100 CEOs plan and more: How Ashok Leyland is investing in its human capital


‘Your success, Our success’ is the company philosophy, but there is a lot that goes into actually making people succeed and align individual success with business success.

People make for the most important asset of any organisation and for one that has been around for 70 years, people development forms the foundation of its sustenance and growth. For Ashok Leyland, growing together is its way of life and in line with its ethos — ‘Your success, our success’. It believes that its success is also dependent on how it helps its employees succeed. There is a lot that goes into actually making people succeed and align individual success with business success.

Beginning with recruitment, the automobile player ensures it aligns its people practices with the Ashok Leyland way of doing things. N. V. Balachandar, president-HR, communication, and CSR at Ashok Leyland, shares that the Company has a strong focus on hiring right and investing in individual success within the organisation. “Each of our managers responsible for making hiring decisions undergoes a training to be able to hire the right culture fit,” he says. In addition, the Company has put in a lot of effort into providing early opportunities to its recruits, which in turn, encourages retention and stickiness.

As part of its developmental plan, the GETs (graduate engineer trainees) can, in a span of one year, become eligible to apply for the Young Talent Programme, which is a self-mastery developmental plan. Balachandar shares that the young talent gets cross-functional exposure and certifications, such as six sigma, lean and so on, through this programme. “These fast-trackers get immense learning opportunities for the next three to four years, and by the time they have successfully completed five to seven years, they can apply for the Emerging Leaders programme, which is more about managing teams,” Balachandar explains.

N.V. Balachandar

After another five to seven years, the future leaders are selected from amongst the best lot, by virtue of their capability. This one is called the ‘Business Leaders Programme’ under which the future leaders are prepared to be able to efficiently manage managers. In addition, in order to create a strong pipeline of future P&L leaders, Ashok Leyland has put in place the 100 CEOs plan, which is a significant effort in terms of building a bright and sustainable future for the business.

Balachandar tells us, “These initiatives are known to bring about a lot of stickiness in people. So much so, that two of the direct reports to the CEO had joined in as GETs and have been able to reach the senior leadership levels.” The performance management at Ashok Leyland is also looked at with an approach to help people do better and succeed at their jobs. The performance dialogues that take place between the managers and teams, twice a year, are so critical that over 800 managers in the Company were actually trained to take up these conversations efficiently, so that they are able to help their teams succeed.

The learning and development efforts at Ashok Leyland are also in line with its philosophy of succeeding in collaboration. Balachandar explains there are three levels of training that employees undergo during the course of their career journey at the Company. The new recruits are trained on the ‘essentials’ which include the values and ethics programme, POSH, ‘living the brand’ and similar basic trainings. Then they are imparted behavioural training, which is mostly experiential and classroom-led. Lastly, there are the technical and domain-knowledge-based training sessions.

The majority of the learning initiatives at Ashok Leyland are automated and accessible through an app. Even the leave application process at the Company is on a mobile app and lends immense ease of access and efficiency to its people.

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