In this new episode of Vietnam Innovators, guest host Daan van Rossum, CEO of Dreamplex, met with another ‘people-professional.’ Former Chief People Officer at Tiki Corporation Sakshi Jawa talked about how she defines innovation and how important it is to be vocally self-critical in the workplace.
A CMO Asia Women Leader awardee, Sakshi has held senior HR leadership roles in Asia in Europe and North America at Amazon, Citibank, Coupang, Prudential Plc, and the latest, at Tiki right here in Vietnam.
Presently, she’s leading startup oi — a community for engineers by engineers, founded with the aim of building a professional and social tech community around the world — as the CEO and founder.
Innovation and HR work together
Innovation, for Sakshi, is not always about getting or creating something “ out of the blue”. To her, innovation is when the organization starts working toward delivering better results.
Innovation is how companies create an environment that makes employees do what’s expected from them, but also what they want to do differently. With that, it comes back to how the management encourages it in terms of processes and policies.
With her wide industry experience across tech, operations, and financial services, Sakshi shared innovation can mean very different things in different fields. With Tiki, it can be as simple as doing something new from what you’re doing every day. While in Coupang, it could mean making the processes better and picking up some industry best practices, being able to implement them, and seeing the result. As for Amazon, known worldwide for its tech-driven initiatives, innovation sometimes is just about the tiniest of things that you just get together and build efficiency around.
In general, “as HR people, we innovate as well but at the same time we try to build platforms which will encourage employees to innovate.” After all, innovation comes with a lot more than just saying ‘innovate something.’
Sakshi also believes that companies should leave it somewhere to the employees to also decide what they want to innovate.
When Daan asked, who owns innovation? Her response was, “Everyone, and I would not really just bring it down to one person, I would actually bring it down to the value of the company and that innovation needs to be cascaded and owned by everybody.”
While on the topic of ownership, according to Sakshi, “accountability and being vocally self-critical is something which will build a process of going up.”
None of us would be able to say “I never made a mistake in my career”, and being able to point out flaws and slip-ups takes a lot of confidence and guts. But once you start practicing this, Sakshi is confident that it would open more doors to learning. This would also establish a culture that shows it’s okay to fail, as long as you get up and start all over again.
Daan expressed how there’s so much impact in being ‘vocally self-critical’ — how it’s like being self-aware but one level up. That it’s not enough to be self-aware but you have to be self-critical too but apparently, that also won’t suffice so you have to be vocally self-critical… ”all in the context of learning and understanding where you’ve learned something.”
But to Sakshi, it’s also in the context of failing, and that if you don’t admit it was a failure, you’ll continue to do the same thing over and over again rather than abandon what you used to do and proceed to something else.