In our quest to highlight the personal narratives of exemplary people in the field of Human Resources, our team at Headsup Corporation interviewed Mr. Shantanu Bhattacharya, Vice President HR at Grab (Grab a Grub Services Pvt. Ltd). With an MBA in Human Resources Management, he has been working in the corporate sector for the past 18+ years in varied HR roles with MNCs and Indian conglomerates.
Shedding some light on his journey, Mr. Shantanu shared an interesting anecdote where he mentioned getting into medical transcription and billing early during his college days to save some pocket money. Developing and honing his competencies there, he was sure that he wanted to do HR when he desired to get into management. During his first job at General Electric, Mr. Shantanu got the opportunity to be a part of a Human Resources Leadership Programme that helped him grow and fast-tracked his career progression. He then briefly dabbled in transition and quality, learning about business operations as well, but chose to return to HR for his passion and belief in the field.
In his glorious career spanning almost two decades, Mr. Shantanu set up new offices and ingeniously dealt with upcoming challenges. Elucidating on his initial work at Jaipur, he said –
“I realized that we had a sizable population in the city who were educated married women and wanted to do something for their livelihood, and a better engagement professionally. But they were not ready to spend eight hours at work, so we came up with a new concept called part-time assignments.”
Convincing his bosses was an uphill task that he undertook to bring to reality the potential he witnessed in this policy; one of the many examples of creative and out-of-the-box solutions he brought along.
Talking further about his key roles, he expanded upon the importance of cultural sensitisation and unique policies attuned to the needs of the people. Reflecting on his journey, he recalled the challenges he faced in this career, summing them up as –
“The first challenge is to deal with ambiguity. As a junior, you are being directed as to what you need to do. But as you grow up the ladder, ambiguity is something which one needs to learn how to deal with, and also remain positive during that. Secondly, managing cultural integration for global organisations can be very hard, along with taking into consideration the interests of diverse stakeholders. Thirdly, handling power centers and organisational dynamics. Every organisation has its own dynamics and you need to learn and understand those to strike the right balance.”
With the pandemic, newer challenges such as remote working and productivity concerns, along with concerns regarding employee welfare and engagement emerged. According to him, HR stepped up and had to redesign policies to adapt to the unprecedented global scenario. He added –
“Upskilling definitely has been the talk of the town, and upskilling during the pandemic can aid in faster decision making with lesser ambiguity and happier employees.”
He also believes that the hybrid model of working is here to stay given its utility and upcoming HR professionals need to adapt to that.
Another gem that Mr. Shantanu often works on is the belief that even though HR does not actively work in revenue generation, they can impact the bottom lives by optimising the costs for the organisation. This optimising is made possible through mobilising talent, creating an enviable culture, focussing on process maps and aligning business strategies to the work of HR.
On striking the right work-life balance, he warns that –
“You cannot continue a great professional life until and unless you engage yourself beyond work.”
He mentions that passion and dedication for his job, along with spending quality time with family have been the pillars helping him navigate the demands of this profession. Additionally, he engages regularly in hobbies such as listening to music and keeping abreast of the current happenings in the world.
Mr. Shantanu leaves us with some words of wisdom for the upcoming professionals, “Take life as it comes to you. If you plan too much, you will end up nowhere. Keep upskilling and adopting new competencies, otherwise you will get obsolete.” Networking and being attuned to human needs and sentiments often helps at the job. He adds that “Keep it simple – break down complex problems into simple statements and that is the way to go.”