Interview with Dr. Harry Charles, CHRO of Ascend Telecom

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Dr. Harry Charles, CHRO, Ascend Telecom

From talking about the importance of upskilling talent, to how Ascend Telecom does it, we had an interesting interview with Dr. Harry Charles, CHRO of Ascend Telecom about upskilling for the tech-driven era.

1. How do you keep your company talent updated in this ever-changing digital economy?

Ascend Telecom (ATIPL) encourages talented people to come through the door so that they can be hired. As soon as a person is on board and assigned a task, we make sure to keep them from losing interest in the task and the company, we keep them engaged. We believe as an organization that an engaged employee is 50 percent more productive than a satisfied worker, but an employee who feels inspired at work is nearly 125 percent more productive than a satisfied one. We follow certain strategies to keep our talent updated, like the following:

Strategy 1: Employee Productivity –aligning people to business

More time spent on productive work makes employees feel meaningful and respected in the organization. We keep looking for opportunities to optimally utilize high morale employees’ skills and capabilities to increase productivity. Recognize such employees in an open forum on any such contribution. This approach gives a sense of fulfillment to individuals and high performance follows suit.

Strategy 2: Internal Career Progression – for enhanced utilization

While a proper mix of external capabilities and internal talents is being consciously monitored, high performing employees do get an opportunity to fill elevated roles as a first choice. In the sense, we have tried to fill most senior positions from within giving hope to our performing team members that in the event they exceed expectations, they will move on to a fast track to fill senior management roles falling vacant.

Strategy 3: Engagement

The experience of an emotionally connected employee helps him walk the extra mile required to make the organization successful. Our engagement strategy includes creating a positive emotional connection with our organization for our employees. Our work environment isn’t just about creating a place where most employees can feel happy. It also aligns with our organizational values and desired workplace culture.

We make them feel that: they are important and their opinion matters, they are enabled and supported, they are part of the growth story, their contribution is recognized.

Strategy 4: Keep playing

As an organization, we believe that only when we keep playing the momentum, improvements and growth stories are possible. We try to create models for the market in every sphere of our business process and set ourselves as a bench mark for the industry to adopt. For example while the whole industry was outsourcing operation and maintenance, we did it in-house and proved that our uptime can surpass the bench mark set by our competition and customers. ISO and Six sigma processes were seen as difficult system to be practiced in telecom, whereas in ATIPL, we proved we can be better off with the system and implemented it across the organization.

Strategy 5: Keep going

At ATIPL, we believe that if you keep going, you continue moving along or doing something that you have started, even if you are tired and would prefer to stop. The spirit behind this approach comes from the way we keep informing, educating, supporting, enabling, encouraging and recognizing employees in every step they take. As an organization, we give ample opportunity to employees to display their innovation, potential and creative approach to business.

2. What role do you think technology plays in talent management? How can technology bring about a change in the talent management lifecycle?

A decade ago, technology was seen as a monster, creating fear of losing a job, impacting employment opportunity, taking away our livelihood and making us feel insignificant at work. Subsequently when the next generation started adopting to the new technology, the fear subsided and a hope for higher yearning for technology peeped in bringing in better socio-economic conditions. The more we adopted to technology, the better was the opportunity to develop and move forward with the dawn of better life style.

Technology provides solutions that are comprehensive, engaging and flexible. IT helps in talent hiring, aligning employee goals with business objectives, identifying and cultivating employee skills, and measuring and rewarding employee performances. It helps to automate all the core HR processes, resulting in increased efficiency and cost reductions for a company in the arena of human resource management. Technology broadly manages the following areas:

Resource Planning, budgeting monitoring, On-Campus and Off-Campus Hiring, On Boarding, realtime feedback, out placement, KRA/ KPI tracking of individual, team and organizational goals, engagement, 360 degree feedback, tracking efficiency, workplace behaviour and productivity, data management, App based / simulated training management, cloud based self-service, coaching, mentoring, managing diversity and inclusion, people analytics, Payroll Benefits administration and travel Management. It offers a holistic approach to talent management and handles the entire gamut of Talent Management.  It also helps to identify the high potential employees. It is a great tool to strategize and draw out development and training plans to meet organizational needs and align the workforce with the skill requirements.

Technology helps in

  • Objectify assessments on productivity, performance and people
  • Mitigate subjectivity and perceived preferences
  • Predict potential threads to business
  • Provide user friendly and robust systems to manage processes
  • Provide confidence in delivering quality and quantity
  • Predict market and product movements

3. How much do you think talent management will change over the next five years? What are the milestones in this space you would look forward to achieving over the next 5 years?

Automation has been in process for the past one decade. The advent of technology has provided a sweeping change in the way we conduct business, generate revenue and book our EBITDA. The speed of doing business has become more realistic. With machine learning and AI type of technology, I should be able to pre-empt my business. The speed at which I get to know scenario will help me to find a suitable and timely response, help mitigate the losses,  saves time, regulate workflow, build focus on the action rather than analysis. It will help faster and accuracy of decision making.

Changing technology has the potential to transform the whole system of HR management helping evolve a more objective, user friendly and cost effective approaches with a foresight for future.  Collecting, collating and analysing data such as responses to recruitment advertisements, skill database, employee productivity and work force management etc., was a challenge until recent years. With technological applications such as predictive analytics, data mining, digital applications, cloud platforms, Robotics, artificial intelligence and chat bots certain HR roles have become redundant giving a hope to new roles such as design thinking

4. What are the steps you take as an organization to have a more diverse and inclusive workforce?

ATIPL has a workforce which is highly diverse and adopts affirmative action plan in the way we hire and on board employees. While the field workforce consists of employees from all walks of life such as highly qualified to not- so-qualified, men and women alike; the corporate and circle offices consciously work towards achieving an inclusive culture. We have a written commitment to our employees and future employees that our organization will put anti-discriminatory practices in place and do what we can to foster equal opportunity. The policy is part of our value document and is regularly revised and communicated to make it more effective. It is a policy declared in our website and opens a communication channel to all those who do not agree with it.

5. What are the strategies you employ to upskill your workforce?

We moved to Virtual Reality as a platform for delivering a training for our distributed employees. The immersive quality of 360-degree images and videos allows people to experience a simulated environment from the comfort of their home or office.

  • Training at employees own space and time.
  • Evaluated for experiential learning and acquisition of practical knowledge
  • Career and Personal development oriented approach
  • Training -Credit Points are linked to PMS

App based eLearning: Animated mLearning courses in engaging micro-learning format in multiple topics – accessible on both Mobile and Laptop

  • Engaging short term courses provided on leadership and management topics designed in 2-5 minutes bite sized modules
  • Multitude of courses provided in workplace, functional and behavioural areas
  • Ready-made courses provided on compliance topics like anti-sexual harassment, fire safety, ethics etc.
  • Courses provided on a cloud-based plug and play LMS and mobile app

Customized courses: on sales and customer service, technical, management, behavioural and HR policy topics

  • Simulation workshops: Facilitator-led 1-2 days business simulation workshops in the following topics: Leadership and change management, Analytical intelligence, Business acumen
  • Classroom trainings: on various leadership and sales topics

Our Learning and Development Strategy

Training goes on cloud at Ascend

  • A simulated App providing a variety of technical and soft skill training
  • Virtual Lab & Cross functional interactive sessions
  • ebooks, research papers, white papers and articles
  • Domain (Audio & Video live) technical content
  • Daily culture in shorts tips (Best Management Practices)
  • Webinars, Pep talks, seminars and workshops
  • Online certifications (MIT & IIM) Programmes
  • Mobile app based simulated trainings (1 Published and 9 under development)
  • Safety related training for filed manpower

Industry and Institutional Partnership

Ascend has a working arrangement with the following institutions as part of the strategy to roll out our training programmes.

  • Indian Institute of Management – Bangalore
  • Manipal Global University and
  • New Horizon University

Mode of training

Visuals, talks, White papers, research papers, presentations, case studies, benchmarking interactions with other leading organizations, organizational experiences in developing leadership, Questionnaire, tests and others.

Follow up

  • Self-Tests and Questionnaire to ascertain and correct leadership styles
  • Personal counselling sessions

Profile

Dr. Harry CD is the CHRO of Ascend Telecom. He has over 25 years of experience in managing HR of multinational corporations. He is an accomplished Human Resource Practitioner who has served multinational corporations in various capacities which include Global Vice President of Human Resources to Director of Human Resources. He has been part of multinational Software Development Corporations such as Flextronics, LS Soft, HCL Technologies, Tejas networks and Ascend Telecom and also Served as PCH for a Globally Shared Services Company. He is credited with providing leadership coaching and counselling to more than 20000 middle and senior professionals. His Management and Leadership Development Programmes (MDP) are highly appreciated across the globe.

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