Understanding HR’s Role as the Business Partner


June 5, 2017

Pradeep Mukerjee has over three decades of experience in the field of human resources and talent management. During the course of his career, Pradeep has had the opportunity to work across different regions covering the Middle East and United States. From 2000- 2007, he led the Human Resources team for all of Citigroup's businesses in India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh in consumer finance, BPO, KPO, banking, brokerage, and technology infrastructure space spanning ten different legal sectors.

Prior to starting off as a Subject Matter expert with SHRM he was with Mercer Consulting as CEO and Country Head for their India office. He has been consulting organizations in the area of organizational and leadership alignment and effectiveness and coaching senior executives since 2007 and has worked with organizations from various industries like health care, financial services, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, and information technology.

Today, HR is required to play an active part in the business. To participate actively in business strategy making and add value to the organization, they need to have an understanding of the business and their enhanced role as a partner to the business.

The SHRM HRBP Workshop helps prepare HR professionals for this new role. Pradeep is the subject matter expert and the master facilitator at SHRM India for this program.

Here are excerpts of an interview (email) with him.

SHRM: Considering that the HRBP Workshop's focus is on helping HR professionals take a bigger participatory role in the business, in your opinion, how involved or attached is HR currently with everyday business?

Pradeep Mukerjee (PM): What emerges in the workshops (and what the workshop is designed around) is that the effective HR professionals are those who take a keen interest in the business and have effective relationships with line managers with whom they work with. While the HR professionals are keen to contribute, there is a need for them to really understand how they can add value to business and this is what the program is about. There are certain challenges with present HRBP to be more business aligned and think from an outcome/impact perspective.

SHRM: How do the HR department/HR professional need to evolve in order to lead the business alongside other functions/departments of the organization? What specific areas of this will HRBP target?

PM: First of all, HR professionals need to understand business and think business first before they think people. They also need to recognize that almost everything they need to do is to be done through other people – line managers, employees, and their colleagues. Hence, they need to be able to build effective influencing and relationship skills. While many may understand this intellectually, their behaviors often do not reflect this understanding.

SHRM: What according to you are the specific skills HR personnel need to acquire in order to give themselves a bigger role in the organization and a bigger career opportunity knowing the Business?

PM: HR professionals need to work on acquiring the following skills to acquire bigger and better career opportunities:

  • Understand business and why it exists
  • Understand the work that goes on in the business to deliver the value proposition the business has for its customers and other stakeholders
  • Translate the above understanding to define what are the organizational capabilities and talent required to deliver the business
  • Based on the understanding of all this, define what needs to be done on the people side of the business

In addition to all of this, they need to develop their influencing capabilities and relationship skills to get people to listen to them.

SHRM: What are the takeaways for an attendee from the HRBP workshop? 

PM: The workshop is designed around changing perspectives about HR professionals. Open and create awareness about how they can go around becoming more effective and add value to the business.

In today's business environment, HR professionals need to be updated on all aspects of the business be it finance, marketing or supply chain. While framing their hiring, training, and employee development strategies they need to have an understanding of the work that the various functions do and their people requirements. This knowledge can be gained when the HR works in tandem with the line functions as a partner. The SHRM HRBP workshop helps the HR business partners in understanding the key drivers of business and guides them in strategy formation, building HR partnering capability in the organization, and designing and creating strategies and action plans.

The workshop will be held in Pune in December 2016. Sessions are also planned for Bangalore (17-18 January, 2017), Delhi (9-10 March, 2017), and Pune (11-12 May, 2017). The schedule of the workshops starting in 2017 and other relevant details are available here.


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