In Conversation With Indrani Chatterjee, Group CHRO, Allcargo Group

People development is an extremely critical aspect of the success of a leader. Being an HR leader, I always set a very high standard for my team and guide them with formal and informal mentoring says Chatterjee in an exclusive interview with Krishnendra Joshi, Editorial Lead, BW People.


You've emphasized your role in driving human capital strategy and vision at Allcargo Logistics Ltd. Can you describe a specific instance where you successfully aligned HR strategy with the company's business goals and values? What were the key outcomes of this alignment?

At Allcargo Group, we foster an inclusive environment by encouraging a culture of openness, tolerance, and effective communication. We implement new and more pragmatic strategies to handle any arising issues and promote a heterogeneous workplace that breaks away from monotony. 

Moonlighting is a concern that could potentially conflict with our company's commitment to employee well-being and work-life balance. To address this issue, we introduced the concept of "Part-time," which is essentially a gig-work model that allows employees to engage in part-time work arrangements within the organization.

The key outcomes of this alignment were twofold. First, it helped us reduce potential conflicts between the company and employees who sought additional sources of income. Second, this initiative fostered a more flexible and inclusive work environment. We recognized that a one-size-fits-all approach to compensation was no longer effective, and this change led to increased employee satisfaction and retention. Part-time along with other initiatives such as a flexible compensation policy and distinct career trajectories has had a positive impact on employee well-being, satisfaction and overall business success.

Coaching and mentoring leaders is one of your core competencies. Can you provide an example of a leader you've coached and the impact it had on their performance and the organization? 

People development is an extremely critical aspect of the success of a leader.  Being an HR leader, I always set a very high standard for my team and guide them with formal and informal mentoring, as I am a firm believer of the 70-20-10 philosophy which says 70 percent of the learning and development happens on the job, 20 percent through interactions and 10 percent through formal education and training. In this way, I have always been helping people realise their potential.  A number of my present team members as well as the ones who I have groomed, trained and closely worked with previously are doing well in their respective professional careers, climbing the career ladder, efficiently managing their roles in multinationals. 

Your passion for creating an ecosystem that encourages creativity and empowerment is commendable. Could you share how you've nurtured creativity and empowerment within the workplace?

We firmly believe investing in young talent and empowering them with comprehensive training and mentorship is essential to build a sustainable and successful future for both our company and the industry as a whole. Aarambh, our flagship management trainee programme reflects that vision and it has been designed with a vision to cultivate future leaders who embody our core values and principles. Through Aarambh, we aim to identify and nurture high-potential individuals, offering them a platform to grow, excel, and contribute significantly to our organization's growth.

Velocity is another successful management trainee programme which has been painstakingly designed to attract top-tier talents from renowned business schools worldwide. Through an extensive and rigorous selection process, we handpick exceptional students with outstanding leadership potential and a passion for driving positive change in the corporate world. Once selected, trainees go through a transformative journey of diverse rotations across different departments, gaining a comprehensive understanding of our organization's operations and culture. Guided by experienced mentors, trainees work on high-impact projects that contribute to our strategic objectives, fostering critical thinking and spirit of innovation. Velocity aims to nurture the brightest talents and shape them into future leaders, making a meaningful impact on both their careers and the success of our company.

These management trainee programmes contribute to the professionalization of the logistics industry.

Allcargo Group has been at the forefront of encouraging women to realize their utmost potential. As part of an organizational vision to drive women's empowerment, the company announced the launch of a program for all women to work who have been on a career break. Aspirants can apply for two kinds of roles in the company as part of this program.   The programme offers a full-time lateral role wherein the work experience of the applicant must be commensurate with the role requirement. And the second offering is opportunities for a project-based role which will be short-term projects with a minimum duration of 3, 6 and 9 months. Applicants with less experience but have the confidence and capabilities to complete the projects within stipulated deadlines can also apply. Women who can prove their competence during the short project stint will be absorbed on a full-time basis in the company if suitable opportunities arise. 

Allcargo is also looking to tap the women's talent from rural areas. The aim is to leverage the capabilities of women who have the drive but do not have a platform to demonstrate their talent and capability. Aligning with the vision of Allcargo Group Chairman Shashi Kiran Shetty, the company also has plans to attract women with special physical abilities.

Promoting gender equity and inclusion is a significant priority for you. What initiatives or strategies have you implemented to achieve these goals, and what progress have you observed in promoting gender diversity and inclusivity within your organization?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have become increasingly pivotal for growth in various industries, and the logistics and supply chain sector is no exception. Allcargo Group is firmly committed to gender parity, considering it an essential element of our commitment to diversity.

We recently introduced the RESTART programme, a group-level initiative designed to support women professionals who have temporarily stepped away from their careers due to personal or family reasons. This program is crafted to help these women re-enter the workforce, offering mentorship and robust support as they transition back into their roles, facilitating a better work-life balance.

At Allcargo Group, we actively engage in supporting women professionals through thought leadership programs like the Maritime SheEO Conference, providing them with opportunities to connect and collaborate.

One notable effort in this direction is Gati, a subsidiary of Allcargo Group, which has implemented a women referral program. Under this initiative, women employees within the Allcargo Group can refer suitable candidates from their network for various job positions within the organization.

Between 2022 and 2023, the representation of women employees has surged to 33 percent across all levels of the company. We consistently encourage women to take on leadership roles, and many of our global offices are now led by accomplished women. As a global logistics conglomerate, we take pride in our broad-based diversity, encompassing various nationalities, cultures, and backgrounds. Our approach revolves around inclusivity and integration, ensuring that all employees, regardless of gender, have equal career prospects and opportunities.

You mentioned fostering a culture of innovation, diversity, and trust. Can you share specific practices or programs you've introduced to cultivate such a culture? How has it impacted employee engagement and the overall work environment?

Well, trust is non-negotiable and is something that is an integral part of our culture or any workplace culture for that matter. 

To me, diversity comes with a much larger connotation. It’s not only about gender diversity. Diversity in the true sense of the term encompasses knowledge, age, nationality, generations, etc. At Allcargo Group, we have managed to develop a multi-generational workforce. 

From the gender diversity point of view, we launched a programme called Restart a couple of years back and as part of the programme, we welcome women professionals who were on a career break to come and join the workforce without any bias or prejudice.

We have also implemented a gender neutrality programme in the organization to ensure that our people are aware of the sensitivities attached to this initiative. At our group company Gati, we have introduced all-women shifts in certain locations.  All our HR policies are gender-neutral and focus on core competencies, experience and performance. 

In addition, our Group is always open to the idea of innovation. Leaders always seek ideas related to the deployment of new-age technologies from their team members to make the process of ideation collaborative. Innovation is an integral part of Allcargo Group’s DNA and our thoughts are always directed towards enhancing our products and services.   We regularly engage with a number of start-ups to explore possibilities to incubate some bright ideas. 

As a TEDx speaker, you likely have insights into key trends and topics in HR and leadership. What are some emerging trends or concepts in the HR field that you find particularly exciting or relevant for organizations today?

I've had the privilege of exploring and sharing insights on the evolving landscape of HR and leadership. There are several emerging trends and concepts in the HR field that I find particularly exciting and relevant for organizations today. One of the most significant trends is the growing emphasis on employee well-being and mental health. With the challenges brought about by the pandemic, organizations are recognizing the importance of supporting their employees' mental and emotional health. This includes initiatives like flexible work arrangements and stress management programs.

Another noteworthy trend is the increasing use of data and analytics in HR. HR departments are leveraging data to make more informed decisions, from recruitment and talent management to employee engagement and performance evaluation. Data-driven HR practices not only improve efficiency but also enhance the overall employee experience.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have also become central to HR strategies. Organizations are placing a stronger emphasis on creating diverse and inclusive workplaces, not just as a matter of compliance but as a strategic imperative. The focus on DEI extends to addressing bias in hiring and promoting fairness and equality in all aspects of the employee lifecycle.

Additionally, remote work and hybrid work models have transformed the way we perceive the workplace. This trend, accelerated by the pandemic, has opened up new possibilities for talent acquisition and retention. HR leaders are now tasked with developing policies and practices that support a geographically dispersed workforce while maintaining a strong organizational culture.

These trends in HR reflect the evolving nature of work and the changing expectations of employees. They present exciting opportunities for organizations to adapt and thrive in a dynamic environment, making HR a key driver of success and innovation in the modern workplace.

Your involvement in professional organizations and roles such as a Marshall Goldsmith certified executive coach, board member of NHRD National, and State President of WICCI coaching council is impressive. How have these affiliations and roles contributed to your professional growth and informed your approach to HR leadership?

My engagement in professional organizations and leadership roles has been instrumental in shaping my professional growth and influencing my approach to HR leadership. These affiliations have provided me with unique opportunities to continually enhance my knowledge, skills, and perspectives in the field of human resources. At Allcargo Group, I have had the privilege of working closely with senior leaders, enabling me to better understand the challenges they face and tailor HR strategies to align with their goals, build strategies and innovative HR practices within the organisation. Moreover, my expertise allowed me to advocate for gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace, driving my commitment to fostering an inclusive, equitable, and supportive work environment. These affiliations have significantly enriched my HR leadership approach, enabling me to better address the evolving needs of our organization and its people.

Allcargo and IIM Mumbai have collaborated for LogicOn -, an ongoing Logistics Business case study competition for 1st and 2nd-year MBA students across all B-schools in India to showcase their bright ideas and translate them into solutions for real-world logistics challenges. What are your thoughts on collaboration between industry and academia to narrow the gap between the B School curriculum and the present business realities from an industry expectations perspective?

There is a perennial gap between the knowledge gained from educational institutions and the knowledge and skillset must-have defined by the industry.  In a dynamic industry scenario, an effective collaboration between industry and academia can narrow the demand-supply gap gap. 

The collaboration between Allcargo Group and IIM Mumbai for the LogicOn logistics business case study competition is in line with the idea of creating a synergy between synergizing industry and academia. It is a dynamic approach to bridge the gap between what students learn in B-schools and the practical demands of the business world. In today's fast-evolving business landscape, it's crucial that academic institutions and industry players join forces to equip the future workforce with the right skills and mind-set. LogicOn provides a unique platform for MBA students to apply their knowledge to real-world logistics challenges, fostering critical thinking, problem-solving, and innovation. These competitions facilitate a two-way knowledge exchange—academia gains insights into current industry realities, while students develop practical acumen. From an industry expectations perspective, such collaborations are a strategic investment in nurturing talent that can hit the ground running, making a positive impact from day one. They also promote a culture of continuous learning and adaptation, which is paramount for staying competitive in the dynamic field of logistics. Ultimately, it's a win-win for both academia and industry, and at Allcargo Group, we will continue to take initiatives like LogicOn which is essential for a harmonious convergence of education and business needs.

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