Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Human experiences top focus in HR, marketing: Tech Mahindra's Harshvendra Soin

The global chief people officer and marketing chief decodes his dual role and why it works

Published: Apr 20, 2022 02:51:40 PM IST
Updated: Apr 20, 2022 04:20:05 PM IST

Human experiences top focus in HR, marketing: Tech Mahindra's Harshvendra SoinHarshvendra Soin, global chief people officer and head of marketing at Tech Mahindra 

It’s rare to see a marketing chief leading the human resource department of a multinational company. Tech Mahindra’s global chief people officer and head of marketing, Harshvendra Soin is changing the dynamics of handling people and brand purpose, at the same time. In an exclusive chat with Storyboard18, Soin discusses what it takes to make a good employer brand, technology’s role in disrupting customer service, metaverse, and more.

Q. What is it like managing and leading two critical functions like HR and marketing in a technology company? What are the HR lessons that you apply in your marketing strategies?

HR and marketing do have interesting synergies. Let’s look at human experiences. It’s a top priority of both portfolios. It’s important how we talk and treat our customers, employees, their families, and communities at large. The insights we get from these sets of people matter the most. You asked me what HR lessons I pick up to drive marketing at TechM. We believe while technology is an enabler, the moments of truth always remain human. Businesses with ESG (environmental, social and governance) principles built into their strategy, not only drive profitable growth but also attract talent. That’s at the core of the company. We are making our workforce future-ready, for which reskilling is imperative. Our upskilling programs are powered by an artificial intelligence-based platform that revolves around topics like 5G, blockchain, IoT, cybersecurity; all of which are also at the center of our marketing functionality.

What does it take to make a good employer brand?

I would like to quote Maya Angelou here. She once said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

When people join TechM, it is about more than the job assigned to them. Our brand is more than our marketing message, it is more about how we do business. We not only take care of our employees’ well-being but also their families. If you want to be a good employer brand, you need to be there for your people beyond 9-5, if need be. When it comes to diversity, we think from lenses like gender, nationality, thought, and more. New-age brands need to adapt to these practices consistently to get better each day for their employees.

Q. Marketers across categories are investing even more in ‘brand purpose’. What is TechM’s brand purpose and how is it evolving given the pace of change and disruption today?

‘Rise’ has been our brand purpose and the spirit of Rise is based on three brand pillars— accepting no limits, alternative thinking, and driving positive change. This unified one-brand voice has helped us bring our people together. This is also helping us to keep our customers loyal. We go far and beyond for both our internal and external customers.

Changing times and new technologies are changing the definition of how we work. As marketers, we need to rethink a few things to be with our customers all the time. We need to think about the impact rather than the reach of our strategies. We need to connect rather than just communicate. Marketers should not just be thought leaders but visionaries to co-create experiences for their customers. I also think it’s not just about creating content as a part of brand strategies but driving change through content.

Q. In the last couple of years, experiences have been at the core of brands' marketing strategies. How is technology going to disrupt CX further?

We live in a time when what brand experiences that were done for customers yesterday become irrelevant today. The way to reach them will also keep evolving, as experiences are moving online, and the impact will be all in real-time. With brands going omnichannel, time and agility will be key. Run-of-the-mill marketing campaigns will not work when consumers move to the metaverse, AR, VR worlds. They will give brands feedback in real-time and will expect to get solutions in real-time too. Marketers will have to re-align their strategies accordingly.