ‘The Role of the CHROs post-COVID’. The underlying theme of the panel was to explore the changing dynamics of HR leadership, the Intensity of decision making, new forms of hiring, taking tough decisions, and the definition of new normal.


From Top Left: Deepti Verma, Kavita Dasan, Rahul Taneja, Saswati Sinha. From Right bottom: Dr. Anurag Batra, Tojo Jose, Swati Sehgal, Subir Verma

The webinar brought together eminent personalities representing the different industries. The panelists included: Deepti Verma, Director HR, Amazon, Tojo Jose, CHRO, Muthoot Fincorp, Swati Sinha Head HR & Legal, Cheil India, Kavita Dasan, Head of People Practices, ABP News Network, Subir Verma, Head HR & IR, Tata Power DDL, Swati Sehgal, Head HR, North India, Ericsson India, and the session was moderated by Dr. Annurag Batra, Editor in Chief, BW Businessworld and exchange4media along with Resham Suhail, Editorial Lead, BW People.  

The discussion was engaging and gripping till the end wherein experts shared insights of how the responsibilities will totally be changed of the HR leaders in the post COVID scenario and will be much more crucial.

Deepti Verma On Observing And Adapting The “New”

In the opening remarks, Deepti Verma mentioned the changes and said as the pandemic hit the plans of going digital has been executed within a week.” Within one week of lockdown, we were able to do that orientation; everybody joining virtually.  95% of a workforce in enable to work from home.”

Talking about the change happening Deepti Verma emphasized and shared that there is a lot of focus on learning agility, change in bring the flexibility, adapting and learning new things; she said: “This is new normal where we have to do multiple things, balance the personal and professional life and being the most productive at a time.”

Rahul Taneja On Leading From The Front

When asked “when will a CHRO become a CEO?”-  Rahul Taneja interestingly prompted another turnaround question “When will a CEO, CFO, COO become the CHRO? Taking it further he clearly mentioned “I think the transition of HR person becoming a business leader is already happening. HR leaders in the last 2 months in these times are actually leading the entire business management from the front.  

In his view on HR being the business leader, he stated that “The HR leaders are the business leaders’ first, business managers’ first, economic value adders first and the HR later.”


Swati Sehgal- Thoughts On Need Of The Hour

Sharing her experience from where they work digitally from many years now and mentioned that “We have been working on the digital workspace from the beginning. It was really seamless from the execution perspective on the real ground. Talking about remote working she mentioned the positives that we save on mind space, not on travel cost.”

“Yes, we are recruiting and we are investing in the recruitment Technologies industry; I think business-critical roles are needed to be recruited”, Sehgal mentioned about the latest changes during this disruption.

Tojo Jose on Sharing his Worry as the HR Leader

Candidly explaining on his worry as the responsible CHRO Tojo Jose shared that “when the lockdown happened one of my biggest worry was- how am I going to run the payroll. I would have said impossible for paying the salaries of the month of March. But we collaborate and we did it.”

Mentioning about sudden adaptability and changes taking place he said that “Going Digital was forced onto us. We were going digital pre COVID but it will accelerate post-COVID much more because we have no other choice.”

Saswati Sinha Mentioning About Practical Execution

Saswati Sinha opened up about being real talking about practical changes that are taking place she said “We have rolled down the increments during this time. But the reality is we still have to let some people go. We are trying to help them out, trying to ensure my discussion is always around what’s next not about that is it. “

She pondered and shared her execution plans where she as a CHRO is looking at the roles which are redundant and if we can reskill them and put them in those roles which are picking up that can help everyone in many ways.

Subir Verma on Taking it as a “Critical Challenge”

Working in the power sector Subir Verma talked about the criticality shared that “it was a very very critical assignment for us where we need to make sure the electricity supply must be interrupted to all the hospitals and we did manage quite well.

He brought in a different perspective of the contractual workers that if the situation persists the same way contractual workers may have to face the consequences.

Kavia Dasan Speaking on Broken Hierarchies

The media industry being 24x7 operational has some different challenges and consequences. Kavita Dasan stated that 24hrs is less. It’s a news heavy time.  My role as a CHRO has completely changed. In such a highly volatile situation when most of the things are unpredictable the role of HR is huge. We need to be quick; take decisions and move forward”

She focused and talked about the positives and explained that “The good news is each one of us has come closer, we all are working in response time. One big difference is hierarchies have broken completely and people are working in a very flat manner”

The discussion was full of great insights. The participants believed that the times to come will witness a drastic change in the role and responsibilities of HR leaders. All the panelists agreed that the HR leaders are standing strong, tackling this crisis, supporting people, abiding by the values, and most importantly leading from the front.


Around The World