by Sara Waqar Khan
Khurram Rana (former Human Resource Manager at The Resource Group) is known among his peers as an individual with exceptional intelligence. He is an outstanding Human Resource professional who has the ability to bring creativity and uniqueness together in his work. Khurram Rana holds a diverse academic background. He entered University of Windsor, Canada, for B.Sc. (Hons) in Software Engineering in 2000. But later, in 2001, he went off to York University in order to complete his degree in the same field. Recently, in 2009, he completed his MBA (Executive) in Human Resource Management from the University of Central Punjab. Despite being a Certified Human Resource Professional, he also holds great interest in art and anthropology.
CodeWeek: What is your opinion on the talent we have in Pakistan? And how far recruitment firms have been successful in reaching out to them?
Khurram: Pakistan has extreme amount of talent which needs to be channelized. One thing I believe we need is to canvass human psyche. If you are from United Sates of America and watch their television programs you will always observe them airing Somalia’s famine, Pakistan’s political and Afghanistan’s terrorism. Social welfare programs of other countries are hardly broadcasted. Why? Because they want to show to the world, cultures of countries which are way behind theirs. The main reason for such an attitude is that they want their people to be thankful for the system they have.
As a result, our responsibility as a nation is to show the world the extensive talent which exists here. People should come back home after completing their studies and settle here. It is also the responsibility of recruitment department to make employees realize the importance of his fact. Many professionals from TRG are offered employment opportunities from foreign organizations. Yes they do offer good payments but it is a fact that foreigners do not permit Asians on higher positions, thus we lack opportunities outside Pakistan.
When it comes to reaching out to that talent Software professionals are really well connected. Before we advertise jobs, we have 100 CVs already in our inbox. People are always on the lookout for applying at high profile companies. We hold a very strong place in the market and advertising is quite extensive. But when it comes to networking and references, advertising takes a back seat. We go through at least 1000 to 1500 candidates per month. Out of which 90 per cent are referred through our own employees.
CodeWeek: Is there any difference between MBA and Human Resource professional course?
Khurram: There is a major of difference between the two. The courses which are taught remain mainly a guide line. At the end of the day it depends entirely on the individual on how he applies and utilizes these guidelines in his work. There practical application is the responsibility of a professional.
Human Resource as profession and is professional degrees do not give experience and exposure. They are merely guidelines for a newbie. In a profession where there are individuals involved everything boils down to practicality. There are many tests where you can judge an individual but at the same time these tests do not hold much weight. Because it is extremely easy to dodge a psychometric test and thus it is not exactly a reliable tool. At the end of the day it boils down to an individual’s understanding and experience.
Thus, when I hire someone, I go for a person who is honest, sincere and empathetic. One who is understanding, and who can easily realize what the others issue is. One who can easily perceive reality from an entirely different and unique perspective.
CodeWeek: What makes TRG an attractive employer for job seekers?
Khurram: There is the strong bond which exists between the employees. It is the culture of The Resource Group, TRG, which transforms it into an extremely attractive employer. The organization works on two sides. We have a very strong presence in the Call Centre industry and a Dominating presence in the Software Industry as well. Whether they are in Pakistan, or anywhere in the world it is the professional bond which sets us apart from other such organizations.
CodeWeek: Is there any concept of Employer branding in TRG?
Khurram: The Resource Group actively follows employer branding. We do not believe in advertisement. We have a very innovative Marketing and a Sales Department. HR does internal branding, team activities. When we hire people we try to hire those who are fit for this culture and environment. Many qualified individuals unfortunately do not make it, as many cannot fit here. We generally want people who are tolerant upon people. It all in the end depends upon the human resource department. The way they hire the way they judge despite cast and creed.
CodeWeek: Do you think HR is still being confused with personal/admin dept. in Pakistan? Why have they been unable to overcome this change?
Khurram: Human Resource has a very large scope. Universities are churning large number of Human Resource graduates every year, but even then it is not making any profound difference on the mindset. The main problem here is that mind set needs to be changed, we need to leave old habits far behind and move forward with time. Here people still think that only admin has authority. They believe that only admin is responsible for hiring and firing employees.
Companies are hiring consultants and professionals in order to introduce Human Resource in their companies. But on the other hand, some people at excellent seats and positions condemn and criticize the existence of such a department. Reluctance to accept change is what keeping Human Resource from rapid growth. There are hurdles; there are very successful professionals who are persistent in making positive change in attitudes. This, Human Resource has a long way towards maturity in our country. We cannot change mindset in a fortnight, it takes time.
CodeWeek: In your opinion what is the scope of Strategic HR in Pakistan?
Khurram: A company cannot achieve anything until and unless the people who are working in the company are not on board with company’s philosophy. We do include a lot of things in our strategy. Two years ago we made a plan at TRG. We were 5 percent strategic in HR, while 95% of the work we did was mostly clerical and administrative. By now we are 35% strategic and in the next 4 years our aim is to go for 50 per cent. Considering current market dynamic 50 percent strategic is the best number. It is considered as a fantastical dream, but we will achieve it.
Most of the call centers in Pakistan have based their entire system on what TRG is doing. We train people, we groom them. We have had individuals at junior posts that moved off to smaller startups and were promoted to managers overnight. And that is mainly because we trained them well.
CodeWeek: Tell us about different corporate social activities carried out by TRG?
Khurram: TRG is always very active as far as its corporate social responsibility is concerned. At the moment we are working for Indonesian flood victims. In the past we also participated in various such relief programs. The TRG volunteers went with food and required goods along with financial support. This time we are working with the Red Crescent and Edhi foundation in Karachi. On the other hand, we also organize blood banks. Every couple of months we also work with Thalassemia foundation for the younger ones. Thalassemia foundation in Lahore and Karachi also works with Fatimid foundation
CodeWeek: Any Parting Words
Khurram: Choose your words and steps wisely; you never know who will quote you later.