Is it possible to love your job at all times? What if the growth and learning has stopped? Employees at Aegon Life Insurance Co. Ltd do not need to worry about that. The life insurance provider actively encourages movement within the company to help employees grow in their career path.

“This gets our talent ready for various kinds of roles that exist now or may come along later. Here the objective is for career advancement, growth and prosperity. The criteria is simple, prove from your past performance that you are capable and that you are genuinely interested in the area where the new role is," explains Saba Adil, chief people and operating officer, Aegon Life Insurance Co.

The company identifies its high-performing and high-potential talent, and asks what really interests them. They are then built up for those roles. These candidates are often nominated for various training programmes, and are coached and guided to prepare for the new role. “It is one thing to just let them change their roles. But our focus is to ensure that people are successful in their new roles as well," adds Adil.

Learning from experience

For Varsha Khandelwal, manager, branding and communications, who has been with Aegon Life Insurance Co. for close to five years now, the first two years in sales had shown her a lot of growth and success. She started managing a team of 15 in the first year itself, and by the next year, wanted to know what else she could do, and decided to try for a role in marketing.

“The challenge was to convince my then manager to let me go. It was difficult, but she understood that my career aspirations were just as important. But overall it was a smooth transition for me. I used to coordinate with the marketing team, when I was in my sales role in any case," says Khandelwal. The fact that she already had an idea of what work the team does, and knew some members of the team as well, helped her immensely to get the first foot in the door.

Challenges

The jobs are posted on an internal portal, through which interested employees can apply. HR does the shortlisting and starts the interviewing process. The ones who are not chosen are also informed why they did not make the cut, making sure that no employee gets estranged in the process. The current managers, however, are not informed, to make sure that they do not try to stop the movement from happening. After the person is identified for the new role, he is sent to different programmes and workshops, and the new manager overlooks the coaching and the mentoring part. Handholding continues for six-eight months, after which the person takes full responsibility of the role. In the rare case that it does not prove successful, the employee is permitted to move back to the old role.

For example, Kamlesh Khanchandani, head, internal audit, has been with Aegon Life Insurance Co. since 2008 and has changed his role twice—moving from internal audit to project management office (PMO) in 2014 and back to internal audit in 2016. “I had a very different perspective of how I looked at my work. But going to project management gave me an idea of certain things—client facing activities, business processes, etc. I already had an eye for detail, and wanted to look at the same business from a different perspective," he says.

Being an auditor is what Khanchandani calls, a third line of defence. “But moving to PMO meant, I was now going to be in the front line. As an auditor, my focus is on a controlled environment—how the departments control their design and whether they are operating effectively. In the PMO role, I realized the complexity of actually designing a process—you need to take care of both people and technology aspects. Since I have come back to the audit department, I have been able to use that knowledge and shared it with my team," he adds.

Every time an employee moves, however, the company has to spend time and money on training. Aegon Life Insurance Co. looks at it as investment in the talent that has potential to take the company’s goals forward. Obviously, his or her contribution to the previous role is also taken into account. According to Adil, “The ability to change roles in the company stops the job from becoming mundane for them. These employees are seen to be more loyal and stay longer with us."

Movers and Shakers looks at individuals who have changed their roles within the company and the challenges they have faced.

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