Meenakshi Rana, Corporate HR, Forever New India

Insights into the clothing brand's 'Young Mothers Programme', which was conceptualised with the intent to help young mothers have a flexible work schedule and paid time off to balance their work life and responsibilities as a new parent, and more. 

Meenakshi Rana, Corporate HR, Forever New India (pictured above) leads the HR vertical for the Melbourne-based clothing brand's India business, where she's responsible for creating a positive culture, sustainable people practices, and catalysing change in the workplace to adapt to the future of work.

With over 12 years of experience in translating business vision into HR initiatives, she has previously worked with Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail and Future Value Retail in various roles across talent management, organisational development, employee experience, and more.

At Forever New, she is focused on developing leaders and driving innovation, with the organisation having 51% of its ranks comprising women, and 67% of the leadership team spearheading functions like marketing, e-commerce, business analytics, visual merchandising and more. She has also introduced several employee welfare policies such as:

  • Parental leave policy for working mothers – Five additional childcare leave days each year to young mothers till the child turns three. Working mothers can also avail two days of work-from-home every month.
  • Workshops – Activities aimed at health & wellness of employees that include Zumba session, desk yoga, and participation in marathons. Dental check-up, eye check-up, and general health check-up camps have also been organised.
  • Training in relevant skills in times of COVID – Post-pandemic strategies and training in relevant skills through challenging assignments and developmental relationships.
  • Egalitarian environment for employees – Nurturing an egalitarian environment with target and goal setting for each employee. Brainstorming sessions and giving each person the opportunity help create their own system, making way for easier performance management and a feeling of control over their equality.

In this interview with Aditi Sharma Kalra, let's find out more about this HR leader's HR philosophy, career calling, and more. 

Q Was HR a natural career choice for you? If not in HR, what other career would you have chosen?

I gravitated towards human resources during my Masters and found it to be my calling. Had I not been an HR professional, I think I would have been a psychologist.

Q How has your leadership style evolved over the years? What are some of the most important things you’ve learned?

A total of 12 years into this profession has taught me a lot. Some key learnings have been around navigating ambiguity, having an eye for detail, and being authentic at work.

Q Do you have any personal philosophies that you hold dear to you?

Yes, the one that I completely believe in is empathy. It helps you to gain a deeper understanding of any situation & drives you to come up with the best solutions.

Q What motivates you as an HR leader?

Making workplaces equitable and providing platforms for people to learn, grow, and achieve their dreams.

Q What are some workplace trends that you believe we can expect to see in 2022?

  • Hybrid and remote working,
  • Prioritisation of employee wellbeing, and
  • Talent shortages and reskilling within organisations.

Q What is the sort of culture/environment you like to inculcate at Forever New? How does HR contribute to this?

Forever New has a unique high-trust high-performance culture, which is inclusive and nurturing. HR plays a pivotal role in creating progressive policies, programmes, and an environment where people can aspire to learn and progress in their careers.

Q What is the most innovative HR campaign that you've worked on at Forever New? 

The most innovative campaign is the 'Young Mothers Programme', which was conceptualised with the intent to help young mothers have a flexible work schedule and paid time off to balance their work life and responsibilities as a new parent.

Q You've always been in the retail sector, previously with Aditya Birla and Future Value. What do you love most about managing HR in this sector?

Retail is a dynamic & fast paced industry and gives an opportunity to recreate, innovate, and reinvent HR practices with the changing times. Every day is a new learning experience.

Q How would you measure success as an HR leader?

Success to me means being able to create a progressive work culture that gives everyone opportunity to contribute, learn and grow.

Q Finally, and this is on the lighter side, can you teach us something in five minutes or less?

Absolutely. I would like to share a powerful, yet simple relaxation technique called box breathing. This breathing exercise helps to clear the mind, relax the body, and improve focus. Box breathing is a simple technique that a person can do anywhere, including at a work desk or in a cafe.

Before starting, people should sit with their back supported in a comfortable chair and their feet on the floor.

  1. Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.
  2. Hold your breath inside while counting slowly to four. Simply avoid inhaling or exhaling for four seconds.
  3. Begin to slowly exhale for four seconds.
  4. Repeat steps one to three at least three times.

Photo / Provided

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