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Knowledge is a treasure but the practice is the key to it

Knowledge is a treasure but the practice is the key to it” – Thomas Fuller. Firmly believing in the motto, the department of Instrumentation...

Friday, 21 January 2022

Retail Stalwarts Deliberate on Building a



Shining the spotlight on the role of the L&D function in helping organisations be future-ready in the light of the rapidly changing dynamics of the retail industry, the Retailers Association of India (RAI) recently concluded its annual Retail Learning & Development (L&D) Summit 2022 that was held virtually over January 19 & 20, 2022.


The RAI Retail L&D Summit primarily focuses on exploring the most exciting tools and technologies that are currently transforming learning, including AI, predictive analytics and VR. The summit is a platform to explore fresh ideas, modern innovations and new initiatives. 


With uncertainty becoming a constant, organisations need to identify and address the skills gap while also focusing on helping employees develop their enduring capabilities like teamwork, critical thinking and resilience to thrive. Retail L&D Summit 2022 brought the retail Learning and Organisation Development fraternity and industry captains to engage in a common dialogue on various facets of building a future-ready, resilient organisations.


Setting the context of the summit, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI) said, “Today, we thrive in shared economy concepts. Learning initiatives could also be built as a collective framework enabling anybody from anywhere to take up initiatives. This would possibly mean a common learning management process that all of us in the industry could use for easier interoperability as the pandemic has also created new aspirations in the minds of the individuals and new ideas around work-life balance. If we are able to create assets that we can use interchangeably, and create robust processes then we will be able to easily switch over capabilities of one person to another without losing on efficiencies and progress. The discussions at the Summit revolved around exploring such digital avenues for a more efficient people and processes in retail.”


Over the two days, six thought provoking panel discussions had retail CEOs, CHROs and CLOs deliberating on the many aspects of Learning & Development in the context of the modern day shared and distributed resources. Topics discussed at the summit were Building a Future-Ready Learning Organization, Reimagining learning and development in retail to make frontline future-ready, Role of Academia in Shaping a Future-Ready workforce, Employee Wellbeing & the Hybrid Work Environment, Embracing the Gig Economy- Impact on learning & Organisation Culture, among others.


Delivering a Keynote on the first day of the summit, Rajendra Mehta, President & Group CHRO, Welspun Groupsaid that, “Consumer is at the forefront of change which we are seeing subsequent to COVID. The race to occupy market share is gaining momentum. Organization’s will succeed if employee capabilities are aligned and prepped towards these expectations. This L&D Summit focuses on bringing critical strategies towards building a Learning Organization keeping organizations future-ready. I wish RAI, all its members and retail institution the best in the journey ahead.”


A discussion on the ‘Role of Academia in Shaping a Future-Ready workforce’ included panellists such as Dr. Kartik Dave, Professor and Dean, School of Business, Public Policy & Social Entrepreneurship (SBPPSE), Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD); Dr. Gagan Katiyar, Chairperson-PGDM (Retail Management Program), BIMTECH; and Abhishek Sharma, Regional Campus Director – North, Pearl Academy.


The Chief Guest on the second day of the summit, Hemalakshmi Raju, Chief Learning Officer (Hydrocarbon Business), Reliance Industries, delivered a special address on Humanizing Digital Learning followed by a riveting panel discussions on the topic. During her address, she said, Fully understanding and leveraging digital and human enablers is how we can convert the skilling challenge into a skilling opportunity. Only then will we be able to meet the speed and scale demands for skilling. In 2022, organisations should focus their efforts on this front.”


Retail Heads, HR CXOs and leaders speaking at the summit were Saurabh Kalra, COO, Hardcastle Restaurants; Rajiv Nair, Group CEO, Kaya; Sadashiv Nayak, CEO, Future Retail; Sandeep Varaganti, Chief Business Officer - Marketplace, Reliance Retail; Manavi Pathak, Head - Talent and Learning, Trent (Tata Retail); Narayanan Sabharatnam, Head-Retail Training, Titan Company; Neeti Sharma, Talent Partner, Global HR, Adidas; Naveen Kumar Nerlaje, Head Human Resources, Licious; Jeeva Balakrishnan, Chief Talent Officer, Reliance Retail; Swatee Sarangi, Global - Head Learning, Leadership and Organization Development, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories; Karanjeet Uppal , General Manager - Learning and Development, Bata India; Dhanashree Thakkar, Vice President HR, Bharti AXA Life Insurance; Isuru Kalamulla Waduge,  Country Leadership and Competence Manager, IKEA; and Neelam Ahluwalia, Vice President - L&D, Bigbasket among others. 


The summit concluded with recognising retail organisations that demonstrated  enterprise wide success as a result of employee talent development through L&D interventions. The award for ‘Best Learning & Development Strategy’ was given to Infiniti Retail Ltd. – Croma, while United Colors of Benetton, India was recognised as the First Runner Up and  Marks & Spencer Reliance India as the Second Runners Up.


Recognising the young dynamic talent in the L&D functions within retail companies who have made a huge impact to L&D functions in their respective organizations, the ‘Learning Champ’ award was given to Srinivas Balaji, Reliance Retail - Fashion & Lifestyle. While, Arpita Mishra, Skechers South Asia was recognised as the First Runner-up and Mohan M, Reliance Digital as the Second Runner Up in the award category.

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