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Shweta FB
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Case study: Facebook

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Shweta Shukla, Facebook’s head of HR, India & SEA, reveals, in this conversation with Jerene Ang, that opportunities for HR leaders get carved out based on the experiences they are looking for.

As a philosophy, the way Facebook grows careers in HR is no different from how it grows careers for the rest of the company, says Shweta Shukla, head of HR, India & SEA.

The first aspect that defines an HR professional’s growth in the company are the experiences they gather, the depth of understanding of the business they are working with and their ability to navigate ambiguity.

“Opportunities get carved out for people based on the experiences they are looking for,” Shukla says.

The second aspect is strength alignment, where the idea is to understand where an employee’s strengths lie, and then build their role around them.

“We don’t let job descriptions restrict us from giving people the experiences they are looking for,” she says.

As a result, while each job has a core element to it, there is another part of the role where they can play around with different things in the form of short projects or rotations.

“Many organisations look at typical career paths to help define how vertical growth can happen,” she says.

“Instead, we look at experiences, skills and strengths and how we can help people move closer towards their career goals. Our big message to everyone – make your experience at Facebook count and think about how it aligns with the broader objectives you have set for yourself.”

We don’t let job descriptions restrict us from giving people the experiences they are looking for.

The HR business partner organisation Shukla is part of conducted a skills inventory a few years ago to identify the skills the team needed to progress by asking everybody to rate themselves on them.

“We then looked at the average team score and where these scores needed to be in order to be successful HR business partners.

“Those who thought they were good at something were encouraged to advise others in the form of global mentor roles.

“This really helped us crowd-source wisdom and build cross-border partnerships, and was most helpful to those who proactively used these resources.”

Personal story of development

Mentoring and coaching (both external and internal) are encouraged for HR professionals at the company. Besides, this exercise drives home a point that has been well established – growth is self-driven.

She takes the example of her own journey towards HR leadership, when a few years ago she was making the transition from an India-based role to a regional role.

She was provided with an external coach, someone who was a very successful business leader previously and is now a leadership coach.

“I wanted to talk to somebody who had gone through an interesting career journey. It was a pretty detailed assignment, where my coach reached out to my manager as well as my manager’s manager for inputs.”

Clearly, while the company believes that role-specific competencies are important, there is a broader aspect to the development of HR professionals – “which is about where employees want to be in their careers – their bigger goal in life and how they will get there”.

Don’t get me wrong, we love career paths where you can get from X to Y, but sometimes they become too role-specific. This limits what you learn as a professional.

“Don’t get me wrong, we love career paths where you can get from X to Y, but sometimes they become too role-specific. This limits what you learn as a professional.

“Our way of thinking can help you broaden your view, as you grow your career and not just grow in a role.”

This is backed by individual development plans that are run rigorously across the APAC region.

“It captures the kind of experiences an employee wants to gain, so they can speak to their manager as well as their L&D coach to identify their short-term and long-term plans.

“We definitely want to have more of those types of conversations within HR,” says Shukla about the way forward.

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