August 1, 2012: Rajesh Padmanabhan, HR head, Nissan Motor India

Nissan Motor India's HR head on its hiring philosophy, a flat organisation and the Evalia MPV.

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 31 Jul 2012 Views icon5608 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
August  1, 2012: Rajesh Padmanabhan, HR head, Nissan Motor India

Can you describe the essence of Nissan’s hiring and talent philosophy?
Nissan’s talent philosophy is rooted in the belief that ‘The Power Comes from Inside’ – Nissan’s abilities to perform, sustain growth and remain globally competitive lie within each individual employee.We see ‘Diversity’ as a strategic imperative for our business. Building a team that is diverse in terms of gender, age, geography, religion and having a global and competitive mindset has been our priority while hiring talent.

Can you give us an example of an HR initiative that you feel can be replicated across the industry?
Nissan’s annual sales increased from 200 units in FY08 to more than 33,000 units in FY11. Building a team to achieve this milestone, building their capabilities within a short span was a challenge.We adopted the strategy to create a flat organisation structure and hire relatively young talent. We provided them with excellent learning inputs, exposed them to our robust global processes, created a highly supportive work culture and challenged them with exciting assignments. Today, we have highly empowered teams delivering at global standards. It is not a single initiative but it is the integrated HR approach that fostered the development of a whole team within a record timeframe that can be a benchmark.

What challenges has Nissan faced in hiring talent since it began its India innings or have you been able to hire?
Nissan was a late entrant to this highly competitive market where most of the auto majors had already established their presence. Initially, it was a challenge to appeal to the preferred talent because the Nissan brand had very low visibility in the marketplace. Also, people were extremely cautious to make any job changes during the 2008 slowdown.Our business plan was always intact. Our global image, solid plans for India backed by transparent and strong communication helped. Subsequently, the excitement created with the launch of our cars reinforced the confidence in people. Today, people are very keen to take on our challenging assignments and grow with us.

In what particular area has Nissan found it challenging to hire people? And what is being done to fill vacancies?
Challenges always remain to get the right talent, especially when it comes to niche profiles. However, we have a strong strategy and plans in place to overcome this challenge.Cross-functionality is a hallmark of the HR function at Nissan and played a key role when Nissan’s Japanese unit was affected by the earthquake.

How does cross-functionality play out in the Indian context?
‘Nissan Way’, ‘Mindset’ and ‘Actions’ are a set of guiding principles that shape how we operate on a daily basis. Being ‘Cross Functional and Cross Cultural’ is an important mindset in Nissan. The recovery of our Japanese operations from the shock of the earthquake was remarkable. Business units across the world pitched in to support the Japanese operations to come out of the trouble.Recently a Cross-Functional Team (members from R&D, production, quality, marketing and aftersales) from Nissan India won the Nissan Management Committee Award for making Nissan Sunny, our global saloon, a success story. The team stood first from the region that includes Africa, Middle East and India.

As Nissan gears up for the launch of the Evalia MPV, what are the plans on hiring staff?
Evalia launch preparations are almost nearing completion. We are now changing gears to achieve our aggressive mid-term plans for India and to repeat our success story in India with the Datsun brand too.Nissan believes in grooming internal talent and the priority is to upgrade to the competencies required for greater challenges. Hiring might be essential to support our business plans.

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