To grow as professionals and on an individual level, we must push our boundaries, keep taking on new & difficult tasks and challenge ourselves every day, CMD (Additional Charge) and Director (HR) Dr Alka Mittal said on 24 February 2022. The CMD was speaking during a session on “Aspirations and strategies: CHRO to CEO, challenges and opportunities” at the 24th National Conference of National HRD Network being organized from 23 – 26 February 2022. The event was graced by the presence of business leaders from across the country and attended by professionals from a diverse background.
ONGC CMD & Director (HR) Dr Alka Mittal speaking during 24th National Conference of NHRD Network
The CMD deliberated on the theme of the national conference -- Metamorphosis of Human Resources – and said that it calls all to grow in their respective domains. She said that as you work in your field, you start growing more and more confident in my actions without realizing it. “You learn multi-tasking, leadership qualities and management. A few years after I started working, I realized that I can make a difference,” she said. Dr Mittal added that when she joined ONGC, the oil and gas exploration and production business was a men’s bastion.
However, she also noted that ONGC was one of the companies that started hiring more and more women early on, employing a major resource for nation building.
Speaking about her personal experience, she said that all eyes were on her when she took over as the CMD of ONGC. “I was the first HR leader to become CMD of the organization. The world was looking at me, because I was also the first woman to hold this position. I am still in the classroom and learning how to navigate through the role and the responsibilities that come with it,” Dr Mittal said. She highlighted that it is important to have supportive and encouraging seniors for personal and professional growth. Similarly, she said it is equally important to always be firm and polite with your colleagues.
Aviva India CEO & MD Amit Malik, one of the panelists in the session, supported Dr Mittal’s statement and mentioned that he also had very supportive colleagues, which proved to be very helpful in his careers’ trajectory. He said that individual success is both an opportunity and challenge. Mr Malik said that it is important to inculcate a learner’s mind and ensure that we are able to have new learning every day in a field that is outside our comfort zone.
Sharing an instance, Dr Mittal said that she dedicatedly prepares for every Board Meeting she chairs. “I am always looking at issues the company is facing. I am living the Board Meeting every day while preparing for it by going through the documents and understanding the underlying issues,” she said. The CMD said that study Corporate Governance during her PHD helped her settle in her new role.
“India is growing at a fast pace. We are the third largest energy consumers in the world and the energy demand is expected to grow further. ONGC is picking up the mantle and ramping up its operations to ensure energy security of our growing nation,” the CMD said.
Talking about out of work experience that shaped her, she said she observed that women in Gujarat were free in voicing their goals and opinions. “I saw them evolving and building on their aspirations. The house maid I had there once told me that she wants to own a business someday. That was inspirational. I realized that we need to dream and keep those dreams alive during our career to turn them into reality,” she said.
“ONGC has representation from all corners of the country. It gives us so much better understanding of the nation. That is why, when the government came up with Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav initiative, we took up 15 projects to promote art and craft across the country. We remain an integrated part of India and it gives us tremendous pleasure when we help others. Most of our operations are in rural areas, so, we take up a lot of CSR and other initiatives to help the people in our operational areas,” she said.
The CMD said that she was constantly encouraged by her family to ambitiously pursue a prosperous career. As an HR professional, she said “These days, youngsters switch jobs when they feel they are stagnating or not learning. We need to ensure our employees are constantly learning and growing both personally and professionally.” She said that she has taken up various initiative for skill development within the organization and fast-tracked promotions to retain young professionals. She also said that she would like to add one custom holiday for all employees as per their choice, be it on their birthday, their marriage anniversary, etc. as a present from the company on their special occasion.
When asked about her future plans, the CMD shared that she would like to continue learning and reading. “I also have a passion of making a difference on ground for the people who have missed out on the development journey of the nation. In the long run, I would like to work on assisting senior citizens and women empowerment. The nation is missing out on a major resource, its women workforce,” she said.
Host of the session, Gainwell Commosales Private Limited Group Chief People Officer & Group Head Marketing Sujoy Banerjee noted that empowering women to join the workforce is true nation building. All the business leaders in the session emphasized in unison the importance of mental health and well-being, and underlined what organizations should be doing for better mental health of their employees.
Mr Malik said that professionals should focus on constantly upgrading their skills to grow in their careers. “I have always tried to continuously learn and grow. I have taken many courses and trainings to reskill myself. I was always interested in sales and customer relations. Often, my HR colleagues thought I was pushing the perspective of sales department more than that of HR,” he said.
He added that as I child, he had changed seven schools in 12 years, which made him more adaptable to different situation, helped him become more social and enabled him to develop relationships with people very quickly. “Thanks to my personal experiences, I also learned how to lead in an environment without any authority,” Mr Malik said. He noted that men also have to maintain a balance in their work and personal life. Responding to a question about his future goals, he said he would like to spend some time working on increasing the financial literacy of the common Indian.