Karthik Karunakaran
CEO & Co-founder,
Mobius Knowledge services

Mr. Karthik, give us an idea of your early career, and what were the key influences that have helped you start Mobius Knowledge Services?

The seeds for my entrepreneurial dreams were sown through my readings of Dr. M.S.Udayamurthy and the biography of J.N.Tata during may graduation days. After doing my post-graduation in Business, I worked for couple of years with Tata Steel in Kolkata and Delhi, where I got some experience in Quality processes and in Sales. But my entrepreneurial focus made me return to my home city (Chennai) and then through partnerships with old college friends started down this path.

The big opportunity as well as challenge is with the young human resource pool we have in the country.

What would you say are the obvious business challenges going forward, and what are HR's priorities especially while recruiting fresh talents?

The big opportunity as well as challenge is with the young human resource pool we have in the country. We are obviously gifted with decent talent but there is a gap in converting it to international level productivity and quality expectations due to an attitude gap. HR's challenge lies in finding the people with the combination of right talent and the right attitude. And if the educational institutions & society incentives the right attitude part, HR's job can become much easier.

Do you see a difference/change in attitudes towards careers especially in this generation?

One obvious attitude change that has been happening since my parent's generation is that now youngsters are not worried too much about job security. They feel that there'll always be a better opportunity coming up shortly, which is a sign of the confidence in our economy but it also means that in some cases they don't put in the right effort in the current job.

There is a lot of talk about the so-called change in the employee/employer relationship, how impactful do you think that has been?

Transition to knowledge economy from manufacturing based economy means that there is a significant way in which the employee/employer relationship changes. It is no longer a management/worker concept but more that of being equal parties to a contract, with both sides having responsibilities and obligations. This means HR's role becomes more of a facilitator and lesser focus on compliance & policy implementation.

Engagement is an increasingly important part of the HR cannon; give us an idea aof how you set your HR strategy in a rapid expansion environment?

Our core HR philosophy can be summed up as "Grow and Help Grow". Our company is focused on growth and we want to help our employees grow their knowledge, skills and of course, their career. We also have a strong reward & recognition program which combined with our investment in training and motivation activities drive our employee engagement.

What is your take on social media and opportunities in social media?

Social media is driving the explosion of user generated content and user-data on the internet today. The most active and engaged users of the internet today is the millennial generation (viz. aged between 18 and 34).

They are consuming blogs, marketing content, web, social media posts, news, emails & messages. For all consumer facing industries, attracting and engaging their clients through social media is going to be key for their survival and so this creates a new line of employment opportunities.

It's been a tough couple of years economically around the world, what have you focused on to keep the operation in good In tough times, it is important to keep the costs down and focus on efficiency within on going processes, but at the same time it is also important to continue on investing for the next upward cycle. We continue to invest in new technology, solutions and services creation even during the bad periods. Having said that, any change in status quo generates new opportunities and a downturn is also a change. So we see the situation as glass half full. shape?Read More

Looking at the investment in learning and development, in what I imagine is a transitory sector, how do you square the investment in staff, when you know people will move on?

As mentioned earlier, we believe in "Grow and Help Grow". So we don't look at training in terms of an immediate return on investment. Over the last couple of years, we have continued to invest in training and our strong 4-week classroom training followed by on-the-job training readies them for the real-world chal lenges. Once a candidate is inside, we believe it is our responsibility to ensure that we retain the good people so we have a unique accelerated career development plan where a new joinee can get a promotion every 3 or 6 months and jump 3 levels above within 2 years.

What are you looking for in a candidate at time of interview?

We look for a certain threshold levels of analytical skills and basic communication ability. Based on different threshold levels, we take them up at different levels of pay. Most importantly we look for a certain attitude that is amenable to learning, team work and working towards results.

What are the key challenges faced by your organization in hiring and retaining a candidate?

The 2 main challenges are – (1) the ability to have a brand pull for niche companies like us is a challenge.

So the ability to showcase the advantages of our company to a bigger pool of right talent takes more effort (2) the talent pool size that can be classified as 'good enough' talent is low, in spite of the huge number of new graduates every year. So the amount of sifting required and further training effort required consumes a lot of unproductive effort.