In the movie Piku, Deepika Padukone's eponymous character fondly recalls the registered address of the fictional company her father once worked for in Kolkata: "37 Virginia House, Park Lane". The address is uncannily similar to an actual one - Virginia House, 37 JL Nehru Road, Kolkata. Curiously, the latter is also the headquarters of ITC Ltd, inarguably one of India's most prestigious blue chip companies.
In portraying Piku's pride in her father's old job, the film merely feeds off the aura around the real Virginia House, today synonymous with ITC that straddles sectors as diverse as FMCG, hotels, tobacco, paperboards and packaging, stationery, agri-business and IT.
This pride of association with Virginia House has also been illustrated empirically by global HR consultancy IBM Kenexa. According to a 2016 employee engagement survey by Kenexa, 93 per cent of ITC's near-30,000 employees are proud to be part of the Rs 54,000-crore group. "Globally, this is one of the highest," says R. Sridhar, Head, Corporate Human Resources, ITC Ltd. "People leave (ITC) with a heavy heart." The reason, contends Sridhar, is employee engagement at two levels: job context, and job content.
The first comprises benefits such as stock options and accommodation; ITC is one of the few companies which till date offers housing to its managers.
The second - job content - involves keeping the workforce motivated, and work towards a goal of a `1 lakh crore turnover from new FMCG businesses by 2030. The company today has over 1,000 Stock Keeping Units or distinct product types, which are constantly expanded. In the bargain, avers B. Sumant, President, FMCG Businesses, ITC is creating "preneurs" - a portmanteau of professional managers and entrepreneurs. "Every launch is like a start-up," he says. "This creates new challenges and opportunities, it keeps people excited and motivated."
Career counselling is a regular practice that involves a "dialogue" with employees to plan their progress within ITC. Faculty from reputed business schools, including Harvard and INSEAD, are also invited to conduct workshops on strategy and product development.
Alongside, employees are rotated across various business segments, exposing them to new roles and responsibilities. Sumant himself has undergone the process several times during his 30-odd years with ITC. "People never find themselves stagnating," says Sridhar.
The author is a Kolkata-based freelance journalist