In this exclusive interview, Anika Grant arms us with advice on her motivation to embrace new opportunities as well as the three things to keep in mind for a board position.

Singapore-headquartered technology research firm, Ecosystm, has appointed Senior HR Director at Uber, Anika Grant as Board Advisor. In this role, she will provide counsel to Ecosystm on matters related to human resources, as it continues to expand its global footprint.

Grant comes to the position with more than 20 years of experience, where presently she leads the Global HRBP team for Uber's Core Business, based in Singapore.

She was previously APAC and ASEAN HR Director at Accenture, where she led a team of 500 HR professionals, and was responsible for all HR service delivery across nine markets. She has served in a diverse range of roles across Sydney, London, Paris and Singapore.

On her appointment, Grant shared: "I am proud to become a part of the Ecosystm board. The firm epitomises the values of collaboration and diversity, boasting an already impressive roster of analysts, fellow board advisors and other talent."

Amit Gupta, Founder and CEO at Ecosystm, added: "As we continue to build on our existing pool of industry leaders, both geographically and in areas of expertise, we are proud to have Anika on board, an individual with a proven track record in overseeing major business transformation and expansion."

Founded in 2016, private equity backed Ecosystm uses a ‘research as a service’ model, allowing users to consume data in a way that is affordable, and contextualised to their needs.

In an exclusive, Human Resources speaks to Anika Grant, Board Advisor, Ecosystm, and Senior HR Director, Global Core Business, Uber, on her new role.

Q. You’ve had a colourful career trajectory, with roles in consulting with Accenture, corporate HR at Uber, and now as board advisor to Ecosystm. What is your motivation as a HR leader to keep trying new things and reinventing yourself?

In my career I've been very lucky to have been part of a number of different organisations and I've learnt a lot from the great teams and people I've worked with. These diverse experiences have undoubtedly shaped how I operate today.

I wouldn't say I have consciously reinvented myself, but certainly I've been open to, and motivated by, embracing new opportunities and looking for different ways to overcome old as well as new challenges. It's important to keep evolving, to stay relevant and be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.

Working in tech makes this even more important, as you need to keep pace with an industry that's changing at such a fast pace. If we look at the changes in how companies engage with their employees over the last decade, it is remarkable how important technology now is. It's not enough to be deeply knowledgeable in HR anymore to be a leader - you need to be tech savvy and understand the business.

Remember that you’re not just there to talk about executive compensation. You’re a business figure with a HR background, meaning you should be involving yourself in all manner of conversations.
I think in whatever role you do it's important to challenge the status quo - and that's one of the reasons I love my role at Uber. It's one of the world's fastest growing start-ups, it's working to solve some of the world's hardest problems, and it's moving to the next phase, which is very exciting for an HR leader.

Taking on this new role as a board advisor at Ecosystm will not only allow me to leverage skills and experience from the past, but also provide a great learning opportunity, as I have the chance to contribute to the business from a different perspective.

Q. What will be your key responsibilities as Board Advisor at Ecosystm? What is the one thing you look forward achieving in this role in 2019?

As Board Advisor, I will consult Ecosytm on all matters related to people and culture. Ecosystm has plans to scale their business globally, with a proposition built on the ethos of autonomy, transparency and accessibility. My immediate focus will be to understand more about the business and understand how I can help them achieve their growth targets leveraging talent.

In many ways, Ecosystm shares a lot of traits with Uber. With their innovative business model, Ecosystm has all the makings of a disruptor, addressing the long-standing inefficiencies of the research industry, and seeks to democratise services – in this case, data.

Just as important, they’ve also got a strong corporate culture – one which seeks to bring out the best among a talented group of individuals, from diverse backgrounds. I've always been a passionate believer in the value of diversity – be it gender, experience or geography – as a key driver of innovation and creativity.

Q. For years, we have been talking about bringing HR to the boardroom table, and today, we can proudly see the progress HR has made. What, in your personal experience, are three things for HR leaders aspiring to board positions to be mindful of?

There’s certainly been progress. It's an exciting time for HR leaders, with increasingly more opportunities for us to step up and contribute at the highest levels.

Firstly, as a HR leader, you shouldn’t underestimate the value you can bring to the table. As the landscape becomes increasingly competitive, talent and culture are often the differentiators that either make or break an organisation.

We’re currently redesigning our global self-ID function so employees from around the world can voluntarily self-identify.
However, remember that you’re not just there to talk about executive compensation. You’re a business figure with a HR background, meaning you should be involving yourself in all manner of conversations.

Last but definitely not least, stay relevant! Never turn down an opportunity to learn, and be willing to explore new innovations. Look outside your company and stay connected with your peers and industry thought leaders. This is what will enable you to really contribute.

Q. Finally, back at Uber, what’s the one HR trend you’re looking to capitalise on this year?

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) has been a huge focus for us over the past year and will continue to be through 2019. We think about D&I as a core business priority - it's key to creating an environment where high performing teams can thrive and it's owned at the very top, starting with our CEO, Dara.

One way we’re going to supercharge D&I this year is by ensuring we have the most accurate understanding of the diversity of our global workforce. We’re currently redesigning our global self-ID function so employees from around the world can voluntarily self-identify.

We are expanding the function to help us understand the aggregate representation of dimensions like disability, gender identity, caregiver status, and sexual orientation.  With this enhanced information we can create a more nuanced and holistic D&I strategy.

Seeing the change we've driven at Uber over the past few years in this space has been really exciting - and I'm personally really energised by the fact that we continue to innovate and challenge ourselves to do more.

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