“I look for consistency in what the candidate has written in the resume as well as what they are talking about in the interview” – In conversation with Abhishek De, Talent Acquisition Lead at Alcon Laboratories, Inc.
1. Please tell us about your academic and professional background. What responsibilities does your designation entail?
I did from my graduation from Bangalore University in Genetics. Realizing that I wasn’t cut out for research, I decided to change track into management. I am a double Masters in Management from ICFAI Business School, Hyderabad and Tata Institute of Social Sciences. At ICFAI, I was ranked third across campuses. After ICFAI, I joined TCS as an HR Business Partner supporting the telecom vertical. I worked with TCS for 3 years before going for my second masters at TISS, Mumbai. I completed my course at TISS as the silver medallist from my batch.
I did my summer internship with Microsoft and got a pre-placement offer. I joined Microsoft in Hyderabad as a Staffing Consultant for the Bing Apps division. As part of my role, I was responsible for scaling up hiring for Bing apps and grew the team from 30 to over 250 in 2 years. I also took on the additional role as Sourcing Program manager for Microsoft India Development Center, driving sourcing excellence.
I then moved to LinkedIn in Bengaluru to lead sales and consulting hiring. At LinkedIn I played multiple roles as Employer Branding Lead, Exec Search Lead for India, and worked as part of a global cross functional team to redefine the LinkedIn Recruiter Certification.
After working with LinkedIn for over 2.5 years, I joined Alcon as India Leader of Talent Acquisition and HR Business Partner for Enabling Functions and Technical Services. I then got the additional responsibility as the Lead for Talent Acquisition for APAC as a region. I lead talent acquisition strategy along with the HR Heads of the countries. I am also responsible for bringing the Employee Value Proposition and Executive Search to life across Alcon Asia Pacific.
2. You’ve worked across a wide range of industries/sectors throughout your career? What are some standout moments as you look back on them?
Some moments that come to mind readily are across my stints.
- At TCS, it was about learning the ropes of HR in my first ever corporate job.
- Then, it was bagging the Pre-Placement offer from Microsoft and going on to win a couple of Impact awards in my 2 years at Microsoft.
- At LinkedIn, the biggest moment was being the first ever Indian to win the Global Leadership Award for Recruitment. Additionally, At LinkedIn, another great high was being able to lead the branding for the first ever non tech hackathon co-hosted by LinkedIn and Accenture.
- At Alcon, my standout moment was to get the campus program for India off the ground in 2017 and winning the Global Award for HR excellence in 2017.
3. What are some of the organizations you admire for their culture?
I think each organization has a very unique culture and luckily, all organizations that I have worked at have had values that are very close to my heart. Being a third generation Tata employee, TCS will always be special to me for the culture which has stood the test of time. I admire Microsoft for its agility and being able to re-create culture that resonates with all employees. LinkedIn has very strong consistency of the culture across teams and regions. Alcon on the other hand, has gone through a very tough time without compromising on their values and keeping the culture sacred.
4. What would you say is a solid way for a candidate to catch your attention?
I look for consistency in what the candidate has written in the resume as well as what they are talking about in the interview. Another sure shot way to gain brownie points with me is showcasing passion about their work and passion about the organization that they are interviewing with. I also look for an updated LinkedIn profile with artefacts of the passion for work demonstrated through articles, posts and shares.
I once had a candidate writing to me with a presentation as to how he would help impact the business. That demonstrated all the above. I called him up for the interview immediately 🙂
5. You are also the co-lead for the diversity and inclusion efforts at Alcon. What are some of the actions you’re taking in that role?
This is the most challenging role that I have taken up in a long time. We are trying to redefine diversity beyond just gender issues and hiring more women in the workforce. We are building a culture that is more enabling and inclusive. We are doing this through various events, forums, story-sharing sessions and awareness initiatives.
In parallel, we are opening up our talent pool to more women, physically challenged professionals, professionals with diverse background and people across different age demographics.
1. One gadget you cannot live without?
My smartphone with my life essential apps.
2. What do you love the most about your city, Bengaluru?
I love the greenery and the climate
3. How do you keep up with the latest HR news, industry trends?
I follow multiple thought leaders on LinkedIn. I also subscribe to HBR and Cornell feeds. Being a voracious reader, I manage to catch up on my reading over weekends. Attending industry meets also helps in sharpening the saw for me.
4. Your hobbies and interests?
I enjoy reading, watching movies, learning new negotiating techniques from my 4 year old and indulging in great food.
5. If not in the current profession, you would have been?
I would have been an author or a food critic
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