Geeta L: Driving a Creative Change to the World

Geeta L | Co-founder & COO | AscentHR
Geeta L | Co-founder & COO | AscentHR

Who do you imagine when you think of a leader? Is it the gender of the person or the person who influenced your life for good? Does being man or woman affect any of their qualities as leaders? Having said that, it does not affect who is leading the way. All that matters is how they are leading the way.

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates.

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality” – Warren Bennis

No definition states that any specific individual should be a leader. All it states are the qualities that make one an influential and inspiring leader. Having said that, leadership is the quest to help many people grow and learn. In this edition of Insights Success, we focus on women leaders who brought change with their dynamic way of thinking and bold decision-making quality. Geeta L, Co-founder and COO of AscentHR is no less than that perfect example of solid leadership qualities. Geeta is a woman who chased her dreams and endeavoured to realise them. With her exceptional qualities, she creates an aura full of confidence.

Towards a Brave Goal

Geeta always preferred being an entrepreneur to working in a 9 -5 job. Her father’s business initiatives influenced her to dream of running her own business and creating employment opportunities in the community.

Building an enterprise requires capital, and most importantly unwavering courage and self-belief. Fortunately, that was all Geeta had as an asset to begin her entrepreneurial journey. While there were many options and opportunities, she went about shortlisting those that clearly complemented her knowledge, skills, and competencies, drawing on her prior professional experience and her academic qualifications in cost accounting.

Geeta’s discovery of a niche area of supporting organisations with their payroll and compliance operations took shape. This set the ball rolling in following her dreams and passion.

Innovation and Belief

Geeta says that AscentHR’s vision is to deliver an exceptional user experience to its clients by constantly innovating products and services that are built on cutting-edge technology. AscentHR was founded in 2002 and headquartered in Bengaluru. The company started as a payroll processing and compliance management company. It entered the payroll services market in 2003 when it launched its proprietary PowerPay platform.

Now, AscentHR has stepped into its 20th year, with a larger team and a stronger presence in India and South-East Asia, catering to clients across various industry segments. Today, AscentHR is a leading global HR, Payroll, and Compliance solutions and services company delivering one million transactions per month for over 550 customers, with a substantial gross processing value.

The company has operating capability across 74 countries, giving it a partnering prowess that is unique and unmatched. It delivers value across industries by engaging in business support, automation, consulting services, staffing, and corporate compliance. The team at AscentHR enthuses Adaptability, Accountability, and Accuracy and lives by these traits.

Rising from the Pandemic

“The COVID-19 pandemic’s disruption tore the world apart, but crises often bring out the best in humankind,”says Geeta. The pandemic has redefined the ways companies operate, and the ways employees work.

HR departments are tasked with developing and implementing an array of dynamic organisational changes. Managements look to HR to maintain a sense of order in a world that is increasingly anything but normal. HR professionals have a tough job of building a positive impact from the pandemic’s negative consequences. To build such a positive impact, the HR industry in the coming days will be more inclined to take an employee-centric approach in anything and everything they do.

Upfront in Maintaining Employee Safety

“We, at AscentHR, put our might behind our customers. Not only did we enable our customers to comply with a web of statutory requirements, but our teams also worked around the clock to tailor our services to the specific needs of our customers. For instance, several businesses introduced staggered pay cuts and other cost-control measures,” says Geeta.

AscentHR’s experts swiftly decoded new government directives and enabled customers to comply with these directives without delays. Armed with special passes, the employees were physically present at the workplace. The company delivered uninterrupted services and fulfilled the obligations to their customers through their innovative payroll platform with inbuilt checks and balances to process confidential customer data.

As part of the company’s safe ‘Return to Work’ (AHR-RtW) plan, the company administered various measures. To begin with, it established an RtW Policy and mandated its employees to get themselves vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to work. The company facilitated a free-of-cost vaccination drive for its employees and their immediate family members, intending to prioritise employees’ health and make the workplace safer.

The company began the vaccination drive a few months ago as part of its employee wellness and business continuity plan and its ongoing efforts to support and enable employees to return to work safely. The company formed a special team to support its employees during the drive, roping in staff from the Admin and Facilities team to carry out the vaccination drive.

The team successfully got hundreds of its employees, and their family members vaccinated. “Many of the employees have shared positive feedback on their experience as well,” Geeta said. The company continues to adhere to standard safety measures mandated by the government agencies, such as compulsory masks, physical distancing, hygiene protocols, and self-reporting of COVID-19 symptoms before and after vaccination.

Redefining Digitalisation

As AscentHR charges ahead with investment in technology-led innovation, “we are committed not to lose the human touch,” says Geeta. The company’s various touchpoints and interfaces ‘speak’ to the humans it hopes to benefit – i.e. all the employees, customers, and other stakeholders associated with AscentHR. “Our cognitive platforms and KM libraries are accumulating authority and wide-ranging competency focussing on ‘Untapped Customer Values.’ All our offerings stand to gain in the value they offer as a result,” Geeta said.

The elves in AscentHR’s innovation lab are working to infuse AI into solutions and explore innovative uses of emerging technologies. “We constantly endeavor to address HR and payroll challenges and enable transformation,” says Geeta. AscentHR’s researchers have their heads deep in the alchemy of the future of AI, key research in deep learning algorithms, dialog and conversation enablement, cognitive platforms, knowledge libraries, blockchain, data security, and automation of compliance controls. They collaborate with institutions and domain experts to develop analytic models for a new generation of intelligent applications.

They are exploiting the strengths of automation and robotic processes for tangible advantages from the start of the process – data collecting. This is critical because inputs can come in at disparate stages. The company prepares for those eventualities so that inaccuracies or unvetted numbers do not enter the system. At the same time, visibility of data to the authorised users guarded by approver-layers is essential to nearly all its clients. The company has found ways to make reportage accurate, accessible, and protected at the same time. Its formats are user-friendly as the company house 300+ journal voucher formats, and its reporting systems flow seamlessly.

She further explains how their HCM roadmap emphasises digitising the emerging global HR models. AscentHR’s next-gen HCM solutions leverage the capabilities of the cloud to enable HR digital transformation and support the ‘future of work’ – catering to the evolving remote and mobile work environments.

Their roadmap for multi-country payroll focuses on enhancing the flexibility to easily configure unique requirements and scalability to meet current and future needs. She says “specific emphasis will be on global consolidation, reliability of payroll accuracy, timeliness, and consistent results, improved compliance functionalities to control and manage the risk of payroll operations globally.”

The company’s ‘future-proof operating model’ is to build on the existing Payroll-HR technology integration, including third-party solutions, to deliver increased efficiency. The deployment of smart bots eliminates error-prone manual processing. The final touchstone for the company will be compliance monitoring and updates, leading to fully autonomous payroll processing – ‘touchless payroll.’

A Precious Advice

“Young entrepreneurs need to remind themselves every now and then – why they’re doing what they’re doing. This is not so much a piece of advice as it a compelling truth that I’ve discovered through my journey,” expresses Geeta.

“Being mindful of experiences of the past, documenting findings and performances minutely will be a great reference as they embark on the journey,” adds Geeta.

Geeta further adds, “Originality is a class of its own. Going beyond expectations means that one has to deliver on every point of the promise. A job done well will always speak volumes in many forms, and the younger generation should keep that as a reference.”

Bold Future

AscentHR will continue to power people practices with a clear plan to enter new geographies. Its growth ambition in terms of delivering value to its customers will be fuelled by:

  • Continuous leveraging of technology (Deep learning algorithms, dialog, and conversation enablement)
  • Investment and research into cognitive platforms
  • Strengthening of knowledge repository

AscentHR’s constant endeavour is to expand its overall offering to provide buyers with a wide range of integrated HR and payroll solutions that cater to core HR functions and address broader HCM requirements.

The company will seek to enhance its technology offering to include deeper AI/ML and NLP infusion to address additional use cases, drive deeper user personalisation, and enable a predictive analytic insight capability.

AscentHR’s future releases are aimed at addressing much broader HCM requirements, including launching a contingent labor management offering (including support for back-office HR and payroll for contingent/gig workers), gamified e-learning, sentiment analysis, and culture assessment offering, travel and expense management support with insightful analytics capabilities.

AscentHR will also continue to meet the needs of a broader range of diverse buyers up and down market by enabling and launching new cloud-based offerings including, a DIY offering targeted at SMB buyers (with less than 100 employees), providing a prebuilt/bundled solution to include core HR technology, and managed HR, and payroll services.

A Box Full of Rewards

AscentHR has been recognised by the industry’s top independent analysts such as NelsonHall and Everest Group. Recently, the company was recognised as a Major Player in  NelsonHall’s HCM Technology vendor assessment. The company was also positioned in the Everest Group’s latest PEAK Matrix® assessment in the Multi-Country Payroll (MCP) Solution for 2021.

The company was also highlighted in Forbes India, January 2021 edition prominently. The article titled, “The Unstoppable Amidst A Pandemic,” highlights the crucial and responsible role that AscentHR played in ensuring payroll and compliance services delivery even during the peak COVID-19 times.

Geeta’s opinion on Adopting Gender Egalitarianism from a Business Leadership Outlook

Geeta opinioned that the need of the hour is to rethink and shift our focus on establishing a more effective, inclusive culture that is supported by a flexible and well-thought-out system. A system that not only removes obstacles while integrating women into the workforce but also engages them and enables them to realise their full potential. The term ‘system’ here refers to the workforce and workplace strategies, policies, and standards that organisations deploy to run their businesses. The system plays a key role in fostering women’s participation and representation. If the system is flawed, it significantly hampers women’s career trajectory and progression.

She explained like this: “The system will be considered ill-conceived if the hiring criteria favour only those with uninterrupted careers or accepts only those career gaps that are taken in pursuit of academic endeavours. These kinds of hiring policies make it difficult for women to re-enter the workforce. Again, the system is flawed if the flexible work arrangements are insufficient or does not exist altogether.” She says “No amount of meritocracy will be useful if the system is not well-designed with well-thought-out policies. In fact, it would be a waste of company’s resources, time, and money if inclusivity is absent.”

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