Raamann AhujaSenior Director HR of Thermo Fisher Scientific

Raamann is Senior Director –Human Resources for Thermo Fisher Scientific and is based in Singapore. He has been with Thermo Fisher for close to 8 years, he has worked in different countries India, Middle East and now in SEA region. He has worked with companies like Asian Paints, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Deutsche Bank prior to joining Thermo Fisher.

Raamann is an HR & Business leader with over 23 years of interdisciplinary Human Resources experience in complex Global and Matrixed organizations. Leadership experience working closely with business CEO/the leadership team helping organization/business growth agenda.

His Leadership brand of a “business manager” linking people agenda with business challenges. Known for making an impact on business top line & bottom-line. Strength in building sustainable and growth oriented people organizations. Managed high growth environment in large MNC and start-up environment.

Raamann started his career post his Chemical engineering as a Sales person; did his MBA-HR and embarked on his journey as a HR professional. He has also worked with an IT start up in Chicago, US.

HR Strategy

1. HR drives the business, what is your take on this? How does it influence your HR strategy?

HR is a business enabler and each HR leader is a business leader with key a focus on company’s biggest asset – PEOPLE! It’s a great time for the HR function and HR leaders as today, the biggest differentiator for Companies apart from product USP is their people. Linking business challenges and growth opportunities with people initiatives coupled with a focus on return of investment is in my view, the key to success in influencing HR strategy.

2. Do you think HR has succeeded in becoming a strategic partner for business? What could be the areas of improvement?

HR has evolved to become a strong partner and it’s an opportune time to hone our skills to be strategic partner. Today, the most critical area for improvement for HR professionals is proximity to business. With that I mean KNOWING BUSINESS and not just spending time with business leaders and hobnobbing. Meeting customers regularly and understanding the pulse of the market and how the organization and its talent is perceived by the customer is another critical aspect of being a relevant HR partner. Meeting your colleagues across all functions/offices on regular basis is an affirmation of their presence and displays empathy and respect for your organization talent. To be a strategic partner to business, one must enhance one’s ability to effectively understand two key stakeholders of the organization-Customers and Employees.

Talent Management

3. What is your recruitment and talent development strategy?

Talent is scarce and how you optimize and prepare yourself well enough is the key! My experience has taught me that most companies are ill equipped to deal with talent acquisition/recruitment strategy as not enough time is spent on understanding the jobs and the critical skillset required to be successful in that job. Often, teams don’t understand the culture of their own organization and lest their ability to articulate the same when you are looking for culture fit for the external candidate. Decoding your own organization culture, job success factors, lack of preparation of hiring managers and poor discipline on recruitment process and procedures causes what companies cry loud about- war for talent! It’s an easy blame game when companies are not able to hire right as most have missed their side of RIGHT preparations!

We focus on the basics to get both of recruitment and talent development strategy right. Hiring a good talent that fits your Organization culture is the first step towards talent development strategy. A happy employee enjoying his/her job is more eager to learn and grow. A struggling employee will find any talent development initiative as a distraction and will not leverage the learning process to his/her long-term benefit. We have further strengthened our hiring, onboarding and hand holding process over years to assist the talent to succeed in their roles and grow within. Most of our talent development plans are linked with Individual and function development needs which makes it relevant and investments are easy to justify.

4. How is Artificial Intelligence aiding your recruitment, and talent management? How do you see this evolving in future?

Artificial Intelligence tools will help make some of the routine task easy in recruitment and talent management process. At the company, we are working on such opportunities and also exploring externally with a clear aim to strengthen our existing processes to help our internal customers with better delivery and faster turnaround times. In my view, AI should be regarded as a platform to improve HR efficiency and effectiveness; enhancing HR’s strategic capability. Currently, there is misconception that technology in HR will mean redundancies or headcount cuts, what I see is better utilization of human capabilities and real intelligence using time (the scarcest resource) judiciously to make smarter decisions for business using AI/trend analytics.

Technology and Analytics

5. How do you see Technology & Analytics play a role in HR?

As mentioned, there is currently a misconception that technology in HR will mean redundancies or headcount cuts. I foresee technology shaking HR from slumber and professionals taking more responsibility of their own skills & learning upgrades. I am confident that Technology and Analytics will play a very positive role and if used well, it will lead to better utilization of human capabilities and HR moving to next level of STRATEGIC partner role.

6. What are your thoughts on workplace innovation in HR, particularly in the context of the disruption we are witnessing?

Change is the only constant as we know. Earlier the velocity of change and disruption linked with it was not very visible, whereas today both change and disruption happen too fast. Most often, people neither have time to absorb nor can handle the same. This leads HR functions and professional to be at edge and constantly be in with firefighting mode. Ability to be proactive to change, ability to anticipate and plan is the only way to manage it sensibly and professionally. Workplace Innovation is the answer and the key is HR’s ability to listen and hear what’s around them – be the EAR and EYES to the people in the organization-creating a workplace environment where colleagues are empowered, contribute with ideas, be heard at most senior levels and where workplace health and engagement contribute to business results.

Role of HR in the organization of future

7. How has HR changed in recent years? What is the main challenge HR may face over the coming years?

Both HR role and HR professionals have changed over years due the different expectations from the HR function such as being a people enabling and revenue impacting function as opposed to being a service organization. The main challenges HR will face in the coming years are within HR itself – HR’s ability to maximize their business impact and be respected as HR experts in their field, their ability to manage CEO’s expectations as HR has a seat on the table and their ability to further move to next stage of value contributors. Most of this will be possible by being proactive and using technology to their advantage and being connected with customers and employees.

8. How do you see the organizations evolve in the future? What is the future of the Organization?

The future of the organizations today depends on how effectively they embrace the changes around them-be it technology driven, competition driven, markets driven, or talent driven. The trend suggests that more organizations will become more digital and hence will face a growing imperative to redesign themselves. In the near future, organizations will have to move faster, adapt more quickly to customer and market dynamics; also adapt, facilitate and embrace the dynamic demands of their people. This will force organizational design and change management will be one critical skill for HR professionals and business leaders alike.

Personal

9. What message would you like to share with young professionals at the start of their career?

HR is a great function and field to start your career with as it provides you with a vast canvas where you can start with simple roles like recruitment, talent management which has direct impact on business revenues and growth. And to more strategic roles with senior leadership/board as you mature in your ability and career which can impact the long term of the organization and people. HR and Finance are two key partners for the CEO to succeed, so be a smart partner and continue to enhance your abilities and skills with time to keep yourself relevant in this ever-changing world.

10. What are the 3 most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are today?

The 3 most pivotal moments in my career have been life turning moments for me and the learnings are immense and lifelong.
1) My first job with Asian Paints- the best organization to start my HR career as it instilled strong professional values which enabled my career for long term success!

2) My first entrepreneurial role in US with Tech start-up where I almost lost my job and came back to India; enhanced my respect for family that stands by you in tough times and ability to bounce back when you are down!

3) My HR leadership roles in recent past, which has helped me become a better person, more human and humble. I believe that careers are not just about accolades and great business results and titles on your resume; it’s all about human connections and your ability to make a positive change among people you work and live with.

Don’t become a machine chasing ambitions, dreams and financial gains; but be the person you will be most proud off yourself!