After working in different countries around the world with organizations ranging from large multinational corporations to startups, earlier this year Srijan Srivastava joined Gore Mutual as a Human Resources Business Partner.

We chatted with him about his role, the importance of workplace culture and turning adversity into opportunity. Let’s see what he had to say.

Tell us a little bit about your professional experience before coming to Gore Mutual. What attracted you to the insurance industry?

Before joining Gore Mutual, I worked in several roles across Asia, Europe and North America, including a tech start-up, a fast fashion retail company, a consumer goods maker and an oil and gas company. In my previous roles, I led HR integration in merger and acquisition, and drove large-scale business and technology transformation from an HR perspective.

What attracted me to this industry was the breadth of opportunities that can be explored within insurance. You’re not pigeon-holed into a narrow career path. I think there are so many great learning experiences and advancement opportunities to be found in all areas of the industry.

Can you tell us about your role as a Human Resources Business Partner?

In my role, I support our business leaders on all talent and people needs across different areas of our organization.

I work with our leaders to design the best organizational structure for our company and ensure that we have the right people in each role to help us meet our business goals. I also make sure that we’re equipping our employees with the right tools and resources to be successful.

What is your favourite part about being on our Human Resources team?

The best thing about being a part of our HR team is really about working with an awesome bunch of people who are passionate and inspired to make a difference. There’s such a wealth of experience shared between the members of our team with each person bringing their diverse and unique skillset to the table. There is a great deal of trust and transparency between all of us, and that’s so important for a team to thrive.

Gore Mutual has been nationally recognized for our workplace culture. Why is it important for companies to build an outstanding culture?

Culture is so important. To quote management guru Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Even with the best strategy in the world, without the right culture, an organization cannot succeed.

In his book Built to Last, business management writer Jim Collins talks about the organizations that survived the pandemic in the early 20th century and the great recession of the 1930s. He explained that the common attribute defining these organizations was strong leadership and culture. So outstanding workplace culture is a common thread in great companies throughout history.

A culture that fosters trust and genuine care, promotes collaboration and encourages diversity, equity and inclusion, is the secret recipe for organizational success. Not only does it help people grow, it also helps to build a great employer brand.

For top employer brands, attracting talent goes beyond standard job responsibilities and compensation – culture is also seen as a real value proposition. You can give people the best compensation, but if organizations don’t have an exceptional workplace culture, they won’t attract outstanding talent.

Here at Gore Mutual, I am so proud to be a part of a team that has an extraordinary culture. It’s part of the reason why we’ve survived for almost 200 years, and why we’ve always been able to attract great talent that’s helped us continually raise the bar.

Like a lot of organizations across Canada, many Gore Mutual employees are now working remotely. How has our Human Resources team pivoted and adapted to this new normal?

Our HR team has done a great job of reaching out to people virtually to get a dialogue going through various tools and platforms to get a real-time look into how people have been feeling, and what they need from us to continue working effectively.

We have also taken this as an opportunity to streamline some of our processes around talent acquisition, onboarding and talent development. As a team, we were able to rapidly adapt to a virtual hiring and onboarding process, which allowed us to pivot quickly and efficiently.

Furthermore, we’ve also been looking at how we can provide people with even greater engagement and progression within their roles. So, while many organizations have approached COVID-19 as a crisis, for us it has been an opportunity to revisit some of our core processes, identify how can we make them more impactful, and pinpoint how we can align ourselves with our top strategic priorities.

You’ve got more than 10 years of global experience in Human Resources, what’s some of the best career advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve received came from one of the inspiring business leaders that I worked with in Europe. He explained to me that there’s actually a mathematical formula to success. It’s Success = P³ or P to the power of three. Those three Ps stand for purpose, passion, and progress.

Purpose is knowing what you want in life. If you multiply your purpose by passion, you’ve got a strong will to succeed. But we can’t succeed without the third P, which is progress. If you don’t break down your goals into small actionable items, you won’t be able to measure your success and make progress. So, the formula for success is purpose multiplied by passion multiplied by progress. To me, progress is the discomfort that you face while you are doing something, plus the effort that you put into it. If you keep putting in the effort even when you’re not comfortable, you’re definitely going to progress. Learning to be comfortable with discomfort is a catalyst for growth. It makes you yearn for something more. It forces you to change, stretch, and adapt. And when this is coupled with purpose and passion, you’re bound to succeed. Nothing can hold you back.

Progress is already well underway for Gore Mutual’s ambitious Next Horizon strategy. What excites you about the company’s plans for the future?

With new strategies, organizations often try to make radical shifts and forget to look within themselves at the core of what they are made up of. Next Horizon takes a uniquely different approach – it reinforces our core values to boldly shape a path of transformation over the next decade. And that’s really exciting.

Another exciting thing about Next Horizon is that it’s really inclusive. It’s not just a few people driving this strategy, which is what you see in a lot of organizations – every single one of us has a role to play in this. And that brings us back to culture because when each and every person has an important role to play in a strategy, it’s already set up for success. At that point, it’s all about putting in the effort and making the progress, just like our formula. With our core values, we have the purpose, with our talented people we have the passion and now we’re going to make the progress.

Why is it so vital for organizations to embrace transformation and growth?

Embracing transformation and growth is so important – change is the only constant thing in life. Over the past few months, people all around the world have seen how quickly things can change and evolve.

Forward-looking companies know that the only way to have any control over the future is to embrace growth and transformation. I’m sure that a few years from now, the organizations that will have really come out of this crisis with flying colors will be the ones that embraced transformation and growth.

What’s something people might not know about you?

I’ve traveled to 35 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. I plan to visit South America next.

I want to travel to 100 countries before I’m 50. So that means I’ve got 15 years to get to 65 more countries! Traveling is something that really opens your mind and develops you as a person. Even my five-year-old daughter has already been to 12 countries – she’s got the travel bug too!

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