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India HR and Talent Leaders Meet in Mumbai to Discuss HR Trends Affecting South Asia

Hosted by: Credit Suisse Abbott Laboratories Bank of America Merrill Lynch Cognizant

The Chapman Consulting Group was involved in five HR networking sessions in Mumbai this week, bringing together some of the highest calibre members of our HR alumni in Mumbai but also from other parts of India such as Hyderabad, Pune, Bangalore and New Delhi. Over two busy days on 20 and 21 January, The Chapman Consulting Group met with more than 100 specially invited HR Leaders and Talent Heads to share India and Asia Pacific HR information. It was a very successful two days, and it was great to connect with many of our HR friends and to welcome into our network some high potential new ones.


The Chapman Consulting Group co-hosted three session on “Leadership Matters” with Organisation Solutions at the offices of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse and Abbott Laboratories. These three sessions were a continuation of the “Good Science Great Practice” series that The Chapman Consulting Group and Organisation Solutions have collaborated on to build HR learning communities across the Asia Pacific region.

In 2010, sessions were hosted in China, Hong Kong and Singapore. In 2011, these sessions are being run on a three monthly-basis in Singapore and Hong Kong, and twice a year in China and India. The three separate sessions bought together Banking Talent Heads, Non-Banking Talent Heads and Non-Banking HR Leaders from around the market, with around twenty HR or Talent Leaders in each session.


The Chapman Consulting Group delivered a ‘Quarter One 2011 Asia Pacific and India HR Update’ at separate functions hosted again by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Cognizant. The function at Bank of America Merrill Lynch involved sixteen of India’s highest profile banking HR Leaders. The final session at Cognizant brought together around twenty-five high potential HR practitioners based in the Worli area of Mumbai.

At the three Leadership Matters sessions, Dr James Eyring, COO of Organisation Solutions, spoke about the characteristics that make a great leader, the pros and cons of a variety of leadership styles, and the tangible ability that leaders can have to impact company performance. The three sessions were extremely lively, with India-based HR leaders engaging in debate particularly around the discussion of transformational and transitional leadership styles, the importance of networking for leaders to ‘get ahead’ and the relevance (or not) of 360 degree appraisals. In the ‘Quarter One 2011 Asia Pacific and HR Update’ presentations delivered by Matthew Chapman, Managing Director of The Chapman Consulting Group, the attention shifted to the changing market dynamics for HR talent of both the combined Asia Pacific region and also India. He spoke about increased movement of HR talent between geographies within the region, the critical shortage of specialist HR talent in some of the HR specialisations and continual reorganisation of HR delivery models and geographical markets. Both presentations at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and also Cognizant prompted discussion among the participants on the issues raised.

The key takeaways from the sessions, in terms of the India HR market, emerged as follows:

1) The “batch” concept in India, in terms of which business school the HR practitioner has come from and also the year of graduation, remains alive and well in India. Some say this can be a good thing, others say it limits the diversity of talent in leadership positions.

2) Retention of HR talent remains problematic, especially given India’s buoyant market. Country and Regional Leaders need to move high potential talent quickly between internal jobs and put people on international assignments to keep their competitors from getting at them. Creative thought is going into retention measures other than just offering higher salaries.

3) HR Leaders, while wanting to encourage international mobility, fear that HR talent moving away on assignments will not return to India due to the buoyancy of markets such as Singapore and Hong Kong, and the greater number of international career tracks on offer in those locations.

4) India is increasingly wanting to see itself as its ‘own’ region rather than wanting to sit under Asia Pacific, due to high global attention that is currently focused on the market. Some feel that the current regional reporting structure is an obstacle to effectively managing the South Asia region and in successfully managing up to global HR stakeholders.

5) Home-grown Indian conglomerates are becoming very competitive, and are luring in elite Indian HR talent. The key selling point seems to be the ability of HR talent, in the Indian set-ups, not to be constrained by operational work and matrix reporting structures often seen in multinationals.

6) Generation Y Indian HR talent are re-writing the career ‘rules’. They are keener on sabbaticals, want international mobility, are not so keen on HR specialist experience (preferring HR Business Partner roles) and may want a mid to long-term career in business rather than HR

7) Some regional APAC roles are shifting to India, not as a geographical trend but more as a way of retaining high potential employees or where India/South Asia is making up an increasingly bigger chunk of the region.

The Chapman Consulting Group will expand the next series of India-based HR networking sessions to Gurgaon and Bangalore, and details will be provided on the next dates shortly.


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Key Contributors:

Matthew Chapman
Matthew Chapman


Global Management
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Matthew Chapman
Global Management

Matthew Chapman


Matthew (Matt) Chapman is the Founder of ChapmanCG.

He has also created the Thrive HR Exchange, a global community platform for people leaders and HR professionals to find and exchange inspiration, ideas and insights. Discover some of his interviews with HR leaders here.

Matt has a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Business Law from the University of New South Wales, Australia. He is a Singapore Citizen and divides his time between Asia Pacific, the Americas and EMEA.

Matt is a wellness, self-improvement and fitness addict. He has completed six desert, 250km ultra-marathons in Chile, China, Egypt, Antarctica, Namibia and Madagascar.

EA Registration Number: R1111550 Licence Number: 08S3543