T.N. Hari: The Story Of An Engineer Turned HR

The world of the startup has witnessed the rise of many brands that have revolutionized the world. With many big names like Flipkart, Apple, Amazon, and Google shining at the big stage, the startup circuit has also been characterized by the growth of innovative companies. Amongst a few innovative companies, one of the most popular names is the BigBasket. Well, the company is well known for its innovative approach for selling groceries, the team also has a unique HR. Meet Mr. T.N. Hari, the head of HR at Big Basket. Read this article to know about the story of T.N. Hari.

T.N. Hari- Quick Facts
T.N. Hari- Big Basket
T.N. Hari- Some insights of career
T.N. Hari- Work
T.N. Hari- Daksh and later life
T.N. Hari- as a good leader

T.N. Hari- Quick Facts

Name T.N. Hari
Citizenship Indian
Education IIT (undergraduation) and IIM (postgraduation)
Title Head of HR at Big Basket

T.N. Hari- Big Basket

T.N. Hari- Bigbasket
T.N. Hari- Bigbasket

T.N. Hari is the current head of HR at Big Basket. When it comes to experience, this man has spent long years at Tata Steel, initially as an engineer, and then in HR. Hari is well known as the startup HR guy. Well, we are very sure that you might have not heard about this team before! This experienced campaigner has been through two mergers and acquisitions. According to him, in a startup circuit, jargon doesn’t count in because one has to execute, perform, and make things occur in real-time.

T.N. Hari- Some insights of career

Hari has spent over 14 years at Tata Steel. Initially, he worked as an engineer and later on, was moved to the HR department. There, Hari served as the senior HR executive. Apart from being a professional in the business sector, Hari is also a successful author. When we talk about his educational qualification, Hari stands out as a highly educated person.

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He has pursued his engineering from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology and MBA at the Indian Institute of Management. For him, getting into an IIM was important to get a wider view of how organizations work. This is one of the major reasons why at Tata Steel, Hari worked in various posts starting from procurement to corporate planning to design and also at construction sites. Later on, Hari moved to the HR department.

T.N. Hari- Work

It all happened during the time of post-liberalization in 2002. The foreign steel producers were dumping steel in India below the brand’s cost prices. Hence, at this time, Tata Steel faced an existential crisis and had to restructure. Therefore, to have control over the situation, Hari was appointed to be a part of the core team that worked with big manes like McKinsey on transforming. It was a challenging task for the team to create strategic business units, evaluate the employee, and sort out the perfect outplacement services for the employees who were sacked due to the exercise. It was very unlikely that Hari would have been a part of HR if he had continued his tenure at Tata Steel. However, the experience of 2002 gave him the required exposure to gain a new skill set.

Inspiring words by T.N. Hari

It was very unusual to see a guy coming from the engineering background to end up in the HR environment. Hari was actively involved in shaping the company’s strategy and analytics function. While working at Tata Steel, Hari found the bureaucratic set up at Tata Steel a little out of track. During his tenure, he realized that it was working very slow in terms of decision making and Hari was a rule-breaker with a blend of the entrepreneurial streak.

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Hence, he decided to explore the better parts of the business circuits. Hence, in 2002, he started his love affair with startups. Post Tata Steel, Hari moved to Daksh, and hence, in the process he rediscovered himself. According to Hari,  a good HR professional becomes a good leader when he/she can balance employee advocacy with business realities without hurting any sector.

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T.N. Hari- Daksh and later life

At Daksh, Hari discovered the kick in working for high-growth companies. Therefore, at Daksh, Hari was very instrumental in growing the employee strength from 2000 to 25,000. Later on, Daksh was acquired by IBM and hence, Hari got the exposure of managing the workforce during a merger and acquisition. Well, these were the learnings that he implemented in his future, and as a result of which, Hari is a big name in the Indian startup circuit. The new integration at IBM was a new learning experience. But, Hari says that he would not like to get involved in a similar process again in his life. As per Hari, for successful mergers and acquisitions, mutual respect is critical for both companies. There should be transparency amongst the senior management teams as per Hari.

Bigbasket business model

According to Hari, any change in reporting relationship from one organization to another can lead to chaos! Therefore, it is important to insulate the reporting relationships except for the top management for a minimum of 12 years. Post Daksh, Hari landed himself at Virtusa. It was a global IT service provider and hence, Hari found the scope to expand his exposure. IT was at Virtusa where he learned that leadership flaws are exposed more quickly in a global context than working in the alone country.

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After his tenure at Virtusa, he moved to Amba Research and then to TaxiforSure. Presently, Hari works at BigBasket. While working for BigBasket, he has said that the biggest challenge has been to create the right culture and also to stand by it. As per Hari, in a high growth startup environment, the people who are delivering terrific business outcomes begin to violate the culture in small ways. Therefore, Hari feels that dealing with blatantly deviant behavior is never difficult, rather, dealing with the subtle violators is the biggest problem faced by the startup companies.

T.N. Hari- as a good leader

As per Hari, a good HR professional transforms into a great leader when he/she can balance realities without hurting either of the spheres. As per him, the HR leaders need to stop hiding behind the jargons and they should start to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the interplay between human psychology and business performance.

Being a person who has faced multiple difficulties in the startup sector, Hari shall be considered as the leader for aspiring entrepreneurs and HR professionals in upcoming times!

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About Yash Gupta