T. Karunakar, CHRO, Apollo Hospitals Group, quits

He will shift base to the UAE, where he will join Abu Dhabi-based VPS Healthcare, as group CHRO.


T. Karunakar, CHRO Apollo Hospital, has put in his papers. His was a story of growing with the organisation. He spent 16 years at Apollo Hospitals and climbed up from the position of HR manager to that of group CHRO.

Karunakar is all set to move base to the UAE now. He will join Abu Dhabi-based healthcare chain, VPS Healthcare as the group CHRO. It’s a decade-old company with 24 hospitals across the UAE, besides four in India.

The Company also runs occupational health centres within and outside the UAE, which take care of preventive healthcare of employees working in oil rigs. It owns 30 pharmacy retails as well.

VPS now plans to expand to the UK market and also start a chain of physiotherapy clinics.

The healthcare chain has witnessed rapid growth in the last 10 years and for Karunakar, the job in hand will be to restructure the HR process.

He will have to create an organisational structure, align HR goals with the business strategy, and align business objectives with employee goals. Karunakar will also look at putting a balanced scorecard in place, and using a radical thought process to get the backend organised, including the payroll management system.

He realises the challenge in establishing multiple processes in multiple locations. Currently, the company has separate HR teams for each of the 24 hospitals, with around 75-odd members in total. Together they handle a 10,000 strong workforce.

Karunakar is aware of the lack of local talent in the UAE, and the resource dependency on India, Philippines, South Africa and other countries. One of the challenges that lie ahead is establishing long-term relations with the workforce. “Since most of the employees are hired on contract basis—renewable every two years—it is understandable that they lack any attachment to or bonding with the organisation. Therefore, he plans to focus more on ways in which HR can work to increase their feeling of belongingness to the organisation, and guarantee their loyalty,” he tells HRKatha.

With employees from 167 different countries and varying cultures, the HR team at VPS will have to work hard to ensure integration. The Company, which is not listed as of now, will soon commence the process of getting listed.

During his stint with the Apollo Group, Karunakar was known for establishing structure, building employee value, driving vision and achieving strategic goals. He was responsible for the successful streamlining of operations through best HR/IR policies and practices. He played a vital role in streamlining the learning and development function. He was part of the core team which created a very successful business model in the pharmacy vertical. He also created a digital environment in the HR function.

Before joining the Apollo Group, Karunakar was with The Krishna Oberoi Hotel (Taj Group of Hotels) as manager-HR.

He holds a postgraduate degree in social work from the Delhi School of Social Work, Delhi and a BSW from the College of Social Work, Hyderabad.

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