Manjuri Sinha
Global Head of Talent Acquisition (Technology), OLX Group

1. Do you remember a time when you were happiest as a child? Where were you, who were you with and what were you doing?

Yes, I remember this time when we visited Agra from Delhi for the first time! My dad is a sailor by profession, as a merchant navy officer he would sail the international waters, for at least 8 months in a year, his time at home, with mom and me was super short…. I still call him my Popeye the Sailor!! I remember receiving and collecting postcard from all over the world from Dad, I call him ‘Baba’ ( Dad in Bengali, my mother tongue ). This trip was precious, because this is my earliest memory of a family holiday, with my mom and dad. We went to the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, heard stories about the Mughal Empire from the tour guides…. all that simply formed a backdrop for the lovely time spent with my parents. After this we had many more roadtrip, and holidays to Rajasthan, Singapore, San Francisco…. and my parents ‘wanderlust’…. somehow… trickled down to me…. and made me a crazy traveller…

2. Did you have a favourite teacher at school? Who was that person and what did they teach you?

Yes, my favorite teacher in school was Mala Kohli ma’am!

She was our English teacher. She gave me the courage to be creative. I still remember this one time, she asked us to write a play, and be creative, she also also asked to direct the play too. I gathered my courage and wrote an English Drama play with Aliens & humanoids in it… I thought, on reading she will scrap it.. But she didn’t she said this was super creative, and actually asked me to direct the play for the class. That one incident, gave me so much courage to be myself, and not be afraid ever to share my crazy ideas. I will forever be indebted to my lovely classmate and friend Sherry who played the role of the humanoid… 🙂

6. What habit or behaviour or belief have you recently acquired? Why is it now in your life?

In the last year or so, I have noticed myself being more calm and composed. I have received feedback from my team, directs, stakeholders that nothing ‘deters Manjuri’, even in the most crisis situation I don’t lose my cool. This is fairly new for me, when I started out in my career, I used to get upset, agitated very early on, also react on an impulse many times. I owe a lot of this new behaviour to two things, one is having led small to big teams, and worked with people, I did realize that, my stress is trickled down to my reports direct and indirects, and I hate seeing them stressed, so I made a conscious effort to stop doing this. Secondly, feedback from one of the best leads I have worked with, who is still a mentor to me Soeren Winter, he would call out my impulsive behaviour in a very objective manner, he was very patient with me on this, and actually coached me on making a switch. Today.. as my present team also says …nothing….simply nothing… scares me…or makes me react on an impulse.

I have received feedback …that ‘nothing deters Manjuri!’

8. When was the last time you changed your mind about something really important? What was it and what lead you to change your view?

I strongly believed that good education background, the name of the college, the degree you hold, will determine how successful you are as a professional. I guess this stemmed from the fact that I myself, worked very hard to get selected my the best university in our country. I will forever be proud of my achievement! However in the last 4 to 5 years especially after moving to Europe, I have met a lot of talented, excellent, successful professional, who are either self taught, or through boot camps etc. I have met knowledgeable executive who do not have a MBA degree. This was a clear eye opener for me, I definitely believe now, that learning is not restricted to high heralding colleges and degrees.

14. What personality trait has got you in the most trouble? What kind of trouble does it get you in?

Being appreciative is a personality trait that has got me in trouble. I do have a habit of calling out, giving credit and thanking people for support, or a job well done. Many people around me think, that I am unable to therefore, be strong, or pushy or assertive. This has landed me in trouble such as, stakeholders perceiving me not to be senior enough, or people not taking me seriously, because they thought I am too nice to be ‘nasty’. However people who really know me, know that when needed I can be super curt, and assertive, do get my way. Just like Jacinda Ardern says ‘ I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong ‘

15. What is your untrainable superpower?

As per Gallup, my top most strength is ‘Woo’. I am able to influence people around me positively, and gain their trust. I have received feedback that I create a safe space for people around me. This has proven handy in my profession for sure, as this is really key to drive big teams, plus this is has also come handy in my passion that is speaking, and presenting on the stage as a Conference speaker.

16. On what topic would you never make a joke?

I would never make a joke about the dignity of an individual and this refers to race, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity.

19. When was the last time you felt like an outsider in a group? What did you learn from the experience?

As a woman of color, unfortunately I have felt like an outsider more than once. But I clearly remember one instance, when a few years back I was attending an all hands on the office floor for our particular team, where i happened to be the only non-german speaker. The person leading the all hands called out to me, and said, I am sorry we can’t go this in English for just one person, I hope you understand this much german by now. I felt, I was put on the spot, all 60+ eyes were on me. I said, yes I can follow if you speak slowly. Yes I could follow and understand, but guess what the whole incident left a mark on me, and I didn’t even raise my hand to ask a question in the all hands series ever. When the time came, i moved to another team, where I was made to be feel very safe, so same company and different teams can also have the different experiences.

21. What app or tech product have you most recently fallen in love with?

My most beloved app is booking.com! I am a crazy traveler, in a year i usually visit 8 to 10 countries. Hence whenever I have free time, I check out places to stay in, on booking.com!

24. What is your most prized possession? What’s the story behind it?

My most prized possession at the moment is my recently acquired driving licence in Germany. I used to feel to restricted, because I was not allowed to drive with my Indian DL beyond 6 months of moving to Europe. I was yearning to do road trips… once I passed my test, and was certified to drive on the other side of the road, I was the happiest person on earth!!! Since then I keep it super duper safe!! Already done 8 road trips with it last year.. Lanzarote, Puglia, Croatia, Greece, Provence, Sud Tirol, Algarve and Majorca.

26. If you were to own a bar, and you could design it how you wanted, what would it look like?

It would be a combination, the wall from Predator 2, the features on the spaceship wall, the skulls and trophies plus the eggs from the Alien movie franchise.

28. If you were to survive the zombie apocalypse, what role would you play in the new society that would follow?

I am an ardent fan of The Walking Dead, I think I will be more of a Michonne, one of the leaders, a protector for sure, yet sensitive. Michonne in the 9th season wanted to draft an agreement amongst communities to agree on a good way of life, I see myself doing something similar, bringing order to chaos.

31. What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?

If you see an opportunity, grab it! If you don’t get it easily, speak up, ask for it!

33. What's a skill that isn’t on your resume, but your former bosses would recognize as one of the reasons you are successful?

Whenever I have received reference feedback while changing jobs, my headhunters who did the reference check told me, that my former bosses, have said that ‘I am dependable’. They say that they could trust me to follow through with utmost quality within deadlines, even if it meant going beyond the call of duty.

36. What’s the one bad quality you don't mind in a colleague? Why?

I would not mind the lack of functional knowledge in a colleague. If this person is a keen learner, and a good listener, is humble enough to ask and shadow and get trained, then I have no problem in overlooking this part. I have seen in my experience that attitude goes a long way, that core functional knowledge.

38. Who is the best co-workers or collaborator you’ve ever worked with? Now is the moment to give them a shout out - who were they and why were they so good?

I would like to mention 4 people :- One is Magdalena Masluk Meller, she is the Sourcing lead in Zalando, in my previous role as the Tech Hiring Lead, both of together were responsible for the ultimate delivery of hires. Magdalena’s proved true partnership with my on this and together ( our teams ) year on year delivered 700+ tech hires. She stood out, because of the way she would train, guide coach her team of sourcers, plus work closely with me on recruiter sourcer relationship building. Second our my 2 colleagues from earlier on in my career Arunav Chakraborty and Nidhi Palta, this our the two people who formed my core foundation, then were my first colleagues, and first team members. There camaraderie and guidance have really helped shape my initial years. Nidhi has been my friend and coach when I started into my first ever HRBP role. 4th I would like to mention is Richard Joseph, he was a Delivery Manager for the 100 people that I supported as an HRBP. He was a very intuitive tech leader, also would always respect me and seek my advice for any people related matter. He led his teams with empathy. Richard, proved to me what true stakeholder relationship can be, was super inclusive to ensure, I have a say in all client presentations as well. His was one of the happiest teams, with least attrition as well. He was one of the first great business leader who would not think twice before ensuring HR/TA has a seat at the table.

41. When it comes to our work and industry: what scares you most?

The lack of value that some organizations see in their TA teams! During COVID, a no. of lay off’s happened, the first one’s to be parted with were recruiters and makerteers. This perception from business leaders is scary!!

43. What common wisdom in our industry needs to be debunked?

That assessing candidates face to face ensures high quality. This needs to be debunked, as this present COVID period has proven, that people can be assessed by video, on digital tools. You do not always need a white board challenge to prove yourself. This belief in physical proximity need to be debunked.

46. Do you have a secret tip, tool or trick that’s contributed to your success?

My secret mantra is the ability to adapt well. I have never been someone to have stagnated. I like to challenge myself, to get out of my comfort zone, and not be scared of proving myself again and again! This has enabled me to take on bigger roles in HR and TA, and also enable me to be successful and excel in different organizations. The one trick I follow is that no one solution fits all, hence it very important to understand each challenge and complexity and then come up with a solution.

Thanks to Manjuri Sinha, for contributing to The Recruiters Tribune. Connect with Manjuri on LinkedIn and Twitter

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