Past Events

Future of Work Conference: Discovering the ‘Secret Sauce’

AMCHAM’s HR Committee organized a conference on Future of Work: Discovering the ‘Secret Sauce’ on May 2nd, 2024 at the Leela Palace, Bengaluru. Ms. Ranjana Khanna, Director General CEO, AMCHAM welcomed dignitaries and delegates. In her welcome remarks, she spoke about the Future of Jobs Report 2023 and the economic, health and geopolitical trends that have created divergent outcomes for labour markets globally last year. She also spoke about the importance of human-centric work designs at workplaces. Dr. Kiranmai Dutt Pendyala, Chairperson – HR Committee, AMCHAM and Corporate Vice President, Human Resources, UPS Global Technology Center, India set the scene and spoke about the coexistence of growth and challenges. While talking about the theme, she stated that there is no magic formula for success but it is important to align objectives with business strategy. She also extended her gratitude to the government for its focused policy framework. Ms. Uma Mahadevan, Additional Chief Secretary, Panchayat Raj and Skill Development, Entrepreneurship & Livelihood, Government of Karnataka gave the keynote address on Vision 2047. Ms. Mahadevan while referring to the ‘secret sauce,’ spoke about the importance of continuous learning and to always move ahead. She drew a comparison between what India has achieved and where it was at the time of independence. India has come a long way and is now a global powerhouse. She mentioned the unique, exciting, and challenging phase for the country where the young workable population are digital natives. The future growth story must be sustainable with areas like services, AI, technology, knowledge led sectors, ESG, etc. Ms. Mahadevan reiterated the importance of women participation in the workforce and advocated workplace enablers for bringing positive gender norms. She also enumerated various initiatives undertaken by the Government of Karnataka for promoting skilling, particularly digital skilling, which has made the state number one in the digital economic index. Other initiatives include going digital in rural Karnataka, self-help groups, life skills, train the trainers, a POSH act training skills summit and making workplaces ‘people friendly.’ Mr. Samrat Sarkar, Co-Chairman – HR Committee, AMCHAM and Director – Human Resources, Boston Scientific India gave the vote of thanks and accredited the organizations who can analyze trends, network with stakeholders and are insightful. He spoke about the power of AI in HR.


The first sectoral session on ‘IT/ITES: AI – Real or Myth’ featured Mr. Thirukkumaran Nagarajan, Vice President and Head HR, IBM India/South Asia, Dr. Rajita Singh, Chief People Officer, Kyndryl India as panelists with Mr. Chaitanya Sreenivas, VP HR, Strategic Initiatives, Aptiv as moderator. The panel discussed the impact of AI on business and HR, changing hiring patterns, developments to the job market with higher and niche skills, use cases in HR, how the entire HR ecosystem has changed with special focus on AI, ML, bots and NextGen technologies. The panel also touched upon the effect of AI on the skilling ecosystem and the mindset shift.


It was followed by a special address by Dr. Ekroop Caur, Secretary, Department of Electronics, Information Technology, Biotechnology, and Science & Technology, Government of Karnataka. She spoke about the thriving GCC ecosystem in Karnataka and the policy support provided by the government. She mentioned the state’s focus on education, talent development and skilling initiatives that are proving to be the big differentiators. American GCCs are continuously opting for Bengaluru as the number one location for establishing captive units outside of their home country. Dr. Caur shared the work being carried under the skill development council and the ten working groups specializing on certain domains. She reiterated the importance of industry partnerships and certifications. She also spoke about ‘women in the workforce,’ beyond Bengaluru initiative and AI.


The second sectoral session, ‘Healthcare: HR of the Future’ featured Ms. Bhargavi Kakunuri, HR Leader, MSD India, Mr. Narasimha Reddy, Director, Human Resources, Parexel International and Mr. Pradeep Kumar, Senior Director, Human Resources – Southeast Asia & South Asia, Teleflex Medical Private Limited. Mr. Samrat Sarkar, Co-Chairman – HR Committee, AMCHAM and Director – Human Resources, Boston Scientific India moderated the panel which deliberated upon CEO’s expectations from the human resources functions in present times, future of work over the next 5-10 years, priorities for HR in building organizations, the prospect of HR function in the next decade, opportunities in HR to leverage AI to improve efficiencies and grow performance and future skills for HR professionals that they could start developing from today. The panel also talked about culture driving innovation, wellbeing, pace of transformation and the tone from the top.


A fireside chat on ‘Employment Landscape in India: Legal Perspective’ with Ms. Saraswathi Kasturirangan, Chief Happiness Officer and Partner, Tax, Deloitte and Mr. Atul Gupta, Partner – Corporate, Labour and Employment, Trilegal, discussed key changes from the proposed labour codes that will impact how employers structure their employment policies, pay and benefits, conflicts between central and state laws, exemption on standing orders, key legal challenges of remote work, and international worker issue and social security agreements. Key takeaways from the chat included complexities of labour related compliances given the multiplicity of and the conflict between central and state legislations, and hybrid and remote working situations in organizations. With Labour Codes just round the corner, it would be important for organizations to understand the provisions, identify the potential impact areas and work towards a better state of readiness. With labour related non-compliances generally handled by multiple teams within an organization, the need to be coordinated was stressed as non-compliances could attract undue attention from authorities and impact the brand of the organization as well.


Session three ‘GCCs: Enhancing Employee Experience: Agile Leadership’ had the following speakers: Ms. Ridhimaa Ralhan, Director – India Market Unit HR Lead, Accenture in India, Ms. Zarina Kadkol, Head – HR, Cargill Business Services, Mr. Ayaskant Sarangi, Chief Human Resource Officer, Mphasis and Ms. Hani Mukhey, Senior Director of the People Success Practice, Zinnov with Dr. Kiranmai Dutt Pendyala, Chairperson – HR Committee, AMCHAM and Corporate Vice President, Human Resources, UPS Global Technology Center, India as the moderator. The panel discussed the importance of attracting the right talent, the secret sauce of onboarding to enhance employee experience and the associated roadblocks encountered during the life cycle stage of an employee. They also discussed talent acquisition, talent engagement and retention. Speakers shared challenges involved and how their respective organization navigated through them to ensure employee experience was not eroded. Speakers shared their experiences which helped in creating happy workplaces and the importance of skill development.


Ms. Gunjan Krishna, Commissioner for Industrial Development & Director of Industries & Commerce, Government of Karnataka, in her special address, shared thoughts around the significance of emotional intelligence and resilience while navigating the AI driven future landscape. She also discussed high potential areas such as AI, digital platforms, entertainment, psychology, and environmental sciences. As a prelude to the conference, AMCHAM invited entries from member companies across three categories – DEI initiatives at the workplace, enhancing EVP and employee experience journey at the workplace and skilling/upskilling initiatives at the workplace. Basis content, clarity, data, initiatives the following were selected for recognition: Accenture (for DEI), Broadridge (for EVP) and S&P Global (for skilling).


Dr. Vasundhra Atre, Associate Director Medical Services, Manipal Hospital gave an expert talk on ‘Mind Matters.’ She shared data around India Inc.’s hidden mental health problem. In her talk, she covered the three pillars of health – mental, physical, and social wellbeing. She also discussed the eight dimensions of wellness, role of stress in our lives and tools to survive. Dr. Atre shared insights into the burn out syndrome and discussed ways to promote psychological safety in workplaces.


Dr. Kiranmai Dutt Pendyala, Chairperson – HR Committee, AMCHAM and Corporate Vice President, Human Resources, UPS Global Technology Center, India and Mr. Samrat Sarkar, Co-Chairman – HR Committee, AMCHAM and Director – Human Resources, Boston Scientific India gave concluding remarks. Over 80 members participated in the conference which was supported by Trilegal and Boston Scientific India.