She did it her way: Humaira Afreen

HR is an integral part of the progress of business and organisational development. People, irrespective of gender, are taking a lot of interest in HR. “I believe sustainability of a company depends on its culture,” she deems. “And as HR, we are the custodian of that culture, where employees feel they are empowered and are encouraged to take ownership of their projects and to make a difference to the entire ecosystem.” And that belief of mine has been further reinforced when I started working for Marico Bangladesh,” she elaborates, “Marico represents a very distinct people culture, living by its values every day.” “My job at Marico,” she continues, “ is to create the right environment for the employees to unleash their true potential. And what can be more content in nature of work than developing next-generation business leaders, where HR can play a critical role in any organisation,” she explains. Before joining this company, this law graduate started her stint at HR Consulting back in 2009. She has also worked for multination companies like Sanofi Bangladesh and British American Tobacco. Thus, over the years working for diverse organisations, she realises as an HR professional, to progress incessantly, one needs to be business relevant in whatever one does. It’s her passion and ‘never give up’ attitude, coupled with the strong values of Marico enable her to achieve more every day. 

She believes HR is not gender sensitive, instead men and women have their different ways of conduct to achieve desirable goals for a company. “We are business relevant in every initiative we take, starting from talent acquisition to creating world-class business leaders, we understand business, and we plan our role according to that,” she apprehends. 

 “At a personal front, one important challenge I face is to maintain the confidence in myself that I have something unique to the organisation. We women often struggle to keep that confidence within us for various reasons. Once we know how to crack it, the rest can only be a success story. Also, it’s important to create a set of mentors around us who recognise the skills that we can offer to the organisation and keep giving us feedback.”

From the job perspective, “The most challenging task of an HR professional is to create an environment where everyone associated with the organisation starts taking ownership of the HR processes and take an interest in people’s development,” she states. “HR exercises are not about merely putting a tick mark on paper, rather it is the capacity building of a company,” she reveals as she describes the true notion of HR. Humaira ensures that the HR department in Marico facilitates goal setting in such a way that every member of Marico has one particular cross-functional goal that cannot be achieved solely by an individual. 

Being streets smart, eager to drive the results, learning agility and resilience are very important for an individual to flourish believes Humaira

According to her, organisations should facilitate openness, transparency, and collaboration; so that employees can share their views, opinions, and ideas without any fear or hesitation irrespective of the diversity. “And in Marico we not only live our values every day, our empowered work environment enables us to bring our best,” she ensures. ‘No Meeting Day,’ ‘Happy Tuesday,’ ‘Value Awards’ and many other HR Policies we have are unique and genuinely reflect an open culture.”

According to her, leadership skills are absolute prerequisite to work in a managing position. “Marico has the Talent Value Proposition where they provide a challenging, enriching and fulfilling career for people who are truly passionate about their work,” she states. “Being streets smart, eager to drive the results, learning agility and resilience are very important for an individual to flourish,” the HR expert adds up. 

 “The biggest challenge that I am facing right now, as HR professionals, we need to make more sense with data, understand the importance of HR analytics as business dynamics are shifting quite fast,” she reinforces.  She also feels that the HRs across the industries should share dialogues with each other to find and adopt the best practices to add more value to industries. Every individual has its own different set of unique strengths and limitations. It is about appreciating the differences. “In any job or any role, if a female is confident and determined to pull up, only she can stand in her way,” she concludes with a grin. 

Photos by: Tutul Nesar