A strong believer in HR's ability to influence the future of the company based on its work, Amrita Rajumoothy, global talent acquisition specialist, Essilor International, talks about her career journey to Aditi Sharma Kalra. 

Q. How did you venture into HR? What drew you to it?

Having a passion for working with others as well as the ability to add value and contribute to the organisation made me venture into HR. Also, having majored in human resources in university made me venture into HR naturally.

HR professionals have a unique perspective into the business that they work for. Not only do they have a strong understanding of an organisation’s priorities and challenges, but they also have the ability to influence the future of the company based on the work that they do. For example, attracting talent.

Q. What was the most innovative HR campaigns that you’ve worked on, and what was your biggest learning?

It was diversity and inclusion month in my organisation (Essilor) and I was in charge of coming up with a campaign. I came up with the #EssilorIncludes hashtag which was a great success as we had many employees using the hashtag.

I conceptualised the creation of the hashtag, as well as a video featuring employees’ testimonials on what inclusion means to them and “how specifically Essilor makes them feel included”. The idea was to feature three to four employees in each of our major hubs in Singapore, Dallas and Paris. Ideally, the featured employees represented the diversity of people at Essilor (in terms of age, gender, nationality and race).

I also came up with the filming guidelines, and personally filmed the employees based in Singapore for the video. I also came up with sample answers for employees who were filmed to inspire them. I was also the one who came up with the internal communication strategy as well as execution for D&I month at Essilor.

The biggest learning I had was getting to know the organisation and its culture deeply as well as a look into employees’ perspectives and what they think about the organisation.

Q. Have you had a mentor through your career, and what advice have they shared with you?

I have had a couple of mentors through my career. The advice they have shared with me would be the importance of networking, the valuable insight into what it takes to get ahead and being a “sounding board” for ideas. They have also advised me on shortcuts that help me work more effectively and how to avoid “re-inventing the wheel”. I do believe that having a mentor is important as this will help expand knowledge and skills, and be able to gain valuable advice from a more experienced person.
Personal branding for HR professionals is very important. One of the basic benefits of this is differentiation and this, in turn, will often earn you a seat at the table.

Q. Is there anything that you believe HR professionals should do away with?

I think it is more of HR professionals needing a marketing mentality … HR has to market and sell. It starts with the branding of human resources and how it is viewed by senior leadership and how to “sell” what HR brings to the table, and how HR adds value as well as partners the business.

I also believe that personal branding for HR professionals is very important. One of the basic benefits of personal branding is differentiation and this, in turn, will often earn you a seat at the table.

Q. Do you believe that work-life balance is possible?

I would say in today’s context, work-life balance is not possible and that we have now shifted towards work-life integration. This concept is a more fitting and realistic alternative for people who not only place equal importance on the success of both their work and private lives, but seek to handle both simultaneously.

Work-life integration is a means by which we can prioritise and integrate both work and life into our identity. In my opinion, any strategy designed to help employees have better lives is good.

Q. Having led talent acquisition for a long time, in your view what are the best ways to resolve the talent shortage problem that Asia is facing?

In my view, you will need to pre-empt open positions and the talent pipeline using talent mapping which is a proactive way of managing the talent shortage risk. Talent mapping begins before recruitment by defining talent within the industry so that once there is an active role, engagement can begin immediately; instead of being in reactive mode and searching for candidates when roles become active.

It is also advisable to encourage internal mobility, where employees can look at internal job openings and apply for them. Also, talent managers and HR business partners can identify employees who have the potential to be trained to fill positions where there is a talent shortage.

Q. What is the one moment that you believe changed the course of your career?

Taking a leap from a regional role to a global role. I knew that it would be more challenging, given the various time zones that would need to be taken into consideration. Also, the role that I am involved in is not only talent acquisition, but also talent communications, curating and delivering learning curriculum relating to talent acquisition for the HR community, as well as involvement in talent projects.

While doing all of this, I realised the work I did moulded me more than I realised and that I was still able to perform at my optimum.

Q. When coming up with innovative HR practices, what things should leaders take note of?

I believe that HR directors need to think of what employees need as well as what the business needs. They should look at current processes, view best practices and come up with innovative HR practices – taking into consideration strategic flexibility and organisational performance.

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