The third FMCC Human Capital Forum, held in the Capital on April 18, 2009, discussed all aspects at the HR front – from cost rationalisation and how it should be done to people management in these tough times to the road ahead. exchange4media brings a detailed coverage of the event.
The Human Capital Forum was organised by Futuristix Media Communication Center (FMCC), India’s leading media, advertising, communication and journalism school in its 6th year. Star News was the presenting sponsor for the Forum, while exchange4media was the media partner. PR partner was Mavcomm Consulting and the event was designed and executed by Anushree Ramchandani of Angus & Grapher for FMCC.
The event commenced with a welcome note by Anurag Batra, MD and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media Group, followed by a keynote address by strategic communication consultant PV Narayanmoorthy.
People management and its intricacies in a downturn
The first session of the Forum focused on managing manpower during the economic downturn. The panelists included Gauri Sarin, Founder & President, Approach International; Geetanjali Pandit, Corporate Head - Talent Engagement, Indian Express Group; Lancelot Cutinha, Vice President – Human Resources, Big FM; Preet Dhupar, Director, Finance & Operations, BBC Worldwide; Rajneesh Singh, Group Head HR, Network 18; Sanjay Thapar, Group President – North & East, Ogilvy; and Vinay Hebbar, Managing Director, Harvard Business Publishing, India. Shruti Verma Singh, Division Head & Editor, Special Programming NDTV Lifestyle, moderated the session.
The session began with a case study presentation on Naked Communication by Shruti Verma Singh, following which she posed the question to the panelists as to how to keep people motivated in times of a slowdown.
Replying to the question, Geetanjali Pandit explained, “Conviction and passion are the only methods that we follow in the Express Group, where we are creating a performance dividend culture. We’ve always believed that only if our people are happy can we achieve our goals, and for that, better communication is the key.”
Preet Dhupar noted, “We seek to have a work-life balance in our organisation to face this situation.” She explained this in terms of ‘ACE’ – that is ‘A’ for alignment, ‘C’ for capability and ‘E’ for engaging.
Pointing out that layoffs were taking place in every industry, Lancelot Cutinha stressed on the need to create an environment of learning, wherein a CEO could take some time out to train the staff.
Sanjay Thapar of Ogilvy, too, stressed on training and said that there was no need to slash the training budget. “We don’t need to terminate people, we can ask them for their suggestions,” he added.
Though Rajneesh Singh of Network18 was not present at the Forum, he shared his views via video conferencing and said, “We must believe in transparency a better corporate culture. The only way to motivate our people is through communication and communication alone.”
Salary cuts Vs layoffs – Is there a better solution?
The second session of the Forum discussed the issue of salary cuts and layoffs. The session, moderated by Noor Fathima Warsia, Senior Assistant Editor, exchange4media, had Sarabjeet Sachar, Founder & CEO, Aspiration Jobs; Parthip Thyagrajan, Director, WS Media; and Jyotirmoy Bose, Founder & CEO, White Space Consulting as panel members.
Citing the examples of Delhi Press and Deccan Herald, Sarabjeet Sachar said that these two organisations had effected neither any layoffs nor salary cuts. He noted, “The reason for this is very simple, both organisations were never over-ambitious. Their salaries were never disproportionate to the positions. We must ensure cost savings to the employees.” According to him, “There are various ways to reduce costs in such a situation. For instance, we can control the inventory management systems.”
Parthip Thyagrajan, who is in the digital publishing field, said, “We started our organisation in 2000, and after spending nine years in this field, I can say that this is really a situation when we all have to think about layoffs and wage cuts to reduce costs. He added that that WS Media was using freelancers and focusing on promoting entrepreneurship.
Stating that even big names like The Times of India had had to take drastic steps to counter the effects of the slowdown, Jyotirmoy Bose stressed on building trust among his people and believing in them in such a situation. “Salary cuts are better than laying off people. If need be, slash the salaries of the top level people, but spare the entry level and even middle level employees,” he added.
How can media industry strengthen its HR policies and practices?
HR policies and practices in media organisations came under the scanner in the third session of the day. The session was moderated by Pradyuman Maheshwari, Group Chief Editor, exchange4media, while the panel members included Archana Soin, Head – Human Resources, TV Today; columnist Sandeep Bamzai; Sanju Saha, Executive Vice President – Human Resources, PepsiCo; and Jwalant Swaroop, Director, Lokmat Group.
Archana Soin was of the opinion that the entire media industry needed some fine-tuning. She further said that there was lack of core processes in the HR function in media companies.
Agreeing with Soin, Sanju Saha, too, felt that there were no core HR policies in most media companies. “There are very few organisations that follow the HR process completely. After spending most of my career in various media organisations, I still feel that there is lack of regulation in such organisations.”
Sandeep Bamzai noted, “Media is a very unique animal. Every organisation has a different culture. Media owners and promoters have suddenly woken up to the slowdown effects, and that’s why this kind of a situation has been created in the entire media industry.”
Jwalant Swaroop said that Indian media companies had to be globally comparative. Talking about the Lokmat Group, Swaroop said, “We don’t have a specific HR department in my organisation. The HR function is looked after by the personal department.”
Is there an acute shortage of quality talent in Indian Journalism?
The fourth and final session of the Forum addressed the pertinent issue of shortage of quality talent in Indian journalism. The panel members included Abhigyan Prakash of NDTV India; Jwalant Swaroop, Director, Lokmat Group; Pranjal Sharma, Executive Editor, UTVi; Satyakki Bhattacharyaa, AVP - Human Resources, MCCS; Sam Miller, writer & broadcaster (BBC); Sourish Bhattacharya, Executive Editor, Mail Today; and Vikram Chachhi, Director, Accord. Rahul Dev, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, CNEB News, moderated the session.
Pointing out the lack of real talent in Indian journalism, Rahul Dev stressed on media education and setting up entry-level checks to screen real journalistic talent.
Vikram Chachhi said that there was a huge shortage of quality talent at the middle level, more so in the ‘people business’ that involved grooming the right people.
Sam Miller, too, noted that there was a fundamental lack of quality talent in the media industry.
Jwalant Swaroop had a different take on this. He said, “There is no dearth of talent. What we lack is that there are not enough mentors in the industry. The youngsters are so much hungry to become an editor in one shot.”
According to Pranjal Sharma, “Talent is a factor of education, aptitude, experience and skills. In no organisation in India will one find all these four qualities in one person. Today’s youngsters are more attracted to human interest journalism and fond of glamour.”
Sourish Bhattacharya said that there was a real dearth of good journalism schools not talent. “Educational qualification is important in journalism or any other field. I specially have a problem with those journalists who do not know the basics of journalism. Nowadays journalism schools are mostly money making shops, as a result of which the industry is facing a dearth of quality talent.
Speaking further on journalism education, MCCS’ Satyakki Bhattacharyaa said that a number of students who enrolled into journalism courses every year, didn’t even know why they were getting into journalism. He, too, lamented the lack of good journalistic talent in the industry.
Agreeing with him, NDTV’s Abhigyan Prakash said, “There is dearth of good talent in the television industry. Ninety per cent of the people who were there at any level in the television industry were by default. I don’t know where the talent is.”