CXOToday has engaged in an exclusive interview with Ms. Sonica Aron, Founder Marching Sheep.

1.How has Marching Sheep’s journey evolved, particularly over the past two years? What pivotal moments or strategic shifts have contributed to its transformation and continued success in the HR training landscape?

As a consulting organization that offers customized people solutions to business problems, problem solving and innovation is an intrinsic part of our day to day work. We work closely with clients to arrive at customized and effective HR interventions that support their strategy in the current lifecycle stage, as well as support them in realization of long-term business plans.

We have clients across industries, Geographies and life stages. We have worked with global MNCs and Indian conglomerates, large giants and emerging organizations, funded startups. We have delivered interventions for participants across India, APAC region, Australia, Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa Regions.

We are a purpose driven organization and our purpose- making a difference to peoples’ lives and careers runs through everything we do. Hence, we need to evolve and cater to needs of the evolving workforce, evolving leadership imperatives, technological advancements and business models.

Our growth journey has been a natural progression with the evolving sensibilities of the society. As the narrative of diversity in the society expanded, social media made workforce more woke and curious, covid pandemic necessitated adoption of technology faster than anticipated, we adapted alongside. While some of these might sound like obstacles, these were also opportunities as they opened doors to new geographies, new areas of work and assignments, research and development and overall growth.

2.How do you see technology shaping the future of HR training, particularly in fostering inclusive cultures within organizations?

The future of not just HR, but all functions and therefore way of working will undergo a significant transformation as adoption of technology expands and deepens. Today, every function is attempting to automate repetitive, mundane tasks and human interface is being utilized for higher order work, strategizing and empathy. To this end, the world of HR consulting will get impacted, but at the same time play a very significant role.
Today, every function is attempting to automate repetitive, mundane tasks and human interface is being utilized for higher order work, strategizing and empathy. To this end, the world of HR consulting will get impacted, but at the same time play a very significant role.

Here are some areas that one can look at-

1.Making learning interventions more effective. This does not mean that transforming all learning into technology-based modules. It means that without losing sight of what behaviors and skills need to be driven, what is the best way of driving both knowledge enhancement, skill application, and the willingness to learn and apply. Hence a blend of human facilitation and technological use for reinforcement and measuring impact would be the logical way forward.

2.As organizations increase the scope of tasks being automated, there will be a need for taking stock of new roles that emerge, competency mapping, resource mapping, reskilling, and upskilling, job valuations, restructuring.

3.Any change brings feelings of unrest and fear. The rampant spread of news of layoffs due to roles getting automated across big and small companies, across industries and functions is creating a sense of fear. Role of HR becomes critical to allay these fears and build psychological safety and resilience.

4.Building inclusive culture- Today teams are working from different locations. Diversity is not just gender, or sexual orientation, or persons with disabilities. People are diverse in so many ways- in their educational background, cultural upbringing, socio-economic status, native language, learning styles, communication styles and a lot more. In order to build high performance teams that are spread across and working remotely, managers and leaders, with the help of HR will need to deploy the right platforms and tools to keep the team members engaged, collaborative and motivated.

These are just a few examples and there are a lot more. As HR takes on a more strategic partnering role with business, technology will be an important component that will support data collection and analysis with speed and accuracy.
In a nutshell, technology is not a destination in itself, but an enabler that drives efficacy of employee development, employee experience, and uses data to make them even better.

3.As a leader in HR development, how do you foresee emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning impacting leadership development strategies in the near future?

Leadership imperatives, managerial skills needed to succeed in today’s times have all evolved. Team members today want approachable and empathetic leaders, who do not shy away from vulnerability or accepting mistakes. They want their managers to be their allies, in the journey towards success. Hence, gone are the days of Bullet-proof managers and prescriptive 2 day programs on leadership.

Today leadership journeys are curated keeping in mind the behaviors that need to be inculcated in the participants. And it is not just about knowing the behaviors but about effectively applying them and getting the right results through the team. Success of such action learning journeys hinges on use of technology from diagnostics, to learning reinforcements, to monitoring KPIs post intervention and so much more.

It is important to remember that AI shouldn’t replace human interaction. And, like any tool, AI is only effective with unbiased data to avoid perpetuating existing biases. In essence, AI can personalize development, provide continuous learning, and identify future leaders, but the human touch remains vital for successful leadership development.

4.What specific initiatives or partnerships has Marching Sheep undertaken to equip individuals with the relevant skills and competencies demanded by today’s workforce, and how do you envision these efforts evolving in the future?

Today Marching Sheep has delivered interventions and impacted lives across 80 countries for more than 380 clients across industries. Each program has been unique, carefully curated to address the specific needs of each client. The results in terms of growth in talent pipeline, increased retention, increased engagement scores, diverse representation across levels have been some of the metrics measured and impacted.

5.What is the projected future trajectory for Marching Sheep?
Our purpose at Marching Sheep is to impact people’s careers and lives through meaningful interventions that truly move the needle, and drive respect and equality for all through inclusive workplaces. We believe in doing meaningful work that touches and impacts lives of the workforce, and in turn builds agile, responsive and great organizations.

We will continue to research and evolve our offerings. We wish to enable organizations by building capability within and hence offering more certification programs. We wish to expand our geographical presence further.

We build long term relationships with clients on the basis of Quality of our delivery. We deliver what we commit and on time. We build authentic relationships. We are proud to say that all our clients come back to us for more work on the basis of trust and credibility. We are Bold, Curious, Genuine! We are Marching Sheep.

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