Bella Patel, global chief talent officer of FCB, is currently in India to gain a sense of the market.
During a chat with Campaign India, she revealed that she loves interviewing people, and looks for resilience in candidates when doing so. She also gave her view of the talent in the industry, the progress that the agency has made and the challenges that talent managers face today.
What brings you to India?
I’m here just to try and understand the business.
I’ve stepped into this global role and this is the first market I’m hitting. For me, it’s one of the most critical markets. India is growing so fast in terms of talent and business opportunities. I’m here for only three days, but every minute has been booked.
When it comes to talent in the country, what do you think of it? Is there anything the talent in the industry lacks?
The talent here is immense in terms of people’s passion for the work and their capabilities. If I’m talking just about the Mumbai office, it's got a depth and breadth of individuals who love what they do. They innovate and get ahead of things, and the balance of both leads to such inspiration.
The creativity in India is up there in comparison with our other major markets - the US, UK and New Zealand.
I cannot call to attention any area where there is a gap, because of this passion and love for what they do. People breathe this and the workforce is also available here.
But I could also say that the talent is untapped in some parts.
What progress has FCB made, when it comes to diversity and inclusion? How much importance is given to the hiring of the differently abled in India?
In the last two years, we saw the most turnover. Some people have grown in this industry and I call them traditional talent, and then there’s non-traditional talent in general. In some markets, the workforce that took some time off is coming back. For FCB, our diversity and inclusion model is looked at from three aspects.
We look at the workforce - which is the talent, the work culture and then clearly the work. Hiring the differently abled is part of our diversity initiatives but I can’t give any information from the tracking perspective, except for the US market. It’s nothing that we can physically track since it’s not allowed.
How can an agency genuinely cater to retention beyond mere formal statements?
We believe in retention. It’s looking at total rewards, including infrastructure. Compensation is an obvious thing because no one’s joining without money. But, it’s about giving employees the perks and benefits of being in an agency too.
Agencies are infamous for their lack of work-life balance. How is it going for FCB in that aspect?
This is an industry that builds on getting, creating and making some of the most amazing work. Sometimes, this doesn’t end at the tail end of a work day. It’s a balance of what needs to be done for work and how we can give talent the time to re-energise and re-focus. Managers have to make sure that they’re paying attention to assignments and projects in the given duration and ensuring that their subordinates have time to breathe before the next one kicks in. Organisationally, we have to see to it that we have the right staffing levels so that burnouts are not a focal area. It’s also about having the employee be part of the journey. Coming to office and leaving office is a great boundary. But it’s an industry that’s continually working towards it. This is not a 9-5 job where the work stops and those coming in here know that.
Quiet quitting is another buzzword we're seeing in the industry right now. Can the advertising industry follow this?
Quiet quitting is just someone saying ‘here’s my job. I’m just going to come in and do my job.' It’s a hot topic, but it comes back to how we’re managing people’s balance. They should feel like they’re receiving what we’re giving. The value ends from both sides need to match.
Do you believe in the phrase ‘people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses’?
I do. Every single person, at some point, has had a boss that has allowed them to flourish, step up and grow but sometimes you have a boss on the other end of the spectrum. The one thing that kept me in this company for so long, is the fact that I had some amazing bosses that allowed me to grow and also gave me some hard opportunities where I stretched, but they knew what I could do.
What are the biggest challenges that talent officers face?
The talent manager’s only priority right now is to continually ensure that we’re taking care of our greatest assets. Retention is important, but when someone joins us, we should be able to see that they can go from point A to point B. I was once a junior-level HR person and I worked my way up. I’ve been lucky enough for that to have happened, so why shouldn’t others be?