Dr. Deepak Deshpande
Current Organization Netmagic, an NTT Group Company
Designation Sr. Vice President & CHRO

Previous Organization(s)

L&T, TCS, Datamatics, Bluestar Infotech, Trigyn Technologies, SYSTIME & Lionbridge Technologies

Belongs to (place from)

Hyderabad, Telangana 

MADS Interest

Singing, Music, Networking, Spirituality, Community Service, Volunteering, Public Speaking, Motivational Talks

Favorite MADS Personalities

Kishore Kumar, Mukesh, Mehdi Hassan, Jagjit Singh, Kumar Sanu, Asha Bhosale,  Mohd. Rafi, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev, Swami Sukhabodhananda, Pushpendra Kulshrestha, Arif Mohd Khan

Life Mantra

Reward for good work is more work. Nobody has died of hard work. You get what you deserve. You can’t give anything in real sense; what you give comes back in one form or other

I draw inspirations from

Everything around me. Solitude. Partying. Music, TV, Movies, Books, Interviews

Had I not been an HR Professional then

I would’ve been a professor or writer or singer

At what point in your life did you decide to take up HR as your career? What were the guiding / motivating factors?

The decision to get into HR was neither by design and nor desire. I didn’t have the privilege of graduating from a top B-school in HR. I was an electronics engineer doing research (PhD) in electronics. When I joined L&T, I shifted from my native town, Hyderabad to Mumbai. The university then had a condition that all PhD scholars must spend mandatory 8 weeks in a year in the university campus. Since I was a new joinee at L&T and on probation, I didn’t get any leave. Those days, the probation period used to be 2 years at L&T; so I had to discontinue my PhD in electronics. 

Soon, I decided to do MBA just to get a management degree, even though I was a double post graduate MSc & MPhil in electronics and teaching electronics. I was interested in General Management and Human Resources Management and didn’t fancy finance and operations much.

After L&T, I joined Tata Consulting Services where I had an opportunity to lead a team of coders’ or software developers working in 24X7 shifts including graveyard shifts. The employee attrition was high since everyone wanted to go on onsite or overseas assignments. I had to proactively look for replacement hires and deal with team management tasks including their career development, policy formulation and training. I was kind of de facto unofficial HR coordinator. 

Everybody wanted to move into technical stream and go overseas. Our job at TCS entailed purely network monitoring and looking after coverage operations in shifts. There was no coding or software development work. To arrest attrition, we introduced a policy that gives them an option to join software development projects without having to take an entrance test when they complete 2 years in the current role. When my turn came, I was told that I cannot leave the project unless I find a replacement and train him. I ended up spending another one year in the same project. During that time, I used to write articles on customers delight, people management and self-esteem. Some of them got published in Times of India and other dailies. At that time, Datamatics was looking for HR professionals with technical background. I was interviewed and got selected after 9 long interviews. This is how I officially got into HR practice.

HR is one practice that touches human lives directly. Do you think employers and especially HR Professional can play role in reducing stress levels of employees through various employee engagement initiatives?

Yes, it is definitely a function that impacts individuals. HR is the custodian of the people in the company; their welfare, motivation, comfort levels and their overall wellbeing is the responsibility of HR. To hire right people is not enough. Once you hire them you need to take good care of them in terms of their training, motivation, recognition and career growth etc. One tends to get bored of monotonous jobs, we need to provide challenging and rewarding assignments to employees.

There are various ways of implementing these initiatives. HR team has to be innovative in designing select practices at workplace and implementing various programmes that bring people together and make them experience the joy of working as a team for a common goal. Work place is like being in your second home. As employees we spend more time in the office than in our homes. HR must train the managers because a lot of stress is caused by the managers. Focus should be on proper planning and setting reasonable expectations and deadlines. Unplanned, unreasonable workloads and deadlines will weaken employees’ work life balance and increase stress levels. Strict and lop sided polices often cause employees stress. Hence, managers should maintain healthy environment. 

What are some of the most important employee engagement initiatives related to Music, Art, Dance or Sports that you have taken in your career?     

I am very much fond of music, drama, and theatre plays etc. I think, for Indians, music is central to our existence and it comes from within. Employee engagement is all about being productively and happily involved even while we are working on our regular projects. Our office events are all about celebrating dance, fashion shows, skits, theatre, music, songs, poetry and shayaris. Celebrations at every possible opportunity should be a way of life. I see these things as more of a self-pursuit. Music or any other art form brings out the humane side of you. 

It cleanses your inner being; it makes you come closer to the nature and find deeper aspects to life. Thus, employee engagement activities encourage everyone to showcase their talent, it makes everyone feel happy and special. When you get recognized, beyond your regular work, it gives you a different high. Anonymity is not always good and healthy. One needs to have a unique identity as its aids in execution in everything we do. It’s good to be known for our work, learn and grow together.

Do you think time and cost for employee engagements are an investment for the organisation and can help in multi-fold returns?

Investment is what you put in and return on it is multi-fold. From this perspective, investment is hardly anything. Whether it is training employees, sending them out for felicitation or encouraging them for a marathon are all different forms of investments in people. 

Idea is to care and nurture their small interests and hobbies because that promotes teambuilding and a sense of belongingness. I don’t think it is an investment, it is just about creating an ecosystem where people can try new things with their mind, soul and heart. In a family, expenditures besides food, clothing and shelter are done for love and your workspace is also like a family so you shouldn’t see caring as an investment, it just is like creating a home like ecosystem.

Do you feel there is a need even to reach out to the family of employees so that they get better connected to the company? Have you undertaken any such initiative in your past or current organization?

We have mandatory half day leave for birthdays and wedding anniversaries. We open up our workspace for 4 to 5 days in a year for the families to visit. Children get to see where their parents work. We have specially planned program and activities followed by lunch. We also have family day event where we go to a resort for celebrations, felicitations, awards, etc. 

We have ‘Taare Zameen Par’ kind of painting competition where children and even others paint and have fun. We send or 30-40 super achievers overseas to some exotic locations. Our monthly open house sessions, connect programs, employee adda and 15 channels or platforms for employees to connect are very popular and effective.

What is the one change that you would like to bring in HR practice that has potential to boost employee’s work-life balance?

Flexibility in working hours and work places. Someone living in Panvel or Mira Road need not send 5 hours every day just to reach office to work. Flexibility to take up cross-functional jobs, allowing everyone to choose different roles is perhaps the biggest opportunity an employer can provid

What are your personal interests in Music, Art, Dance or Sports and how do you continue to pursue it?

I am a shy person. I only dance in parties, but singing is something I like to do anywhere and anytime. I have recorded over 3500 songs till date in different languages. Wherever there is an opportunity to perform in public I definitely don't let it go. I attend a lot of jamming sessions and collaborations. Singing keeps me going as it is very therapeutic and good for health.

I started singing Mukesh’s songs in my childhood, and then later moved on to Kishore Da as Rajesh Khanna was becoming popular.  I also follow Kumar Sanu. I tried singing Mohammed Rafi’s songs earlier but couldn’t. But today I can. I can modulate my voice in different scales and genres. I can sort of manage to sing latest sensation Arijit and Yaseer Desai. Ghulam Ali, Mehdi Hassan and Jagjit Singh are still difficult for me to sing. They are amazing as they have a really good control over their breath. I try to balance my singing routine with my work, mostly I record my songs during nights or on weekends.

Any other thoughts you may want to share.

Everyone is blessed with a hobby or interest. You can be a good writer, poet, dancer, singer, musician or a photographer etc. We all have something special in us. We need to identify it and invest our time to nurture so that we can excel in our domain. Excellence only in a job from 9 am to 6 pm job is not enough. It’s just a job. Life is what you like to make it. 

Pursue your interests beyond your routine job. Hobbies are divine gifts one realizes very late because of our busy lives at work. I would encourage people to introspect how life has passed by and what was that thing they wanted to do but couldn’t do. Pursue it. It’s never late.

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