The IHRP team had a breakfast interview session with Mr Ajayan Ramachandran, Asia Pacific Regional Head of People Development from Infineon Technologies Asia Pacific Pte Ltd and one of the first few SkillsFuture Fellowship Award Winners.
Here’s how our conversation went:
IHRP: Good morning Ajayan, thank you for speaking with us today.
AR: Thank you, I have heard so much about the Institute for Human Resource Professionals and I am looking forward to getting myself certified. It is one of my targets which I hope to achieve.
IHRP: How did you decide to embark on a career in HR?
AR: I am a mechanical engineer by profession, so I was working with machines all the time. I had some experience in the aerospace industry and thereafter, switched over to electronics. Though I started from scratch, I was very open in learning new skills and liked working in a production environment. My first responsibility was managing over 100 employees in a single shift.
From there, I developed a growing interest in addressing people issues.. I felt that the people aspect was more important than the machine aspect. The diversified workforce present within the company was a challenging and enriching experience. When I expressed desire to pursue the SHRI course in Human Capital Management, my company gave full support and funded the programme. My passion grew from there and I started being more people-centric.
In 2009, my VP told me that there was an opportunity to move to HR as he felt it was a good move for me. As I had the interest, I made the move and slowly grew from site level to regional level responsibility. I have been in Infineon for 21 years now and I always tell employees that you can always find opportunities within the organisation.
IHRP: Could you share a pivotal moment throughout your career that contributed to who you are as a leader today?
AR: 2 years back, I was asked by my Managing Director and Vice President of HR to take up the challenge and support Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) known as WDA-then to set up the skills framework for the electronics industry. There was a need to work with different industries and across different companies, and I I was asked to lead due to my technical background in electronics.
That was a challenging moment for me but as I look back, I felt I had made the right decision because I gained a lot of exposure working with different companies and experts from different electronic sectors and government bodies. We had 1.5 years of regular meetings and thereafter, the framework was launched by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), Mr S. Iswaran. I was honoured to be given the chance to explain to the Minister on the framework and which was featured in the Straits Times too.
IHRP: What made you decide to go for the SkillsFuture Fellowship Award?
AR: I was always on the lookout for the SkillsFuture initiatives and my main intention was to promote it at the organizational level. One way was by being a role model, leading by example and my team members on the Skills Framework project recommended that I apply for it.
My Managing Director and HR Vice President also urged me to apply for it. I am part of the regional HR development community for the electronics industry, so we meet occasionally at different companies to share the best practices. The chairman encouraged me, and I also urged them to apply for it in coming years.
IHRP: Could you share with us if there are any specific courses which you would be committing to with the award?
AR: In my opinion, I felt that I could do more to give back to the community. I committed myself to make use of the money awarded in 2 programmes – the first programme was an accreditation for the mentoring and teaching certification process (a 4-module course) at one of the prominent organisations. It will be held in Penang. After this, I hope I can contribute more effectively as a facilitator and mentor.
I am also looking beyond the organisational level and am currently doing mentoring for polytechnic students. I feel that the younger generation needs more experience based guidance, I have also contacted Skillsfuture and expressed interest in becoming a Skillsfuture SME Mentor. In the past, I had assisted Spring Singapore in coaching and guiding teams. I look forward to giving back to the community.
One other area I am keen in is about understanding one-self and others through personality profiling, self-discovery and identifying preferences. I intend to be accredited as a practitioner in thisinsightful programme with global acceptance and I intend to dedicate my personal time to learn and share the knowledge acquired.
IHRP: What would be one piece of advice which you would like to share with all the HR professionals?
AR: I always tell my team members to engage more with stakeholders and others around them as I feel that it is the basic essence of building relationships. One of the surveys which I came across previously stated that 70% of people are disengaged and this reinstates the point that we need to do more to engage people. As human resource professionals, we need to be at the forefront to offer more strategic input towards personal and organisational development .
The IHRP Certification is a great initiative and I would love to contribute as part of the HR community. I think that it is always the passion that counts. Seize every opportunity to bring across the messages you are passionate about. Be humble and show that you are always open to learn, that makes the key difference. Be your own CLO (Chief Learning Officer)!
IHRP: We absolutely agree with what you have shared! Thank you for your time, Ajayan and for your sharing which has inspired us greatly. We hope to see you as part of our IHRP Certified community!