Before three years, Tarun Gupta put forward the top management of the Mahindra Group with an idea for the digitalization process. Tarun was then 29, was with the used-car business of the group, Mahindra First Choice, and his suggestion was to create a service station aggregator which would help vehicle owners to pick a garage. Mahindra First Choice was already into car servicing, so it was meant to be a digital extension of the already flourished business. Last year, finally the venture took off but lately, and Gupta is now the CEO of, a 30-employee strong startup, Carworkz.
Gupta told ET that it's a myth that large companies do not prefer new ideas. "Yes, they take time to come to a decision, but if you persist and suggest a good business case, they can be convinced."
The head of HR and member of the Mahindra Group executive board, Rajeev Dubey said, "The digital age is considerably accelerating the careers of the young set, and they want to make a difference and we're glad to support them. Apart from Carworkz, the group has many other internal startups."
The management style of Tarun is typical of the digital area. He is exited conducting online meetings on WhatsApp. He does not gives detailed instructions and allows team members to work things out on their own. And he's no fan of the Mahindra Group's age-old processes and procedures. He said "What really excites people of my generation is the disruptive power of technology. Established practices don't have to continue. We want to change the game, break the norms".
The corporates are making an effort to bring young workers to the front, realizing the value that they add in the digital age. At L&T Technology Services, the R&D services subsidiary of engineering giant Larsen & Toubro, experience has always tended to command a premium. Today, the situation is changing, with the younger crop of workers being given opportunities unheard of in the past. For instance, the company's CEO Club, whose members are selected through a lengthy process managed by PwC, now has a 29-year-old engineer.
For chief human resources officer, L&T Technology Services, Paneesh Rao, this development is a source of pride. "Young people are now being recognized early. They are the ones coming up with new ideas. Increasingly, the role of the experienced engineers is to validate these ideas," he said.
As L&T has done, put a 29-year-old on par with people in the 35-40 age group, calls for some deft change management, but Rahul Guha, partner and director at The Boston Consulting Group, said most corporates are not up to it. "They are limited by their own incumbency and their legacy structures. Not every company can have a separate digital business. The only way for them to attract and retain new talent is to create agile sub-structures within functions like marketing, operations and finance," he said.
With companies like Flipkart and Amazon attracting the best of new-age talent, the manufacturing sector does have work cut out for itself. The global head of HR at Dr Reddy's Laboratories (DRL), S Chandrasekhar said,” We have to proactively attract millennials". "They don't know we have so much of digital at play. IT companies exist because non-IT companies like DRL use their products in factories and laboratories. We need to communicate this to those who think we are old school."
The HR department at DRL, is playing a role in spreading the digital culture, with a mobile phone app that takes care of attendance, leave, travel and reimbursements, among other functions. The only area where an app has not worked is in performance management. It introduced an app through which employees could give real-time feedback and suggestions, whenever the company switched from annual performance appraisals to continuous feedback. Unlike the other HR apps, it was never adopted widely. "The performance management apps available in the market are just not user-friendly. They don't interlock with other systems effectively," said Chandrasekhar.
Banking is one sector that has taken the lead in promoting digital technologies. Four years ago, HDFC Bank set up a digital banking division, which now has over 100 workers, with specializations ranging from coding and programme management to design, banking and marketing. Together, they are responsible for putting out updates to the bank's mobile banking app and also the introduction of a humanoid in the bank's Kamala Mills branch in Mumbai.
Nitin Chugh, Digital Banking head of HDFC, stressed on another trait of the digital set, which is crucial to making his division effective. "We have an agile way of working, which is all about collaboration," he said. ", We have to collaborate with various other departments, when we work on a project such as legal, security, compliance. Just because of technology and culture, we are a fairly connected organization."
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