It’s usually not a good sign when an organisation—especially a young one—hires its first full-time HR professional at the onset of the worst pandemic the world has seen for maybe a hundred years. Or when all of its offices are shut down and everyone is working remotely through lockdowns.

But that is the environment and context Sanjay Suri joined us in as HR Leader.

Sanjay

We started talking to Sanjay in early January (which seems like a decade ago). These were the key areas we expected the role to cover:

The HR leader will help us institutionalise these by bringing in best-practices and execution skills. In order to do so, they will be empowered with the following responsibilities.

    • Hiring world-class talent
    • Continuous performance management and career development via objectives and key results (OKRs) and conversations, feedback and recognition (CFRs)
    • Employee onboarding
    • Leadership development
    • Creating a formidable Total Rewards program
    • Organisational culture

Even before Sanjay could join though, we implemented a hiring freeze, put a (temporary) hold on the rollout of our Total Rewards strategy, and decided to ignore OKRs and CFRs for Q1 and Q2.

Any normal HR professional would have been fazed with 50-60% of their work areas disappearing instantly. But not Sanjay. Because one of the areas where we tested him at length during the interview process was resilience.

Over the course of a 14-year career, Sanjay has been a software developer, HR professional (with organisations ranging from Wipro, Manhattan Associates and Shell), functional leader and entrepreneur. With his mix of technology, business, entrepreneurial and HR experience, I’m fairly sure he will turn out to be the HR Leader The Ken both needed and deserved.

After all, his experience running (and ultimately failing at) a digital marketing startup was one of the most important factors that helped us pick him over other candidates.

Sanjay is on Twitter and LinkedIn, and via email at his [email protected]

Which brings me to Kunal.

Few journalists turn out to be entrepreneurs. And I don’t blame them. I mean, who except the truly crazy would try to create a business inside a sector that is imploding in newer ways each year? Apathetic consumers, collapsing ad rates, disintermediation by tech platforms, fake news, falling newspaper sales…the litany of woes is never-ending.

And yet, occasionally a few are crazy enough to see opportunities in this madness and the possibility to create new value. Kunal Talgeri, who joins us as a Consulting Editor in Bangalore, is one of them.

Kunal

He spent the better part of the last two years building a weekly newspaper for children. For a bunch of reasons, one of which included regulatory hoops and approvals, the new venture didn’t succeed. As someone whose first startup failed too, I am not being theoretical when I say that failures teach you a lot.

Having studied journalism from what is probably India’s most prestigious J-school, the Asian College of Journalism (The Ken has over half a dozen ACJ graduates), Kunal spent the next 19 years across a variety of journalism roles ranging from reporting, desk editing and feature writing, with most of it being in business journalism. He’s worked with The New Indian Express, Businessworld magazine, CIO magazine, Outlook Business magazine, Fortune magazine and The Economic Times.

Kunal is one of the last few remaining classic magazine journalists, practically an endangered species today.

As Consulting Editor, Kunal will both write important feature stories as well as assist other writers in developing their stories. Aggressively low-key, he says he “loves to report and craft a good story.”

This is Kunal on Twitter and LinkedIn. Also on email at his [email protected]

AUTHOR

Rohin Dharmakumar

Rohin is co-founder and CEO at The Ken. He holds an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta and an engineering degree in Computer Sciences from the R.V.C.E., Bangalore.

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