"Changing Business Landscape Requires An Agile Approach To People Operations"

For me, the biggest development in HR in the EV sector has been harnessing the potential of AI in HR processes, such as recruitment, employee engagement, and data analytics says Amulya Kulkarni Kanade, Head of People Success, Log9 Materials.


Given your diverse experience in various HR functional areas, including HR Business Partnering, Diversity and inclusion, Performance Management, Total Rewards, and People Operations, how do you ensure a holistic and integrated approach to human resources management in your current role?

I approach human resources management with a holistic and integrated perspective, leveraging my diverse experience across various HR functional areas. To ensure a comprehensive approach, I choose to focus on the interconnectedness of HR functions and the alignment of these functions with broader organizational goals.

Strategic Alignment:  I am a firm believer of ‘Business as a customer’. This drives me to align HR strategies with the overall business strategy. By understanding the organization's goals, I design and propose HR initiatives to directly contribute to business objectives. This involves collaborating closely with business leaders to identify key priorities and embedding HR practices that support the company's strategic direction.

Integration of Processes: I emphasize the importance of integrated HR processes. For example, when it comes to performance management, I ensure that it aligns with the company's core values and objectives while incorporating feedback loops for continuous improvement. The performance management system, in turn, influences the total rewards structure, fostering a culture of recognition and motivation tied to individual and organizational success.

Inclusion & Belonging as a Core Value: Inclusion & Belonging is a cornerstone of effective HR management. I've championed inclusion initiatives that go beyond mere compliance, focusing on creating an inclusive culture that celebrates diversity. This involves implementing inclusive hiring practices, promoting diverse talent development, and fostering an environment where every employee feels valued and heard.

Data as the Driver: I leverage data analytics to formulate, design and implement HR strategies and also measure their impact. This data-driven approach allows me to identify trends, measure the effectiveness of HR programs, and make informed decisions to continuously refine our human resources practices.

Employee Centricity:  Lastly, effective People Operations require streamlined processes and a focus on employee experience. I've championed the implementation of HR tech stacks to automate routine tasks, allowing HR professionals to focus on strategic initiatives and providing employees with user-friendly tools that enhance transparency, communication, and connectedness thereby leading to a better overall experience.

In essence, my approach is centered on creating a synergistic HR ecosystem that not only addresses individual functional areas but also ensures that they work seamlessly together, reinforcing the organization's mission, values, and strategic objectives.

The tech, storage, and semiconductor industry is known for its fast-paced and dynamic nature. How do you approach talent acquisition and development to meet the unique challenges and demands of this industry, and how has this evolved over your career?

Talent acquisition and development are critical components that require an agile and forward-thinking approach. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to learn and contribute to building and developing talent pipeline that have helped me build a proactive talent mapping muscle. Few aspects that are core to my approach are:

Proactive Talent Landscape Mapping: Given the industry nature, be it tech, semiconductor and EV, the war for talent is inevitable. I proactively engage in understanding the business requirements and translating it to talent needs specifically; this involves anticipating future skill needs and industry shifts. Understanding of skills allows me to pump up talent pipeline that allows identification and attraction of top talent with the skill sets required for emerging technologies. This forward-looking approach minimizes the lag time between identifying a need and securing the right talent thereby reducing the drop ratio and time to hire.

Strategic Partnerships: Cultivating and nurturing partnerships with educational institutions, industry associations, and tech communities has been a key to reaching out to like-minded talent. This not only helps in staying abreast of emerging talent but also allows for the co-creation of specialized training programs that align with the industry's demands. 

Culture of Continuous Learning: The tech and EV industry demands continuous learning. Fostering a culture that encourages and supports ongoing professional development through on job rotation, training programs, certifications, hackathons ensures that our existing workforce remains at the forefront of industry trends.

Recruitment Approach: Recognizing the competitive nature of the industry, I leverage recruitment strategies and hiring platforms to leverage data analytics in the recruitment process to identify trends, predict candidate success, and streamline hiring workflows. This ensures that we can swiftly identify and secure top talent in a highly competitive market.

Employee Value Proposition: In a sector where talent pool is limited and in high demand, a compelling EVP is crucial. Crafting an EVP that goes beyond traditional benefits and salary considerations in addition to unique opportunities for skill development, exposure to cutting-edge projects, and a collaborative work environment attracts and retains top talent.

In your current role at Log9, where you lead People Operations & Talent Acquisition, how do you align HR strategies with the company's goals to drive metrics for efficiency and growth for the organization?

I start by thoroughly understanding Log9's business goals and strategies. By aligning HR initiatives with these objectives, I ensure that every HR effort contributes directly to the overall success of the organization. Whether it's expansion into new markets, product development, or operational efficiency, our HR strategies are crafted to support and complement these key business priorities.

I leverage data analytics on key metrics related to workforce productivity, employee engagement, and talent acquisition to make informed decisions that directly impact the company's efficiency and growth. This data-driven approach allows for the identification of trends, the measurement of the effectiveness of HR programs, and the adjustment of strategies for continuous improvement.

I champion initiatives that foster continuous learning mindset through skill enhancement and leadership development. This not only optimizes the performance of our current workforce but also ensures we have a talent pool ready to meet evolving organizational needs.

The rapidly changing business landscape requires an agile approach to people operations. I ensure that HR processes and policies are flexible and responsive to the evolving needs of the organization. This includes streamlining workflows, adopting innovative HR technologies, and maintaining a keen awareness of industry best practices. This involves creating a positive work environment, recognizing and rewarding high performance, and fostering a sense of belonging and purpose among our team members.

Working with cross-functional stakeholders and business leaders to create an amazing people experience is a crucial aspect of HR. Can you share specific initiatives or strategies you've implemented to foster collaboration and enhance the overall employee experience in your current or past roles?

Pay it Forward Mentorship Program: In one of my earlier stints, I had designed and launched a geo agnostic cross functional mentorship program aimed at breaking down silos and promoting a culture of learning and team work. This mentorship program brought together employees from different teams and geos to invest in each other’s learning, growth and career strides. This helped cultivate diverse perspectives and fostered relationships beyond being a mentor and mentee. This not only enhanced collaboration but also contributed to innovative problem-solving.

Employee Resource Group: Recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion, I led a diversity based ERG to create spaces where women could connect on like-minded topics, discuss challenges and design to implement initiatives to bring more diversity in senior leadership roles. This ERG facilitated networking, mentorship, and knowledge-sharing, contributing to a more inclusive workplace culture. This led to the organization witnessing women in senior tech leadership roles through myriad efforts by ERG members and leadership.

Employee Recognition Programs:   I have been a huge proponent of a decentralized recognition culture in an organization. In my current and previous stints, I have been fortunate to design and implement employee recognition programs that went beyond traditional performance-based rewards. These programs acknowledged not only individual achievements but also teamwork and contributions to the company culture. This recognition not only boosted morale but also reinforced a sense of value and appreciation among employees. 

Learning & Professional Development: Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching! As a learning enthusiast myself, I have had a keen passion to establish learning programs that help an individual develop both personally and professionally. Peer learning programs, Policies that encourage learning and tech advancement programs for skill building are few pillars that have been key to my learning approach. By investing in the growth and development of our employees, we not only retained top talent but also created a culture where continuous learning was celebrated and encouraged.

Adaptation of Tech Stack: Leveraging technology, I introduced platforms and tools that facilitated communication, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing. This included the implementation of internal communication platforms, performance management tools, and employee feedback mechanisms. The seamless integration of technology contributed to a more connected and engaged workforce.

These initiatives collectively contribute to creating an amazing people experience, fostering collaboration, and enhancing overall employee satisfaction and engagement.

Results through people are a significant aspect of your approach. Could you elaborate on how you measure the impact of HR initiatives on organizational success, and share examples of successful outcomes achieved through your people-centric strategies?

Indeed, measuring the impact of HR initiatives on organizational success is integral to demonstrating the value of people-centric strategies. Here's how I approach this, along with examples of successful outcomes from my experience:

OKRs: I establish and track objective and key results indicators that directly align with organizational goals. For instance, if the goal is to enhance innovation, I might track metrics related to employee engagement in ideation programs, the speed of project delivery, or the number of successful product launches. These OKR metrics serve as tangible measures of how HR initiatives contribute to the broader success of the organization.

Engagement Surveys: Regular employee engagement surveys are a crucial tool for understanding the impact of HR initiatives. By analyzing survey results, we can gauge employee satisfaction, identify areas for improvement, and measure the effectiveness of specific programs. For example, following the implementation of a policy, we saw a notable increase in overall job satisfaction and work-life balance scores.

Retention & Attrition Metrics:  One of the key indicators of a successful people-centric approach is the organization's ability to retain top talent. By monitoring retention rates and analyzing the reasons behind any turnover, we can assess the effectiveness of HR strategies. In a previous role, after the introduction of a comprehensive professional development program, we observed a significant decrease in voluntary turnover, indicating that employees felt more invested in their career growth within the organization.

Recruitment Metrics: Metrics such as time-to-fill, quality of hires, and candidate satisfaction are indicative of the effectiveness of talent acquisition strategies. For instance, implementing employer branding initiatives and highlighting our commitment to holistic employee well-being led to an increase in the number of high-quality applicants and a shorter time-to-fill key positions.

Learning & Development Impact: I assess the impact of training and development programs by looking at improved skill sets, employee performance metrics, and career progression within the organization. For instance, after implementing a mentorship program, we saw a measurable increase in the skill proficiency of mentees, contributing to higher overall team performance.

Employee feedback & Testimonials:   Quantitative data through employee surveys like e-NPS and qualitative data, such as employee testimonials and feedback, offer valuable insights into the impact of HR initiatives on the employee experience. Positive feedback on initiatives like wellness programs, benefits, or leadership development workshops serves as anecdotal evidence of their success on internal and external platforms like Glassdoor.

In summary, I employ a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures to measure the impact of HR initiatives on organizational success. By consistently monitoring these metrics, we can not only demonstrate the value of people-centric strategies but also adapt and refine our approach for continuous improvement.

  1. With your background in the tech industry giants like NetApp, Qualcomm, and Intel, how do you stay updated on industry trends and incorporate innovative HR practices to stay ahead in the rapidly evolving tech landscape?
  2. I prioritize my own continuous learning journey by staying informed about the latest trends in HR, technology, and the broader industry. This involves attending conferences, webinars, and industry events to gain insights from thought leaders, network with professionals, and explore emerging technologies that could impact HR practices. Additionally, I actively pursue relevant certifications and participate in professional development programs to stay current with best practices.
  3. Connecting with my pool of mentors who help see the mirror and other pastures has also helped seek a more holistic way of growing myself as a professional.
  4. Building and actively participating in industry networks and communities is crucial. This includes memberships in professional HR associations, participation in online forums, and engagement with tech-focused communities. 
  5. Collaborating with tech-focused educational institutions helps in staying connected with the pipeline of emerging talent. This involves participating in advisory boards, engaging in mentorship programs, and exploring opportunities for joint initiatives. These partnerships provide insights into the skill sets that are in demand and influence the development of HR strategies for talent acquisition and development.
  6. I am proactive in piloting and adopting innovative HR technologies. This includes exploring AI-driven recruitment tools, leveraging data analytics for workforce planning, and implementing employee engagement platforms. By staying abreast of the latest HR tech solutions, I ensure that our HR processes are not only efficient but also aligned with the digital transformation trends in the tech industry.
  7. Benchmarking HR practices with industry peers and competitors provides valuable insights. By understanding how other tech giants approach HR challenges, I gain inspiration for adopting innovative practices and adapting them to our unique organizational context.

This multifaceted approach ensures that our HR strategies not only keep pace with industry trends but position our organization as a leader in adopting innovative people practices.

What according to you is the biggest development in the HR and corporate space in your sector in 2023 and what would be your one prediction for 2024 for India Inc.

For me, the biggest development in HR in the EV sector has been harnessing the potential of AI in HR processes, such as recruitment, employee engagement, and data analytics. In 2023, we have so far witnessed significant advancement in the integration of AI, machine learning, and automation to streamline HR operations, enhance decision-making, and provide more personalized employee experiences.

Come 2024, I am hoping to see this power being leveraged by a consortium of EV industry players coming together to strengthen this industry collaboratively and collectively in India for the world. The objective in 2024 should be biased towards creating the best technology in India while building the talent pool, holistic benefits mindset and growth opportunities that transcend an organization barrier. 

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