LESSONS FROM THE PAST: Noiseless HR
Keith Roy, who was an ICS officer with the government of India, quit the service in 1947 and joined the private sector, as personnel director of Glaxo India – the largest pharma company in the country at that time. An impressive personality he was – tall, fair and handsome, the product of a Bengali father and a Scottish mother, very erudite and a thorough gentleman! He was in charge of human resources (HR), which was called personnel management at that time. In the early-1960s, personnel department was low key. In the post COVID era, one can join into at least one webinar on HR every other day. What a sea change! HR is the flavour of the year!
 
About two years into my joining Glaxo – and still a management trainee - I was at the bus stop at Worli, waiting for a bus to take me to Queen’s Road, to All India Radio (AIR), where I used to do some programmes in my spare time.
 
A posh car came to a halt and Mr Roy opened the window and asked me to hop in. I did and told him where I was headed. He lived at Carmichael road, which was half way. He said, doesn’t matter. We can have a chat at least for some time – ‘and my driver will drop you after he drops me home.’ We had a lovely, frank chat. He got to know a lot about me in those 20 minutes. In some ways, we became friends – in spite of the wide gap in our corporate positions. Mr Roy was truly an HR man! 
 
A few months later, I was to accompany Mr Roy to Delhi for a few days to see how he works with the government departments. A day before, he came to know that I would be at the Janpath Hotel (what I was eligible for at my level in the hierarchy), while he would be at the Ashoka. He got this immediately changed. He said he could not have me in the lobby of Ashoka, waiting for him three times a day! He got my accommodation changed to Ashoka. And, thanks to Mr Roy, it was my first five-star hotel stay in life. It was a pleasure to see government officials treat Mr Roy with respect – not just as a past superior, but as a mentor and well-wisher. They seemed to have loved to work with him when he was in the service. 
 
There was a situation where Ted, a young 25-year old management trainee, was posted in the advertising department of the company. The department was headed by a 45-year old divorcee, Margaret, who was efficient, careless in the way she dressed, and fond of India where she had been for over 15 years. 
 
But after they fell in love, Margaret’s look changed. She now dressed well, had make-up on her, and had her hair done, and as she walked down the directors’ corridor to a meeting, it looked as if a box of essences was broken in the air (Tennyson). First there were murmurs. When they moved to live together, there were louder whispers. Mr Roy took this event as a personal challenge. He went to Darjeeling to meet Ted’s parents and convince them that this match may not work. But to no use. 
 
Finally, Mr Roy arranged a job for Ted in Calcutta and agreed with both of them that they can get married if they still feel the same way about each other after a full year of separation. They did feel the same. After a year, they both resigned their jobs and took the flight to Canada, to start a new life together. It was an example to all of us, young execs and single, of the kind of personal interest that Mr Roy was capable of taking, when it came to a serious challenge!  Mr Roy was truly an HR man.
 
Sometime later, I found that Mr Roy always hosted a Christmas party every year at his home. It was 10am-12.30pm on Christmas day, when everybody was invited, from the peon to the director – to have a coffee or a beer and a piece of Christmas cake. I went to the party. And found peons as well as directors there. 
 
Mr Roy treated each one as a special guest on this Christmas day. It was goodwill to all! This event created so much goodwill, not just among those who attended but also those who did not – (and had only heard about it). Mr Roy was indeed an HR man. 
 
My interaction with Mr Roy was limited. But from what I saw and observed, there was a lot to be learned – in small matters as well as in larger issues – things that one will find hard to forget, even in a world where values are a-changing! 
 
Mr Roy managed human resources without fanfare – and without noise!!
 
(Walter Vieira is a Certified Management Consultant; and a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of India (FIMC). He was a corporate executive for 14 years and pioneered marketing consulting in India in 1975. As a consultant, he has worked across the globe in four continents. He was the first Asian elected Chairman of ICMCI, the world apex body of 45 countries. He is the author of 16 books; a business columnist; visiting professor on marketing in the US, Europe and Asia. He now spends most of the time in NGO work.)
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    COMMENTS

    BR

    1 month ago

    Good to know of such people. As a student I heard of & later at work, I met Mr Rusi Hormusji Modi the first Welfare officer of TISCO & TELCO who was known to be a good person in Personnel Mgt. Contrast these with the dismal dirt, to be brief, in a mill for Recruitment & Promotion, like Indian Airlines & Air India Ltd & Vayudoot P Ltd the abyss of failure of good HR practices & matchless corruption, which led to its present state. Strangely, the ways are continued to benefit its employees, till a full destruction. I experienced the worst of anyone's life in that quagmire of Caste & Language politics, greed, favoritism based on many factors like opposite gender, etc., which are a cancer of the country.

    Song stuck in your head? Just hum to search on Google
    In a delight for music lovers, Google has announced a new capability where you can hum, whistle or sing a melody to find out the song that has been stuck in your head -- no lyrics, artist name or perfect pitch required.
     
    On your mobile device, open the latest version of the Google app or find your Google Search widget, tap the mic icon and say "what's this song?" or click the "Search a song" button.
     
    Then start humming for 10-15 seconds.
     
    On Google Assistant, it's just as simple. Say "Hey Google, what's this song?" and then hum the tune.
     
    "This feature is currently available in English on iOS, and in more than 20 languages on Android. And we hope to expand this to more languages in the future," Google announced during its virtual 'Search On' event on Thursday.
     
    "After you're finished humming, our machine learning algorithm helps identify potential song matches. And don't worry, you don't need perfect pitch to use this feature. We'll show you the most likely options based on the tune," said Krishna Kumar, Senior Product Manager, Google Search.
     
    You can select the best match and explore information on the song and artist, view any accompanying music videos or listen to the song on your favourite music app, find the lyrics, read analysis and even check out other recordings of the song when available.
     
    According to Google, a song's melody is like its fingerprint.
     
    "We've built machine learning models that can match your hum, whistle or singing to the right fingerprint," Kumar said.
     
    When you hum a melody into Search, the machine learning models transform the audio into a number-based sequence representing the song's melody.
     
    The models are trained to identify songs based on a variety of sources, including humans singing, whistling or humming, as well as studio recordings.
     
    "The algorithms also take away all the other details, like accompanying instruments and the voice's timbre and tone. What we're left with is the song's number-based sequence, or the fingerprint," Kumar explained.
     
    Similarly, the machine learning models recognise the melody of the studio-recorded version of the song, which "we can use to match it with a person's hummed audio".
     
    The new feature builds on the work of Google AI Research team's music recognition technology.
     
    The company launched 'Now Playing' on the Pixel 2 in 2017, using deep neural networks to bring low-power recognition of music to mobile devices.
     
    In 2018, the company brought the same technology to the SoundSearch feature in the Google app and expanded the reach to a catalog of millions of songs.
     
    "This new experience takes it a step further, because now we can recognize songs without the lyrics or original song. All we need is a hum," Google said.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    LESSONS FROM THE PAST: Think, Weigh, Decide!
    Some years after training as management trainee, I was appointed a sales executive at the head office, Glaxo, Bombay. I had enjoyed my time as a salesman for nearly two years, in areas as far flung as Belgaum/Bijapur, Saugar and Bhatinda. In Bijapur, among other things, I had learnt to live for four to five days only on Becadex syrup, and Macrafolin Iron tablets (samples of the Glaxo products that I was carrying), because there was a cholera epidemic raging there, during my visit. 
     
    In Saugar, I was held up by bandits on one of my forays into the interiors – and succeeded in befriending a few of them. In Bhatinda, I learnt to order a half and a HALF, and another … before the butter chicken and naan. That was half whisky (neat) followed by a glass of beer—an appetizer formula, still being followed in parts of Punjab—a legacy of the Scottish regiment that was posted there for many years. The full address for service—Mayrose bar and restaurant (hope it is still there!!)
     
    All salesmen were expected to post an arrival notice postcard immediately on arriving at the station. The HQs could thus connect this with the approved tour plan for the month and make sure that the salesman was travelling as per the plan, and not wandering around on his own holiday plan! Of course, there was also a daily report, to be filled in and posted every evening, listing the doctors met, products discussed and samples given. Everything was well organiased and worked like a well-oiled machine. No wonder, in the 1960s, Glaxo was No 1 and was constantly being challenged by   Dumex Pfizer and Sarabhai Squibb!
     
    As a sales executive, I was now spending some time on salesmen reports—analysing them for accuracy, looking for new trends, and perhaps some creative ideas in the comments.
     
    However, one day, I had a dilemma. I had two arrival notice cards from the same salesman for the same day, from two cities 80 miles apart. In each town, he had met 10 doctors! Obviously, it was a scam. He was at one place or the other. And who knows? Perhaps at neither. 
     
    I drew the attention of the sales director Ernest Woods, a crusty Englishman, who had spent 35 years in India and knew the geography of the country better than he did of Great Britain. Let me think about it—he said. Please come back in half hour. I did.  What shall we do, he asked me. My opinion - we need to dismiss him. A serious offence. He cannot be excused. He listened to me and looked at me for a long time. Then he asked me to call him to Bombay from Poona—and get details / confession from him before we sacked him. I did this, and found that Sunil had seen more doctors on four days and then distributed the extra visits beyond eight a day, to the two other days (when he had taken an off to see his girlfriend in Hubli). He had seen the doctors, but the dates were not accurate. He had given the arrival card to the stockist to post, who had forgotten to do it until two days later, when Sunil was already in another town and posting his card from there. Sunil had been honest in doing the job, but he had taken liberties with the reporting. And his sales record was very good. He had been with the company for six years. He was valued. What should we do? Mr Woods suggested we give him a stern warning. It was going to be his last chance. We decided we will not fire him!
     
    Some 20 years after I left the company, I met Sunil again by chance at a hotel. We recognised each other. We greeted each other warmly. And was he still in Glaxo? No. He had left and joined a large Indian pharma company and he was the all India sales manager of the company. He had a successful career.
     
    God had been kind to him—and of course he had worked hard. “But thank you for not acting in haste when I made the silly mistake a long time ago,” he said. “But for you and Mr Woods, I would not have been where I am now.” 
     
    I now realised why Woods did not take decisions in haste, even when it seemed a clear case of wrongdoing. He would be weighing the pros and cons, measuring contributions in the past and perhaps possibilities in the future, looking at what is forgivable and what cannot be condoned. It was the wisdom of age and experience, which many impatient mangers today may not have the time – or the inclination -- for. 
     
    (Walter Vieira is a Certified Management Consultant; and a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of India (FIMC). He has written 11 books – some of them best sellers – translated into Chinese and Indonesian and 3 books in collaboration with Prof. C. Northcote Parkinson of Parkinson’s Law fame. Mr Vieira has straddled the space between business and academia – and shares his vast experience with students and peers, to help make this a better world!)
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    COMMENTS

    m.prabhu.shankar

    1 month ago

    Excellent Excellent. Just love the articles by Walter Vieira

    Ramesh Popat

    1 month ago

    good- for a change!

    Newme

    1 month ago

    Postcards for reporting. How time changes.

    kpushkar

    1 month ago

    What a change from todays quarter to quarter reporting!!

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