FrieslandCampina’s Anjali Velayudhan Menon on her advice for the aspiring HR leaders: “Be curious, have fun and keep learning. Please be in a space where you are true to yourself, and find joy. Don’t forget to have some fun in your work and workplace”

In this latest Spotlight Interview, Rockbird Media met up with Anjali V. Menon, Dutch Lady Milk Industries Sdn Bhd., Human Resources Director who has over 17 years of experience across multiple sectors specializing in leading transformations, talent management, organization design and development, employee engagement and communication, diversity and inclusion, rewards and HR business partnering throughout numerous countries. Today, Anjali speaks about her encounters and the things she has learned as an HR practitioner. 

We might have seen Anjali being part of other events and having done quite a few speaking engagements, as well. What made her accept to be this event’s thought leader is the set of massive audiences where she will be able to share her views and also to get to learn from them; To connect and engage with the thought leaders, discussing the current issues concerning Human Resources function. One of the things which stood out to her, as well, is the event’s theme: “Leading to win the fight: A journey to transformation” which resonated with her on account of everyone in the world and the workplace being currently recovering from the black swan event of the pandemic. 

Anjali started her new role with FrieslandCampina in January this year. Fresh from her previous company for fifteen years, we can tell Anjali was able to keep up and is currently fully engaged in connecting with colleagues in her new workplace based on her LinkedIn updates. “It’s all about transformation and change. What resonated with me was the purpose of the organization, which is about ‘Nourishing the planet and people in every stage of life’. I truly believe wherever you work, you need to contribute to a bigger purpose which fuels your passion to do more for greater good. Along with that, it’s a very inclusive and caring workplace, according to Anjali. In regards to connecting with her employees, some of Anjali’s key values are around respect and inclusiveness which is a good starting point to start any relationship, as well as moving forward with an open mindset to understand the new work environment. That is how she has approached her transition – hence her participation in engagement events and interacting more with her employees. “People growth drives the business growth is our motto in Dutch Lady. That’s what keeps me going. I still have a lot to learn but it’s been a good start.”

Working as an HR in a top position, one must be present to their employees while planning for the future for their organization. Anjali believes that any organization which has a strong history and foundation, sustainable planning for future is as critical as delivering consistent business performance. “They all need to be hand in hand. Because if you don’t focus on either, if you don’t focus on either it’ll put your business at risk in the longer term” . Anjali revealed their strategic planning  is in terms of 4Ps – Purpose, People, Performance and Potential. Purpose is what makes us wake-up to do our best every day, People drive our business and growth, Performance is how we deliver consistent business results, Potential is our investments for future. “If you want to inspire your people or motivate them to be with you for a longer time, you need to have an inspirational story, which keeps people engaged and motivated.”Our world has evolved rapidly in the past few years, which has affected the corporate world, especially. At Dutch Lady, we are navigating this evolution through our triple ‘A’ culture Agility. Accountability. Appreciation. – Agility in our mindset and ways of working; Accountability towards business, people and teams ; Appreciation to recognize not only the outcome, but also efforts towards fostering a learning/growth mindset.

There is no doubt that the generation of leaders have their own and new ways in directing the organization from the old ones. Ending the conversation, FrieslandCampina’s Malaysia’s HR Director gave five pieces of advice for all the new and aspiring HR leaders. “Firstly, aspiring HR leaders need to understand that you need to add value to business hence you are a business leader. Hence, understand the business – what’s the end-to-end value chain of the industry you’re working in, what are the strengths, opportunities, threats or risks in your industry. This will help you to diagnose business needs/issues and have right conversations towards collaborating to the success of the organization. 

Secondly, please focus on gaining depth and expertise early in your career in the different areas of human resources. If possible, do go beyond human resources. That will definitely give you an edge as an HR professional who will be respected for their overall competence and knowledge. 

Thirdly, understand that in today’s world, there is this huge need for inclusion, empathy, and compassion. You can be sympathetic when you just listen to people, empathetic when you understand them, and compassion is when you take actions to address their concerns. It’s every leader’s responsibility. 

Fourthly, keep yourself abreast with digital and analytics. Technology is rapidly evolving and as HR you need to keep an eye on how capabilities need to evolve in your workforce in line with changing technology landscape and increasing redundancy of replaceable skills. Data is good, information is better, insights is best ; not only business but all people decisions need to be backed by insights.

Last but most important piece of advice, be curious, have fun and keep learning. Please be in a space where you are true to yourself and find joy. Don’t forget to have some fun in your work and workplace. 

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