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New trend in HR leadership roles in India

A new surprising trend has emerged in Indian corporates. Non-HR professionals are gradually taking up HR leadership roles in several companies.

These non-HR leaders are actively pulled from other core functions such as marketing, sales, manufacturing operations, strategy, and even information technology. One of the popular cases is that of Mahindra’s Ruzbeh Irani who will take over as group’s HR head in April this year.
A former strategy head at Hindustan Lever, Irani is the Chief Ethics Officer at Mahindra and has handled various portfolios in the group including being a Brand Head as well as heading the international operations of the automotive and farm sector.

This new trend is being seen as a reflection of the fact that HR has truly emerged as a strategic business partner for the success of an organization. This cross functioning could be a great way to connect people with core-functions and vice versa.

Skeptics, however, do not agree and acknowledge HR as a specialized function that cannot be mixed with other functions. Arguments include crucial points like will an HR head ever be hired to lead the finance or excise team? Similarly, the case of HR functions which also needs specialized skills such as knowledge of labour laws, strong relationship with the unions, etc.

Other large corporates who have appointed non CHROs as their human resource heads include Pidilite.