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HRUnplugged: Keeping HR relevant in changing times

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Nikhil Shahane, VP of People & Culture for Asia at TechnipFMC, reveals the key to HR staying at the top of its game, even as technology disrupts the workplace.

Q With digitalisation transforming workplace practices, what mindsets do leaders require?

I think leaders need to first embrace digitalisation as an “enabler” as opposed to an end in itself. Among various things, they need to be open-minded – in terms of adopting ideas from different sectors as well as creating a culture of innovation where employees are encouraged to take some risks and try new things.

HR has to continue investing in technologies that simplify the employee experience. It’s not about how many new technologies you adopt, but how you choose new tools and technologies relevant to your business, and to eliminate non-value adding tasks that enables you to focus on the future.

HR has a key role here and needs to work alongside business leaders in creating a culture where every person is digitally savvy, looks at upskilling and is keen to improve business outcomes with digitalisation at the heart of it.

It is important, in that sense, to understand and appreciate different perspectives, improve collaboration and be more agile. HR professionals have a great opportunity to be at the forefront of bringing about all this change in organisations today.

Q In line with this, what kind of support do you provide to employees to remain relevant?

I will talk about one example. Our overarching philosophy behind the new learning management system, called iLearn, that we launched at the end of 2018 was for HR to develop the organisation and for individuals to develop themselves.

Whether it’s between individuals or teams – building trust is key to achieving the desired change and results.

HR’s role is to provide the right infrastructure for learning, relevant content and make learning engaging and fun. Needless to say, the content should be accessible anytime, anywhere on the move. Individuals are then lured to iLearn and take advantage of the content to upskill themselves.

Elements of AI are in-built so as to suggest learning content to people based on their role and functions. Our aim is not to push learning down as something mandatory, but to engage employees in what they find meaningful and beneficial. New technology enables us to achieve all of this in better ways than before and helps create a learning environment. This is key to upskilling and reskilling employees in a fast-paced world.

Q What is the secret to saying anything to anyone candidly in the workplace?

The simple answer is you need to build trust. Whether it’s between individuals or teams – building trust is key to achieving the desired change and results.

Q On a personal note, what are your goals for the next five years?

I would love to be in the middle of the Serengeti or a similar reserve contributing to wildlife conservation. As an alternative, I look forward to passionately contributing to HR – developing people, experiencing another region or culture, keeping abreast of new trends, and creating an impact in whatever role or capacity I operate in. In particular, I am passionate about creating awareness about the energy industry and early engagement of Zillennials, so my goal is to create a healthy talent pipeline of the next generation.


Vital stats: Having realised he couldn’t make a living playing cricket, Nikhil Shahane’s entry into HR happened by chance in his school days. He hasn’t looked back since, and has enjoyed every bit of his journey so far. He has had the opportunity to contribute as a HR professional for more than 15 years, across different industries and regions, and has been with TechnipFMC for nearly eight years, having held leadership roles in the Middle East, India and now APAC, based out of Kuala Lumpur.


This interview is part of our CHRO 4.0 special edition where we we introduce you to Human Resources’ Advisory Panel 2019, and pick their brains on the burning questions the function is facing.

Read more here: CHRO 4.0: Decoding the HR skills of the future


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