Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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In an exclusive interview with Dr. Sapna Purohit, Senior Vice President & Head of Human Resources, Sun Pharma we discussed the following:

  • What the Workforce of Future looks like
  • The top of the mind issues/priorities for key stakeholders
  • His experience with digitisation, AI & Robotics in HR

Read on to get her views on the above and whether India is ready for this transformation:

ET-Insights: What according to you. Workforce of the future should look like?

Dr. Sapna: The current, unprecedented rate of change in the job market has workers of every generation apprehensive about the future. Workers across generations are seeking guidance as to what skills will be in demand in the future. The problem with asking what skills will be valuable in the future is that it’s impossible to answer. What is “hot” today is likely to become “obsolete” tomorrow. A better question is to ask what personal qualities or attributes will help safeguard one’s future workplace value. Which uniquely human traits will be both valuable and immune to automation or replacement by artificial intelligence (AI)? Cultivating the following four attributes will be more beneficial and timeless than trying to chase specific skills.

Imagination and Curiosity

Automation is displacing more and more workers in low-level, repetitive tasks. There are simply fewer jobs where a person will repetitively perform explicit instructions. Curiosity will lead you to learn on your own—without being told exactly what to study and what sources to consult—which makes you a more valuable employee.


Collaboration is a uniquely human capability. Machines can communicate. Collaboration is more: it’s the combination of communication, empathy, negotiation, and creativity in working toward a shared purpose. Individuals who can work together to effectively achieve business outcomes will always have value in the workplace.

Adaptability and Resilience

Many of our parents or grandparents had one job, often with the same company, for their entire working life. Those days are long gone. The one certainty about the future is continued rapid, even accelerating, change. Even those who do stay in one career will likely see multiple dramatic changes to the way they do their jobs over the course of their working lives. A related concept is resilience—the ability to bounce back from setbacks. Resilience is a valuable quality, but adaptability is a prerequisite.


Wisdom has always been essential to business success but will mean even more to individual career success going forward, because of our increasing reliance on data. Data can’t answer every question, and it certainly can’t tell us what questions to ask. Curiosity leads us to ask questions; wisdom leads us to ask truly important questions.

ET-Insights: When we look at the workforce of the future, what are top of the mind issues / priorities for key stakeholders – CEO, HR and employees?

Dr. Sapna: Building a Learning Organization

A key to companies’ future success will be in providing continuous learning options and instilling a culture of lifelong learning throughout the organization. CEOs and CHROs will need to necessarily build learning organizations to survive and flourish.

Job design will have to be heavily tilted towards cross-functional and team-based work with an emphasis on agility

Introducing more agile ways of working will be a high-priority organizational change along with cross-functional collaboration, going forward. Unlike traditional hierarchies, which are mainly designed for stability, agile organizations are designed for both stability and dynamism. They typically consist of a network of teams and are notable for rapid learning and fast decision cycles.

Workforce composition will shift

More work will be done by freelancers and other contractors, a shift that will boost the emerging “gig” or “sharing” economy.

ET-Insights: What has been your experience with digitisation, AI and Robotics in HR? Is India ready for such a huge transformation?

Dr. Sapna: AI and Robotics are fast invading the workplace globally, and India is no exception. HR departments will need to adapt as technology alters the way organizations work as well as the size and nature of the workforce. While the concern of automation taking away jobs continues, what has changed now is the way companies are looking at incorporating AI in day-to-day HR activities. AI can play an important role in talent acquisition, performance management, attrition prediction and identification of unlawful and unethical behaviour of employees. Technology is also being used to curate highly personalized learning experiences that are customized to individual needs.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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