Mr. Shantanu Bhattacharya

“Keep It Simple”: In Conversation With Shantanu Bhattacharya

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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, Reliance Retail subsidiary. He started his career with General Electric and moved through job rotation and briefly dabbled in transition & quality, learnt about business operations as well, but chose to return back to HR for his passion and belief in the field after a brief stint of 2 years. 

In his glorious career spanning almost two decades, Mr. Shantanu has set up new businesses and ingeniously dealt with upcoming challenges. Elucidating on his initial assignment at GE 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 employment in erstwhile GECIS which was the first of its kind.”

Convincing a few of his managers and business leaders 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 sensitization 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 that one needs to learn how to deal with, and also remain positive during that period. Secondly, managing cultural integration for global organisations across geographies can be very hard, along with taking into consideration the interests of diverse stakeholder management. Thirdly, handling multiple 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, hence upskilling and reskilling during the pandemic can aid in faster decision making with lesser ambiguity and happier employees.” 

He also believes that the world is constantly changing and the hybrid model is here to stay given its utility and the upcoming HR professionals need to adapt to this change.

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 lines by optimising the costs for the organisation. This optimising is made possible through mobilising talent, creating an enviable culture, consolidated and lean structures, focussing on process maps and aligning HR actions as per business strategy.  

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 current affairs both national and global. 

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, else you will get obsolete soon.” Networking and being attuned to human needs and sentiments often help at the job. He adds that “Keep it simple – break down complex problems into simple statements and that is the way to succeed.”

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