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Snapshot: Hootsuite’s APAC people partner on the challenges of a young company



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Kairavi Majumdar, people partner APAC, Hootsuite, articulates the HR challenges faced in being one of the youngest companies in the world, in this interview with Aditi Sharma Kalra

Q. You moved to Hootsuite in 2016 with a mission to lead HR operations for Asia Pacific. What were the first 100 days on the job like? How has your experience been since?

From culture to processes, it’s been a steep learning curve. Asia Pacific is a key growth centre and talent hub for Hootsuite and I needed to come up to speed very quickly to start rolling out initiatives and implementing processes which other global teams were already well into.

For the first time in my career, I received the luxury of a fully fledged orientation and onboarding that was catered specifically to my role. In my experience, HR people are usually the most neglected, especially when it comes to orientation and onboarding.

At Hootsuite, however, I went through a month-long systematic onboarding and orientation plan at our headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia. This investment by Hootsuite right from the start helped to set a strong foundation.

I had the chance to meet and greet all the key people at headquarters to understand their roles and expectations better. It felt great being a student for once, not the teacher that HR professionals are expected to be from the first day of stepping into an organisation.

Q. At what stage of maturity would you say HR is at Hootsuite? What are your team’s current priorities for providing HR services for the Asia Pacific workforce?

Globally, and in APAC, Hootsuite is at a very exciting growth stage now.  As we expand, we are experiencing a curve in HR that we have never experienced before – and it is both exciting and daunting at the same time. Just a couple of years ago, we were half the size in talent strength that we are today.

With our growth momentum, current priorities are learning and development programmes, and globally, Hootsuite is rolling out diversity and inclusion programmes which we will extend to the APAC team to help us meet the needs of a growing diverse workforce.

Q. In the talent space, I understand attracting and retaining the best staff is typically easier for tech companies such as Hootsuite. So what HR challenges are you currently working to solve, and through what initiatives?

The rapidly growing workforce has exponentially increased the need for learning, so one of the challenges I am currently working to solve is in the area of learning and development.

We’re immensely proud of a programme called “Stretch”, which combines L&D with mobility and gives employees the opportunity to take on roles across departments and geographies.

Today, employees need to continuously learn and grow new capabilities to stay relevant in the workforce. On the part of the organisation, it is also important its employees remain engaged and intellectually stimulated to be able to do their best at all times.

At Hootsuite, we’re immensely proud of a programme called “Stretch”, which essentially combines learning and development with mobility and gives our employees the opportunity to take on roles in different departments and geographies.

Employees can participate in this programme to gain insights into a role or better understand how a certain department functions without needing to officially transfer or permanently leave their geographical location. This enables them to discover and determine whether they actually want to move into this role or department.

Q. In the same vein, one of the big topics for Hootsuite is managing the digital natives, who typically comprise a majority of Millennials. What initiatives do you have in place? Have you tailored your HR policies by various generations?

Given that Hootsuite is a leading social media management platform, all our employees have a digital mindset. We look for and hire talent with this digital mindset and have made it a prerequisite for anyone looking to join us. This is crucial for us as we are in an industry that demands this capability.

Besides this, as technology develops at a lightning pace, we are constantly providing learning and collaborative opportunities for our talent to stay updated with the latest in technology.

Q. How have your HR strategies borne fruit so far?

We have been extremely successful in hiring the best talent, and you can see proof of that in our APAC talent strength. We have grown by 45% just in the past year. In addition to that, with the learning and growth opportunities that we provide, we have achieved 20% people movement across departments and roles in APAC alone.

Q. As one of the youngest companies in the world at about nine years, what are the typical challenges you face in rolling out any new HR initiatives?

Given that we are a young company, we do not have a plethora of legacy systems and processes and we are constantly paving our own path with every initiative that we roll out. This, in a way, has been more of a boon because it has given us the agility and flexibility that we need without being bogged down by past experiences.

With the learning and growth opportunities that we provide, we have achieved 20% people movement across departments and roles in APAC alone.

One of the typical challenges we have is when we have to work remotely with different teams that are located all over the world. So, accommodating different time zones and managing schedules is often difficult to navigate.

We aim to remain objective and realistic in our timelines for rolling out initiatives and take into account that it is not always possible to launch multiple initiatives at the same time.

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