INTERVIEW: IMTIAZ HUSSAIN: HR HEAD BERGER PAINTS

SHAHZEB KHANZADA
Oct 08 - 21, 2007

Syed Imtiaz Hussain is head of HR in Berger paints. He is associated with Berger since last ten years. Imtiaz Hussain has written a book on human resource titled "HR global challenges" which was recently published in September 2007.

PAGE: what are the main challenges, globally faced by the organizations in the world in terms of human resource?

IMTIAZ HUSSAIN: the two biggest challenges which are also the biggest problems faced by the organizations in the world and in Pakistan are

i) Shortage of skilled human resource.

ii) Retaining the talent

However, these two compliment each other in a way that the shortage of human resource has made it very difficult to retain the talent. The growth in the corporate world has increased the demand for human resource worldwide and hence result is the shortage of skilled man power.

PAGE: it is generally believed that Pakistan is a rich country in term of human resource and most of its population is in the age bracket of less than 30 years. Why this problem is largely faced by Pakistani organizations?

IMTIAZ HUSSAIN: it is true that Pakistan has a large population under the age bracket of 30 years which is normally not the case in the developed world. However, it is very unfortunate that no practical measures were taken by the past governments for the training of such a huge asset. As a result, you pick any industry and you can easily identify the excess supply of unskilled human resource that is ready to work at any cost. However, when it comes to skilled human resource, you will find a very reverse of this phenomenon where organizations are willing to pay higher salaries to the skilled manpower in order to retain the existing personnel and also to attract the human resource from other organizations.

PAGE: are you facing same problem at Berger?

IMTIAZ HUSSAIN: Definitely yes, it is a big problem to retain and search for the skilled human resource at Berger. As an example, its been a long time that we have been searching for the successor of out GM technical but all efforts have been futile so far in this regard.

PAGE: it is generally believed that job switching is a problem more relevant to the young generation. Is it true??

IMTIAZ HUSSAIN: yes it is true. One of the reasons for that is the huge demand which was never there before. It happens so often now that Workers receive job calls from other organizations and hence make frequent job switches. Another reason for this phenomenon is the volatile attitude among young generation in order to achieve their goals in a short span of time. There is nothing wrong if one is very ambitious towards his career growth but relative benefits should intelligently and cautiously be considered before making a career decision.

PAGE: Is the difference in monetary benefits the main reason for this increased job turn over by the young generation?

IMTIAZ HUSSAIN: it is one of the reasons but not the only reason. Career growth is usually the key motive behind such important decision making. However, certain other factors like organizational politics also drive efficient workers away from the organizations. Organizational politics is much higher in Pakistan and despite some good developments in the working environment in Pakistan this problem still persists at a very large scale.

PAGE: what are the reasons for this poor estate of human resource and organizational culture in Pakistan?

IMTIAZ HUSSAIN: the Government has always remained the largest employment provider in Pakistan. Seniority based promotions have always been the major stumbling block in motivating the employees for working efficiently. The culture had developed where accountability was never there and hence bad practices were adopted by the employees. This is the main reason behind poor estate of human resource and organizational culture in Pakistan.

PAGE: what role have private sector and multinational companies played for bringing a change in the organizational environment in Pakistan?

IMTIAZ HUSSAIN: the private sector and the multinational companies in Pakistan have played a vital role in bringing a change in organizational environment in Pakistan. Training and performance based promotions have changed the way young human resource perceives their organizations. It has helped a great deal in the growth of the organizations.

PAGE: Berger has seen an amazing turn around in its financials in last few years. What measures were taken by the organization for this?

IMTIAZ HUSSAIN: management took different policy decisions for changing the working style within the organization. In past, human resource was trained to answer the technical queries of the customers which earned a bad image for the company. After technical Training, the entire human resource is well updated and able to market the company's products properly. Another important measure was to adopt the open door policy. All the executives including chief executive are approachable by the lower staff. Promotions are given on the basis of performance and those getting less are briefed about the reasons for this. In a nutshell, the management has tried and is still trying to take all possible measures to ensure employee satisfaction and retention.

PAGE: do you think that the role of HR has changed in the modern era?

IMTIAZ HUSSAIN: yes. In past, HR was limited to recruitment. However, HR now plays an important role in the human resource development which is ultimately translated in the organizational development. HR of today has much to do in designing a career path for their employees. At burger, we keep a good eye on each and every employee and whenever there is a vacancy at higher levels, it is always preferred that efficient workers within the organization should be promoted. The growth of Berger is the result of team work brought by a motivated human resource.