Member Spotlight: Baskaran Ambalavanan

HR information systems manager, Sheppard Mullin, Richter and Hampton LLP

By Dori Meinert Jan 27, 2017
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​Baskaran Ambalavanan Photo by Edward Carreon

Baskaran Ambalavanan, SHRM-SCP, grew up in India and immigrated to the U.S. in 2002, shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and subsequent economic downturn. With no U.S. HR experience and a foreign-sounding name, he couldn’t find an HR job. 

But every long journey in life starts with a small step. He took a $9.85-an-hour position in the medical records field. Then, he prepared to get back into HR by joining the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and obtaining several HR certifications and an MBA. He got a break when he was hired as the sole HR professional at a small company. 

Since 2015, Ambalavanan has been a member of SHRM’s Technology and HR Management Special Expertise Panel, where he helps identify emerging HR trends. He also serves as technology chair for SHRM’s Los Angeles-area chapter, Professionals In Human Resources Association.

He has traveled far, but his journey has just begun.

What’s your work philosophy?

“Be the change you want to see in the world,” as Mahatma Gandhi said. I’m also guided by my mentor Mike Deblieux’s version of the old saying “The person you see in the mirror every day is responsible for your happiness.” We are responsible for our actions and have the ability to make changes. I try to respect people for their talents and values instead of judging them for how they look or sound. 

What’s the best advice you’ve received?

My father taught me the power of perseverance, and I learned the joy of giving from my mother. All God’s blessings are meant to be shared with others who need them.

What are you passionate about?

Leveraging HR technology to improve organizations. While HR technology won’t solve the world’s poverty or water problems, it can certainly transform the workforce and elevate organizations to the next level. It can’t replace people, but it can help them accomplish their goals.

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