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The Business Transformation Podcast

Podcast 027 – Sandeep Jha – AI’s invasion in business transformation and HR – With the latest experiences of experts in the field.

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Check out our podcast with the business transformation expert, Sandeep Jha

Sandeep Jha, a highly accomplished HR director and a leader with 13 years of experience in business and HR field shares his unlimited knowledge of business transformation and AI in the business domain.

He is outstanding and aware of the past and current Business adaptations and specially how AI generating affects the HR in the business field as it is a crucial topic in today’s world.

In this podcast as usual we talk about 3 key points,

  1.     What is an HR partner’s role in Business transformation?
  2.     The importance of adaptation and how others are engaging in it.
  3.     Impact of generative AI in transformations, organisations as well as in people.


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Read Full Transcript

Sandeep Jha (00:00):

So I think that leadership is a broader definition of leadership in my view, than just the top leadership. Top leadership in my opinion, typically would be engaged. They look at the budget, they’re investing millions, billions probably they want to do it. But whether that has percolated further into the organization and activated different layers of leadership in the organization or management, I think that’s where a transformation story can succeed or fill.

Heath Gascoigne (00:33):

Welcome to the Business Transformation podcast, and in this episode we are talking to one of those industry experts. We are talking to Sanje. Sorry, sorry, Sandeep. We might have to rerecord that again, but we’ll get straight into it. So here you going. Welcome to the podcast.

Sandeep Jha (00:50):

Thank you so much, heap.

Heath Gascoigne (00:52):

Okay, thank you. So you have a extensive HR partner backgrounds. We had a quick brief introduction before I’d said, look, I’ve done a HR transformation. I don’t profess to know all things HR transformation and definitely not hr. So I have a little base understanding. So I’m about to get a lesson here now. So can for context for our listeners, we will talk about the transformation from an AI that AI is about to bring. So very topical right now. And as we usually do, we talk about three points to do around that topic. And one of them is being as a HR partner, what is the role of HR partner in transformation? There’s also, when we’re talking about transformation, there’s people, process and technology and the process and technology is managed and run by the people. So people is a major part of these transformations. And so we’ve had a lot of people on the guest on the transformation on the podcast and they’ll either be technology focused who would be most, what’s the word, natural deposition or a preference towards technology coming from technology background. But it’s good to see an understanding about all the importance of people. So we’d actually talking to the people business partner guy here, so excellent. The second part being HR would also then in terms of transformation, need to adapt and how they’re doing that. And then the third part, which is very, very topical right now is this term, this hot topic term called the generative ai. What does that bring in terms of transformations and people and their role in organization? How has that impacted that sound?

Sandeep Jha (02:38):

Sounds very good.

Heath Gascoigne (02:40):

Okay. Just get into it. First up, HR partner, now I did, it’s this transformation and I won’t use any names in H R E. The role that I understand of a HR partner is that there’s really my rudimentary knowledge of the HR partner prior to being in and running that HR transformation is that their role has helped the organization strategically with their operations. And I think your approach or understanding of or your role as the HR partner, there’s two parts, right?

Sandeep Jha (03:22):

I mean look, each organization is different in terms of how they leverage their HR function in terms of partnership. And my view is depending on the organization itself, an HR partner can play a different sorts of roles and I think it can be a push-pull mechanism End of the day, what is it that the HR partner makes of the role that they are in as a partner to a transformation program or as a partner to a function which may be going through significant transformation and equally, what is it that the business wants from their HR partner? So I think the two core things that can potentially happen as an HR partner, one is to actually be part of the program. Typically, most organizations run large scale transformations as a program. I mean obviously these days transformations are much more longer and constantly happening, but typically big programs do tend to happen in most organizations.

And as a partner to that, an HR partner can actually work with the relevant leadership team to actually help define how that program looks like. Ensure that you have the right skills, the right talent come in, how does that talent stay engaged, partnering on what the governance will be because I would say one of the key areas where most transformation programs fail is there isn’t a proper governance and how does the accountability matrix evolve within that program and in the wider business because the program will deliver a program, but it needs to sustain itself inside the business. So I think that’s more as a partner to a program,

Heath Gascoigne (04:59):

Partner to the program.

Sandeep Jha (05:01):

And then the other element can also be, especially when you are, you are partnering with a function which is going through significant transformation, is to then see what is and work with the leadership on what is the impact to the people. And as you said in your opening statement, end of the day between people, process, tech, people will run the process and tech till we come into really advanced ai, we are still dependent on people to run the business. And there the impact in my opinion is quite significant because we end up in a situation where post transformation, there is an expectation of different process and behaviors that requires almost a re-skilling agenda for the individuals. You potentially also need a different sort of talent. I mean you have covered in your podcast a lot about agile, it’s fundamentally different way of operating and it’s not a flip of switch. That person can just switch from waterfall to agile requires a different way of thinking. It’s a mindset shift as I think someone

Heath Gascoigne (06:07):

Mentioned. Yep, absolutely.

Sandeep Jha (06:08):

And it’s not easy to do that. So there is the talent, the skill and the culture element, which is quite significant. And as a partner, a people partner to a business function, you can really help guide the business leaders through that significant change and help ensure that that transformation actually sticks into the organization. And I think the final part, which also is important, will also be how is the organization designed? Because an organization that was designed to run a pre transformation business almost is not going to be successful post transformation business environment. So that becomes quite critical to work through as well. So I would think that the HR partner has those two potential roles to play and it depends on each situation, how much an individual can leverage it.

Heath Gascoigne (07:00):

Okay. I want to pick on a few points there. We’ll come back to the governance. I think the governance is understated or underestimated the importance of the governance part, but that part of the business partner’s role of guiding the leadership and you’d think my little experience in that nine months with the government agency of the HR role and then seeing the importance of the HR partner’s role. There’s an expectation with line managers or directors or division directors who are good at leadership of their organization of saying, let’s march that direction, but to either turn the organization or turn their team to focus on a new direction, that’s a fundamental different skillset. They said, well, it’s basically for them it’s an audit. They can make sure that they’ve ticked off certain activities, but that’s like saying we have now gone and we went faster in the same direction, but you need to turn direction and that’s what they’re not so good at doing. And so I had a new appreciation of the HR partners like, wow, okay, so previously, well, the organization might have a perception that the HR partner’s role is an audit role, but it’s not an audit role. It is how do you get the best? I think how to get the best out of the people, which is what you’re actually doing is building a capability that enables the business to turn and to move to maneuver.

Sandeep Jha (08:27):

Yeah, no, I totally agree. And I think again, a couple of aspects on that. One is that HR function itself continues to evolve and the concept of partnering while not new in itself is evolving and hands up HR is not the best function to evolve quite rapidly itself. It’s actually one of the slower functions to evolve. So whether the partner themselves have the skills and capability actually do HR partnering is one of the basic things to start off with. The other aspect is when you’re partnering with leaders, an HR partner cannot tell a leader how to lead. I mean, that’s why they are the leaders. They know how to do it. I think the main thing, which I think in my opinion works best both from a leader’s perspective and an HR partner’s perspective, is to have a sort of a coaching relationship where an HR partner can actually challenge on certain aspects and the leader is happy to listen through and work through those challenges.

And I think that’s where the value of that partnership comes out the best. Otherwise you can relegate that relationship into a very tactical relationship and then you can’t get the best value. So I think that’s where I’ve seen real power and strength of that partnership come through where both of them are challenging each other on different aspects because transformation, I mean leadership end of the day is about working through gray areas. If you know exactly what you need to do, that’s not leadership. A robot can do it, but leadership shines when you have a gray area and you need to take decisions, work through it, own up when your decision has not worked out and pass on the laurels when it does work out. And the HR partner can actually help the leader to take those right decisions through that coaching sort of a conversation and relationship and obviously support on some of the tactical topics. So I think that’s the true strength where it comes out. Now, whether the HR partner themselves have that skill, it’s an evolving theme in itself. I can’t claim that everyone in HR knows how to do that or me either.

Heath Gascoigne (10:34):

Well, that’s like a phenomenon of leaders born or mate, and it’s like, oh, the school, the jury is still out on that one. I said, oh no, definitely they’re born, you’re born with it or you’re not born with it. And it’s like, well, is that right? And was like, no, no, you can develop it, but there probably will be some level of competency to begin with.

Sandeep Jha (10:58):

Yeah, I think my personal view is that yes, there are certain competencies innate

That are critical to be a leader. Having said that, I do think that you can make leaders Now an individual also needs to want to become a leader. What is being a leader in itself is sometimes quite misunderstood. A lot of times leadership is typically defined as the hierarchical leadership. I want to be the director, the c e O, the whatever chief of something rather than the actual crux of leadership. And I think that’s where that whole innate versus someone being trained to become a leader comes into play. Also, I think sometimes what is a leader is quite a biased view. Someone who is quite an outgoing, outspoken, that kind of a person is almost the vision of who a leader is. I think that itself will continue to evolve and that’s what bond leader versus trained leaders will become even more apparent.

Heath Gascoigne (12:04):

Yep, yep. I think I might come from the school of, I don’t think I was born personally a leader, and sometimes I’ll say whether I was a leader or not, but I think you can definitely make a leader. There are, to your point, there’s some innate characteristics that a person would have. But yeah, just because of someone’s position or title doesn’t necessarily make them a leader. And I think that’s what you’re saying is that there’s what they would say a, let’s not say misalignment, but the assumption of due to position or title that automatically qualifies you as a leader. And I think no leader is really of behavior and it comes back to the people part. Right? Funny enough. But people, the title and position doesn’t necessarily make you a leader, just as you were saying, just a business partner. What makes a good business partner? A title and a position doesn’t necessarily make you a good partner. I think what you just said, what makes a good partner is a coach. You are coachable as you can give coaching, but also from that challenge. And you talk of communication style, direct arrow or circular. And the dance, if it’s near the dance, is that you can anticipate your conversation and complete the sentences for the person you’re speaking with. And that’s good communication. Same with the coaching. If you can coach, you can also be coached. Coached.

Sandeep Jha (13:30):


Completely agree. And I think on that, one of the core aspects around these transformation is what is driving that transformation At the end of the day, and I had a very interesting conversation once where it was quite interesting because what is it that an organization at the end of the day is built to do? It’s quite interesting because the whole idea was that every organization at the end of the day protects a core value, not value as in power and agile and that, but a core value that it believes in and the processes and systems are built around it to protect that value. So when you try to enforce a transformation, automatically automat these processes and systems which are built to protect that core will push it back. That’s the organizational inertia trying to stop it because it thinks that that transformation will threaten the value that it’s trying to protect.

But then it comes from inside when the organization feels that that transformation will deliver a different value, and that’s the value. This organization is evolving from all the systems. The culture will almost align around it to ensure that that transformation is successful. It’s easier said than done, but this is the same thing. Then on the partnership side. If a partner goes in trying to enforce something, it’s bound to fail. It’s almost designed to fail, but only if that desire comes from the inside out and obviously the partner can play a role in that, then the things will tend to align better around ensuring that it is more successful.

Heath Gascoigne (15:23):

Yeah. Okay. So the case audience missed that you’re talking here about value, and you could even say of culture, either a strong culture, if your transformation is trying to challenge the culture or the organization is a threat and it’s a strong culture, culture will bind together stronger. And your chance of success for your transformation is almost, you might as well give up. There’s no way hope or hell to get through that transformation, be successful. The culture is so strong. So in that case, two things. How do you identify it and then how do you negotiate?

Sandeep Jha (16:05):

I think there can be potentially a few different ways. One of the ways that I see most transformation programs run is through leadership. So how does a leader, and I think it’s not a single leader, it’s a collective leadership of an organization, looks through what it is that they want to transform in the business, and how do they start creating the story around that transformation and communicate it to start building that inside out appetite for change. So if you think about most of the technology enabled industry, sometimes technology led transformation is arguably easier because that organization understands that the only way for them to survive is through constantly evolving their technology because that’s the core of their business. Not all technology transformations in technology organizations are successful. And there are plenty of examples, but that’s the story that you need to tell the people. And I think the whole idea of what’s in it for me for them,

Heath Gascoigne (17:11):

Yeah, the W I F M that comes up all the time, all the time. It is amazing. I think almost all the podcasts so far that has come up. It’s like guys, listeners, audience, if you’ve got your notepad out, if you’re not listening to that, if you don’t have the W I F M frequency tuned in, you’re going to miss it and you’re going to go wonder. You can chuck all the money, all the bodies, all resources that your program. And if you ever not hit that frequency, you might as well pack up and go home.

Sandeep Jha (17:41):

It’s human nature at the end of the day, right? Because everyone is busy with their day-to-day job and then we come and say, oh, you know what? You have to do this differently. You have to relearn. You have to do it in this way that way. And they’ll be like, you don’t know. I am actually good at the job. You would hope most of the people are good at their job. Now you’re telling me I have to do it differently. And unless they are clear what is in it for them,

There’s just no desire for them to change. And that becomes an organizational inertia and it pushes it back. So I think that leadership buy-in becomes quite a crucial aspect of this. I think the other aspect, and it depends on the kind of transformation that we are driving, is also to get someone from outside and which is where you also see organizations either through consulting firms or bring in experts from outside to come in, almost do a bit of a dipstick audit exercise, understand what’s the gap between the vision and where we are, and challenge the business on it. You still need to do the rest, which is in terms of creating the story, the program, resourcing it properly, putting that accountability matrix, all of the usual things, but how you come to it can, I think, be these two things. And you would hope that that’s done proactively rather than a market forces dictating it

Heath Gascoigne (19:05):

To you,

Sandeep Jha (19:06):

Which does happen a lot of time. But I think that’s where these two will potentially work.

Heath Gascoigne (19:12):

So in case a couple of really good points there, and I think others would’ve missed it, as you said the story, and I think the story is underrated, and when people buy into the story, that will probably be the clincher when they see, and that’s the part really let’s say, what do you call that dovetail with the what’s in it with me is if they can see themselves in that story, they’ll go, okay, I’m on board. My interests or my concerns are addressed. I think then this is something we can get behind. Fantastic. But it was a story and that storytelling, and there’s a lot of, maybe it’s topical like AI at the moment is storytelling is probably art. Art. I’m not saying unnoticed, unrecognized, but a

Sandeep Jha (20:04):

Subtle art.

Heath Gascoigne (20:05):

Yes. Yeah. My friends, there’s one trip that we did on three and a half weeks traveling around Colorado and my buddies was with, I said, Heath, now listen to the story. Heath’s going to tell. And I was like, whatcha talking about? I’m just telling it how I see it, but it was the way you tell the story. And I was going, but I don’t tell that story any different than you just told and said, oh no, there’s something. But I tell you, you get that story right? You get everyone on board.

Sandeep Jha (20:32):

It’s one of the core skills of a leader, which is why you can’t train them. And some people just know innately how to tell a story. The best leaders you can think of, they are really, really good at telling a story, captivating the audience when they tell the story.

Heath Gascoigne (20:48):

Yeah, what would they call them? Auditor Obama was called? Was he called a narrator, but a auditor? Something to do with a good speaker? Yeah.

Sandeep Jha (21:03):


Heath Gascoigne (21:05):

Yeah, it could have been. Yeah, I can’t, okay. But yeah, the storyteller, you’ve got to be a good storyteller. Okay. And the end. So the other part I want to talk about, so when you said from the very first part there, the two parts are leadership. And it’s funny you say that because the four main causes of business transformation, failure, lack of business, user involvement, lack of senior leadership, support, change requirements and incomplete requirements. And there is bang on leadership, lack of leadership when you get that leadership involvement from the beginning and leadership support.

Sandeep Jha (21:39):

And I think the one thing I would add to that is it’s not just the senior leadership, but it’s leadership across the organization. I don’t know if it’s the most polite way to say it, but the middle management, which sometimes is referred as the permafrost in the organization, that layer is absolutely critical to that story percolating down into the organization. And I think how do you activate that layer becomes almost the most critical success factors in that story. You can do webcasts, newsletters, workplace posts, or whatever media you may have in an organization to tell a story. If that layer is not engaged to sell that what’s in it for me

Heath Gascoigne (22:29):


Sandeep Jha (22:29):

Further in the organization is not really not possible. So I think that leadership is a broader definition of leadership in my view. Then just the top leadership. Top leadership in my opinion, typically would be engaged. They look at the budget, they’re investing millions, billions, probably they want to do it. But whether that has percolated further into the organization and activated different layers of leadership in the organization or management, I think that’s where a transformation story can succeed or free.


If you’re a business owner, leader or manager looking to transform your organization and about to spend six, seven, or eight figures on your project, then listen to this all the way through. So my name is Heath Gas Coin and I’m the author of the Business Transformation Playbook. I’ve used the six step agile framework, Hobart House of Business Architecture with private clients, including the UK government, 5,100 companies and startups. I’m the guy, the client’s called to turn around their failing transformations. Join me. I’m running a 30 minute masterclass where I’ll show you exactly what you need to do to transform your organization on budget and on time. Click the link below this video to register. Look forward to seeing you there.

Heath Gascoigne (23:43):

That’s it. Yeah, I was going to say finish that off for you is exactly, it was whether you make it or break it, I’ve seen when I get called in the transformation, it’s at all levels the top to the bottom, and then you see it in the middle layer where they haven’t been engaged. And you go to, you’re facilitating your workshops, your meetings, and you can see on the look of the sub ordinance that the employees just mirror their manager. And if the manager’s not on board, they is look at the manager go, well, he’s not on board, we’re not on board. And then they’re looking, literally looking at their watches, counting down the time for the meeting to finish. And you can see that going through their head thinking these guys have got another couple of weeks and they’ll be gone. And then we go back how it was before. And that’s exactly what happens because they never brought these guys in on board. You told them how to change, you never asked them what they wanted and then changed to what there’s, you screwed up from the beginning.

Sandeep Jha (24:41):


Heath Gascoigne (24:42):

Okay. So we’ve got few learnings there for what we should have in our transformation with our, you have the leadership board in from the beginning, and I think another part there, and I see it a lot, and people say, and you said the outside, they’re bringing outside help. And I think the key, what you’re saying, why you bringing outside help is a couple of things. It works two ways, is that when you’ve got your internal team doing the change, great, fantastic. But when you’ve got, and maybe the strong culture or the strong culture that the culture and if there’s head counts or F t E that you’ve got, there’s some restructure going on and potential loss of roles or positions that the senior management doesn’t want to make the decision. They want to point the finger at the consultants and say, now it was their decision, not ours. So we’re just following their decision or their recommendation. And so it allows them to get off the hook and they get a free pass of not having to make that.

Sandeep Jha (25:37):

But I don’t think that’s very successful leadership, to be honest, because

Heath Gascoigne (25:41):


Sandeep Jha (25:41):

Need to own up to it.

Heath Gascoigne (25:42):


Sandeep Jha (25:43):

Irrespective about the consequences, at the end of the day, hopefully those decisions are being done for the best interest of the business. But I do understand that it does happen. So I think the outside help, if you think about it just very practically, because this whole organizational inertia, when there is inertia in general physical world, you need an external force to overcome that inertia. There is just physically not possible for a body to move and evolve if there is no external force. And that’s where these external partnerships support actually help you look at things in a different way. And I think that’s where that value comes through. And potentially in many cases, they also have a wider view of the world and they can help with that story because otherwise you can be too insular. And this risk is even the bigger for the most successful organizations because they’re successful. Why should we change? And only when someone from outside comes and tells them that, okay, fine, you’re successful now, but you’re missing some of the themes that are evolving in the industry, what do you want to do? And so it really helps.

Heath Gascoigne (26:55):

Well, it’s interesting you say that because you look at some of that, well, quite really successful Yahoo, for example, super successful. Why change Blackberry super successful, why change? And Nokia, Hey, why change? Look at them. And if you look at say, the mens millennials, the past, they wouldn’t even know about them because the ancient history, but in our time they were like the apple and that was the knees, our

Sandeep Jha (27:26):

Time, our time. That was 18th century.

Heath Gascoigne (27:30):

Yeah. Yeah, us ancient guys.

Sandeep Jha (27:33):

It gives away our age. But yeah, I know Blackberry was the thing to have. BB pin was just the most socially up out there.

Heath Gascoigne (27:42):

Yeah, yeah. Actually, one of the podcast guests we had on, actually, she quoted an article, actually it was an interview with, was it Yahoo? Yahoo, c e o? And it said, no, no. So it was Blackberry or Blackberry or the other Nokia. There was no Nokia, and they didn’t think the app store would’ve been as big as what it was. It was like what? And so they just ignored it. That was the downfall. And to your point there,

Sandeep Jha (28:17):

Plenty of examples. Xerox is another one, Canon is another one making cameras. And when the digital wave took over, they never got onto it. So there are plenty of examples, and I’m sure we would see many more from automobiles, telecommunications, these industries are ripe over ripe for disruption.

Heath Gascoigne (28:39):

Yeah. And to your point there, you better pay attention. And as things look good today, that’s fine today, but we’re seeing your L telephone went from a brick with an aerial to now super small, more powerful than laptops, and that fits in your back pocket. So if everyone’s carrying one of those around, hey, you better change. Yeah. Okay. So I think we’re going to cover one point there, and that was the role of HR and transformation. And then I think the coach model, working with the senior leadership and we talk about leadership, about two parts, good leadership, and then, hey, you’ve got maybe the, what’s the word when you’re going to not say the confidence, but to maybe the acknowledgement that if you don’t have the answers, then to your point there, you need some external force to overcome this inertia. And then hey, leader would be the first to put the hand up and say, look, we don’t got it. Let’s go bring it in.

Sandeep Jha (29:47):

And open to that. Open to being challenged and watched in some cases coachable, as you said.

Heath Gascoigne (29:54):

Yeah, yeah. Okay. And now I’ll say if transformation is, well, HR has a big role in transformation, HR partners facilitating that transformation. And then is there HR itself needs to change and how does it need to change? And then how would it change?

Sandeep Jha (30:17):

Definitely. I think hr, just like any other business function, needs to constantly change and adapt. Even if you think in our time, as you said, hrs function, core function, where it had started was to be more a personnel administration. We have people process their payroll, ensure that their leaves, whatever labor regulations are there are followed. And now almost any organization will have a C H R O kind of a role in their executive leadership team. And that role is not about personal administration, that’s the operations and you expect it to work, but it’s more around how do you shape the talent agenda? How do you shape the culture evolution? How do you partner with the business on having the right effective, efficient organization design? So fundamentally, that evolves and if the role and the business expectation of the role evolves, that means the function needs to evolve in terms of how is it structured in itself, what skills are needed in that organization. And then the operational side, which was the bread and butter of the past, needs to then adapt as well. How do you bring technology, more technology into it? How do you make those processes more efficient for the business? So I think definitely, and there are some really good thinking out there. I mean, I’ve been quite a fan of Dave Ulrich and he has evolved that model quite a lot.

Heath Gascoigne (31:39):

Who’s it? Sorry, who’s it?

Sandeep Jha (31:40):

Dave Ulrich.

Heath Gascoigne (31:42):

Dave Ulrich,

Sandeep Jha (31:43):


Heath Gascoigne (31:44):


Sandeep Jha (31:46):

He has a book, this was one of his seminal books, HR transformation. Oh

Heath Gascoigne (31:53):

Wow. HR transformation. Fantastic.

Sandeep Jha (31:56):

Building human resources from the outside in.

Heath Gascoigne (31:59):

Ah, wow. Okay, cool.

Sandeep Jha (32:01):

It’s one of the first ones where he had started to talk about this whole business partnering concept or what he called at the time embedded hr. And there are different takes of what that model actually looks like and it continues to evolve. But I think it’s quite interesting that arguably, I think HR as a function evolves relatively slowly to the business. Sometimes I think that’s where the big challenge of our function will be that how do you keep pace the business evolution?

Heath Gascoigne (32:31):

Yeah. So how do you do that then if HR is a fundamental role in transformation, and that also too needs to change. And as you said at the beginning, it has evolved from an administration role to being that strategic partner, talent, talent, agenda, people, agenda skills that focus helps the organization perform better and also change. How do you change the HR division?

Sandeep Jha (33:00):

I think the question starts with where most of these things start. What is the purpose of that function?

And that needs to be clear to the leadership in the organization for any business function, but equally hr. So if you talk back on that evolution of hr, it’s the purpose of the HR function has evolved from manage the people for us administratively to come to the table, tell me some of the decisions that are being taken, how do we ensure that that decision is actually successful? Because it’s the people who have to carry that decision to execution. And that’s a different way of looking at it than just run the payroll for it. So I think we need to constantly question the purpose of our function, and that will help us then think about how do you need to adapt the function differently? And adaptation can mean I need to upskill or I need a different set of people to do it because my current set looks at things in a very traditional way or the technology that is needed. So if you think about recruitment now, there is actually ample artificial intelligence that can do some of your initial screening for you, including video interviews. So are we ready to start deploying that? What does it mean for a candidate experience? What biases can an artificial intelligence solution bring into your recruitment or take it away? Because recruitment again, can be quite a biased process if you’re not careful. So I think that’s where it starts. What is the purpose of that function? And then you kind of evolve from there.

Heath Gascoigne (34:42):

Okay, so Vic is saying the why the even exist. I like how you said, how does the organization adapt and maybe the perception of the HR division. When I did the HR transformation, I put as a team, we come up with a new operating model, and it’s a fundamental different role for the HR partner, which they were currently doing. Currently, they were doing due to lack of time and capacity, they would go around to the directors, the line managers and say, okay, have you submitted your time off for your holiday pay? Or you’ve got guys that need to do your compliance and your training, you’re out of date. And you go, okay, you’ve got outstanding leave that you need to take. And that was the HR partner’s role, but you’d speak to the HR partner, they’re going, we don’t look at, we should be looking at the profile of the team, the skillset there, who’s, who’s up for retirement?

So our succession planning, they did none of that. So we built that into the business model into the proposal, took that. And the challenge that we were trying to overcome or the program did overcome is they had shadow HR that the visions 10 divisions had gone out and hired their own HR associate at a cost of about 50,000 pounds per year. 10 times is half a million pounds. And meanwhile still funding the central HR division. And so they had, which they called lost trust, the division had lost trust in the central hr. And so we put this plan together, the operating model, the target operating model took it back to, they call it the S L T, senior leadership team for approval after getting it supported before we went back and they said, this is what we’re going to get. And we had a budget, we went for a good, better, best, more option.

And there was a even better one, but even the director said, you’re going to be lucky if they’re going to get the better, not the good, better, best. You’d be lucky if you can get the good. So she went and pitched it and the director of which is Jane Rayna, the C e O of the organization, she said it in the middle of the manager, says, Heath. And they’re already seeing the value that we’d provided by this process. Improvements said, we like your good bit, best option, we want the best option, but can you do any more? And after we finished that meeting, we got the approval for what we wanted, plus they wanted more. We said, what happened there over and above our expectations because we gave the capacity to the HR partner to be able to do the job they wanted to help move, change the organization actually help, to your point, the transformation. Yeah,

Sandeep Jha (37:25):

No, and I think one of the things that happened there probably is also what the expectation of the C E O of purpose of that function is. Clearly she had a certain expectation of that function, and that is what then dictates what that function should look like. And you can define an operating model and if it’s significantly different from where that organization was at that point in time, that’s a significant transformation of that function. You can give capacity to the notional HR partner. Do they have the skills then to actually do it? And most importantly, if they stop doing what they were doing as of today, if the business doesn’t have trust already, the likelihood is they will just recreate all that administration as a shadow administration function within it. So it becomes start becoming complex. But I agree with your point that trust is also at the heart of this because some of the topics that HR as a function deals with because it’s about people. If that trust is not there, it’s a false start. And as we all know, trust is harder to build.

Heath Gascoigne (38:41):

Oh yes, you get it often straight away, but once it’s lost, it’s gone. There’s no getting back. It’s a one-off. Okay. Okay. So we’ve got the role, we know how to evolve the role and the starting point there, you said with the purpose, understanding the purpose and that example said, yeah, I think that was with the C E O in her mind, she had a particular vision for purpose for the division. And it’s quite interesting because actually the head of the HR department of division, it came from another part of the UK government and there that part of the UK government was around cost savings. And the vision for the organization wasn’t so much about let’s cut costs. It’s like we’ve got to market opportunity and it’s actually as a result of Brexit that there was now where as a regulator who develops and does and performs roles for the EU that we would be losing, they could offer that skillset to the rest of the world. And so there’s an opportunity not to cut the costs, but to build on the competency and capability they have to offer it to a bigger market. So how do they do that? Well, it’s through their people. And so that was the one side you’ve got even the leadership thing. How can we keep the costs down by delivering the same service and the rest of the organization saying, we have an opportunity here, but we need people to do it.

So that was a really good one.

Sandeep Jha (40:08):

But that’s quite a nice meaty HR partnership topic.

Heath Gascoigne (40:12):

Yeah. Oh yeah. The thing was they had senior HR partners who came from different parts of UK government who were now working for them, but they were constrained by the administration work they had to do. They couldn’t do their role.

Sandeep Jha (40:29):

It’s the expectation of the business. You can have the best people. If the expectation of the businesses remind me every month how many holidays my team has taken or not taken, then that’s where it’ll end up. Yeah.

Heath Gascoigne (40:41):

And that’s where it was at the time. Yeah. Okay. And now onto our third point, read this topical word right now that is, I don’t know if the jury is out on it or it’s a foregone conclusion, regenerative ai. So one, what is it and how does it impact the HR or even people in the organization? Is there anything they should be wary of? What the trends are you seeing right now? People got jobs full on or they better start learning how to another career?

Sandeep Jha (41:18):

I’m not an artificial intelligence expert, just to start off with. So I would explain as a potential, just as anyone who will be impacted, and I don’t mean in a negative sense impacted, we will all be impacted by artificial, if not already. My understanding of regenerative ai, which is different from artificial intelligence that we have constantly spoken about like machine learning, is that regenerative AI is actually able to create content. So it’s not just parsing the world or whatever data sources. It has to just give you the best answer from the data source to your question. It can actually create a whole new content, which can be a piece of code, it can be art, it can be music, it can be school essays, PowerPoint presentations. If there are solutions out there that you can just say, I want to present a business idea of blah, blah, blah, and it can generate the whole thing for you, write blogs for you, LinkedIn post, even make a video,

Heath Gascoigne (42:20):

Is that right? Wow.

Sandeep Jha (42:21):

Conversation. There are solutions out there that can do this. So I think that’s regenerative ai. And obviously even within that it’s early days. So where that will be in the next, I don’t know, 2, 5, 7 years probably going to be a science fiction world if it’s not there again already. But my view on this though, in terms of the impact is a bit more muted, I would say, than the hype that is out there. I think it’ll definitely have an impact. I cannot deny that it won’t, but I still believe that humans and people in general are an extremely adaptive breed and we will start adapting around it to bring them into our workplace, but still ensure that there is a certain value that people bring and that combined value will be much higher than what AI by itself will do. So I don’t think it’s a simple equation of job replacement, but it’ss more a question of what skills will AI potentially replace and how do we ensure that our people are aware of that at the right time and enable them to learn the skills that will then add more value in a work environment or into society in general.


Heath Gascoigne (43:40):


Sandeep Jha (43:40):

A slightly muted view than there will be no jobs.

Heath Gascoigne (43:43):

I share that same view. I think it’s almost like automation where people, when they first heard about automation, go, I’m going to lose my job. Say, well actually automation for the most part is about automating manual repetitive tasks. And so what it’s done for the workplace and roles and responsibilities is it’s made more exciting because now the humans, the people are dealing with the more complex issues that automation couldn’t do. It was almost let’s say simple versus simple high volume tasks versus complex. The complex tasks. So I think AI will play a role to, if you talk to a technologist, of course we’re going to be telekinesis telling the fridge to order our food from just, just thought about it. And then so now Amazon’s delivered it by a drone outside straight away. Read your thoughts.

Sandeep Jha (44:43):

Yeah, I think the difference, but obviously when automation first came or even during industrial revolution for that matter, it was new. So people don’t know. And I think the same thing will happen with artificial intelligence in terms of we don’t know what it is going. And that uncertainty is where the nervousness comes from. And I mean, look at Europe in general. It has some of the lowest unemployment rates it has ever had with all the automation. I mean, we spoke at the beginning about the phone, that little phone can probably, this laptop probably is probably right now doing 10 people’s job that was out there, right?

Heath Gascoigne (45:26):


Sandeep Jha (45:27):

These things have replaced jobs, but that does not mean there isn’t

Heath Gascoigne (45:31):

A job in the jobs.

Sandeep Jha (45:33):

So there’s different jobs now. And I think that is also as HR partners together with leadership will be one of the key questions to ensure that it is explored at the right time. Because problem is people, nature of humans take time to re-skill. So if it comes to abruptly, which is the risk, then you have a bunch of people, there is demand for certain skills which are not there. Demand who are looking for jobs but don’t have the skills to do the jobs that are out there. And that will be extremely detrimental for society and economy because businesses can’t do what they need to do because they can’t get the people and people don’t have the jobs. That is definitely recipe for social disaster.

Heath Gascoigne (46:23):

Oh yes.

Sandeep Jha (46:25):

And obviously that’s not just an HR job, it’s a

Heath Gascoigne (46:29):


Sandeep Jha (46:30):

Politics, society, everything with university. It’s a collective responsibility for us. But I think that’s the big cliff edge that we are looking at, rather than purely AI replacing all the jobs.

Heath Gascoigne (46:40):

Yeah. Yeah. I think not the sky is falling scenario. There’s an opportunity there, an opportunity here for everyone. Let’s not get carried away here. Yeah.

Sandeep Jha (46:53):

I think the focus has to be on how do we ensure that people are ready rather than focus being doomsday.

Heath Gascoigne (47:01):

Yes. Yeah.

Sandeep Jha (47:03):

That’s the thing.

Heath Gascoigne (47:04):

The preparation, I think. And you also said earlier more about how it is implemented and so the decisions made at the right time more probably from the right people. And it goes back to what we said earlier. You said earlier about the governance. I think governance was understated or underrated. The thing of governance is you can put governance in place and it becomes not an enabler, but it becomes a bottleneck where no transformation happens because the powers that be or the people in this governance boards and bodies have too much power and too much power to block decisions.

Sandeep Jha (47:45):

Yeah, I think the role of that governance, I mean we are going back into that purpose topic has to be very clear what is it that they’re governing? But you’re absolutely right, you can have, and there are again examples of organizations which become so governance heavy that just can’t make any change.

Heath Gascoigne (48:05):

Yeah. I remember before I came over from leaving Australia that my colleagues there in Australia had said, after arriving from New Zealand to Australia, they said, oh, when you go to the uk, where are you going to work? And I said, oh, I don’t know. I said, I’ll probably just stay in banking, finance. And they said, no, no, no, you have a go look at finance government. And I said, well, my understanding of government may be a bad experience from Australian government is that this bureaucracy is so high that nothing gets done. There’s no innovation. There’s too many boards and bodies to ticks and boxes you need to do to forget it. And they said, oh no, it’s different. It’s different. It’s not the same. It’s more agile. And they’re going, are you sure? And so to that point there, it’s like overgoverned your organization to the point where nothing happens and it’s almost full-time job for people just attend meetings to not even make decisions to pass it on to someone else. It’s like your governance is going to think, like you said earlier, it’s going to make you or it’s going to break you.

Sandeep Jha (49:06):

Yeah. K. Crucial. It’s a necessary evil almost. But if used in the right way, it can be a key enabler. But yeah, it can also become a key detractor.

Heath Gascoigne (49:18):

Yes. No, you’re right. It can be enabler here, make or break some good quotes here. I’ve been writing the whole thing down. That’s why my head’s down. I’m writing, I’ve got a few pages here. Alrighty. So to sum it up, to recap to what we said here, our three points were as a business transformation coming, what is the transformation coming that AI is bringing? And then the HR partner’s role in it, hrs partner role, HR itself needs to adapt as probably one of the oldest organizations or practices in the world. And it’s like how do you change that? And then the third part, the regenerative ai. So we’ve said for the first part that as a HR partner, you can be skilled, but it’s necessary skills. They have a role to play the ideal role of a coach, be coachable, be open to be challenged, and be challenging.

So any potential HR partners out there, we had to talk about can you be born or made? And it looks like you probably can be born and also made the department. You need to be teachable that you said yes, they had a role in the program. And then we touch on the governance here, the transformation program. And they also, they work with the leadership. So the good part there is, and that coaching role that they play now, the HR department as evolving department as they were the administration, personnel administration role. And now they are true people partner role helping them strategically. And that was where it was the coach, good listener, good coach, but also to be coached. And we had the conversation there about the leaders being made and that brought on the question of what is a leader? And then we talked there about title and position doesn’t necessarily make you a leader. That’s the misnomer maybe. And then what is driving the transformation projects, process systems to systems to develop, implement those processes. What else would we say there about the organization’s inertia? I think that’s a good point there is that you got two parts there. You talked of leadership and then the external help and not so much the external help as in take the ownership away of the decisions from the leadership. They still own the decisions, but to overcome that organization inertia.

Sandeep Jha (51:47):

Yeah. Someone to come and help them see a different perspective and challenge them.

Heath Gascoigne (51:52):

And then we use that example of if they’re successful, that was the, what do you say, a victim of the own success examples. Knock your exactly. So don’t sit on your high horse for long. Things are good today, but if you’re not wary of what’s coming down the line, and so these are something, the next point of generative AI is coming, it’s here. Maybe it’s a generation AI 2.0 or 3.0, maybe they’re already here already. Then it’s coming. We’ve seen our laptops and phones come so really big and heavy to light and fit in your back pocket. So it’s coming. So what do you do if it’s coming is you have a few options. Is that one probably don’t be scared of it. And to your point, there is, it is maybe, and your terms muted as opposed to some technologists that might want to say the sky is falling and all hands on deck is that there’s an opportunity here for upskilling.

Sandeep Jha (52:46):

Definitely. And I think that’s what, if at all, there’s one thing to leave everyone with is to see what that means for you as an individual, look into it and then how you as an individual, I don’t mean you, but in general all the listeners are going to adapt around it because it is going to happen. But I think it’ll be an enabler in my view rather than a threat.

Heath Gascoigne (53:13):

And so I draw that similarity with automation where people were scared of automation. Oh no, I’m going to lose my job. Well actually no, it’s going to make your job even more exciting because that mundane double entry that were doing out of that email and that spread word document into that spreadsheet now is gone. You can do the more fun, exciting stuff, the complex decision making. So yeah, it’s not as bad as it may sound good. And you said it’s new, it’s new and different that it’s seen as it’s unknown and therefore it’s scary. So no, it’s not going to kill you. It might kill you at some point in time while having a robotic dog like I got in Singapore, but that’s not a story. Okay, so very good there, Sandeep. Thank you very much, my man. Okay, thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, if they want to get ahold of you, I’ll put your, actually there’s a book there. You mentioned the HR transformation by Dave Ric

Sandeep Jha (54:06):


Heath Gascoigne (54:07):

Oic. All right. So we’ll put that in the show notes and your contact details, how to get a hold of you if people are in the market looking for, and as you said there, or the role of HR partner is to help organizations transform, support the leadership guide, leadership coach, the leadership. And then you’ve got a few good tools there of how you can do that. And as Pixie as an external would be to overcome that inertia. And why would you do that? Why? You’ve got a big thing coming called regenerative AI and it’s going to the main here. It’s not as bad as it sounds. Upskill as an opportunity for your capability competency within your organization. Who do you call?

Sandeep Jha (54:43):

Yes, definitely. But thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor to be on this podcast with you.

Heath Gascoigne (54:49):

Thank you so much. My pleasure. Thank you for your time. Good speaking

Sandeep Jha (54:51):

To you. Take care.

Heath Gascoigne (54:52):

Have a good, yeah, yeah, no, we’ll take to you later. Okay. Look out for this. We’ll come up in a couple of weeks, we’ll post it and I’ll tag, you can do, share it with your network. Let ’em know that you are now famous. Thank you. Enjoy your week.

Heath Gascoigne Business Transformator

Heath Gascoigne

Hi, I’m Heath, the founder of HOBA TECH and host of The Business Transformation Podcast. I help Business Transformation Consultants, Business Designers and Business Architects transform their and their clients’ business and join the 30% club that succeed. Join me on this journey.

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