“If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat, just get on! That’s exactly what I did 5 years ago when I joined Darwinbox,” said Ramya Prasad, Global Presales Leader when we asked her about her decision to join Darwinbox.
Ramya was one of the early employees of Darwinbox and leads HR Solutions Advisory and Presales globally for Darwinbox. She works at the confluence of technology, people, and processes in driving change and transformation across clientele ranging from boutique hyper-growth startups to pan geographic conglomerates.
A Biotech engineer from VIT (Vellore Institute of Technology), Ramya is a versatile professional with over 10 years of experience spanning various segments of the business. She has consulting experience in technology, human capital management, change management, technology adoption, business process mapping, and organization & talent strategies.
Prior to joining Darwinbox, Ramya has worked on organizational development, technology transformation, and change management in organizations like Deloitte Consulting and Tata Consultancy Services.
We caught up with Ramya to learn more about her journey, here is the illuminating interview (edited for length and clarity):
Darwinbox: Businesses saw one of the worst imaginable periods pass; it showed the extent of what was possible, and every organization would be keen on being prepared for the future, come what may. What can organizations do on a people management front to make themselves crisis-proof?
Ramya: When leading the people function in an organization or even working as a people practitioner, every day is rife with change. Change can easily manifest into crisis. Be it sudden changes in the law that impact the very fabric of policies and technology that fuels the people function in an organization or microcosmic changes in organization structures or an impending external audit. Crises like COVID where companies had to contend with an externality that was (is) unprecedented allow for organizations to reflect and take stock on two fronts – agility and scalability.
Several organizations that we spoke to during the pandemic were seeking change aided by technology to be more agile, but they also wanted solutions to scale so they wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel if such a scenario were to arise in the future. Embracing technology is the key to managing crises in today’s digitally fuelled world. Something that is also important is for outcomes to be as self-serving as possible – be it with a self-service oriented HRMS or even with practitioners upskilling themselves on various fronts so that decision making, and implementation can be agile.
Darwinbox: How have you seen the uptake of HR digitalization in different industries?
Ramya: Across industries of late, the sentiment has been to get on the HR Digitization bandwagon. In the last 5 years, we have seen this transition from internet-savvy firms and start-ups leveraging technology to traditional behemoths wanting to leverage tech to deliver results. Conglomerates and companies that have operated in high-touch low-tech environments have realized that technology can help mitigate process deficiencies and help management visualize data and glean insights.
Industries have also realized that HR is no longer a support function – it is a function that has an indisputable seat at the table. More traditional firms are adopting HR Tech and HR Digital practices as we move into a paperless world. Today hiring statistics will tell you that across industries, we hire younger people – a generation that has grown up with intuitive apps like Uber and Instagram and hence come to expect technology in every facet of their life including work – to be as user-friendly and self-service oriented. To me, HR digitization across industries will soon become table stakes as we move into a more 'meta' world.
Darwinbox: You have consulting experience from Deloitte and head Pre-Sales in Darwinbox. Do you consider yourself a consultant or a salesperson? What are the differences and overlaps between the two mindsets?
Ramya: It’s about donning those two hats at the same time. In Presales one cannot be a good consultant without the savvy of being a good salesperson. As a salesperson, you are more of an Occam's Razor person – you see an opportunity and look at the easiest way to derive value from it. When you are a consultant, it is more a Hickam's Dictum kind of scenario where you cannot discount any factor or any scenario and must brace for ambiguity. Now ambiguity and entropy are scary words – and that is where a consultant must operate. In the niche of communicating that ambiguity and working around them with the savvy of a good salesperson. Differential diagnosis is the name of the game when you are in Pre-Sales.
It’s also particularly important not to get tunnel vision. The goal is to find a scalable solution to a given problem but as a Presales consultant you must let your mind meander into possibilities of “what if” and “what else”. If you were to pop open the brain of any Presales consultant, you’ll end up finding a complex decision tree flow chart where there is madness but a definite method to the madness in deriving a solution.
Darwinbox: You’ve been with Darwinbox since the beginning, you’ve seen it grow from a small team to a 700+ member organization. How, in your opinion, can organization that are scaling maintain the kind of culture they want to build and replicate it across the organization?
Ramya: The core ethos of any organization must not undergo a sea change with scale. What we call culture is nothing but a defined set of values that we abide by. When it is a small team or an organization, the measure of these cultural values is easy to comprehend but when the organization scales it is particularly important for us to keep our ear to the ground and gauge the pulse of employees across cultural parameters.
There are two key drivers to achieve cultural integrity at scale – leaders and people. The culture of the organization is often the kind of culture that the leaders in the organization espouse. As organizations become bigger, the pedestal on which leaders are placed gets higher, so it is incumbent upon leaders to uphold cultural values and become examples to the newer generation of employees who join. People are equally if not more responsible for the organization’s culture being stellar. As organizations scale, it is important for leaders to impress upon people not to let go of the building blocks of culture and for the people to view their day-to-day organizational life from the lens of these building blocks and of course most importantly be happy to come into work every day.
Thank you for sharing your story and journey, Ramya! And for all the readers if you are looking to also set foot on a Rocketship, do check our Careers Page for the recent job openings.