Vivek Punekar

“While hiring, the most important quality that companies must never compromise on is integrity. Leaders with integrity will build a motivated team of winners. This is an essential ingredient for building a culture of sustained success in an organization. The same applies when a company enters a relationship with other companies or an individual, whether for a tactical or a longer-term relationship. If the synergy on values and ethics is compromised, this is a recipe for the demise of the business, in such scenarios the role of a trusted interlocutor can prove a deal maker or breaker.”

A seasoned business leader with diverse industry experience in IT, Education, Distribution and HR Services. He is especially passionate about Business & Leadership transformation, especially in a Startup-Scale Up ecosystem.

In Conversation

Q 1. What is the highest pressure situation you faced and how did you handle it?
Hiring first non-promoter CEO for HCL & managing the entire People Function for next 2-3 years (managing change)
I would not call it as pressure situation, but very challenging.

It had to be highly confidential & we had to manage all internal stakeholders.
The charter given was sub-40 young leader where our management council had veterans with 25-30 years’ experience. We managed this with meticulous planning and with total ownership & commitment to get best in the world talent for organisation. This was only half job done.

Next 2-3 years was even more challenging. New CEO came up with many “change management” initiatives & programs. We were already a LOS organisation (Large-Old-Successful) where change management is a challenge. We managed the entire change management with lots of courage, conviction & ownership. Personally, I was committed to partner with CEO as an integrated part of change management process & this helped us to drive change successfully.

Q 2. Your experience has spanned across all aspects of business – Sales, Support Services, etc. how did these help you as an HR leader?
Role of HR Leader is to advise Organisation on People matters. HR Leader is also the custodian of organisation culture. When I moved to HR, after 18 years of experience in line functions, I could relate to all strategic areas of HR – foundation like Vision-Mission & more importantly the culture of HCL. I could related to business & my role as Business Partner. I could also easily relate to key tenets of HR like People Acquisition, People Development, People Management/Performance & People Engagement. We, along with my passionate team, created People Roadmap for next 3-5 years. We did better in execution, even bettering our own roadmap goals.

HCL was “Best Employer” during 2002-2014 in IDC- DataQuest surveys.

Q 3. What is the most painful experience as an HR Head in your career?
We had many senior folks in the company, only company they served. They grew in the organisation – from Trainee to GM levels. At this stage, some of them started struggling – in terms of scaling up – not ready for next positions.

We tried hard to coach them through various development programs. We could only succeed only 5-7%. In a way, when we had to get our next CEO, we had no successor from internal pool. This is also a painful for me as CHRO.

Q 4. What is the one area which is missed out in our education and which is mandatory for development of successful leaders and entrepreneurs?
3 things are required in India
  • Doing business with ethics
  • Innovation to be the best in the world (and not satisfied with best in town/state/india)
  • Discipline, discipline, discipline – a culture of process & systems

Q 5. What qualities do you perceive as essential in leaders for organisational development in today’s business environment?
  • Values & ethics
  • Innovation to be the best in the world
  • Inspiring people for execution