Prithvi Shergill– Founder, Advisor, Investor, Researcher, Ideapreneur
- Kindly brief us about the outset story of your career since the beginning.
My professional journey began when I realised that value gets created by combining purpose, people, and proficiency.
Experiencing this in local and national leadership positions and international training with student associations such as AIESEC led me to join AT&T in 1990, where I worked in several HR roles across the USA, Philippines, India, and then Singapore which helped me to understand how important it is for HR to be aligned with business objectives and ensure people practices create happiness.
My mandate from 2002 was to transform HR service delivery, using technology and shared service models to impact organisational effectiveness and enable effective integration with joint venture companies.
In 2004, I joined Accenture, progressing to be a Partner, working closely with internal stakeholders to shape strategy and ensure execution, enhancing the maturity of policies, processes, practices, and platforms impacting leadership, talent, and culture. These served as the foundation of the growth engines for its businesses across technology, consulting, and operations. My assignments in Accenture led me to work on the human capital strategy to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of business operations, value creation, and people development in various contexts, cultures, and countries.
Then I was appointed as Chief Human Resources Officer at HCL Technologies in 2012, where I played a pivotal role in the reset of the talent strategy to re-energise the culture founded on the strategic intent of putting “Employees First, Customers Second”, seeding, nurturing and harvesting Ideapreneurship to multiply profitability and innovation. My experience at HCL Technologies helped shape my experience and expertise on the need for systemic operating models and solutions, combining technology and talent.
These experiences at different companies across countries have helped me to develop a distinctive perspective on the opportunities HR and leaders have in engaging, enabling, and empowering people to build their proficiency and performance.
After transitioning to be an entrepreneur, I established Tomorrow with colleagues who had shared beliefs in the opportunity to refresh people management by stewarding digital transformation initiatives with an outcome orientation.
Tomorrow merged with entomo, where their expertise and experience were codified into a people experience platform that enterprises of tomorrow use to transform performance, talent, and learning.
- What inspired you to become a business consultant?
I have always remained committed to investing in creating capacity, enhancing ability, capturing creativity, and driving change leading to growth.
My career as a business consultant allows me to engage with multiple communities across cultures and countries to help companies and people become the best versions of themselves.
My intentions, promises, and actions are rooted in the belief that professional consultants should act as trusted advisors to their clients, demonstrating ownership to understand context and shape customized solutions that translate strategy to action. I believe that success requires a deep understanding of the drivers of the client’s business and culture and relationships that truly go beyond the contract.
- As a successful leader, which three personal qualities do you believe contributed most to your success?
I emphasize that the commitment to demonstrate Empathy, apply Adaptability, and build Relationships are three of the most crucial personal qualities that have contributed to my success. By developing Empathy, a leader can connect with stakeholders on a deeper level, understand their pain points, and create a work model that delivers desired results in a culture that is fostered by inclusivity, respect, and collaboration.
In today’s fast-paced business environment, change is constant, and leaders must be able to role model Adaptability in changing circumstances, by remaining resilient, agile, and forward-thinking, thereby responding proactively to be future-ready.
Finally, I see building transparent Relationships with employees, customers, and stakeholders as essential in inspiring trust, which is the fuel to have people commit to applying their abilities authentically.
- How do you keep yourself up to date with the latest technology, trends, research, etc. to give up-to-date service to clients?
I believe in staying updated with the latest technology, trends, and research, and I achieve this by being curious about things that I do not know, have exposure to, or have experience with.
To reach the right decisions, I demand it be evidence-based – and seek data that can be translated into information and insight which inspires the right action.
I can often be seen seeking out time with people one-on-one to learn from them, attending industry conferences to learn from audiences I engage with, seeking response and reaction to ideas on online forums, – and seeing “networking” as building a mutually beneficial association.
- What were some of your biggest technology challenges?
I tell that one of the biggest challenges for professionals, including myself, remains co-creating enterprise-wide people enablement technology solutions whose value can be seen in their awareness, adoption, and assimilation to truly augment practices, processes, and policies.
The need to appreciate context on what needs to be continued, started, or stopped, given organisational dynamics, often fuelled by cultural differences, language barriers, and different regulatory requirements, is essential. While many technology products profess to be the best in class, the ability to navigate away from the “one-size-fit-all” solution as often is not fit for purpose, to what will make design and deployment distinctive is a collective and individual skill.
- What have been the toughest obstacles you faced in your career and how did you overcome them?
I believe that measuring and managing change is one of the toughest obstacles professionals continue to be faced with.
I say that while change is uncomfortable, leaders need to be able to do more than communicate, train people and address employees’ concerns about the change.
Investing time and effort to explain the context and build the capability to reset, reimagine and reinvent policies, processes, practices, and platforms is what leads to accelerating from today and changing to be ready for tomorrow.
- Mention some of the notable recognitions and accreditations received by your organization and person.
I have been humbled to have represented my teams to receive several notable recognitions – some of the more memorable ones being the:
- Asia Human Capital Summit Award from the Human Capital Leadership Institute and Ministry of Manpower in Singapore twice, with Accenture in 2009 and with HCL Technologies in 2015, honouring innovative people practices adopted by Asia-based organisations.
- Stevie Award, for Best Human Resources Department with Accenture in 2012 and for International Business with entomo in 2021 and 2022.
- Brandon Hall Awards for Talent Management with Accenture in 2012 and with entomo in 2021 and 2022.
- Forbes Award for HCL recognising it as one of the fastest growing companies in 2012 (which continued until 2017-18 with revenue increased from $4.9 billion to $8.6 billion, net income grew from $859 million to $1.5 billion, and EPS increased from $1.33 to $2.32, representing growth of each of these metrics by approx. 175%.)
and many others.
More than the awards, the opportunity to share the experiences of the work I have stewarded with other leaders and teams at various events, as a member of the SHRM Think Tank or the Economic Times Advisory Council – and at educational institutions such as Harvard Business School, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore as well as many others, using case studies published to capture the learnings from my career journey has been most fulfilling.
- There is no denying that technology has a big impact on almost every industry. So, how do you use technological advancements in your company?
I believe that technology is critical to democratising and institutionalising the practice of leadership across all levels – as is the fuel for innovation and growth.
The best way I can demonstrate this is by using our own entomo, People Experience products to engage, enable and empower people to Perform, Grow, Act, Engage, and Learn. entomo products augment intelligence, powered by process automation and analytics.
We see this in various industry-specific features that align policy, process, and practice on the platform to translate the efficiency drivers for that domain into effectiveness.
By experimenting every day to consider how we can assimilate technological advancements into our product to transform the way we live, work, and interact with one another leads to new ideas for new products or services.
- Do you have a mantra that you live by?
My school motto is “Never Give In” – which has remained my driving principle as I pursue my purpose.
Applying this to all efforts leads to mixing perseverance with passion in bringing ideas to life.
In this journey, I always insist that we take the “high road as the view is always better”.
This ensures I never sweat the small stuff and put the long-term value of the relationship ahead of the short-term quality of the interaction.
I see the experience as making me richer than making more money – and see the stories I can share with my community as my currency.
- What is your stance on implementing innovative technologies?
I have always been a strong advocate for multiplying the impact talent can have by applying technology.
Over my career, I have seen how new technologies change work design, workforce impact, and workplace strategy. The potential today that is there to change the ways of working using generative AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics will exponentially drive business outcomes.
I believe that every business today is a technology business – and needs to seed, nurture and harvest the creativity and innovation of its stakeholders by shaping constructs to co-create success – and this will require enterprises and people to shape practices so they “fail fast and learn faster”.
- What would be your future endeavors and where do you see yourself in the near future?
I see my purpose to partner with people in the community to build capability, courage, and commitment to change how they perform, learn, and grow.
I see my career journey to date as the path that has opened opportunities to enable me to explore new avenues with teams and people across countries to shape answers for them to reach their potential.
I am energised when I am answering what work needs to be done, who has the skills to do this work and how should the work be done– by having fun while making the world a better place to live in!
- What strategies do you use to engage clients and keep them motivated in today’s unpredictable market situation?
My personal promise continues to be that in every interaction with prospects and clients “I say what I will do and does what I said I will”.
My role when engaging clients is to ensure that the offerings that are represented to them consider reflecting solutions that will deliver the desired business outcomes and values that are important to them. These offerings are premised on an evolving point of view on the drivers of enterprise and employee performance and growth.
Ensuring that investments are made in technology that grows the ability to provide access to clients in an affordable construct to the deep understanding needed of trends emergent related to the future of work, workforce, and workplace and their implications is being accelerated by me in my circle of influence. These are then translated into a receiver-centric construct that engages users and learners. Customer centricity is tested by measuring their engagement, enablement, and empowerment to impact people’s experience.