Sanmathi Shetty, a Director – HR, at Fidelity Investments India, reflects on her career trajectory and shares insights from varied life experiences that have enriched her journey.
Tell us about your career journey
After completing my undergraduate studies in psychology and economics, my immediate choice was to pursue a career in psychology as it seemed like an interesting area to explore. In my peer group discussions on possible career choices, a master’s degree in psychology topped the list.
My father has been my constant guide throughout my early years, and he was a firm believer that management studies was the way to go. One of our conversations led me explore the path of human resources and the opportunities that this critical function would offer on the corporate landscape.
A postgraduate degree in human resources hence felt almost like the most natural choice, and here I am, many years later!
What made you join Fidelity?
I love narrating this story each time I am asked this question! Years ago, I was at our college cafeteria having a meal with a group of friends from the postgraduate diploma in HR (PGDHR) program I had been a part of. Another friend walked up to us and said that her brother’s company would be visiting the campus to hire for openings in HR and asked if any of us would be interested in checking out the opportunities. Well, that company turned out to be Fidelity. The year was 2005. I interviewed and joined the firm. It was truly a leap of faith.
That was 17 years ago. And I am still here, which shows how much I love this company.
Could you tell us a little bit about your current role at Fidelity and your journey with the firm so far?
My first role at Fidelity was in the training and development team soon after joining the firm as a campus hire. One of my key responsibilities was program-managing a six-month-long learning initiative for a cohort of campus hires within the India Operations team.
Later, I got an opportunity to move into the HR Business Partner function for a few groups in India Operations and subsequently in Technology. The first few years in these two roles were pivotal to my career thereafter and laid the foundation for enabling me to build some critical functional skills. I gained critical experience in designing top talent management programs, performance management constructs and practices, organisational designs, employee relations practices, enabling agile transformation journeys, and so on.
In my current role, my team and I are responsible for enhancing learning across all technology teams within Fidelity Investments India by co-creating the learning strategy with them, and collaborating with the business on enabling various skill-based learning journeys across the areas of agile, technology architecture, cloud, and data.
We work closely with senior leaders and their teams in designing context-driven learning journeys covering a wide spectrum of leadership and professional development skills.
The Learning and Development (L&D) team in India has been focused on creating a democratized learning ecosystem that appeals to every kind of learner. We believe that one could learn in various ways – by listening to leaders, reading book summaries through programs that offer these, or enabling employees to pursue self-paced learning paths through our learning portal and programs. This has worked well for us and ensured that the learning quotient across the organization has witnessed a steady rise over the years, which has been validated through consistent high scores in employee surveys.
What is the best advice you have received as a professional?
I have had great mentors at Fidelity and received excellent advice across various stages of my career and life events. One message that has stood out to me consistently is: Own your space!
This message inspires one to never settle for anything that is just “normal”.
What are the attributes you would look for in a person you would want to hire for your team?
Confidence and courage are two key attributes that I look for when hiring for my team. These qualities truly transcend various structures of an organization and are invaluable for one’s growth and development.
Describe a hurdle that you were proud of crossing.
I think managing our roles as primary caregivers while seeking to own our careers is an art that many of us have tried to perfect over the years! I know that I’ve crossed a few hurdles in this regard.
What is your favourite quote?
“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” – Maya Angelou