Vedanta’s Technical ACT UP: Exclusive talent development for tech staff


Vedanta envisaged Technical ACT-UP with an aim to build a technically proficient talent pool as a key mandate for driving its future growth.

Organisations are devising newer ways to develop talent capabilities to face the numerous challenges of a dynamic business environment. Especially in volatile times such as now, it becomes essential to have an ever-ready talent pool which not only performs in the present but also has the potential to meet new challenges posed by the ever-changing market realities.
While it is normal to see organisations make efforts and design specialised HiPo development plans to build a generic talent pipeline, it is seldom that an organisation deploys a specialised programme for its technical staff. With an aim to build a technically proficient talent pool as a key mandate for driving its future growth and to meet the overall requirements of the organisation, Vedanta has envisaged the Technical Accelerated Competency Tracking and Upgradation Programme (Technical ACT-UP).

“Having been identified as Technical Stars and after taking up larger roles, people feel extremely motivated and contribute even better as they tend to come up with great ideas. This has even reflected well in our business results as we get closer to our business targets.”

Pankaj Kumar, COO-Smelters, Hindustan Zinc

For about 10-12 years, Vedanta had had a general ACT UP programme for the development of high potential talent among the support staff. Although it had a strong framework for both in-house competency building and collaborating with third parties, soon enough the company realised that the nature of its business was completely technical. In addition, the company also found out that despite the general ACT UP programme, the technical staff was losing out – not because they lacked skills in their domain but because alongside, they also needed training on softer aspects such as communication and soft skills.

This, combined with the fact that Vedanta had a large population of technical staff across its group companies, led the company to develop a separate specialised programme for the growth of its technical talent.

Launched early last year, Technical ACT-UP was designed after meticulous deliberations among various leaders from across group companies, who came together to decide on the competencies required. It took 20 workshops and about 120 experts, along with third party expertise, to build the elaborate programme.

“Identifying and engaging people with high potential not only helps build a strong leadership pipeline, it is also a great retention mechanism to hold on to your best talent. Moreover, I have felt incremental positive vibrations about the programme and I believe it will immensely benefit in the long run as well.”

Sauvick Mazumdar, COO, Iron Ore Business, Vedanta

The objective of this programme is to identify fast trackers and high potential executives, ‘Stars of Business’, through a systematic assessment development centre. These executives are then provided with enhanced roles and responsibilities to help unleash their confidence and ability to contribute as most successful ‘Business Leaders of Tomorrow’.

Suresh Bose, head, group HR, Vedanta, says, “Technical ACT UP is an exclusive talent identification initiative of Vedanta which gives technical talent a platform through their potential to be called an expert in their area.  The journey started a couple of years back with the support of top consulting partners – Mercer & KPMG –  to design and implement the best in class framework to identify and grow technical talent in the group and I am pleased to see this initiative institutionalized across now.”

An integrated assessment programme based on technical and behavioural competencies, it’s a one of its kind initiative to build technical careers in the group and enable business growth through technical excellence. The programme is recurring in nature and focusses on assessing and building both technical skills (75 percent) and leadership skills (25 percent).

Praveen Purohit, group HR, Vedanta and the project anchor and architect for Technical ACT UP, shares more details about how it works. “Once every year, each technical business runs an assessment to identify its Technical Stars. The assessment is a mix of online tests – objective type technical skill tests and psychometric tests, followed by physical assessment by external experts which includes a case study evaluation, a group discussion and an interview,” he says.

Purohit says the programme encourages Technical Stars to grow in their careers. Those identified are offered an expanded role within three months, along with a 10 percent raise in their salaries. The programme has infused the Technical Stars with confidence, a sense of loyalty and responsibility towards the organisation and most of all, an undying belief in their capabilities.

“The objective of the project engagement is to identify and recognise individuals with high potential, and enable their career progression through a focused development plan,” he adds.

The initiative has added immense value to the group’s various businesses as well, and business leaders across group companies agree that the programme has brought about a significant difference in performance and growth of the technical staff.

Anu S Verghese, Technical Star, Vedanta Lanjigarh, says, “Being a Technical Star has provided me an opportunity to take up leadership roles within the organisation. It has helped me to encourage women within my circle to strive for bigger responsibilities. It has also enhanced my overall approach to the aluminium business by understanding the market dynamics impacting the business, thereby aligning myself by setting targets with respect to the business goals.”

Jayavel G, yet another Technical Star, shares that after being declared as one, he was asked to take up independent charge as the mines manager of the second largest iron ore mine in Karnataka. “Such initiatives and the growth opportunities that follow them, will only inspire other colleagues like me to put their technical knowledge to greater use for better benefit of the company,” he says.

The company also realises that in addition to helping the Technical Stars grow vertically, they should be provided the opportunity to grow horizontally. Hence, after a specific managerial level (M4), Vedanta allows its Technical Stars to also choose to take up the general ACT UP and grow to take up leadership roles across domains.

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