Manu Saigal, Director— General Staffing, Adecco India

Manu Saigal is the Director of General Staffing at Adecco India, with over two decades of experience in PnL management, framing and executing new initiatives, people management, and detailed task, and resource planning. Her areas of expertise lie in building long-term customer relationships across industries, creating winning teams, and setting up new businesses and practices from scratch. Manu’s entrepreneurial ability and skills in translating vision and delivering on high-impact decisions make her one of the most inspiring businesswomen in India.

Born & Raised in a Defence Family

For Manu, growing up as a child in an army family meant being constantly on the move every two years and studying in over 17 different Kendriya Vidhyalaya’s across the nation. It also meant getting early life lessons on adaptability and change, with qualities such as discipline, integrity, and commitment becoming a part of her personality.

During high school, Manu’s first moment of glory came when her CET results were published in the newspaper. Recalling that day, Manu shares, “I still remember the puzzled look on my father’s face reading the results in the morning newspaper, him immediately leaving for the CET office to double check, and then coming home with loads of sweets and a big smile on his face that won’t stop.” As an academically bright student, Manu might have made her parents proud as a child earlier as well, but that day holds a special place in her heart till today.

Career Tales

Going ahead, Manu pursued her BE degree in Electronics and Communication from the University of Mysore. However, during her last semester in college, Manu was at crossroads. She had to choose between an SSB call for Defence services and an offer letter from Wipro Infotech. Manu chose the latter and never looked back.

In 2015, Manu joined Adecco India as the Delivery Head and soon moved to lead IT Staffing as a Business Head. Then on, she continued to rise through the ranks and excel in all her responsibilities. Manu considers breaking the stereotype of a delivery person to leading the PnL as her first biggest career milestone while getting handpicked by Adecco’s management, who had confidence in her abilities, to lead PAN India’s General Staffing sector as her second biggest milepost. “Throughout the journey, I have played on my strength of connecting with people, building relationships, and being authentic to my team, organization, & customers,” says Manu.

Delivering the Right Workforce Solutions, Right on Time

The Adecco Group is a leading global Fortune 500 HR solutions industry leader, enabling job aspirants and businesses to seize the opportunities of the future of work. With its unique 360° service offerings, Adecco India has the expertise and prospect to shape new ways of working. The leading HR solutions provider offers lifelong employability for individuals and empower organisations to augment their talent ecosystem developing capabilities in areas where persistent skills shortages exist in pockets and connect relevant and new-age talent to leading Indian and multinational organizations, thereby adding real value as a partner.

While commenting on Adecco India’s robust performance over the last few years, Manu shares, “Adecco India delivered a solid performance in 2021 with remarkable improvement in our revenue, gross margin, and EBITA margin as compared to the previous year and driven continued investments in digitalization and sales capacity to capture the growing market and business transformation.”

The Challenges of Managing the Millennial Workforce

As the Director of General Staffing at Adecco India, Manu mentions that one of the biggest challenges of today is attracting and engaging the younger workforce. Instead of being attracted by money or the title, millennials want to become leaders who inspire others, make a difference in the world, and lead companies that care more than the bottom line.

Therefore, Manu suggests that rather than waiting for the yearly review, business leaders need to take regular time out to check in with their millennial team members, find out where they’re struggling, and offer necessary coaching to them. Initiatives such as these will help build their millennial employees’ trust, loyalty, and dedication.

Striking a Work-Life Balance

Manu considers herself lucky to be married into a very supportive and educated family that has always emphasized professional growth and development. “I won’t be wrong in saying that Ankur, my husband, is more ambitious for me than I myself,” shares Manu with a smile. Today, as proud parents, Manu and her husband are also witnessing a strong inclination toward education and career in their daughters.

However, there have been times when Manu’s family has taken precedence, whether standing by her mother’s side when she was fighting cancer or becoming a daughter to her mother-in-law after her father-in-law’s demise. “Both these instances have shaped me as a more grounded and empathetic person,” reveals Manu.

A Day in the Life of a Leader

A typical working week for Manu consists of meeting with her clients and connecting with her team. She also believes that learning is a lifelong process necessary for self-growth and success. In light of this, Manu is pursuing PGPMax for Senior Executives from the Indian School of Business (ISB, Hyderabad), which will further enhance her skills in general management, strategic thinking, and cross-functional knowledge, and help expand her network of senior executives. “I believe ISB can help me prepare for the next career goal in a much more structured framework,” says Manu.

Likewise, Manu is a firm believer of the Sanskrit Shlokas from Shreemad Bhagavad Geeta that says, कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन meaning one should focus on the work and not the fruits. She considers this philosophy as her mantra for staying calm even under pressure. As for unwinding from work, Manu enjoys watching films with her lovely daughters, Khushi & Mehhar, and socializing with family and friends on weekends.

A Strategic Response Plan to Combat Pandemic

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Adecco had a robust set of systems and processes that virtually enabled its entire team of employees to work remotely. Moreover, to further support the mission during such turbulent times, the company’s senior management team created a Pandemic Response Plan that accompanied its Business Continuity Plan. This plan included forming a Crisis Steering Committee (CSC) tasked with assessing impacts (HR and economic) and providing guidance to Adecco’s colleagues, associates, and clients. The CSC committee established work streams for Business Continuity, Human Resources, Technology Support, and Communications. Critical office locations were armed with several control mechanisms, including work from home, network, security testing, and safe interaction spaces.

According to the pandemic response plan, Manu and her team at Adecco India worked in lockstep with clients by following their local protocols and safety measures. “We assessed each suspected case of COVID-19 amongst our associates on a case-by-case basis and, after consultation with our clients, implemented actions to minimize any impact on business,” reveals Manu. “Likewise, we ensured all our Account/ Branch Managers were constantly in touch with our stakeholders.”

Stepping into the Future

At Adecco India, Manu and her team believe that the staffing industry has an important role in helping workers and organizations steer the recent workforce shifts by making responsible choices.

“The steps that we take today will have a lasting impact, and this has prompted us to make it our mission to support our stakeholders by being even more agile, innovative, and responsive,” shares Manu. “We offer a truly differentiated set of solutions to our clients, associates, candidates, and the wider economies where we operate to better navigate within this new environment.” In the future, Adecco’s relentless focus will be to provide sustainable and lifelong employability to individuals, thus adding value to society.

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