HR Vision Podcast #16 – An HR Business Partner turned Tech Consultant ft. Remi Rangaraju

By FourVision
Oct 20 • 1 min read
HR Vision Podcast Episode 16 ft. Remi Rangaraju

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With great expertise as an HR Business Partner, Remi Rangaraju moved to the HR Tech side of the barricade and is now a Functional Consultant at FourVision.

In this episode we discussed the evolution of the HR function, some interesting initiatives for diversity and equality and the role of tech in an HR department. An interesting perspective worth listening to.

Ivo:
Hey everyone, and welcome to the HR Vision podcast. I'm your host Ivo and every week I'm going to have a conversation that matters about HR. This week I have Remi Rangaraju with me, welcome Remi. How are you?

Remi:
Thank you, Ivo. I'm fine, thank you. How are you doing?

Ivo:
I'm doing great. Thank you so much. Remi is based in India. She's a functional consultant at FourVision. She has been doing great things related to HR that you don't want to miss. So let's start Remi, are you ready?

Remi:
Yes.

Ivo:
Alright. OK, well, you go for it now. Let's see, we start always with the new guest giving a small introduction. So if you'd please take the floor and just introduce yourself and what you have been doing in your professional career.

Remi:
Sure, thank you for giving me this opportunity. My name is Remi and I'm based out of Bangalore in India. A little bit about my background, the majority of my background has been in HR. As an HR business partner and the past four years I've been into consulting as a functional consultant. So that's briefly about me.

Ivo:
Alright, alright then. So where did your education come from? Was it already in HR? How did the HR connection start. Did it start right away from high school? You just decided that you wanted to to work in HR?

Remi:
Actually, that's a good question. I had never had anything in my mind, really speaking. I definitely wanted to get through graduation and post graduation, but I didn't know where. What it was that I really wanted to do and I didn't have enough clarity there. And then HR happened to me. And I must thank my colleagues first at Motorola. When I started out as a trainee and thereafter thank my Lucent colleagues. Motorola, a Lady by name Nisha Nambisan and in Lucent, Mr Solomon Ravikumar and George Thomas. If it weren't for them, I don't think I could have got into HR as a career.

Ivo:
Really, OK so they were really inspiring at the beginning of your career.

Remi:
Absolutely very inspiring. I think they felt that I was more suited for HR and they gave me this opportunity and that's how I grew in HR.

Ivo:
OK, so when you started back then in HR, was it a slowly growing passion? Did you immediately fall, when you started the first year learning about it, did you fall in love immediately? How? How did that happen?

Remi:
I think I fell in love with it immediately. Just after a few months as I started seeing, that I'm very comfortable with people and that I love interacting with people. I mean, while I may not be an extrovert, I still enjoy meeting people, talking to them and learning about things. Learning from them. So that kind of inspired me and also motivated me. So I continued. I thought, yeah maybe that's the right thing for me to do. I also saw there are a lot of initiatives being done for people and I could see myself grow in that particular career path. And I must thank everybody in my career, those who supported me throughout my career, my managers, my colleagues, everybody you know for having supported me.

Ivo:
Absolutely. So you have a lot of experience. You started your career as an HR business partner, right? That was the beginning for some years. So how do you think, since you started, how do you think HR as a function has changed through the years? Did you see the digitalization impact? How did you see that impact?

Remi:
I think HR has grown significantly. I worked largely in the IT industry with a combination of both product and services organizations and largely with product companies. And I've seen the HR role has evolve a lot over these years. You know there are a lot of specializations which have come in. You have compensation and benefits, organizational development. You have a sort of performance management team, that's talent management. Then you have talent acquisition, HR business partners. So you have several streams within HR, that was not the case. Truly a large amount of focus, back then, was mostly on HR business partnering or talent acquisition. But then different functions have evolved over a period of time and there is diversity and inclusion. Not to forget that. So there's a lot of emphasis on ensuring that there is inclusivity and diversity at the workplace as well.

Ivo:
Yeah, and do you think that came from the evolution of society, because companies became more aware of people and how they should position their people, that they should keep their people. That the focus shouldn't be only on talent acquisition. Do you think it was a combination of these factors?

Remi:
Absolutely yeah. It's all like skewed talent. So for example, if there are only men in a certain team or in a certain skill, then we had to bring in more female employees. Or if there were only women then we had to make sure that more male employees were put in that particular area of expertise. Not only that but also giving opportunity to people that are differently abled also as well. And also including other communities. And we're getting there. We're still not there yet, but I think we've been making progress and all of these aspects are within HR practices. To make sure that there's a more diverse and inclusive environment in the industry. Several companies in the IT industry have already done several initiatives.

Ivo:
It's a nice that you say that because it's a good segue to something that I'm really interested to hear about. Because I understand that in the past, working as an HR business partner you you actually had a lot of initiatives regarding women in the workplace. To, not enforce but to cultivate that or grow that culture of hiring more women to different positions. So tell us a bit about that. What were those initiatives that you worked on?

Remi:
Yeah, I think if we were to start with hiring. One is to make sure that, for example. In the leadership or in special or niche areas of expertise, whether it's men or women who are lesser in numbers, to make sure that we bring in some amount of gender equality. Bringing in a good balance there. So you focus your hiring towards ensuring that you bring in that set of specific gender. To make sure that it's a balanced team. So if you were to look at women some of the initiatives, which were different from hiring, were to encourage them to participate in various science forums, seminars or conferences. Some of the organizors, like NASSCOM, Grace Hopper, there are several forums which invite women for different initiatives which they run. And these are some of them, where I personally ensured that you know women are participating. Of course, along with working with the managers of those employees. And yeah, a lot of my HR colleagues have ensured that people are participating in all of these.

And there's also a specific day Women's Day celebration to make sure that they are celebrated. That gives them an opportunity to interact with a lot of other women. There are groups for women supporting groups, so. Which will help them to move in their career ahead. Either through mentoring or coaching programs so they find mentors in those groups. So some of these initiatives were driven in some of the organizations I've worked with in the past.

Ivo:
Interesting. What is your feeling now? Do you think that that's still necessary? That's mostly neccecary? I know that you have not been doing that for a while, but do you think that's still necessary? It's important in a lot of countries, I guess in some countries more than others, but that's still an important thing to do right?

Remi:
Absolutely, if you have a mentor or coach at your workplace or if your organization is supporting you with the internal mentor or an external mentor, or internal or external coach, that is going to definitely help you grow in your career. It'll give you more clarity in terms of where you wanna head. It'll help you think through and solve your own problems and you have somebody to talk to about your career or it could be personal life. It could be anything. So the fact that you have some support, someone confidential you can reach out to. And express what you're going through, whether it is a good experience or a bad experience, you can always share how you're growing in your career. What are some of the bottlenecks or what are aspirations are.

So some of these things can be discussed. So let's say you know I'm not a mid management or going towards senior management and I need certain skills I may or may not have. And there are certain things which I need to learn. So a coach or a mentor will definitely be helpful. But regardless, I think regardless of time, I think one definitely needs a mentor and a coach to move ahead in their career in any organization. I would say.

Ivo:
Would you say it's necessary for all positions? Someone you should hire? Who should it be? Should it be someone of your that you know already that you worked with in the past of the previous manager or something like that? What what is your idea about that? So if it's a mentoring, probably you would definitely need someone who knows your area who understands your area of expertise. But if it's about coaching, it could be anybody literally. Because coaching is different from mentoring. Mentoring is where you know a person is also got a guide you and help you solve your problems and guide you through the steps as well. Apart from you taking ownership to solve your own problems or to think ahead in your career as to what; How should I plan etc. and who's going to give you some guidance and advise you.

In a coaching situation; A coach helps you to think: what is it you would like to do and how can you solve your problems? So a coach could be from any area of expertise, internal external. So while there is significant difference, both would be helpful in their own ways. So for a mentor, yes, to answer your question. Someone who knows your area of expertise will come in handy to guide you better and for a coach it could be anybody.

Remi:
OK alright. Before moving to the work you do at FourVision and working with HR Tech, more than a as an HR business partner, I just want to go back a bit to ask you. We talked about the importance of mentorship and coaching, but going back to the to the women in the workplace, you have been not doing that for a while, but do you think those activities those initiatives are still very important in today's world? Absolutely, they're still relevant. I mean, while you know I moved away from core HR business partner role four years ago. Those initiatives are still valid, participating in various forums will give opportunities for women to interact, network, get to know different people, and look at people who are very inspiring. And learn from them. It will definitely help them a lot. I think it'll still be relevant always, or probably it's a it's timeless I'm sure. Yeah, it's gonna be very helpful to everybody.

Ivo:
So the movement is slow. That movement is a bit slow. You know. Companies in societies take a lot of time to adjust and to adapt to to a full equality or at least equality of opportunity for sure that. That takes awhile.

OK, if if we move to a yeah to your experience. At at FourVision. How did you land with the with technology you know how? How did that came up?

Remi:
OK, so that also happened to me. I didn't plan it out. In 2017 I was looking for opportunities and then there came about an opportunity for this role to hit the HR practice. And that's when I got into this role. And Microsoft had just launched this project, and you know it was in its infancy at that point in time. And that's when my colleagues and I, we all, Sachi, you know. So all of us. I looked at this product, and we're pretty excited to learn about D365 HR at that point in time, and that's how I got into consulting. I didn't know consulting per se. But however, I always had inclination towards automation and software, technology. I was fairly comfortable with it. In fact, at Lucent when I worked there earlier, we used to. They don't use Excel sheets and then we moved into developing a performance management system and the lead management systems are very comfortable in working with the developers to develop the system. So and I was also working on PeopleSoft then at that point in time. So from that perspective for me, transitioning into technology was fairly comfortable and I feel someone who has a lot of HR knowledge, particularly someone with HR business partner experience. In the event that they don't plan to move into a leadership role, or move further beyond after certain years of experience, and they would like to look at an individual contributor role. Then I think a functional consulting is a good place for somebody to be in.

Ivo:
Interesting, that's a very good point of view. You worked with the, I guess, being an HR business partner. You worked with softwares before. Did you try the Microsoft before or it was just from 2017 forward?

Remi:
Only in 2017 Microsoft D365 HR came out. But then I have not worked on any of the AX2012 or something. None of those prior to that. It was mostly on PeopleSoft, SAP. Mostly PeopleSoft and SAP is what I worked with in the past.

Ivo:
And now that should try the working with the with Microsoft. What is your feeling about it? You can be honest, OK?

Remi:
I actually switched sides I must say. At that point in time I was an end-user. Now I'm on the other side of the table. I'm on the receiving end of the table right now. So customers tell me: At that point in time I could tell what I wanted from the person implementing, but today I have to listen to what the customer has to say. It's been interesting and so I can't exactly compare because that was more of a end-user experience and this is, implementing.

However, as an end user, I worked on older versions of these products and that was long time ago. That was between 2001 to 2006 on PeopleSoft and then thereafter on SAP. The modules I worked on were more on personnel management and a little bit on employee records, as well as the readings. I mean it was not very evolved. And merit increases, but more like replicating an Excel into a software. Employee information is available. Then you can key in numbers and it'll show you the totals and whether you're within the budget or not in the budget and things like that. Not a very exhaustive application?

I think over a period of time, it has developed and it has evolved. So today if I were to look at D365 HR, it's a great software and for someone with a small sized to mid-size, or even a large sized company can definitely look at it. It has a lot of functionality. And even if you were to look at FourVision products, performance management, document management system, lead management system. So all of that. They're wonderful products, you know just to talk about performance management. And as you're aware, I'm working with the Coca Cola Africa. Yeah and yeah on this project. So for performance management they're also looking at succession planning, performance management. So in our product we also have the merit process. Organizations evolve with their HR practices. They're going to look at more evolved solutions to align with their talent management initiatives, etc. And more look at the standard product with less customization, which is going to fit into their practices and processes.

Ivo:
Yeah, yeah, absolutely, that's that was kind of an unfair question, but I had to ask. But thank you. It was a good answer. You worked a lot and you have some experience with talent management, and performance management. Let's talk a bit about that. You know the what does it mean? The talent management and why is it so important for HR professionals and for organizations. To be able to do an efficient talent management?

Remi:
It's very important, I think primary reason being retention of employees. If an organization wants to retain its employees, I think, they will make sure that their employees are well taken care of in on various aspects of it. So talent management entails performance management. Of course, talent acquisition is always there. Hiring the right set of people. Learning and development opportunities, mobility programs, succession planning. Providing them opportunities with different roles or job rotation. And last but not the least, a rewards and recognition program.

So these are all very important for an employee. And of course, while it may not be truly part of talent management or maybe part of it is compensation and benefits, it does matter to an employee or anybody for that matter. So it's important that an employee is written. That's the key of having talent management initiatives because the cost of replacing someone. Again it depends on the experience level, skill level. What value do they bring in? It's not just about replacing a person, it's about a what have they done to your company or added value to your organization so it may be easy just to get somebody to replace that position. However, bringing that amount of expertise and that wisdom not everybody can replace that at all times. Maybe sometimes, but definitely not at all times.It matters a lot to have right talent management practices in the organization.

Ivo:
Yeah, absolutely. I think sometimes it might be more costly to try to get a new person up to speed to that level of expertise that you have in a previous as a previous employe. Because you accumulate the expertise experience within the company, know how to deal with stuff you know you start knowing some things that you take with you. You don't leave in your handover or something like that. So it's always hard to to keep up with that.

How these come. How can we translate this talent management? All these rewards and benefits; everything that you just talked about into HR technology. Of course, we have the solutions at at FourVision, but how important that those, or any other solutions in HR to support that those processes those HR processes in place. Talent management, performance management, rewards, those kind of things.

Remi:
It's very important. Because otherwise it becomes an administrative overhead and everyone and their own area of specialization will end up doing a lot of administrative work. Which was not really required. So if you have systems to support that, you still need somebody to manage it, but then that person also won't feel that it's just always the administrative work. They probably could be taking on extra responsibilities or a different role other than that too which will help them grow in their career also. A software or an automation, or a product, an ERP system which is there, is gonna help them reduce their time effor. It will also help them grow strategically in their roles and not just handle only transactions either on a system or otherwise. But the system is definitely going to reduce that administrative overhead.

If somebody were to handle, regardless of whether they are HR business partners or managers, or senior managers in any of their areas of expertise. Like I said, the administrative part is gonna reduce and everything is on the system and it is easily accessible at any time. They can go back. The records are all there at one place and they can find it easily. And if they need to run reports, it's available out there so it does give you a lot of advantages and one can focus more on their qualitative initiatives or growth strategically rather than just focus on administrative tasks.

Ivo:
Absolutely. It promotes that shift right? From being just taking care of tasks to actually help the business to grow. Because you have data, you have the reports you can. You can support the business in some decisions because you have everything done by the systems and you just need to think and process that data. That's it, right?

Remi:
Yeah, absolutely.

Ivo:
We're just reaching the end. I'm just gonna ask you a couple more things. UM, regarding HR technology. What are the trends that you see coming up? If you see any. What, will be the importance of HR technology in the future? What are other things coming in the pipeline that probably will be very important for HR professionals?

Remi:
I haven't specifically looked into it, but the way I see it, is that as the HR practices evolve in any organization. They would need a system to support those initiatives and reduce their administrative tasks. These systems will support that, and these systems will have to be designed in a more holistic manner where everything is available and just off the hat, which I can remember is our performance management system. Because it has succession planning performance management and merit processes. So people would typically look at holistic solutions are not partial solutions, they just have one module or one functionality, and you know not everything.

So as it evolves, they would start looking at holistic solutions in the future is what I would like to think, which is going to support their initiatives.

Ivo:
OK, just the last question or challenge as I normally say, it's just to ask the guest every time. If you had one thing to say to HR professionals, what would that be?

Remi:
Wow, that's challenging. Yeah OK, I have to really think, you put me on the spot now!

Ivo:
I did, I did!

Remi:
You did, yeah! For HR professionals I would say: Try to reduce your administrative tasks and try to grow in your career for sure. Sorry for harping on that point because we're talking about software. And ERP, I think that's the focus. Transactions would reduce and try to move ahead in their roles so you know more qualitatively or more strategically. And of course, use our products, FourVision's products for sure. Definitely I would definitely say that explore our products and see what it's got to offer you.

Ivo:
Yeah I would add to that advice that you gave previously in the conversation, which is the fact that as an HR business partner, being a functional consultant is not that big of a change. Maybe so you know for people looking for a career change in nature maybe you can look into that. We are always looking for consultants, so...

Remi:
Absolutely!

Ivo:
You can join our team or any other team. We don't discriminate, that's maybe a good advice that you gave. I think it's important for people to. To know if you're interested in technology and HR, it's maybe a nice thing to just check.

Remi:
Absolutely, totally. I couldn't agree more.

Ivo:
OK, cool. Remi, thank you so much for taking the time. This was a very nice conversation. I enjoyed it very much. I hope you did too.

Remi:
Yes I did as well and thank you for having me here.

Ivo:
No problem, it was a pleasure. Guys out there. Take care, be safe and I'll see you next time.

Remi:
Sure thank you. Have a wonderful day.


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