Beyond Answers: Samir Kaul’s Call for Business-Centric HR Solutions

Samir Kaul | Senior Director of People and Organization Excellence at stc Bahrain
Samir Kaul | Senior Director of People and Organization Excellence at stc Bahrain

Boasting over 20 years of tenure in the field of Human Resources, Samir Kaul has honed his skills in understanding and navigating the intricacies of human emotions and sentiments. With a deep sense of empathy, he has cultivated an inclusive approach that fosters trust and comfort among those around him. This ability to connect on a personal level has not only garnered acceptance from executives but has also fostered strong bonds within his immediate teams.

Samir firmly believes that when individuals perceive their leader as approachable and trustworthy, they are more likely to place their trust in the leader’s vision. This, in turn, leads to heightened engagement and a greater sense of commitment within teams. He has witnessed firsthand the transformative power of an honest and highly inclusive leader, as it inspires individuals to produce work of exceptional quality.

For Samir, the true measure of leadership lies in effectively harnessing the collective intellectual capital of a team and channeling it towards a work culture characterized by passion and selflessness. This is achieved by upholding strong values and ethics as the foundation of the organization.

As the Senior Director of People and Organization Excellence at stc Bahrain, Samir brings his wealth of experience and his innate ability to connect with people to create an environment where individuals thrive. Through his leadership, he strives to cultivate a work culture that drives success while also nurturing the personal and professional growth of every team member.

Shaping Organizational Character

In the intricate web of organizational dynamics, “Policies and Practices” stand as the cornerstone of a company’s ethos shaping its character and garnering trust. Samir is a seasoned professional in the field and he emphasizes the pivotal role of HR in crafting policies and programs, steering away from rigidity. In his words, “Being rigid is a sign of an immature ecosystem. Flexibility is the key to creating an environment that supports adaptability.”

Samir’s approach to driving change is distinct, Strategies and business plans yield results when organizations embrace flexibility over dictation. He underscores the importance of maturity in processes and practices, where high-performing organizations demonstrate resilience by learning from failures and innovatively adapting to the ever-evolving corporate landscape.

Navigating the Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA) terrain requires a mindset shift. Improvisation is the key, states Samir, highlighting the essence of constant refinement for high performance and strategic success. The focus shifts to inclusiveness, where individuals actively participate in designing and implementing changes. Samir emphasizes that two-way communication is crucial in organizational plans emphasizing the significance of engaging employees in the broader mission of the company. In this way, Samir’s philosophy encapsulates a strategic and inclusive approach, fostering a dynamic organizational culture that thrives in the face of change.

Mastering the Journey

Strategy is the destinationthe journey requires a collective and inclusive approach,” affirms Samir. Success hinges on the adaptability of the operating model, efficient interpretation of trends and resource allocation for maximum effectiveness.

For Samir, the key lies not just in designing a strategy but in articulating it effectively. He emphasizes that it’s about reaching out with ambitions, sharing data and involving everyone in decision-making. This approach includes presenting strategic drivers, sharing facts and figures, addressing challenges, and seeking collaborative solutions to mitigate risks.

In fostering a collective effort, Samir underscores the importance of a shared destiny culture. Accountability, empowerment and rewards are crucial. Breaking long-term plans into operational milestones and regularly reviewing them with stakeholders promotes agility and a constant drive for improvement.

Samir declares that integration is the linchpin stressing the need for a harmonious ecosystem of people, processes and technology for successful strategy execution. It’s about keeping everyone engaged, adaptive and aligned toward a common goal. In Samir’s vision, this approach ensures not just strategic design but effective delivery, making the journey as impactful as the destination.

Maximizing Value

Samir is a visionary in terms of talent management, and he champions the idea of creating a brand out of every employee. In his words, “This builds high accountability among people, and they feel responsible. This philosophy underscores the importance of instilling a sense of ownership within the workforce.”

Recognizing the evolving landscape of talent acquisition, Samir emphasizes that talent is diverse and boundaryless. According to him, “The key is not how well you source but who and how you choose the ones who can seamlessly integrate into your culture of performance.” It’s not just about matching profiles to jobs but understanding the individual’s appetite to deliver beyond expectations, emphasizing the value they bring.

Samir draws an analogy between acquiring new customers and talent, stressing the importance of retaining those who maximize value. When evaluating potential candidates, he zeroes in on attributes like resilience, customer centricity, work ethics, and exposure to complex business areas. Creating a strong brand that represents the company requires a well-thought-out and outlined supporting ecosystem. In Samir’s vision, this ecosystem aims at scaling up capabilities, fostering inclusivity, empowering individuals, and driving results.

Given the current talent market with ambitious hyper-scalers, Samir sees the HR role as crucial. He states, “The role of HR is to ensure that policies and programs suit every generation, increasing their employability within the organization.” This approach ensures alignment with the aspirations of a diverse and dynamic workforce.

Agility in HR

Samir is also a proactive advocate for organizational dynamism, and he voices concerns about complacency, stating, “Organizations nowadays struggle with complacency, succumbing to one way of doing things and developing comfort.” In his view, this stagnation hampers innovation and the ability to re-engineer processes.

To combat this, Samir champions a strategy of managing change through well-crafted programs and interventions. “Encouraging people to continuously challenge the norm and adopt new means is vital to keep the engine of innovation alive,” he asserts. The focus is on fostering a culture of creative thinking in the face of constant change.

The key HR programs, as per Samir’s vision are to prioritize scalability and integration of all touchpoints. He emphasizes the importance of agility over rigidity in adapting to changing approaches. Clear communication campaigns play a crucial role, as Samir puts it, “Explaining the need to change, the positive impact and the challenges helps bring teams closer, generating acceptability and spreading accountability.”

The change process is a collaborative effort, spearheaded by multiple stakeholders at the leadership level and change agents among the staff. Recognition for joint efforts and project success is a cornerstone, with success stories shared openly and publicly to foster a sense of pride and collective achievement. According to Samir, this approach ensures a continuous flow of innovation and adaptability within the organization.

Empowering Through Diversity

Samir is a firm believer in the power of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and he states, “DEI is not only a moral responsibility but a strong instrument to build a social network within the organization.” According to him, implementing DEI policies and practices goes beyond moral obligation—it creates a workplace where individuals feel valued, loyal and engaged.

In Samir’s vision, DEI-influenced policies foster a culture of respect for multiple perspectives driving inclusive growth based on merit. He emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and honoring diverse religious and personal beliefs ensuring a culture where voices are heard regardless of age, gender, race, or cultural backgrounds. Samir sees this as the foundation for treating individuals fairly and nurturing a highly skilled and diverse workforce.

The organization’s success, as per Samir, lies in creating a strong sense of belonging and pride. “Equal opportunities based on merit, whether in rewards or career progression, are essential,” he notes. Policies and programs are strategically designed to drive inclusiveness, value diverse thoughts and empower individuals with a clear focus on evaluating impact for both internal and external customers. This approach ensures a workplace where everyone is aware of their roles and the impact of their actions contributing to a thriving and inclusive organizational culture.

Sustainable Success

Over the last two decades, Samir has played a pivotal role in shaping organizational strategies, working closely with executive teams and boards. He notes, “I have been instrumental in driving key programs by ensuring the case is presented with all facts, developing a collective responsibility towards our actions on the long and short term.”

Recognizing the diverse approaches and imperatives of boards and executive teams, Samir highlights the essence of effective advocacy. According to him, success lies in how well one can present the case and provide visibility to stakeholders. Serving as an advocate, Samir underscores the need to develop clear and precise arguments for both business imperatives and people-side challenges.

For Samir, achieving success in HR practices involves finding a delicate balance between business plans and organizational culture. Striking a balance is key to driving high-value HR practices. His focus is on aligning key business agendas with executive teams and boards emphasizing a commitment to sustainable business models while ensuring the generation of value for both the organization and its employees. In this way, Samir’s approach reflects a strategic and holistic perspective aimed at fostering long-term success.

Future Forward

Samir highlights the transformative journey of HR evolving from a support role to a key player in building business resilience and steering crucial investment decisions. In his words, “The role of HR has overgrown from being a support role to an enabling unit that plays a key role in driving key investment decisions for expansion and growth.”

Navigating the crossroads, HR must strike a delicate balance between enhancing employee experience and embracing future-forward technological shifts. Samir emphasizes the challenge of making rational decisions in adopting a digital ecosystem while preserving collective human intelligence. Ensuring there is no erosion of the capital structure is inevitable for HR leaders. Samir emphasizes the financial responsibility intertwined with HR functions.

In a landscape marked by extreme competition and market uncertainty, Samir underscores the importance of HR’s role in sustaining organizational resilience. He states, “Companies can only offer a strong experience if they can sustain the pressure of extreme competition and an uncertain market.” This sustainability requires the development of programs and practices centered around core value generation.

Samir advocates for a shift towards more analytical and agile decision-making in HR. He advises against being overly controlled and rigid urging HR professionals to consider macro-environmental and economic factors to drive decisions focused on long-term organizational value. This perspective reflects a proactive and strategic approach to HR in the evolving business landscape.

Strategic Synergy

Samir unfolds his approach, stating, “I use my time to advise, discuss and drive teams to draw plans.” His focus revolves around fostering trust and empowerment, both from higher-ups and downwards within the organization.

The majority of Samir’s time is dedicated to a dynamic cycle of listening to executive teams, understanding business guidance and disseminating key information to create agendas for his team. “My approach is to explain and influence executive teams around their approach and its impact,” he affirms. Simultaneously, he guides his team in formulating tactical plans to achieve tangible results.

For Samir, the synergy between his strategic guidance and his team’s detailed analysis is paramount. He emphasizes, “My team plays a crucial role in providing details and analysis that guide me to make well-informed decisions and helps guide my executive team with a more realistic and executable strategy.”

Maintaining collaborative engagement across all areas is a priority for Samir. This collaborative approach, as he describes it, “makes my life easy to build a consensual decision.” Through continuous dialogue, hands-on work and a commitment to improvement, Samir fosters a culture of continuous learning and 360-degree mentorship ensuring a dynamic and responsive leadership style.

Performance Culture Redefined

Samir, an advocate for pragmatic performance management, shares his insights, stating, “Performance management is quite sensitive and has no right approach. It all depends upon an organization’s appetite to break it down to honest interpretation.” He emphasizes the critical role of honesty in evaluating performance by challenging the common corporate tendency to prioritize shareholder confidence over employee satisfaction.

According to Samir, performance is a reflection of how well an organization meets customer expectations and how internal stakeholders feel accountable to those expectations. He stresses the importance of realistic goal-setting making them easily understandable and believable. Samir has encountered both complex and subjective performance management models in his experience. While complex models break performance into pieces, subjective ones motivate and engage employees. However, Samir believes that true dedication emerges when employees perceive the corporate agenda as honest and realistic.

In Samir’s view, high performance is cultivated when organizations communicate clear and honest targets, encourage employees to drive their own goals and foster open discussions around challenges. He notes, “Driving performance results from the top downit’s important to gauge the impact of collective performance on the corporate and drive that discussion with people as well as boards.” This two-way collaboration, according to Samir, forms the foundation of a robust performance culture where everyone is aligned with corporate objectives and engaged in achieving them.

Innovative Interventions

Samir shares his perspective on the essential qualities of an effective HR leader, asserting, “To be an HR Leader, you need to first become a business leader who clearly understands business first and strives to decode the cake chain that you operate in.” According to Samir, a deep understanding of the business landscape is fundamental for HR professionals to build credibility and trust among the workforce.

He stresses that HR professionals should go beyond traditional workforce planning and also grasp the economic implications of their decisions. “It’s not about developing talent by training them only but carefully choosing between developing and building a sizable team that is agile and highly employable in all sectors of business,” he advises.

In today’s fast-paced environment, Samir highlights the need for HR professionals to analyze, plan and drive efficiency through innovative interventions and programs. The focus is on building a sustainable operating model. He sees the inherent role of an HR leader as connecting people with strategy and technology while challenging business decisions that impact people and culture.

Samir underscores the sensitivity of HR leadership decisions, noting their long-term impact on an organization’s financials, culture and growth. Future HR aspirants, in his view, should develop strong capabilities to interpret business plans, assess the operating model from a business leader’s perspective and create an enabling environment. As Samir puts it, “While you need to have answers for people, you need to first have solutions for the business.” This encapsulates his vision of HR leaders as strategic partners deeply embedded in the business landscape.