In an illustrious career spanning over two decades, Ritesh Chopra has spearheaded several roles across US, UK and Asia.
In his current role as the Chief Operating Officer of KPMG Global Services and Head of the Capability Hubs, Gurgaon, he leverages the experience and talent of his 800 strong team to drive insights that shape business decisions.
In an exclusive chat with The Blue Circle, Ritesh shares his learning on the changing workforce, the importance of investing in new skills and why, while hiring, the perfect should not be the enemy of the good.
Nurturing the right talent
Identifying and developing human capital to help ensure that the organisation’s strategy can be deployed to meet its defined vision, is critical.
As a country, India has a unique advantage – it has the largest-ever adolescent and youth population.
According to UNFPA projections, India will continue to have one of the youngest populations in the world till 2030. India is experiencing a demographic window of opportunity, a ‘youth bulge’ that will last till 2025.
Speaking of India’s talent pool, Ritesh says, “A high proportion of them speak English with a professional level of fluency and hold myriad degrees and credentials, so they have lots of options open to them. They have strong academic knowledge, the transition to them being work-ready is expected to be really quick.”
“We are lucky to be in a country that has a talented, ambitious and burgeoning young population, eager to make their mark. We as leaders have a responsibility to enable this, for them and our organizations..”
Based on his extensive experience, Ritesh feels that the candidate selection process should be two pronged.
First, the screening process must be strong, where hiring managers spend significant time scoping their requirements with the recruitment team.
Second, companies must resist falling prey to finding that perfect candidate. He adds, “In India, we have a high rejection rate. To close one position, a recruiter would often sift through over 100 profiles and a hiring manager would interview scores of people, before finally making their choice.
For the amount of time you spend in finding a 100% match and end up paying a premium for the time you spent hiring, you can be better served with strong on-boarding and training at the time of joining.”
Skilling is the need of the hour
When it comes to the future of its workforce, India is experiencing forces of change that are similar to the rest of the world, driven largely by technological transformation.
India is also facing varied challenges given the size of its young population and rapid changes in its economy.
India’s workforce is estimated to grow from 473 million in 2018 to 600 million in 2022.
Ritesh says, “The jobs that we have will change in terms of -What do we do? How do we do it? Where do we do it from? And who does it? Technologies, such as RPA, AI and ML, are reducing the manual effort required to do repetitive tasks and collect and synthesize information.
People therefore need to focus on building their analytical and insights skills. Being future-ready should be the key priority.”
Moreover, the gig economy is growing fast in India, encouraged by a rise in the number of start-ups, co-working spaces, and crowd sourcing platforms.
“Work is no longer restricted to the office floor and this mobility of the workforce brings along its own opportunities and challenges. The workforce is changing too, and we will see people wearing multiple hats, so to speak, and hold 2 or more professions at the same time,” he says.
“These times require us to be more agile, keep investing in new skills and be open-minded about the changes happening around us.”
Mentoring is a learning experience
Despite keeping a very busy schedule Ritesh takes out time to mentor students.
He mentors students, who are part of Enactus, a global organization with 72,000 students in 4,700 colleges worldwide. This is a student-led organisation that is committed to ‘transforming lives and shaping a sustainable world, economically, environmentally and socially’.
“Getting to mentor these young students has been a very humbling experience. It is as much a learning for me, as it would hopefully be for them. As a group, we brainstorm on new ideas, critically evaluate the impact of the shortlisted ideas and then build on the selected ideas through the life cycle.
I meet these students once in 45 days and always walk out of these interactions feeling more encouraged about our future, and that it seems to be in very safe hands indeed.”
“I travel a lot for work and in doing that I spend quite a few weekends away from home. When I am home, I do try and spend time with my wife and two daughters (and the word ‘try’ holds more for them as they are both growing up and I am at their mercy for their time).
I also try and catch up with my friends and parents during the weekend. If I get a chance, I do cook for my family and love experimenting with new dishes as I never follow a recipe.
While travelling I try to catch up on my reading and somehow manage to squeeze in time to watch some interesting series and movies,” he concludes.
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