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Work Is a Part of Your life, Not Your Whole Life – Shalu Manan

Work-life balance doesn’t exist in real life. There is a life we live and there are choices we make. Some days we might prefer to spend more time on one thing while on some days, another thing.

Education Post16 September 2022 10:03

Shalu Manan, Vice President of HR transformation at Genpact, stresses the importance of studying hard during school and college days. She tells Education Post’s Tanay Kumar that a building can only be strong when its foundation is strong.

What is your understanding of work-life balance?

Work-life balance doesn’t exist in real life. There is a life we live and there are choices we make. Some days we might prefer to spend more time on one thing while on some days, another thing.

It’s all about your priorities that change at different stages of your life. I like to call it balance of life. For many people, taking a sabbatical from work is the balance they need to rejuvinate.

The concept of “work-life balance” is a very shallow way to look at things. It is demeaning that people equalize work with life, which is not possible. So, don’t equate the work with the whole life. You work is just a part of your life, not your whole life.

How is the process of digital transformation impacting the way people management works?

People look at digital transformation and think that it’s all about technology, while I look at digital transformation and see that it’s all about people. You can put the best analytics, the best technology solutions, even the best policy, but if your people don’t understand it, it affects productivity.

Start-ups are coming up with new skills. To beat the competition, digital transformations have to be easily comprehensible.

Organizations might hope to generate something new out of those transformations and analysis but in order to achieve that, the organizations have to address employees’ psychological adaptability, frustration, fatigue, aspirations or any other work-related issue. It won’t ever be possible to attain maximum output from any digital transformation if employees and people involved are not taken care of.

There is a research which says that 80 percent of digital transformation journeys haven’t succeeded in achieving their objectives and goals. The reason behind it is that people didn’t understand the role they are going to play after that transformation.

How can college students leverage the technology of transformation to their benefit?

Students must leverage the current technologies. There are lots of good channels on YouTube. TEDtalks produces several informative sessions. Students must introduce themselves to new concepts. For example, coding programs for a bank is different from a hospital. Since the world and technology is evolving, students will have to ask themselves what are their areas and skill dimensions.

In the Human Resource management field, we regard Josh Bersin as futurist. He always gives insights about how people might work in the future or impact it. So we follow him on Linkedin.

There is also a problem of plenty of information, which needs filtering. Be picky when choosing sources of information so you are sure you are not taking in fake or unnecessary information. Don’t try a hundred things simultaneously.

Students must subscribe to a couple of good magazines related to their own domain that are completely based on solid and thorough research. Harvard Business Review is one of my preferred sources for business and management domain.

What are the key traits you think are desirable in candidates who want to be a part of the technological revolution?

One needs to be in sync with technology because it is changing fast. When I look at a person, I try to assess whether he/she is constantly investing in learning skills. Furthermore, if they are ready to invest time learning new technical skills that are changing in their own domain.

The first and foremost trait people need to have is the ability to expand their own knowledge constantly and accept that there it is a never-ending process.

Another trait I try to look for is courage. It’s quite obvious that many people start living in their own imaginary limitations and are unable to take a leap of faith. We live in a world where we all have to take risks, whether it is career choice or a life choice. You must have an entrepreneurial spirit. Courage doesn’t mean that you should be fearless. It is more about having the guts to explore new ideas, to venture into areas that are new to you, to delve into experiments and new experiences.

And then empathy is another important trait to me. One must be empathetic enough to understand the teammate’s situation. It also means that are you interested to know and understand other people’s perspectives and are open to collaborate with them.

Please share some memorable experiences during the two decades of your career.

My most memorable experiences include investing in myself. I have always made choices in my career that are off the beaten path. I made a decision that I didn’t want to be an engineer, and perhaps that was a critical decision of my life. My family thought that I was scared of the IIT JEE exam. I am really proud that I didn’t opt for engineering. I understand how finance and HR work together in collaboration, and can make any organization successful.

One thing I really followed in my life is to learn what I don’t know. I have done lots of courses and certifications in my life. During college as well, I studied thoroughly and built my foundation. The best way for upskilling is to know more. Strength of a building is determined by the strength of its foundation, which in this case is definitely education. I have always spent more time in reading and studying.

Creating a holistic experience is really a good way. For example, I started in IT services and then I became a quality HR executive and then I moved to learning and development and now I am working at Genpact. So, learning new things has always helped.


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