British Petroleum to aid Reliance Industries in Revamping Human Resources Practices

David on Dec 2, 2015

MUMBAI: Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries (RIL) has kicked off an exercise to implement a few contemporary human resource practices of its joint venture partner BP Plc, as it prepares to nurture diverse talent to face the challenges of future. A team led by oil giant BP’s vice-president (HR) David Oxley is currently in Mumbai to review RIL’s HR systems. BP executives and RIL’s HR team are, in fact, working together to introduce large-scale digitisation and technology deployment for various people processes.

“Reliance is looking at an upgrade of its people processes and practices to prepare it for the next wave(s) of growth. It believes that our aspirations will need differentiated calibre of leadership and domain depth in all our businesses. David Oxley, a VP of HR at BP, is spending time with us along with a set of other HR practitioners of BP to help us review and strengthen our HR systems,” Prabir Jha, head of Human Resources, RIL, said in an email response.

 

India’s largest private sector company, which is fast expanding its global operations, is looking to mould talent who can take up responsibilities anywhere in the world. RIL had conceived a programme called Reliance Accelerated Leadership Programme (RALP) in 2010 to groom a new breed of future leaders.

The new exercise will also seek to look at talent differently in its fast-growing retail and telecom businesses. These sectors require new-age employees who are keen to work in companies which offer work-life balance. RIL has been hiring talent from premier management institutes, guys who enjoy their work and leisure in equal measure. “We need to proactively reorient our practices for the new-age employees and remain the preferred talent destination,” Jha said. RIL has moved over to a five-day week for all its companies from April 1 as part of its efforts to reorient its practices to the changing employee demographics. “This is part of a business transformation process,” RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani had said in an internal note to employees in March this year.

As part of the business transformation initiative, senior managers have been given powers to speed up the decision-making process, which involves transfer of power to control expenses which was earlier in the hands of a higher authority.

“Reliance consistently reviews its set of delegated authority at different levels to help improve the speed of decision making and balance authority with accountability. This constant re-articulation has defined our ability to take expeditious decisions to enable customer delight,” Jha added. The revamp of HR systems signals a radical shift in its approach towards people as it focuses more on consumer-centric business.

“If RIL were to compete with global multinationals, they need to learn from what other companies are doing and bring in best practices. If the company successfully marries its intrinsic strengths such as scale and flawless execution with global HR practices, it will be a great combination going forward,” said K Sudarshan, managing partner (Asia), EMI International, a global search firm.

RIL had different strategies at varied points of time to manage its challenges revolving around human resources. In the first 10 years after 1991, when it was hungry for growth, it hired many public sector managers to set up huge refining capacities. It was RIL veteran VV Bhatt who shaped RIL’s HR policies then. Bhatt bought several executives from public sector oil companies such as ONGC, IPCL and Indian Oil.

In 2012, when RIL grappled with slowdown in key businesses and prepared to expand its bouquets to include new areas such as telecom and media and push forward in retail, it launched a Reliance Accelerated Leadership Programme, (RALP), a programme conceived and conceptualised for developing a new reservoir of executives for top leadership roles within the organisation.

Source: The Economic Times, Sabarinath M, ET Bureau May 8, 2014, 04.00AM IST