Ethics and not WorkEx drives sustainable HR practices, says Sreekumar Bahuleyan, Senior Director, HR, Walmart an alumnus of the ’97 batch of GIM.
WorkEx or Fresher?
It’s a debate that has divided opinion globally across the management spectrum. Not for Sreekumar Bahuleyan, Senior Director -? HR, Walmart. Sreekumar, popularly known as ‘Sree’ joined Goa Institute of Management way back in 1995, after his graduation from St. Joseph’s College of Arts and Science. He strongly believes that like high school, a business school is a place to be inspired and influenced by the right set of mentors and guides, who help you set ethical standards before you embark on your professional journey. He still recalls the day when he first set foot on GIM.
“My first trip to the campus before I accepted the admission offer remains etched in my mind. Father Romuald D’Souza was gracious to give me a personal tour of the campus. Father D’Souza has had a terrific impact on me over the years. He and the excellent professors were the two reasons for me to join GIM. Father D’Souza’s quiet confidence, uncompromising attitude towards excellence and quality, dry sense of humour and genuine concern for fellow beings made him a great role model.”
Sree underlines that the 2 years at GIM have been the defining years of his life.
“My propensity to not give up and continue towards my goal is something I picked up at GIM. I also learnt that it is important to be a good human being first and then strive to become a good manager.”
Just the right words for an HR practitioner, one might say. But Sree actually walks the talk. Right through his 18 year career from InfoMedia 18 to Yahoo!, Intuit and now Walmart, Sree’s HR innovations are clearly dictated by “humane” aspects. One may recall that a decade or so back, online videos were just gaining prominence. Sreekumar initiated the conversion of all organisational policies into videos within his Company. The second initiative was to have a very senior leader personally send out a welcome letter to all new hires. Both these ideas were well ahead of their times.
“In HR we are constantly consulted on decisions with regard to employees who do not work for us nor impact our budgets. I have always believed in providing counsel as if these employees worked for me directly. Having a skin in the game makes your provide solutions that are practical, compassionate and non esoteric.”
Sree has seen the HR spectrum evolve -? nay transform -? over his last two decades in the domain. As someone who has been hands-?on, and has been a prominent player during this phase, he identifies technology and attitudinal shifts as the primary reasons for this evolution.
“In the next decade, we will continue to manage distributed workforce. The percentage of employees working in multiple time zones and often remotely from home offices will continue to increase. Our policies and processes will need to gear up to accommodate this shift. Given the never changing need for great talent, we need to be prepared for welcoming and managing the diverse needs of the workforce. Concepts like “job sharing” will become more prevalent.”
From GIM’s perspective, Sree has been amongst the most active alumni. Business schools typically gain prominence on the three pillars of quality faculty, infrastructure, and an exemplary alumni body. Considering the stunning rise of GIM; it has broken into the ‘Top-?20 Business School’ of almost every credible media agency, in less than a couple of decades of existence; the contribution of alumnus like Sreekumar Bahuleyan has been of great consequence.
“My GIM batch had the hardest working bunch of people, I had the good fortune to be associated with in my life. Not giving up and not being intimidated by institutions that had a far richer history and track record came naturally to us. Our confidence can be directly attributed to the confidence that our professors had in us, and in their uncompromising attitude toward excellence.
Our motto was work hard and party hard. We spend time at Casa, Genies, Peter’s, Pav Baji bhaiya’s stall, Bagga, Calangute etc. A place to party was never a constraint. It was about the need to unwind and cope with the pressure.”
Sree is in touch with over 50 of his batch mates through their GIM batch WhatsApp group. He urges the budding HR professionals at GIM to “live it up!” and make the most of the fun side of Goa. From a career perspective he advises them to look at HR as a business, and not as a mere function. Business leaders expect HR to provide practical and creative solutions to all challenges and not just HR challenges. To do that, HR practitioners need to develop business acumen and not just hone HR specific skills.