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HR is where the heart is

Aarti Srivastava, Global Head of HR, Capgemini’s Business Services

Hello Aarti. Great to have you with us. Could you start by talking about your experience and role at Capgemini?

Aarti Srivastava: Thanks for having me! I’ve been in the HR profession for almost 20 years, and joined as one of the first HR business partners for Capgemini India in 2011. This role involved helping our HR function partner with business, understand future business needs, demands, and dynamics, and helping to craft our people agenda and strategy – taking the HR function to a different level.

Following a number of other roles, including India HR lead for Application Services Europe, I took over as HR Head for Business Services in July 2018. This has been a really interesting and exciting for me, as it involves understanding all the countries and cultures in which we operate, and bringing about change at a global level.

It’s also been a real challenge. Business Services has undergone a number of changes in the last couple of years including the recent appointment of leaders – the business process services (BPS) industry is changing rapidly and everyone has a different mindset about how best to operate. At the same time, we’re also seeing the advent of the augmented workforce – the right blend of humans and machines – as a reality. All of these aspects require a well-thought out and dedicated people strategy.

With this in mind, how are you helping to shape the HR function at Business Services?

When I joined Business Services, it was very much an open field in terms of the people development initiatives and people agenda that already existed. There was lots be done! Together with my team, I’ve been driving different agendas, and partnering with all the business leaders to understand and fulfill their business needs.

As the first step, I started by looking at the Business Services’ HR governance and structure, with respect to new demands on the business, and making sure our global HR business partners were totally in sync with our new business strategies. This was followed by driving a hygiene agenda to look at whether we had a program of rewards and recognition in place, focusing on boosting engagement levels, looking at attrition and check whether we were losing our best talent to the market.

We’ve also been working on more developmental and future-focused aspects, which include looking at reskilling our people to stay ahead of the demands required by the future workforce; helping our people move from one role to another and develop their career based on their competencies; promoting internal talent, rather than hiring from the market; and developing homegrown leaders and giving them opportunities to grow within the organization.

We’ve also made a great deal of progress on performance management – looking at the process more objectively to be time driven and development focused. We have been constantly pushing to raise the performance bar and make our existing workforce realize their own potential. This will also be a focus area in 2020.

How is the HR function at Business Services helping our people to develop their knowledge and skills for the digital age?

Intelligent automation tools and technologies are driving significant changes to the way we work and the way we look at our people. What people don’t always understand is that it’s not just about simply implementing the technology, it’s also about creating a workforce that is future-ready to be able to understand, optimize, and get the best out of this technology. Unless you have the people in your organization with the right skills, you won’t be able to implement these new-age technologies.

When Anis Chenchah, our CEO, first shared his vision for the future of Business Services: “By 2021, our vision is to shape the future of business operations with intelligent automation, creating outstanding value.” His main question was how can we make our workforce ready to achieve this vision? To do this, we started by hiring a number of experts from the market. However, it’s not all about hiring all the talent you need from the market; it’s also about looking at the stars you already have within the organization that can be reskilled into the future reality of the organization.

We designed and crafted a robotic process automation (RPA) sprint program with our Intelligent Automation Practice head – Adam Bujak – and his team, to reskill our people in RPA. We launched it across our global delivery centers and have been able to reskill a lot of people. We’ve trained approximately 200 people globally who are now going back to their own engagements and implementing what they’ve learnt.

For me, one of the main takeaways from this initiative is to remember how talented people from your own workforce really are, and how fast they can be reskilled. It’s important to see your people as an opportunity. Going into 2020, we’re planning to train up a much larger number of people to reach the reality of an augmented workforce at scale within Business Services.

It’s also important for HR to understand that implementing the augmented workforce is not just a business initiative, it’s about communicating and driving a change in culture across the organization to help people understand that automation is a positive thing which is building block for careers rather than a threat to their jobs. This means having an open and honest conversation about business plans and strategies, to prevent people regarding it as some kind of secret.

As an HR function, we’ve taken the lead in driving this cultural change, sending out the message about how automation is positive for both the business and the future of the workforce, and helping our people craft their careers in a future-oriented way.

Finally, could you outline your key challenges within HR at Business Services going into 2020?

I’ve spoken about just two aspects – the training and development of our people, and the cultural shift that Business Services is going through. These are just two of the first stepping stones.

Tomorrow – next year and beyond – I will be working on engagement of the augmented workforce. This is a huge challenge because we’re looking at a futuristic, Millennial workforce, for which development and engagement is not easy to maintain. I also want to encourage a diverse workforce and promote a conducive environment for diversity to thrive, which we achieve with strong performance management at the heart of it. These are my main challenges going into 2020.

Aarti Srivastava leads strategic HR for Capgemini’s Business Services. She advises on people issues, organizational design, and HR product needs, as well as translating business demand into HR solutions.