Business Today

KM Birla and Aroon Purie on Gen Y in the workforce

At the Nasscom India Leadership Forum 2012, Kumar Mangalam Birla talks to Aroon Purie about today's tech-savvy workers.

Geetanjali Shukla   Mumbai     Last Updated: February 14, 2012  | 18:43 IST

As more and more millennials enter the work force, companies and organisations need to rethink the way they work to integrate this generation into the workforce. Founding Chairman and Editor-in-chief of the India Today Group, Aroon Purie, caught up with Aditya Birla Group's Chairman, Kumar Mangalam Birla, to find out how his companies are weaving Gen Y into their fold.

Birla, who took charge of the Group when he was 28, declared in the course of the conversation that he thinks "very highly" of Gen Y. He believes that Gen Y is "very committed" to the task at hand and praised their ability to adapt to diversity - a big plus for the Group, which now has a presence in 36 countries.
Birla spends about 40 per cent of his work time on people-related issues and personally tracks the performance and aspirations of 100 people in his Group to build the future pool of leaders for his businesses.

India Today's Purie (Business Today is an India Today publication) also asked whether the Aditya Birla Group is looking at crowd sourcing policies given that Gen Y likes more participation in the decision making process.

"A balance needs to be sought between a more participatory process and becoming a debating society," said Birla. Birla, who took the reins of the Group in 1995, admitted that the seniors in his father's time "did take time in adjusting" to him. "Within 10 years of taking on the role (of a chairman) bulk of the senior management team were different. It has now become a potpourri of cultures," he said.
Purie also asked Birla about Gen Y's drawbacks. Birla repeated oft-discussed issues like the generation's reliance on Internet-based information and their desire that older workers be more tech-savvy. But he also said, "They don't understand the value of an organisation that creates cash. They look at value generation as value that is generated on the stock market."

The Birla Group chairman also said Gen Y workers aren't necessarily committed to the company. "I don't think they connect loyalty with commitment. They are very committed to the task at hand," he said.

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