Kumar Vivek: Driving The Thought Leadership For The Next Decade In HR | CEOInsights Vendor
Kumar Vivek: Driving The Thought Leadership For The Next Decade In HR

Kumar Vivek: Driving The Thought Leadership For The Next Decade In HR

 Kumar Vivek,  HR Head

Kumar Vivek

HR Head

Imagine a workplace where employees enter not just to earn a pay check, but with hope and a genuine smile a workplace where they stay not just waiting for the next Appraisals, but to find warmth in the culture and opportunities for growth and a workplace where they are not just boxed into one size-fits-all HR programs, but where they get customized programs catering to their individual roadmaps. It is in the realization that ‘People inherently value Personalization’ Vivek is on a mission to redefine the employee experience and transform the landscape of human resources.

With a robust background in law and a subsequent transition into Human Resources, Vivek has traversed a remarkable professional journey. He commenced his career at Symbiosis Law School, Pune and eventually transitioned to the corporate world. His early career milestone was marked by his association with TPG, which owns a hypermarket retail chain in India. Starting as a Management Trainee, he grew to a Senior Executive position within HR, where he collaborated with senior business leaders to learn the ropes of managing Learning and Development, HR Business Partnerships, and Talent Acquisition.

Driven by a desire to make a more tangible impact within smaller, nimble environments, Vivek transitioned to the start-up ecosystem. Notably, he also consulted for two companies in South Africa and the United States from 2021 to 2022. Let’s hear more from him.

Please share some insights into your current role at Attentive AI.
My responsibilities here are diverse, with approximately 50 percent dedicated to strategic initiatives focused on improving employee experience, talent management, and coaching. I spend 40 percent of my time on operational activities, and 10 percent on tactical work in collaboration with the founders. We at Attentive, prefer to call our
team, 'Employee Experience', rather than the traditional ‘HR’. Notably, we've taken the right steps to successfully implement a performance management framework using OKRs to cultivate a high-performance culture and improve feedback mechanisms across hierarchies. Our company culture nurtures a fun and engaging work environment, working towards making employees happy and productive.

Highlight the significant challenges you've encountered.
Start-up culture is heavily influenced by the C-Suite's thought processes. Surprisingly, many C-Suite executives who go looking for issues in the current culture are not self-aware enough to realize that their company's existing culture is a mere reflection of their own personalities. This lack of awareness is quite a challenge.

I don’t aspire to be a Great Leader, but a Good Man!

Another significant challenge I've faced is convincing key stakeholders, particularly the founding teams, of the strategic importance of HR initiatives. While HR is often seen as a department that simply consumes resources, it is now increasingly clear that it is also a strategic powerhouse that has a significant impact on both revenue and profitability. The challenge always lies in quantifying the intangible nature of HR initiatives, as is with everything intangible in the world. Creating logical, data-driven processes and metrics to show case the ROI has been daunting.

To address these issues, one of the approaches I have adopted is to gain a thorough understanding of the founders' mindset and motivations. I have also conducted organizational diagnoses of People, Process and Purpose to understand the company's unique needs. This has allowed me to connect with the founders on a business level and communicate the importance of HR initiatives more effectively.

Furthermore, Customization is key. Not all initiatives fit every company, and demographics of the workforce, plays a significant role. Tailoring HR programs to align with the companys unique heterogenous mixture of talent is crucial. I've leveraged best practices by drawing parallels from the industry. I maintain a strong network within my
fraternity, allowing me to gather insights on what works well for others. I then present these insights in a data-driven, customized format to gain approval from the founders.

Describe your leadership ethics for a conducive workforce.
First, integrity is paramount, where doing what's right is a guiding principle. It forms the foundation of trust within the team and fosters a sense of reliability. Second, communication is key. Start-ups need clear communication channels to thrive, and they struggle massively when communication is poor. Frequent, clear, and transparent communication ensures that everyone understands the common vision and goals. This requires planned check points of interventions to ensure that every one is aligned.

Third, walk the talk. The leadership needs to display through actions, what they expect from everyone. People at the bottom of the pyramid are the real executors. Spending time with them, supporting them and showing how it’s done, makes you their role model, which translates into performance. Finally, empathy. Showing kindness and compassion to your team members can go a long way in building trust and morale. It’s quintessential for creating a psychologically safe workplace.

What is the future destination you are headed towards?
My career so far has been about experimentation and curiosity, and long-term planning was never my thing. I've moved across sectors to understand what works and what adds value. My short-term plan, roughly for the next one to two years, is to drive thought leadership in HR. This may take time, but I believe in taking incremental steps to improve. As we believe this is India’s decade, we should generate ideas that cater to our unique context and culture, rather than blindly following Western corporate practices which may not fit into our scheme of things. I aim to document my startup journey, draw inferences, and build principles that work for India's corporate ecosystem.

Kumar Vivek, HR Head, Attentive Ai
Vivek has immersed himself in diverse startup experiences, both as an employee and a consultant. His unique position allowed him to closely engage with founders and co-founders, gaining deep insights into the synergy between HR and business operations.

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