Shakil Abir, Manager, Human Resources, Multinational Tobacco Industry, Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Future Prospects

Knowledge sharing and better coordination for competitive advantage

You have an impressive resume with 11 Years above experience in different HR fields of Bangladesh. Having worked in Hospital industries, Banking industries, Ride-sharing/Tech industries and now finally for a multinational Tobacco industry, how has it prepared you for your current position?
I have spent more than three years of my career in customer service jobs starting from my university life. It has helped me to develop extensive skills working with customers especially when they were in distress. I have found myself extremely comfortable in de-escalating situations and making my customers happy. As soon as I found myself to be an HR professional, I felt the need to serve my internal stakeholders matching the same level of efficiency. I have never limited myself to working on the same desk or performing the same responsibilities for a long time. In addition, I always try to develop a simpler process to execute change management, which enables my stakeholders to differentiate the positive changes easily. Simultaneously, I always try to develop my knowledge & skills with practical experience and by achieving several academic degrees such as after completion of my master’s program, I have finished my MBA in HR, completed Post Graduate Diploma in HR, continued ICMA and achieved Income Tax Lawyer certification from National Board of Revenue, Bangladesh. Moreover, to cherish my professional branding I have been nominated in different national and global platforms and won “The Best Young HR Leadership Award 2018 in Bangladesh” by World HRD Congress and CHRO Asia. On February 2019, I was also awarded “The Global HR Leadership Award 2019” by World HRD Congress at Hotel Taj Lands’ End, Mumbai, India. The above scenario shows the reason why I am here today.

Having worked for HR of The City Bank Limited and Pathao Limited – what has been the fundamental point of differentiation between established organizations and a startup? How does HR work differently in a startup?
We are all aware of the way an established organization works, the majority of the activities always stepped by the policy which is already developed. In the case of the Banking industry, it is well designed and regulated by several financial, non-financial and government compliance authorities. However, for a startup, it becomes challenging to work by a set of guidelines, but it also becomes a great learning opportunity for the ones who love to take challenges in his/her career. It takes a great deal to convince the management to establish any good practice followed by the market in startups. The young management always tries to circulate that they are totally different from the market and they don’t like to follow any traditional culture as any other reputed organizations follow. On the other hand, they sometimes select the wrong candidate for a valuable leadership role without calculating the CTC. Management tries to develop the SOP and set the company policy, but because of some wrong hires, it takes a long time to develop any policy. Some bad apples try to avoid any approved policy to get exceptional and additional benefit from the company. In the case of Pathao Limited, luckily, I got a very good work environment which was in favor of me and only because of that I was able to change the total salary structure of the organization ensuring the highest tax benefit to the employees as well as the company by complying all government rules and regulations within 15 days of my joining. Also, I have taken exceptional initiatives to complete some short-term projects to ensure Pathao Limited as the best employee-oriented and cultured startup in Bangladesh.

You’ve been working for a multinational tobacco company for the past 6 months? Have there been any challenges or setback you had to circumvent?
It is always a challenging decision for any professional to change the job to a new organization. JTI is one of the leading multinationals globally, it is quite new in the Bangladesh market. Hence, working here has its own set of challenges. It starts from the culture of the organization, new scope of work and the specific requirements to be ready to handle stakeholders or expatriates from many different cultures at the same time. However, once an individual can prove that s/he is the most capable one to address global requirements, it becomes easy to meet global expectations as well. That’s the reason why I am enjoying my job right now more than I ever experienced before.

How does HR management differ from different industries? Also, what is the common link?
HR organogram or structure is mostly the same or very similar in all industries. However, the management style may be different after the HR practices are implemented. For instance, an HR professional needs to be very empathetic and technically skilled for the hospital industry, very compliant and regulated for the Banking industry, very passionate and motivated for any startup and very updated, skilled, logical, justified and a multitasker for any MNC.

Can you tell us some of the HR trends we will be seeing in 2019?
Many men many minds. According to me, the thing that comes first is creating a successor, followed by thinking about positive changes in different angles, to compare CTC with the contribution towards the organization, analyzing HR budget based on the business performance of the organization, to develop employee branding by ensuring product knowledge among the employees, to place the skilled people on right positions which may come up as new HR trends in near future.

What is the role of HR, when it comes to the supply chain of a company?
The focus of Supply Chain professionals must shift from managing assets and direct reports in order to create a new vision of coordinated product flow and its implementation by influencing the actions of others including HR Professionals. SC professionals must learn to connect to the power of human resources management to influence sweeping programs of change, not only in their own companies but in other companies and their supply & distribution channels as well. Visionary top managers will see the huge strategic and financial gains of coordinated product flow and will give new scopes of influence to their SC professionals. Observant SC professionals will realize that crafting company-wide HR policies are much more difficult than it might seem, and they will focus on acquiring this skill. Ultimately, if SC professionals modify their vision and perception to drive coordinated product flow in accordance with HR policies, it will help to go far to determine both their own effectiveness and their company’s business sustainability.

As supply chains get longer and more global, how can HR ensure proper supply chain working conditions for the process to be more streamlined?
In critical business environments, which are categorized by shorter product life-cycles, product creation, ongoing outsourcing and globalization of the supply base, markets increase the challenges of human resource management in supply chain settings. However, overcoming these challenges are mostly worth the effort. HR practices can be used to encourage supply chain partners to develop valuable inter-firm relationships and to create a knowledge sharing routines. This will result in a better coordinated, streamlined supply chain and ultimately, new competitive advantage ensuring a win-win situation for both HR & SC fields.

What are the benefits of applying HR management practices to supply chain management?
To follow proper Supply Chain process with current international standard and to meet the modern desired work process, every organization needs to ensure the HR management practices on Supply Chain management. It will create justified, accurate and well-accepted impact to both the fields. Proper regulation and compliance will be followed by the organization as well, right after implementing the HR management practices in SC management. HR management itself defines the necessity of these changes on the current movement of the standard functions of Human Resources.

Does HR impact the performance of supply chain management?
Human Resource Management has a huge impact on the performance of supply chain management, HRM has a significant impact on customer satisfaction as well on organization’s performance and playing a mediating role in the relationship between HR and SC management results.

What advice do you have for students interested in working in the HR field?
In my opinion in today’s era, HR is the most attractive, passionate, respected, globalized and well-accepted career for any job seeker who intends to establish his/her HR profession in any industry. Interested students who wish to develop their career in the field of HR must fix the target first. They need to identify their individual competencies, skills, and qualities which are the major requirements to work in HR. From the very beginning, they should try to be more social, empathetic, open-minded and informed with updated global knowledge and practices. They also need to be experts in building link or relationship with corporate personalities as well as with renowned professionals through university Career Club, Business Club and/or any other association. If possible, they need to follow a mentor to create the path of their career by following the mentorship. They should prepare themselves by practicing being strategic thinkers, being visionary and flexible with developed presentation skills, creating quantitative skills ensuring standard quality and being inspired by oneself. These are some of the indicators of a future HR leader. As per my experience, there is no end of learning. I always try to learn from my colleagues, teammates, friends, and fellows as well. Just be honest with your dream and try to ensure the consistency to convert your every dream into reality. Luck never cheats us, if we can ensure that our dreams are so passionate that it doesn’t let us sleep.

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