Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently
“Aparna as I have known her all these years, is a fun loving, simple person; (some call her “naïve”) who continues to have the innocence of a child in her eyes. Her energy, radiance, passion, commitment towards life, goodness are truly contagious. She is a Thought leader in HR whose expertise is acclaimed by her colleagues & seniors.”
In my view of life, much of your growth as a person will come through hardships & challenges. Embrace those & know that you will be better, stronger & wiser.
My life’s simple philosophy which holds true @work too is “ I never lose. Either I win..Or I learn.”
I was born into an educated family of professionals in the holy city of Ujjain (Ujjayni- Avantikanagari) in Madhya Pradesh.
Life so far has been helluva roller coaster ride-loads of excitement, setbacks, learnings , however each time I fell down..I got back up & took life head on with newer heights of achievement.
Have set many benchmarks in my profession, latest one being authoring a book in HR titled “Reality Bytes- The Role of HR in Today’s World”. This one is very very significant since have been told that I am the 1st TISSIAN to have written a book in HR so far while so many others have written general books J.
Am currently in between jobs evaluating options for my next move which will take me into the next orbit of professional success. I was the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) in my last role at an Engineering Company.
Also, making good use of this time in launching my book across the country- Mumbai, Pune, Kolkatta, Bangalore, Trivandrum, Delhi done so far….launches in Kochi, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad & Chennai are on the cards. The book is already a best seller with 3,500 copies sold in the 2nd print.
I am taking this time to focus on my health & fitness by developing some daily rituals, also learning to play Squash. Infact, I have revived my hobbies & refreshed them, since some of them got buried somewhere along this long arduous journey.
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote
Currently, I am keen to get back to a full time role which helps me create a long lasting & sustainable impact in the organisation & its employees. Having been an active HR traveller for over 19 years now, I am also keen to promote & share insights from my maiden book with younger travellers who have chosen or will choose to travel in a similar path.
Going back to my college days, I did not have the privilege of access to options; details to make informed choices were limited. I made the best of guidance of elders and reading magazines like Competition Success Review, Employment News etc. My desire is to reach out & help Gen Y, especially the student community who are confused, not sure what HR is since there are so many preconceived notions. Most think, it is only for females and then there are those who are sitting on the fence not being able to choose from different disciplines of management.
I have an ardent wish to help educate the underprivileged & also work with the elderly. Infact, have initiated a scholarship program called “Udaan” for sponsoring education of 2 girls in Class X in my school in Ujjain. This is a first step in this direction.
Also, typically on weekends, I visit a couple of “Old Age” homes/shelters to spend time with the elderly.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
Challenges have been many at each stage & walk of life. It has been quite an eventful life, however have braved out the challenges & converted them into opportunities which have led me to where I am today.
However, my biggest challenge has been manoeuvring politics, not only in an organisation, but even otherwise- in the family, among friends & especially in professional circles. I play straight, however have learnt the hard way that the world has many shades of grey. I understand that not everyone is happy & applauds for what one has achieved, however have often encountered friends or so called well wishers, getting in the way of success.
I have tried to deal with such situations fairly & squarely or sometimes ignored based on what is at stake.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
As I look back, am so happy with where I started as a “Small Town Girl” to a “HR Thought Leader”, especially being a pioneer in this field in my family.
Standing up for what I believed is right & in the interest of people whether in the organisation or in the family & always living by my core values have been my biggest achievements personally. There have been many tests & trials that I have undergone where these have been tested, however have always stood tall & true J.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
Well, I would have been a very good Civil Servant-An I.A.S officer which was my real goal. I started in the HR profession by accident , however once into it…thoroughly enjoy & think its the perfect fit in the groove.
I don’t regret anything or any decisions taken so far in life, however look at the vast opportunity that the HR profession has given me as a blank canvas to reach out to employees & fill bright colours in their lives at work & their families beyond work.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Aai, my aunt whom I spent quite a few years during my childhood in Ujjain has been a pillar of strength for the whole family- she did what most people would find unbelievable in today’s times- to sacrifice her life & happiness t
o help all members of the family without asking for anything in return.
Her selfless service , support & affection have inspired me the most & I have immense respect for her. Infact, the scholarship “Udaan” for the 2 girls in my school is a tribute to her.
I miss her a lot. Just like her, I have faced life’s challenges so far with courage & dignity!
What does the future hold for you?
My future is very promising….my destiny is in my hands since I have clearly laid out goals & the WILL to make it happen.
I have prepared a bucket list….so have so many many interesting things to look ahead to. It has things not only on the professional front, but overall to grow as a complete being , enjoying life !
The book was one such milestone on the list.
My QUEST for life, growth & professional excellence continues…..“ The road 2 success is almost always under construction.”
About Aparna Sharma
Felicitated with the “HR Super Achiever Award” by Star News at the 20th World HRD Congress 2012, Aparna is a passionate learner in her journey of over 19 years of intense and expansive HR work.
In her diverse roles, Aparna has successfully been a learning partner, mentor and coach to leaders, leadership teams and organisations to build competencies, learning abilities and nimbleness for achieving purposeful performance.
After completing her post graduation in Personnel Management & Industrial Relations (PM & IR) from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, Aparna made her foray into the corporate world through Nocil and moved into different roles in the HR function in organisations like Monsanto, Novartis, UCB, Deutsche Bank, Lafarge & Greaves Cotton. Over the years, Aparna has learnt to persistently and passionately value freedom, authentic relationships and realization of potential of people.
Winner of many accolades like ‘Women Leadership Award’ for BFSI (Banking, Financial Services & Insurance) Awards by Institute of Public Enterprise (IPE), Hyderabad, ‘Achiever of Excellence Award’ by Bombay Management Association (BMA) & Indian Society for Training & Development (ISTD, Mumbai), ‘30 Women Achievers Award’ by HRD Congress 2013, she has also featured as one of the top women HR Leaders in the country in the anniversary issue of Business Manager, July 2012 & quoted as a Thought Leader in HR. Under her leadership at Lafarge, many in-company
Global Awards such as ‘Digilearn Championship Trophy’ & ‘WAVE’ (Women Adding Value & Excellence) have been received besides external recognitions like CLO (Chief Learning Officer’s) Award consecutively for 3 years.
Beyond her corporate role as an HR Leader, Aparna also dons the hat of HR contributor through her associations with Indian Society of Training & Development (ISTD), All India Management Association (AIMA), National Institute of Personnel Management (NIPM), National HRD Network, and Sumedhas, where she actively participates in disseminating her acquired knowledge and build the HR fraternity by creating future leaders. She was the Honorary Treasurer of National HRD Network, Mumbai Chapter (2012-2015) and a member of the Executive Committee. She was also elected as member of the National Executive Board of NHRDN for the period 2013-2015. She is also an Independent Director on the Board of T.S Alloys Ltd.(100% subsidiary of Tata Steel).
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This article is accredited to Ashish Bhardwaj.