Over the last two decades, Ajeyo Rohitashwo ~ Al Quazi has distinguished himself as both a corporate leader and a creative mind. A talented HR generalist, lovingly called 'corporate poet' by his peers, Ajeyo now leads as Group Chief People Office of Aamra Companies, one of the largest names in the IT and services industry. Ajeyo has been recently ranked 46th in CHRO Asia's "100 most talented global HR leaders". The first ever live mobile app on Bangla poems 'Ajeyo Kobita' portrays his writings and is available on the Google Playstore.
The power of 'we'–Aamra believes people are the heart of the business. Can you tell us a little about the concept?
It is the people who matter the most in business. Nobody is perfect–everyone has their strengths and limitations. When people come together, it is their synergy that brings forth the ultimate success. That is the power of 'we'. Remember, business is not only about generating money. Creating a reputation and a positive image is the most important thing. Money is a logical consequence.
'Employees now aspire to a career instead of looking for a job'–is this true?
Yes, it is true. In Aamra, we do not just provide a job, we provide a career. It's not easy to get a job at Aamra. When we create a position, we determine the personal attributes required for it besides setting the academic requirements. We also create something called a career path, which will determine where this employee will go in the next five years, given that he/she is still in the same position.
We have a rigorous interview process. In the first phase we have an interactive oral session where we identify the personal attributes in you. Then there is an online core competency test. We also take stress and situational tests. If you pass all these phases, you get a call for a meeting with the CEO. So once we recruit someone, we retain him or her.
How do you keep employees motivated?
'Are you excited to come to work every day?'–we make sure the answer is yes for all our employees. If the excitement is missing, something is wrong. We are innovative and try to do new things. For example, it is not possible for the board to know each and every individual. So what we do is we bring five employees from different department and they have lunch together with the board. Moreover, we have an anonymous session named 'Let Us Know', where employees can share their grievances.
When is the best time to make a change in your career?
The moment you are not excited. The moment you do not feel like you belong. When you feel you are not proud of being in the organisation. When you are doubtful of your contribution to the organisation–make a change. For you the organisation would be a liability and vice versa.
People often mention that experience requirement is a hindrance for moving up a career. Do you think there is such a conflict?
See, I might know how to swim in a swimming pool. So I can swim in the river with that learning. But can I swim in the ocean? Experience has something that differentiates the fresh graduate from the experienced candidate. But it's not only age that gives you an edge. Your personality and intention to learn also matter. These two complement each other. One makes you agile and able to act, another one makes you think strategically. Skill and experience go hand in hand.
What do you look for in a candidate during recruitment?
I look for positivity, communication skills and presence of mind in a candidate. See for an entry-level post, we do not look for any job experience. If someone has a positive attitude as well as presence of mind, it is assumed that they have a high level of IQ. In addition, if the candidate is adaptable he is fit for recruitment. We do not expect that he or she knows everything. We will build him–that’s what we are here for. Every entry-level employee goes through 72 hours of training at Aamra. We believe that’s enough to make him one of us. But what we cannot do is transform a pessimist or a loner.
What do you think motivates the new generation in terms of career–salary or fringe benefits?
The new generation is addicted to being in the moment. They do what they want when they want. So there is a gap between real and actual need. If I restrict Facebook in my office, maybe 30 percent of my staff would leave. This generation is highly ambitious and wants to live life to the fullest. So it is not only the salary that motivates them. It’s the work environment, organisational culture and the people around them that matter. A more involving career will excite them more.
Do you think HR is a support function?
In Aamra, HR has expanded the horizons of our employees. We seniors here say one thing–our job is to make ourselves obsolete. We focus on optimising and growing our employees. People will move up the ladder when there is someone to push you.
Any suggestions to the students who are about to enter the corporate world?
Extracurriculars are required. For example, if you’re considering a career in HR, it’s important to be involved in extracurricular activities that require communication and thinking. HR is a thought-driven function. But at the end of the day, you have to be a good human being. Because if people do not trust you, you will stand alone.
The interviewer is a young marketing professional. Starting his career as a management trainee of a global company, he is currently working as the Strategic Project Planner of Business Development at The Daily Star