20 May, 2024

Thank you, HR

It was a surprise to see Zoho Corp, take up front pages of leading newspapers today (20 May) to celebrate International HR Day. Seemingly, they have created quite a buzz. 

People from all quarters have been wishing their HR Heads and HR Managers and teams through social media and offline. 

Of all the days kept aside for such celebration, I think this one takes the cake (quite literally) since every employee, no matter how senior or junior the person is, always rests back on someone in the HR Team.

From getting travel bills cleared quickly or getting leaves approved, employees always ensure they build a strong camaraderie with the key persons in the HR Team. 

Mentoring (by those in the HR Team) to the others on the Organisation is not a privilege for most of us. 

There are some incredible managers and heads in the HR Team who offer a lot of advisory, guidance and remain a cushion for many in the office. 

And then there are those in HR, especially in the leadership team, who profess something to the employees at large but behave quite the opposite to their own team members! Apathy, I say.

Very few HR leaders whom I have interacted with all through my career have been a guiding light to me. I take this opportunity to celebrate some of them for their affection on me in this post.

Circa 2001, I was almost in tears when I rushed to the Head Office of RPG Retail at the Spencers Plaza in Chennai. 

I was the only Management Trainee who was posted 2,500 kms away from my home – to Kolkata, after I completed my 3-week orientation program. 

I confessed to Ms. Latha Nambisan, GM – HR at the time, that the farthest I had travelled in my life until then was to Madurai or Kumbakonam for family events and to Mumbai just 4 times since I was born, as my maternal grandparents resided there. 

And, that why was I being given this “Punishment posting”? 

She smiled at me, made me relax and asserted that it was in my best interest for me to go that far and I was the most suitable among the 40+ trainees who had joined after our MBA. 

I took her word and left home for the first time alone with 2 suitcases and 2 carton boxes – one had my Sony Music system and the other had two speakers! I was part of the progress at the then largest music store of Asia - Music World, Park Street, spread over 6,000 sq ft. 

We sold plastic cassettes and CDs worth Rs. 60 lakhs a month. That December, the store touched its all time high of Rs. 92 lakhs in revenues. Back then, over 70% of revenues came from cassettes priced Rs. 28/-. 

The next 365 days were the most memorable in my entire career till date. 

Not a single day went without me learning a thing or two, with no family members or relatives around me. A couple of years ago, I happened to meet Latha at an event where we both were guests and I thanked her on the stage for shaping my career. 

The next HR Leader who transformed my career was Tuhin Biswas, who saw potential in me to create and lead the retail transformation at Bangalore International Airport, the country’s first greenfield, private airport which was inaugurated in 2008. 

His continued encouragement to me was an added bonus. 

My first international travel had a Swiss Visa stamped on my passport and it was because of this gentleman, who pushed my case to the Management for a Knowledge tour that I would undertake to 3 countries – Switzerland, Germany and the UAE. 

During my tenure at BIAL, I would then travel to 10 countries (airports) worldwide to speak about Indian Aviation and Travel Retail, as well as to learn best practices. 

Every other HR Head or a member of the HR Team that I have interacted all through my 2.5 decades of professional life have indeed left some positive impact or the other on me. 

Thanks to Zoho, today many decided to celebrate International HR Day! 

Last but not the least, I have also had the privilege of interacting with several HR consultants from small boutique firms all the way up to top ones. 

One name I should mention here is Ganesh Kumar, Founder of Intigra HR, who pushed my boundaries to deliver what was beyond me when I was leading “Levista Coffee” during the most turbulent Covid-19 period. 

As I would say, we must celebrate the undaunting efforts of the HR Team every day, rather and not just restrict to one day! Thank you, HR.  

22 January, 2024

A Firefly finally takes off

Monday - 22 Jan. ‘24 is a very important day in my professional life. I complete eight months today in my role as Executive Vice President at Daily Thanthi’s digital start-up division. But that’s not why it is such a significant day.

“Minmini” has been in the making for the last 30 months or so. And today, it has taken wings to fly through the globe and connect Tamils together. 

What started off as a digital transformation exercise at the group level, with the Vision of our Group Chairman and Managing Director Thiru Balasubramaniam Adityan, has now evolved into a full-fledged hyperlocal social app, ready to welcome users across the world and be a single platform for sharing posts, videos and collaborate on many other things.


When I first met him for my interview a few days ahead of Pongal 2023, the concept was still at an ideation stage, even as M/s Accenture was strategically advising the organisation as well as developing the product. 

From just being an alternative to the likes of “Reels” and “Shorts”, Minmini has taken giant strides over the months and is now the first hyperlocal social app focussed on local and global Tamils and is ready to connect digital users to the retail fraternity around them.

During the days of brainstorming and internal meetings since I joined in May ‘23, several ideas have evolved on how the local communities could come together, embrace each other economically and drive the society towards a single purpose of prosperity.


Minmini will eventually host lakhs of shops, shopkeepers and service providers such as electricians, carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, tuition teachers, tailors, drivers and every self-employed person to assist them spread their network. And all this comes “free” to the users as well as the professionals as they discover one another around them. 

The newest baby of the eponymous Daily Thanthi group, “Minmini” has taken a flying start today, quite literally. 


As you read this article, many of you would have already seen the full-page advertisement in today’s edition of Daily Thanthi across Tamil Nadu, Mumbai, Bangalore, Dubai and Sri Lanka along with today’s edition of Times of India across Tamil Nadu. 

Our ads are live on Tv, Radio and several digital properties as well from today onwards. Here’s a link to the press release that appeared earlier today. 


I have been on the other side of Retail since 1997 – frontline operations for over a decade followed by Strategic Management and Business Development. Went through the ups and downs of Entrepreneurship and eventually decided to get back to professional employment – to be on this side, the digital side of things. 


As Superstar Rajinikanth says in one of his movies as a dialogue, “This is just a trailer, main picture is yet to come!”. 


Through Minmini, I believe I have a chance to onboard thousands of small and marginalised retailers on to the digital bandwagon. 

If I can make a small difference in the lives of a few hundreds, I will feel happy that one of the main purposes of my life is achieved. Time will tell.

07 January, 2024

My Himalayan Odyssey

Just like every December, my family and I departed on our annual vacation expecting intense flight delays due to fog-related congestions across various airports that converge at Delhi.  

To our good luck, the flight departed and arrived on time at Indira Gandhi International Airport New Delhi, giving us plenty of time to – shop and dine! 

A view of the Himalayan peaks from Almora

Right from the word “go”, it was a shopping delight for the kids. A bit of airport shopping, in-flight (junk) food and then the eponymous walk along the inner circle at Connaught Place, New Delhi. It was their first visit to one of the retail havens of India and they enjoyed every bit, save for the prying eyes of random people on the streets. 


We first ate a hearty meal at Haldiram’s before undertaking the long walk, so as to end up at Wagh Bakri for a pre-dinner snack. 


Over the next 5 days, we travelled over 2,000 kms by road and rail across Devbhoomi Uttarakhand. We visited off-beat locations, including temples and high-points on the hills.


At every point of sale, it was surprising, perhaps I shouldn’t be, that the shopkeepers were accepting payments through UPI. There were instances where the vendor preferred a digital payment, for want of not accepting Rs. 500 and offering change.


Until 2017, this was a dream, rather a nightmare. It was not just important to carry along a Debit card, the town or city needed to have a functional ATM too. So, one had to carry adequate cash to shop, eat and consume goods and services. 


It is indeed incredible that in a quaint little town such as Bageshwar that the roadside vendor selling groundnuts was willing to accept Rs. 30 using UPI. 

Jageshwar, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited and offered his prayers, has atleast 50 shops and each one of them offer various items including pooja articles, trinkets, gifts and much more. All of them accept UPI payments, though many of them do not even have a credit card swiping machine. 


While a lot of credit would go to the Modi-style governance, I would also give it 100% to the users – shopkeepers and consumers for embracing UPI-based payments. And seamlessly. 


India is shinning and will further shine for the next 10-15 years, irrespective of which political party will rule the country. A continuity in regime will certainly help improve governance. The consumer boom will continue to stay as well, what with a growing middle class which is on a spending spree, whether it is during festivals or otherwise.

The tourism opportunity is opening big time in the country and domestic tourism spends are expected to double in the next 10 years. 

PM Modi’s recent visit to Lakshwadeep islands to promote tourism is nothing new. In 2019, he met the Chinese Premier at Mamallapuram, near Chennai, a historic travel point. Since then, visitors to the coastal town have swelled, post pandemic especially, including the springing up of various hotels, resorts, home stays and lodges. 


Similarly there have been many such examples of our PM promoting Indian tourism. Which is well followed by consumerism at its best. 

I have already swore I will tour more within India in 2024. We have shortlisted a few locations for our summer vacation during the last weekend. Where are you travelling next? Share your story.

Thank you, HR

It was a surprise to see Zoho Corp, take up front pages of leading newspapers today (20 May) to celebrate International HR Day. Seemingly, t...