DataFlow’s CHRO Recognized Among India’s Top 10 Women Leaders for Transformative HR Leadership

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Sunita Shakdher Menon, DataFlow’s Chief Human Resources Officer, named among the 10 Most Inspiring Women Leaders in India 2023 by TradeFlock.

Successful HR leadership is characterized by a combination of strategic vision, empathy, adaptability, and a commitment to fostering a positive workplace culture.

At the DataFlow Group, Sunita Shakdher Menon, CHRO, embodies these qualities by prioritizing a strategic approach to human resources that aligns with the overall business objectives. She believes in the importance of understanding the unique needs of her global employees and fostering a workplace where everyone feels valued and included.

Her leadership style is marked by encouraging teams to transform words into action through focused development, adapt to and recognise the VUCA world, and proactively adjust strategies to meet the changing needs of the organization and its workforce. Empathy plays a crucial role in her leadership philosophy, as she strives to understand the diverse perspectives and experiences of her employees. This is reflected in DataFlow’s HR policies and initiatives, which prioritize fairness, equity, and inclusivity. Sunita actively promotes a positive workplace culture by encouraging open communication, recognising achievements, and providing opportunities for professional development.

What key experiences shaped your HR leadership and fuelled your success?

My career as an HR practitioner has been shaped by diverse experiences, some unexpected and beyond conventional preparation. This journey has highlighted that being vulnerable and authentic in my approach consistently fosters camaraderie and trust. The pandemic prompted a deep exploration of resilience and innovation, pushing me to build emotional, physical, and economic strength for my teams. This period also made everyone aware that restructuring is not always necessary, which people intrinsically understand when spoken to authentically. At DataFlow, there was no retrenchment, and we honored our financial commitments to our employees.

Leading across cultures highlighted the importance of understanding the depth beyond surface observations. In a multicultural setting, recognising and respecting diverse norms is crucial. For example, differences in communication styles or views on hierarchy can lead to misunderstandings. Embracing diversity involves open communication and learning from uncomfortable moments. Celebrating both victories and setbacks with my team has boosted my managerial confidence and encouraged staff to make decisions and learn from mistakes.

How do you nurture employee relations and create a positive work environment in the fast-paced data management industry?

Fostering a positive work environment and nurturing employee relations requires a multifaceted approach. The main pillars of this are effective communication, a well-defined company culture, learning and development opportunities, and ensuring that, as a leader, you operate in a truly agile manner. Especially for global companies like DataFlow, effective communication is at the core of creating positive employee relationships. Using transparent communication channels to ensure that global teams feel interconnected despite geographical distances. It’s also important to recognise and embrace cultural differences within the team to contribute to a diverse and inclusive workplace.

A well-defined company culture, rooted in clear values, forms the foundation for this positive environment and everything we do at DataFlow is underpinned by our own values: transparency, empathy, accountability, urgency and trust. To put these into action, acknowledging and celebrating achievements that align with your company values, both at the individual and team levels, reinforces this culture. The same can be said for continuous learning and development opportunities to demonstrate a commitment to employee growth and well-being. Finally, the onus lies on us as HR leaders to be agile in our leadership approach so that we are resilient in the face of industry changes and set the tone for the entire organization.

What notable accomplishments in promoting diversity and inclusion at work are you most proud of in your HR career?

It’s crucial to benchmark and measure DEI within your organization before considering improvements to gauge the impact. At DataFlow, our 27 nationalities contribute to an inclusive culture, and we prioritize diverse thoughts for innovation and client-centricity, with overall gender diversity at 46%. We emphasize DEI for our people managers through initiatives and hiring based on skills, irrespective of gender, race, or ethnicity. Our panel challenges unconscious bias, fostering a workplace where every individual feels valued. Personally, I believe DEI is integral to our growth, forming our human infrastructure. Our initiatives extend beyond policies, integrating local holidays, celebrating cultural inclusivity, and ensuring an inclusive environment for all, including working parents and differently-abled employees. DEI at DataFlow is not just a policy or document; it is constant open discussions generated across the leadership levels without fear or favour so that all employees can do the right things and deliver the right outcomes.

Pictured: Sunita Shakdher Menon alongside DataFlow employees at the Philippines office.

How do you develop leadership skills, especially in a swiftly evolving industry, drawing on your coaching expertise?

As the CHRO for DataFlow, developing leadership skills is not without its challenges. We have talented employees throughout every area and department of the business, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ leadership development strategy. That’s why we created our own internal development center for our leaders. Beginning with a thorough assessment of an individual’s current skill set, we collaboratively set clear goals aligned with both personal and organizational objectives. We address skills gaps and key competencies that are crucial for navigating the swiftly changing landscape, such as adaptability, strategic thinking, and effective decision-making.

Continuous learning is fostered through access to industry-specific resources, workshops, and certifications, ensuring leaders stay abreast of the latest trends and technologies in our field. This multifaceted approach aims not only to develop leadership capabilities but also to equip individuals with the agility and resilience needed to thrive and maintain DataFlow’s market-leading position within the verification industry.

Read the original feature published in TradeFlock Magazine.

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