Support, mentoring and guidance from a series of excellent leaders have helped Kini Pathmanathan take an inadvertent career in HR to Vice President Human Resources Smiths Detection and Smiths Asia Pacific at Smiths Group.
“I have learned a great deal from some very effective managers and without them, my career could have taken a very different path. They all led by example and I want my teams to have a similar, positive experience of leadership. Good team relationships can only be sustained through constant dialogue and a respectful attitude – I always try to look at things through others’ eyes.”
Although we are each responsible for our own progress, the right input from managers can have a significant impact. Kini believes the keys to good leadership are:
- focusing on engagement
- getting the best out of each person
- a determination to overcome obstacles
- introducing new ideas by challenging the status quo
“Kini has provided me with both support and autonomy. This enables me to drive my career forward with the comfort of knowing a caring manager has my back.”
Gareth Day, Director Talent Acquisition
Diversity is the output of inclusion
Keen to underline the importance of embracing differences, Kini introduced an Inclusion and Diversity hub and was overwhelmed by the number of people volunteering to join various working groups.
“Initiatives such as the I&D hub give people the power to initiate change and, in my experience, these opportunities will always be welcomed. We must learn to value the different thought processes from all levels of the company. Mixing perspectives from different cultures, ages, genders and social backgrounds etc. generates its own amazing creativity.”
Four years ago, there was a high percentage of employees at Smiths Detection due to retire, putting the company at risk of losing large sections of core talent. The ratio of employees early in their careers has since been increased from 2% to 8%. In the same period, female roles at Director level have increased by 50%.
“Kini’s leadership is more than just being skilled in managing and communicating with her team - it hinges upon her own ability to learn and grow, which reflects back on us.”
Geetika Tewari, HR Director Smiths India and Detection APAC
“It’s important to get to know people at a deeper level, understand what is happening in their worlds and keep the wellness discussion alive throughout the year.” Smiths Detection recently launched hybrid working, a strategy accelerated by the COVID 19 pandemic; and THRIVE, a global wellness initiative, aimed at helping people learn how to practice self-care both at home and at work. THRIVE was subsequently rolled out across the Smiths Group.
As a specialist in threat detection and security screening, Smiths Detection is on a mission to make the world a safer place. Consequently, the company is extra vigilant on matters of physical safety and well-being for every employee. “A large percentage of the workforce are engineers working out in the field. Many have told me the emphasis on safety is one of the main reasons they choose to work for Smiths Detection.”
“Kini gave me the tools to improve my skills and confidence as a new people manager; overcome early challenges; and help me find my place in the company - all whilst ensuring my work-life balance remained a priority. Her commitment to career and personal growth is more than words on paper.”
Julie Edelstein, Head of Internal Communications Smiths Detection & APAC
Kini says, the best place to be is in HR; she finds coaching, developing and watching people grow into bigger things very rewarding. Kini also likes to focus on long term projects at an organisational level and see them come to fruition. In 2018, she initiated an Employee Engagement Network at every site, bringing together mixed groups of people looking at how to make Smiths Detection an even better place to work.
“It’s true that I fell into HR by happy accident and here I am 25 years later trying to give people the same positive experience I had with my leaders. I wouldn’t change it for the world – but secretly, there is also a tiny part of me that would love to be an architect!”