Leading through turbulent times: A Global Biotech Firm’s Story

Interview with Ms. Siju Leela Rajan, P&O (People & Organization) partner, Novozymes 

The recruitment and hiring process has certainly undergone a drastic change over the past several monthsAs organizations have dealt with the rising global health crisiscompanies have shifted their recruitment strategy to align with virtual platforms. Amid the pandemicAcara’s partners have also modified their recruitment and hiring strategies not just nationallybut globally. 

We sat down with Ms. Siju Leela Rajan, P&O (People & Organization) partner at Novozymes, the world’s leader in biological and biotech solutions, to learn how her organization has adapted to the recent changes in the world of recruitment. 


Along with the initiatives taken by you and your team regarding the safety of your employees, how are you measuring their productivity during this time? 

Siju: Novozymes is not new to the work-from-home model. We give our employees the full benefit of work from home, based on their requirements. Along with our safety standards and norms, which we have always maintained, we were well prepared for our employees’ health and safety during this pandemic. While our employees were working from home, our leadership team made sure that they refrained from micromanaging their teamsWe were able to keep track of overall productivity, as company leadership set up weekly or biweekly calls and virtual meetings with their teams. This enhanced team-wide agility and ultimately increased productivity. Additionally, it smoothened interactions and communication between teams and their managers. One of our team units – Supply Chain Operations – was still working from our plant location, as the nature of work demanded them to remain on-the-job with reduced hours. The lab technicians and engineers were also given an option to work from home and come to the site once or twice a week based on their nature of work. 


What changes have you seen on the overall business landscape in your industry and your stakeholders and what modification you have done in your already implemented hiring strategies? 

Siju: We encouraged and received constant feedback from our stakeholders. Our hiring strategies were modified to address the challenges posed during COVID-19, and this was a lesson, which we also learned like shifting our hiring process on the virtual platforms. For juniorlevel hiring positions, we made use of the virtual conferencing platformMicrosoft Teams, for end-to-end hiring. Particularly, for the senior positions, we made sure that we interacted with the shortlisted candidates face-to-face only when our hirers were sure to onboard them, and the decision was made quickly. Virtual onboarding was something that we implemented to address one of the challenges of this crisis. 

Ever since the lockdown started at the end of March, we had been building different scenarios on how to carry on with the important employee life cycle steps as normally as possible. The impending onboarding of a few new Novozymes employees was an important and critical part of our organization that needed to continue. Most organizations in the market had postponed new employees joining their companies to a postlockdown period. The one hurdle was that any kind of travel was restricted. Whether new employees were trying to travel to the office or our team was trying to deliver important onboarding documents to them in-person, a normal onboarding process was out of the question.  

With great support from our IT and hiring managers, we were able to get the new Novozymes hires started from their homes using their devices for the time being, even if on limited access to our systems. These employees were able to get a good head start on interacting with their teammates and understanding our ecosystem, albeit a virtual one.  


How are you tackling your staffing and recruitment needs in this current crisis? 

Siju: At Novozymes, our valuable employees are known as ‘Zymers’, which indicates a sense of togetherness among our teams and departments. As the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector continues to thrive, we made our hiring process streamlined based on our positions and priorities, and we never revoked any offer which was rolled out previously. As part of the P&O department, I take pride that our organization valued all our interviewed and onboarded candidates – even for our summer internship programs. There were few modifications, which were made in our process, but none of the offers were dropped or revoked. 


How do you see your global operations combat vis-a-vis India? 

Siju: At our global headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark, the hiring conditions were different as the restrictions are not as stringent as here in India. In Copenhagen, we haven’t seen any dip in the hiring and staffing process. Moreover, the usual promotion process also helped us ensure smooth business continuity.  


In what better ways Acara Solutions India can help you in your recruitment process amidst this crisis? 

Siju: Our partnership with Mr. Sayantan Biswas and the recruitment teams at Acara Solutions India has been beneficial to our organization. Acara India has always been proactive and resultdriven when it comes to closing our top-notch positions, along with following our various requirements of the talent pool with niche skill sets. We believe that Acara can add value by keeping us updated with market hiring trends and industry drifts concerning pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and biotech domains.