Gajendra Chandel, Chief Human Resources Officer, Tata Motors, in conversation with Triti Zalka shares how the automaker recruits and nurtures talent.
Careers360: What has been the trend of talent acquisition at Tata Motors? Which domains require the most talent today?
Gajendra Chandel: On an average, Tata Motors has been hiring over 500 cadres every year since last few years for the roles in different functions like ERC (Engineering Research Centre), manufacturing, supply chain, quality, sales and marketing, operations, corporate, IT etc. We are building talent keeping in mind the four technology-driven mega trends in automobiles, which will decide the future of the industry — electrification, shared mobility, connectivity and autonomous driving.
Reiterating the company’s commitment towards smart and green technology and mobility solutions, we have been showcasing our products and technologies at international auto shows, for over a decade now. This was possible only because of the talent we built over a period of time which helped us developing such cutting-edge technologies, that is in fact, ahead of its times. Going forward, the industry is seeing fewer requirements of mechanical engineers but need more in electronics, telecommunications, IT, bio-engineering and analytics.
Careers360: Beyond technical expertise, what do you look for when you hire?
Gajendra Chandel: At Tata Motors, we have identified six leadership behaviours which we expect our employees to possess, such as translating energy into action, taking steps to develop self and others, initiating and adapting to change and following ethical standards. We hire people for their positive attitude and a passion to excel -- people who would like to get their hands dirty and have the courage to challenge the status quo and provide out of the box solutions.
Careers360: Where do you typically hire from?
Gajendra Chandel: While a major chunk of our white-collar hiring happens through universities and institutions, with the spread of digitisation, the use of social media has grown exponentially by companies, employees and public at large. We have also been engaging with many job applicants on LinkedIn. On the other hand, the blue-collar hiring is normally from small towns and villages, especially the drought prone or non-industrialised areas as well from notified districts. Here again the focus is on diversity, especially gender diversity.
Careers360: Are there any industry-academia partnerships to promote industry-relevant education?
Gajendra Chandel: We strive to continuously develop talent, especially the young talent we hire from several leading engineering institutes. We envision not only making our organisation future-ready but also the industry, through long term partnerships in collaboration with some of the best engineering institutes in the country like IIT-Bombay, IIT-BHU, BITS-Pilani, Thapar University, COE Pune, NIT Trichy, NIT Jamshedpur and Symbiosis (Deemed University), among others. We are developing industry-ready talent by co-creating course curriculum and faculty development as well as joint research programmes.
Careers360: Training is critical to induct fresh talent into an organisational framework. What do you focus on?
Gajendra Chandel: Transitioning the mind-set from campus to corporate environment — that’s a significant part of first year grooming, focused on building a mind-set of teamwork, innovation, customer focus, quality, productivity etc. Next big focus, as part of the SteerinFx, our branded program for cadres, is to help build functional depth that makes them as good as those with two-three years’ experience. After three-four years in one area, they are moved to another function, thereby building breadth of experience. The focus is to build an understanding of the business value chain that makes them ready to take on higher managerial responsibilities.
To ensure our employees have an all-round growth, we have also introduced a concept ‘Role+’, where our cadres get to choose their field of interest which is beyond their day-to-day functional area of work through special projects with a mentor. Some engineers are provided much deeper inputs in our Engineering Research Centre as they take the path of becoming specialists. The ‘Internal Job Board and Opportunities++’ allows employees to explore roles across diverse functions, geographies as grades and career movement opportunities across Tata Group.
Careers360: Innovation is at the heart of Tata Motors. What kind of interesting projects can engineers get a chance to work on?
Gajendra Chandel: Against the background of a rapid shift in technology especially towards Digital, Analytics, AI, AR, VR etc., we have realised that the demand exists for cars that are more digital and futuristic. Our plans for the development of driverless vehicles is an example to cite. To make such automobiles a reality, we need an innovative taskforce that not only understands the changing technologies and market conditions but also consumer behaviours and social changes. Students get to be a part of the research, development and applications teams in these areas, fuelling our future products based on next-gen technologies like e-mobility, alternate fuels, hybrid technology, connected vehicles, analytics among other things.
Careers360: What is the work environment?
Gajendra Chandel: Tata Motors is focused on building a complete experience for the employees over their lifecycle at the organisation. With Tata Motors’ focus on global expansion, the company ensures a judicial mix of people in its workforce with a strategic approach in attracting the right talent, mentoring and training them to grow.
We embrace diversity and our women-friendly policies and programmes are a testimony to this. For instance, Tata SCIP (Second Careers. Inspiring Possibilities) is a pioneering programme launched by the Tata group in 2008 for returning women to help them transition back into a career.
GearUP is the first of its kind women development programme designed for mid manager level women where they receive management inputs and build on their individual development plan being mentored through seasoned seniors, as they get ready to take charge. We also have a plethora of policies that includes work from home, sabbatical, flexible working hours policy, compensatory leaves and even a six-month maternity leave which was initiated in 2011.
Careers360: What kind of rewards can be expected?
Gajendra Chandel: Our compensation philosophy is based on the principle of ‘Total Rewards’ which envisages enriching an employee’s overall work experience through focus on quality of roles, development and career growth opportunities and remuneration. The compensation philosophy seeks to reinforce the value of excellence and drive the organisation’s vision for profitable growth. We have a meritocratic and performance-centric compensation philosophy. We have a compensation mix of fixed pay and performance pay in line with market practices to drive and reward performance.
We have a meritocratic and performance-centric compensation philosophy. We have a compensation mix of fixed pay and performance pay in line with market practices to drive and reward performances
Students get to be a part of the research, development and applications team in these areas, fuelling our future products based on next-gen technologies like e-mobility, alternate fuels, hybrid technology, and connected vehicles.
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