Why Mercedes-Benz prefers agility in candidates

The Company has assessment centres with cross-functional leaders who evaluate the candidates and give a 360-degree view to the talent-acquisition team

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Organisations have their own unique ways of developing their exclusive workforces. While many traditional companies believe in developing people vertically, Mercedes-Benz prefers to develop people horizontally. Not surprisingly, its workforce has a diverse set of experiences and skills.

HRKatha had a chat with Colleen D’Souza, General Manager (Corporate), Human Resources, Mercedes-Benz India and Sanjeev Mandpe, General Manager (Operations), Human Resources, Mercedes-Benz India.

While D’Souza leads corporate HR in India, Mandpe, leads the HR function at the manufacturing plant in the country.

Both admit that moving around talent has been in the DNA of Mercedes-Benz for a long time now.

“You will find that leaders at Mercedes-Benz come from diverse backgrounds within the company,” says D’Souza.

“People moving around in different functions is not an unusual phenomenon at Mercedes-Benz”

Sanjeev Mandpe, General Manager (Operations), Human Resources, Mercedes-Benz India

In fact, D’Souza and Mandpe themselves come from a diverse set of functions at Mercedes-Benz India. While D’Souza joined the people function at Mercedes-Benz after spending more than a decade in finance and accounts, Mandpe started with operations, went into sales and is now in HR.

“People moving around in different functions is not an unusual phenomenon at Mercedes-Benz,” reveals Mandpe. And of course it has its advantages.

Varied perspectives: Being an automobile company, it requires innovative talent with a flexible mind-set. “When people bring different perspectives to the table, they see the processes in very different ways,” points out D’Souza. This helps the Company challenge the status quo.

Diverse leadership pipeline: This practice also helps the Company create a diverse pipeline comprising leaders who have worked in different areas and functions within the Company. “We never hire leaders from outside. Unless we want very niche skills, we prefer hiring internally,” shares D’Souza.

Internal development: He goes on to explain, “First, all our vacancies are advertised internally. Only if we fail to find a fit for the role internally do we advertise outside,” explains D’Souza.

The Company has a very well-defined career path for its workforce, which helps it to build leaders internally.

“Despite the post-pandemic influx in opportunities, where others have witnessed an increase in attrition, Mercedes-Benz India was able to keep it in check”

Colleen D’Souza, General Manager (Corporate), Human Resources, Mercedes-Benz India

Mandpe shares how he himself was hand held by the organisation through every transition. “I had buddies and mentors who helped me transition smoothly from one role to another,” reveals Mandpe.

Even while hiring, the Company looks at how flexibly the candidates work across functions. After the initial rounds of interviews and assessments, the last round is conducted at various assessment centres, wherein a team of cross-functional leaders assess the talent on various grounds through their presentation skills. After this, Martin Schwenk, CEO, Mercedes-Benz India meets the finalists.

“This gives us a 360-degree view of the candidate in terms of skills and potential. The process takes a fairly long time but helps us hire the most suitable candidates,” justifies D’Souza.

Both D’Souza and Mandpe agree that offering a flexible environment to people has really worked in favour of the Company, especially in today’s talent market. “Despite the post-pandemic influx in opportunities, where others have witnessed an increase in attrition, Mercedes-Benz India was able to keep it in check,” says D’Souza.

As the Company is very open to giving opportunities to its internal talent first, people at Mercedes-Benz have never really felt the need to venture out for new or better options.

Not surprisingly, therefore, the Company has seen a minor increase in attrition of three to four per cent, which is far from alarming.

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