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Pallavi Kar

How Pallavi Kar Taps in to Challenges to Grow 

“What Next?”

Pallavi Kar shoots this query every three months to herself.

After taking stock of where she’s reached, both personally and professionally, Ms. Pallavi decides where she wants to be and chalks out a path to it.

Next, she swings into action.

This conscious mind-mapping lets the Associate Director of Human Resources at Table Space Technologies in Bengaluru stay on the course to add value to people’s lives and organizations.

“You need to be mindful of your contribution,” she says. “That’s how you create impact.”

An HR professional for 16 years, Ms. Pallavi likes to live each day as it comes. Yet each day she looks for an opportunity to add value somewhere.

And she believes in the virtue of learning forever. “The moment you think you’ve learnt enough is when you stop growing,” she suggests.

Where it all began

It was at the start of career as a finance professional at ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company Limited that Ms. Pallavi realized her passion for HR.

After being promoted, she was sent for training where learning and development (L&D) sessions fascinated her.

“It was a profound moment and I thought this is what I want to do. It seemed like an exciting role which could bring me fulfillment,” she recalls.

But her work experience didn’t match the profile requirements. Still, in a few years, she got a break in training at Amway, which sells health and beauty products.

Her grounding in L&D – and people processes in general – was laid here.

“The experience taught me that training is about understanding your learners’ needs and delivering information in a palatable way. You break down the information to increase absorption,” she adds.

Even today, her experience in finance comes in handy. “It helps in the cost management part of HR. I present proposals in a persuasive manner to stakeholders with a focus on the return on investment,” she says.

Power of empathy 

Ms. Pallavi is keen to take on challenges and believes in learning from failures to emerge stronger.

At Amway, when her manager asked her to observe a focus group discussion with senior business owners, she was enthusiastic about the learning opportunity.

Clutching a pen and paper, she was ready to take notes.

But right at the outset of the meeting, the manager pointed to her and said: “Pallavi has recently joined us and will handle this region. So, Pallavi, why don’t you take over from here?”

“I was unprepared and failed miserably,” recalls Ms. Pallavi, who had led the discussion.

Yet she remembers her learning about listening to others first before responding. “You can’t always direct people to do something. Empathy is the key here.”

Bouncing back from failures 

When leaders reposed faith in her, Ms. Pallavi could embrace challenges – and failures – fearlessly.

Eight years into her career, she was tasked with devising a learning management system for a microfinance firm transitioning into a small finance bank.

“We were scaling the workforce to 18,000 from 10,000 employees. And most were school graduates,” she adds. “They had to be trained to assume greater responsibilities.”

Despite meticulous planning and reviews by leaders, the project derailed soon after the implementation.

When Ms. Pallavi later admitted to her helplessness to the firm’s HR head, she was asked: “But what did you learn from this experience?”

“I haven’t really thought about it,” Ms. Pallavi replied.

“Failures are going to happen, and I am still going to support you,” the HR head reassured her. “I know your intentions were right. Just analyze what you could’ve done better.”

Back at the drawing board, Ms. Pallavi realized:

  • There was no pilot project first.
  • Not enough desktops were available for employees and the learning module wasn’t compatible with mobile phones.
  • Employees couldn’t focus on the modules as there were distractions at the office. Perhaps offering them headphones could have helped.

Within two months, a renewed project was up and running again. And Ms. Pallavi was still at the helm.

The ‘Swayam’ project is still running at Ujjivan Small Finance Bank despite Ms. Pallavi having left the organization a decade ago.

Deliver value each day

Instead of being engrossed in transactional tasks, focus on the contributions you make to individual lives and organizations, stresses Ms. Pallavi.

This realization struck her when she was spurned for a leadership role, despite working hard for it by laying HR processes at an organization and stating her expectations clearly.

“I was majorly involved in transactional tasks. I was doing what I was told to do. But I didn’t exhibit the vision of a leader,” she recalls.

Focus on growth

As for the values she abides by, Ms. Pallavi believes in an empathetic approach over an aggressive one to seek cooperation from others.

“All you need is some empathy and authenticity to connect with people,” she says.

Second, communication must be transparent, simple, frequent, clear and reiterative.

Also, you must focus on developing yourself.

For this, she takes at least one certification course every year.

Further, she relies on coaches and mentors – both seniors and juniors. “Younger employees keep you closer to the ground reality,” says Ms. Pallavi, who mentors housewives wishing to restart careers.

Career Highlights

2022 – Present
Associate Director of Human Resources at Table Space Technologies

2019 – 2022
Learning and Development Manager at Reliance Retail

2016 – 2019
Manager- Learning & Development at Ujjivan Small Finance Bank Limited

2014 – 2016
Faculty member at Manipal Global Education Services

2012 – 2013
Deputy Training Manager at HDFC Life Insurance

2011 – 2012
Training Manager (agency) at Max Newyork Life Insurance

2010 – 2011
Training Manager at PNP Fund Management

2007 – 2009
Executive – Training at Amway India Enterprises

2006 – 2007
Unit Manager at ICICI Prudential Life Insurance

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