11 Aug 2017 15:58 IST

‘Equanimity, poise and humility can make work more fulfilling’

Pay heed to conscience, said S Ramesh Shankar of Siemens India, while addressing LIBA students

It was an enlightening experience for the students of Loyola Institute of Business Administration, Chennai, when S Ramesh Shankar, Executive Vice President, South Asia Cluster and Country HR Head, Siemens India addressed them on August 8. The Beyond Management Initiative hosted the interactive session, that was on the very relevant topic ‘Campus to Corporate: An holistic approach’.

Shankar traced the challenges one is likely to encounter in the course of a transition from the portals of an academic ambience to the diversity of a workplace. His overarching theme was, “Equanimity, poise and humility to unlearn and relearn can help change perspectives and find work and relationships more fulfilling.”

The importance of nurturing a personal brand to stand out and excel, while at the same time effectively be a team contributor was juxtaposed as a paradox, which is, nevertheless, a reality. The ability to ponder over, and pay heed to, our conscience, was highlighted. He also said, “Ethics and integrity is an outcome of this attitude, and can guarantee true long term success.”

Individuals making the switch from campus to corporate will also experience a gamut of emotions, Shankar pointed out, adding, “These are not meant to be feared but enjoyed completely. There is a lot to look forward to in the corporate world and people need to make the most of these experiences.”

This was followed by a Q&A session, where Shankar answered queries put forth by the audience.

You talk about the sound of silence. When looked at from a different perspective, it could also be interpreted as loneliness. Have you ever felt such a silence in your life?

Silence can teach you a lot and this is something I have learned from my father who, though a very silent person, imbibed in me the virtue of patience. Silence can actually help you get through many tricky situations in life. Yes, it will make you feel lonely but it is during this period that you will get valuable insights into how certain situations can be handled better.

I often have a conversation with God during my silent hours where I ask him, “Why me?”. And then I realise I am not the only one in the world in such a situation. Silence is what helps build such an environment, and that is why every religion preaches meditation.

How can we club individualistic and collectivist culture to help us grow without affecting the feelings of those around us?

Sports is a good example of this scenario, a case in point being the recent achievements of the Indian Women’s cricket team. There were some wonderful individual performances, where the ladies played not for themselves but for the collective good of the team — it was not their individual targets and achievements but the common goal of the team that they were working towards.

When you start to think that your individual excellence is of greater importance than the excellence of the team, then no person or leader would want you as a part of their set up. You need to find the right balance between personal excellence and team achievement. This is something that can only be born out of experience.

How do we appreciate our job even in the toughest of situations?

You need to have a passion for whatever you do in life. When you love something and are passionate about it, you will always find the time to do it. Admire all that you see around you, admire the beauties of nature and you will find yourself appreciating all that you are involved in.

Unlike specialisations like sales and finance, HR often feels a disconnect between what is learnt in theory and what is applied in real life. How would you address this?

I would like to disagree with this observation. A job is something that exists within an organisation but what you make of it is characterised by what you bring to the table. We often tend to shy away from making any kind of innovation because we are afraid that it will lead to severe negative consequences.

At Siemens, we recently came up with an innovation. It was observed that the employees do not give too much attention to their health. So we introduced something called a ‘healthy break’, where employees do specific exercises at their desks twice a day.

These exercises are prescribed by professionals over the PA system. Innovation is the most important ingredient that helps keep everyone motivated. If you are ready to take the risk, you significantly increase your chances of getting recognised.

What are some of the key success factors that help achieve high employee retention?

There is a simple solution to this — when the personal value of an individual matches the values that are central to the organisation, it gives rise to a healthy relationship and employees tend to stay behind.

At Siemens, we believe in three core values — excellence, responsibility, and fairness. If an employee believes in most of these values and considers them as integral to his own self, he is more likely to remain with Siemens. Professionals usually leave when there is a clash of values because money cannot retain a person beyond a certain point.