#07: Anjali Menon, Regional Head of Talent Center of Competence for APAC and Sub-Saharan Africa at Nestlé

About Anjali Menon:

Anjali is an HR leader with over 15 years’ experience with proven expertise in leading transformations, talent management, organization design and development, employee engagement and communication, diversity & inclusion, rewards and HR business partnering, across multiple countries.

Currently, she is the Regional Head of Talent Centre of Competence for Asia Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa, for Nestlé. She is leading a multicultural, semi-virtual team delivering talent acquisition, recruitment marketing, employer branding, leadership and organization development, team effectiveness, coaching, mentoring, diversity & inclusion, and learning and capability building solutions.

Listen to the full discussion here:

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • Download as an MP3 here.

Connect with the Guest:

Anjali Menon: LinkedIn

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • Anjali‘s career story with Nestlé- various transformations she has been part of
  • Enabling hybrid and remote teams to thrive
  • Most important skills required in reaching senior executive roles
  • Career advice for professionals and leaders at different stages

Show notes:

  • [1:35] How was your career story and the meteoric rise you’ve had with Nestlé?
  • [2:20] It gives every individual who is part of this company an opportunity to explore in very diverse ways, it does not matter which function you’re working. There’s no end to how much you can learn and how much you can explore.
  • [4:28] What was your role, as the HR leader in enabling the transformation?
  • [7:25] When there are changes and nobody knows the right way, it’s better to reach out, to understand, to keep on improving, and to move forward. So the only way to move in a transformation status is to ensure that you’re moving forward and ensure you are improving.
  • [8:11] With every transformation, there’s bound to be uncertainty across the organization. How did that translate into the employee experience for Nestlé and what were some practices you put in place to make it as seamless as possible?
  • [8:31] Coming on to the transformational piece, it’s really important to keep people inspired. And that is where I believe communication is the most important thing and communication across the leadership from the top management really defines the purpose of it, and why we are doing it.
  • [10:31] Nestlé has many long standing employees, what is their secret sauce to retaining people for so long? 
  • [11:29] When you have those moments of truth in the organization, people always remember how you felt. So that’s one. The second thing is what’s in it for people for long standing because they have huge exposure and the last and the most important thing is Nestlé allows you to navigate yourself.
  • [12:59] How is Nestlé making sure they reach the young talent and make their brand as an FMCG leader look sexy?
  • [13:28] We created “Nesternships” this virtual Internship Program, which is cutting across 13 clusters in Asia Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa. Last year we had 1200+ interns and this year we already have 500+ interns. We are providing them with upskilling opportunities, exposure in the FMCG and when they go back, they just don’t go back that experience, they go back with much more learning because we also want to give them new skills and leadership capabilities.
  • [14:36] How is Nestlé approaching coaching and mentoring programs and those within your portfolio directly? 
  • [17:23] How did you go about with the COVID-19 transition and how did you put your teams at an advantage when the whole world needed to have that kind of arrangement?
  • [21:03] With hybrid working, it comes naturally to us, we do a few things, we do a lot of team building and we all laugh together by having deeper relationship, even with our virtual team members and sometimes it might entail free flowing conversation, which takes away a lot of your productive time. But believe me, that’s a very important investment for the motivation of the individual.
  • [22:13] Which skills, whether technical or soft skills, are most important for a professional to get into senior level leadership roles?
  • [23:12] So any leader if you want to grow and maximize the outcomes of your team, you have to have openness and humility. The other factor is continuously being a child, you have to be extremely agile and be willing to shift gears, even every quarter. And the last part, which I would say is resilience, step back and take a break for yourself.
  • [24:43] What’s your way to ensure that there is resilience, especially in today’s day and age where we are also seeing people going through a lot of mental health issues because of whatever the pandemic has given rise to?
  • [25:25] I believe it works really well by focusing on people’s strengths, allowing and creating an environment which says it’s okay not to be okay and letting people fail and take those risks and not penalizing them. So these things as organization, as a team being there for each other  and not having competitiveness within the team. We are there together to help each other excel, because your success is my success. 
  • [27:55] What is one thing whether you change something, you stopped doing something, or you started something, which would you think contributed the most to move you into a leadership role?
  • [28:15] I think for me that one thing is when I started looking at the work and the individuals differently. So as an individual, I would not stigmatize you or glorify you.
  • [30:33] What is one piece of advice you would give to have an exciting career like yourself to people who are entering the workforce or have just recently entered the workforce?
  • [31:43] Be very curious, so that you’ll discover your passions and keep on moving. Keep moving, don’t stagnate.

Related Episodes:

#04: Susana Elvira, VP, Global Head of Human Resources – Ocean and Logistics at A.P. Moller – Maersk

#05: Sonali Roychowdhury, VP HR, Supply Chain & Labour Relations at P&G

#06: Agnes Goh, Talent Acquisition Vice President, SAPMENA at L’Oréal

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