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Balmurali KB: Dynamic Veteran Adding More Human Element To HR

Balmurali KB: Dynamic Veteran Adding More Human Element To HR

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Balmurali KB,CPOThe CPO is a catalyst to channel an Organizations’ and the Board’s ethos or culture. The people leader undoubtedly plays a critical role in keeping an organization intact, thriving and future-ready. Moreover, he/she needs to have an overview of all aspects of business for smooth functioning. A particularly fine example of such a versatile leader is Balmurali KB, Chief People Leader at Transworld Group of Companies. Starting his career in 1994 as a trainee to working in managerial roles and leading the HR departments, he has become an expert in business strategy, macroeconomics, finance, risk management, talent acquisition, retention, and more. His experience across industries, global and strategic roles like handling M & A’s, Change management, and being a part of Management Steercoms from the early part of the career propelled the learning curve and provided a macro-management overview.

While adding the real human element to the HR department, he is dealing with different generations of people from diverse backgrounds, cross-cultural ruts from India and globally.

He has been fortunate to be a part of the transition of the HR function from labour to Human Capital since his journey began in 1994, when urbanisation was in its infancy.

Balmurali KB, former CPO of Transworld Group of Companies and new Group COO, addresses the history, present, and future of HR in an exclusive interview with CEO Insights.

Brief us on your educational and professional background. How has the learnings helped you in your journey so far?
I am a Commerce Graduate and Post-Graduate in Labour Studies from Mumbai University. Subsequently, have completed a course in ‘Driving Corporate Performance’ from the Harvard Business School.

This apart, I have done some MDP’s from IIM’s, Isha Foundation, etc. On
the professional front, my experience spreads across Aviation, ITES, Shipping, and Logistics.

My professional experience and qualifications have given me a competitive advantage and enabled me to see the market from a broader perspective that is not limited to the HR domain. Every role of a company is like an interconnected wheel, and its consequences have a large impact on the whole organisation.

What different roles have you been undertaking at Transworld group of companies?
Transworld's Higher Purpose is "Delivering Prosperity," not just to shareholders but also to the whole community of our team members, partners, and society as a whole. There is a harmony between the CPO role and the business when top management is associated with this feeling. Transworld's management is really concerned about its employees, and I was asked to design a joyful workplace.

What were the challenges at Transworld that taught you some crucial lessons of CPO functions?
I have been working from both India and Dubai, where we are headquartered. We have offices across the globe, presence in different locations in India and staff working ashore, and also sailing crew on our ships. Working simultaneously from 2 countries, handling a multi-functional and cross-cultural business scenario with different product lines was a learning curve.

‘THE HUMAN’ element is what drives our fundamental belief and HR should not lose sight of this important aspect amid all initiatives and digitalization


The global market for HR is expanding, with its current value in the market. How do see opportunities and the market evolution in India?
HR has evolved from Labour to Personnel to Human Capital Management. HR fraternity has moved out being a support function bracket to claiming the chair on the Board room.

However, the key is ability and alacrity to Change. Like Parenting has been undergoing a transformation over generations, Human management and approach has to adapt and change to relevant times.
In my opinion, a few of the opportunities for HR are utilizing AI and Blockchain, movement towards sourcing of candidates from non-tier 1 cities, data-driven decision, and redesigning of the inclusive workforce.

Illustrate the transformational measures carried out at Transworld. Also, tell us how you are integrating technology in the HR process.
Digitalization has recently been identified as a core driver of the market process. We also partnered with Oracle on a global initiative called 'Innovation in Motion,' which digitalizes the whole end-to-end process to provide our clients and employees with a smooth modern experience. Transformation in mindsets, acceptability of changed process, adaptability was the key goalposts which HR had to accomplish.

Our HR function is digitalized. We have a Digital library, where staff can access thousands of books and materials. Due to the pandemic, the digital pro-cess has gained momentum. Employee engagement and employee feedback are one of the major avenues, where we have gone completely digital, using tools such as e-learning platforms, survey tools, Microsoft teams, etc.

“My professional experience and qualifications have given me a competitive advantage and enabled me to see the market from a broader perspective that is not limited to the HR domain. Every role of a company is like an interconnected wheel, and its consequences have a large impact on the whole organisation”

Balmurali KB, Chief People Officer(CPO), Transworld Group
Leaders note on the milestones that bestowed him satisfaction
To play a part along with other teams in navigating the organization through this turbulent Pandemic time and Transworld still maintaining the Market leadership position has been most satisfying.

Transworld to be rated by professional agencies consistently as one of ‘Best Places to Work’ amongst premier Organizations is a testimony of our Management Ethos and People culture.

In my earlier assignments, some of the key milestones have been retaining the back – offices in India after a merger and facing global competition for the transition of work, being a part of setting up Organizations right from scratch and setting up a global network, and thriving business, handling volatile IR situations and bonding with local villagers in an infra project, ensuring smooth operations and a conducive work atmosphere.

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