Employee Speak: Binno Joseph, CEO, The HR Practice ; V5 Issue 1

About Binno Joseph

Binno Joseph an alumnus of XLRI has a decade and half experience that cuts across five diverse industries. He started his career with Madura Coats, at their Madurai Plant. He joined The HR Practice in the capacity of a CEO on June 1st, 2011. He has worked with Hindustan Times Media, Accenture, HCL and Pepsico amongst others. In his own words every now and then he loves to push himself into ‘higher planes of discomfort!’ Here is catching up with him as he shares his moments of truth with the ‘Prerana’ readers.

  1. Have you always wanted to be in the field of Human Resources or were there other dreams that you had while growing up?

    Honestly HR was something I heard of only in the final semester of my engineering. My first dream was to be a pilot, then to be somewhere with the services. I almost joined the air force clearing SSB, in the engineering cadre.

  2. What challenges did you face in pursuing your dreams? How did you tackle them?

    I am not sure whether many people are endowed with clarity of what they are good at and not so good at in black and white. In that sense the first step was to know what/where I want to be. But I guess it’s always there at least as a hazy image. The challenge was to translate that to a touch and feel picture of where one should invest the 10000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell talks about.

    I started with engineering because I was good with numbers. But then I realised that talking to machines was not my calling, I wanted to get to somewhere that gives me legroom to use my right brain a bit more. So I got into the management stream which again was somewhere in that hazy image I talked of before.

    In reality one has to deal with a variety of constraints; for e.g. in a designated role, you have deliverables in domains which might not be in adherence to where your heart lies. For one, I kept seeking opportunities within the constraints of a designation to see if I can bring value in ways unique to me. To me, that was slightly different from looking at it say, as “I seem to be dragged into this for a living …”, and when I did manage to, those were moments of satisfaction and pride.

  3. That’s interesting! So then, how did you stumble upon HR?

    Sometimes I think planning ahead is a lot similar to driving in peak traffic. A regular person behind wheels sees the three buses blocking his/her way ahead, whereas a good driver can visualise the path and he is not concentrating on the constraints ahead. When that split second opportunity comes, he is ready with the right engine speed and is on the right gear to propel. Everyone else loses out while he advances.

    Two values are central to me – courage and pride. Thanks to my parents, I did not come under extreme pressure to be always orthodox in my outlook. Hence I had the freedom to take some risks earlier on in life. Pursuing HR was one such adventure for an engineering graduate as was seen by my near and dear ones. Though my dad did not use these precise words, he more or less conveyed to me “I will not hold you guilty of failing, if it is from trying out something that you believe in.”

  4. What factors helped you succeed in this alternate professional life you adopted?

    I guess there are multiple perspectives possible to every single situation. If one extends that a bit, there are multiple ways of coming to the same end result also. As Dr Kalam puts it, the peaks are crucial, but one should be able to enjoy the sides of the mountain too! In other words you always have the opportunity to bring in that unique value to whatever you do rather than waiting for the D day and the perfect role.

  5. Having worked with large Corporations what prompted you to join a boutique HR consulting firm like The HR Practice?

    Despite being an engineer I am someone who listens to my right brain a lot to the extent of someone saying “That’s a pie in the sky!” And I believe it.

    On one hand it was a belief that you can bring ‘original’ ideas to the table as against say enjoying excellence in execution. Execution excellence is characteristic of big organisations with set practices and thoughts. And on the other, the realisation that one has probably reached a milestone on the learning curve and here is the time to dip into that gold mine and unlock potential. My initial conversations with Anu reaffirmed these thoughts…here was a model where success is measured by how well one strays from trodden paths rather than a vision that is built on compliance.

  6. Did you encounter naysayers, people who discouraged you from pursuing an unconventional career? How did you deal with them or are dealing with them?

    Not naysayers so to say but well wishers who encouraged me to look at it clinically. Well actually prodded me to use my left brain as well! Having said what I have said about listening to my heart, I am also someone who does consume a lot of data and enjoy doing my own analyses with as much inputs as possible. So, most of these conversations with my well wishers included a presentation of two things. One was certainly my desire and conviction. The other was an assessment from a logical point of view. At no point in time was I telling them “This is my decision …this is none of your business” or that “You won’t understand”, it was rather on the lines of “Let me take you through my line of thinking.”

  7. Having joined and been with The HR Practice and its team for a month now, how does it feel?

    If my boss is not reading this …let me just say this is still the honeymoon period and I want to enjoy it for a few more days!

    On a more serious note, the last one month has put me through as many different contexts as I would have gone through in the last decade. The Positive side of that is.... this very same scenario has induced me to exercise my own thinking much more.

    The effort that goes into getting into the client organisation’s shoes and mind amazes me. There was this young girl who said she is associated with manufacturing industry assignment for the first time. I have crisscrossed industry landscape with years in manufacturing too. She taught me a few things that I did not know…well, looks like I am in for some exciting times that would stretch my limits! Looking forward to it ….

  8. In your experience what is the single biggest factor that stops people from following their dreams?

    In my view the biggest riddle of life is making a decision (does that make me sound like Socrates or Plateau?). Life always presents one with multiple scenarios and one goes through the fear of having to regret a decision later on. I say this truly is the battle; constraints are there everywhere. Rather than saying one is constrained by such and such …...it is about taking your own decision and staying on course far enough to be able to realise your dreams.

  9. Instead of living their dreams, many are stuck in jobs they do not like, with bad bosses, and nightmarish workloads. They want to be independent and do what they like, but they don’t want to step out of their financial security zone. What can these people do to build a life of their choice?

    It is important to be armed with awareness; awareness about self as also awareness about what one is getting into. If the surprise factor has not been taken into account then that will be one more demon to deal with! “Forewarned is fore armed!” And if I may add, everything starts with a desire though ‘hope’ is not a management tool! As Robin Sharma puts it “The road to hell is paved with good intentions!”