Former L&T CHRO, Paneesh Rao, joins Mindtree as CPO

Rao comes with over 30 years of experience and will step into his new role with effect from 5 September.

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Paneesh Rao has joined Mindtree, as chief people officer, after spending more than four years at Larsen and Toubro (L&T) Technology Services as CHRO. His new tenure starts from the 5 September, 2019.

On 26 June, L&T completed 60 per cent acquisition of Mindtree, acquiring an additional 31 percent from their previous buy in the Company. After the takeover, Rao was called upon by top management to step up as the CPO for Mindtree.

With over three decades of experience, Rao has managed human resources across various fields ranging from manufacturing and consulting, to information technology (IT) and BPO. He has learned from and accepted challenges as much as he has achieved, in his long and fruitful career. From setting up HR functions from the ground up in several organisations to taking over the reins in well-established HR systems, he has experienced it all.

Moreover, he has global experience in managing HR across multiple countries, such as Australia, Canada, France, Hungary, India, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

It is this vast experience that made him the suitable choice for managing HR functions at Mindtree after the change in management. HR Katha spoke with Rao about his latest venture. After the acquisition, apprehension about a change in the management culture was natural. Speaking about how he was going to tackle that at work, Rao said, “We all know very well what the challenges are. People in an organisation grow used to a certain type of management and whenever there is a change people are bound to be anxious. We just need to give them the confidence that whether it is the old management or the new, business practices still remain the same.”

Of course, since the acquisition, there is a lot of work to be done. “Except the title, nothing has changed. It is a 20-year old organisation and already has the best practices in place. My job is to make sure that the fabric is maintained and that the people are happy and engaged”, he added.

Rao completed his masters in personnel management from the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM) post which, his professional life began. After spending a year as a management trainee at WIMCO, he kick-started his career with VIP industries in 1989 as an executive in charge of personnel and administration. Based out of the corporate office in Mumbai at first, he was subsequently transferred to the Leo Mattel toys factory in Nagpur.

After three years at VIP, he joined Climate Systems India as manager-HR for more than two years. From there, he moved on to Hewitt Associates as the regional head-South India. He successfully shouldered various responsibilities, including business development, consulting, and delivery along with the region’s profit and loss, for three years.

He then did a short, 11-month stint with a startup, which later got merged with Kean Technologies.

After Kean, he joined Aditya Birla Minacs, where he spent over 12 years and became the CPO. There, he received the chairman’s individual award for exceptional contribution.

In 2013, he joined Atos India as senior vice president and head of human resources. Atos was a sizable and growing IMEA offshore unit of Atos SE (Societas Europaea).

In an earlier conversation with HR Katha, Rao conveyed his gratitude to his former employers. “My stints with Noble & Hewitt, and the Aditya Birla Group kept me on a high learning path. I value the opportunities I got to work with industry stalwarts when the IT industry was at its peak”, he said.

Rao is also a cricket enthusiast, and has played state-level tournaments for undivided Madhya Pradesh during the early 1980s. He was an off-spin bowler and also played as a batsman for the fourth position.

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