Western Digital India: An Ideal Workplace Embracing All Aspects of Innovation, Collaboration & Execution Excellence

Supria Dhanda,   Vice President & Country Manager

Supria Dhanda
Vice President & Country Manager

Western Digital India is driving the innovation needed to help customers capture, preserve, access, and transform an ever-increasing diversity of data. In an exclusive conversation with silicon india, Supria Dhanda (Vice President & Country Manager, Western Digital India) shares a spectrum of aspects about the firm’s magnificence, work culture, milestones and many others.

Brief us about your company’s work culture. How are you leveraging your professional expertise and experience in creating a zealous environment for your workforce?
At Western Digital worldwide, our culture is anchored on three values of Think Big, Do It Together and Make It Happen. Our work environment is thus, the coming together of multiple aspects that when blended together foster a spirit of innovation, collaboration and execution excellence. Having spent close to two decades in people centered functions; I firmly believe that keeping employees at the core of technology and business strategy is critical to success. Listening to what employees are saying is important to us and we work very hard in ensuring there is continuous cultivation of forums that encourage dialogue, bring in transparency in our decision making, and ensure free flow of information.

Our charter in India is to work on innovation and development of new products and we have several initiatives that ignite creative thinking and challenge young and experienced minds alike. The world of explosive growth in both big and fast data opens a vast variety of challenges and thus the very nature of this industry we are in, serves as a hot-bed of creating a lot of firsts, learning new skills as AI, machine learning amongst others and thriving in the deep technology eco system governing this.

Growing Indian footprint in terms of external market and creating an awareness of Western Digital brand in India is an important aspect of my role and it’s heartening to see employees across functions, walk up and ask, ‘How can I contribute?’. It’s a simple testimony to us making a difference by creating an inclusive and highly engaging environment where our employees can develop and achieve their career goals.

Western Digital India does cutting-edge work across all product and engineering business lines we serve worldwide. Our team here is continuously raising the bar in terms of filing patents and trade secrets. Keeping employees at the core and edge of our strategy is the way we work.

What role do the company’s solutions and in-house operational methodologies play in attracting fresh and experienced professionals? Also, tell us about your hiring and retention strategies to keep the workforce intact and offer them growth opportunities.
The nature of the industry we are in, favors us to a large extent in terms of challenging our employees by inviting innovative solutions to problems that didn’t exist before. Our vision is architecting how data enables the world to solve its biggest challenges. At Western Digital, when we innovate across our portfolio-from products and devices to data center systems and infrastructures, we enable the world to solve its biggest challenges.

Engaging the best of young and experienced minds in truly creating the world’s best data infrastructure to solve problems of today and
tomorrow is a huge mission that we have set out to achieve and this is bound to touch the lives of billions out there.

Developing an innovative, solution driven, agile approach continues to be our guiding force for developing a culture of customer first. Investing in growing our people on leading teams and leading organizations is an important aspect of our leadership development strategy. We acknowledge and appreciate each individual employee’s unique skills, capabilities, and talents. We curate various tailored programs by investing in our workforce’s capabilities build up and believe in making Western Digital a cool place to work at.

We have an excellent University Hiring Program followed by intensive four-week Bootcamp wherein they learn the overview of product lines, engineering development, product marketing and business. We have seen our University Hires file patents and trade secrets within the first year of joining and this is a true testimony to our culture of innovation. Our focus on leadership development for both the technological and leadership career path continues to be a big part of our people strategy. We have people managers go through a modular approach to assess and build their leadership over a course of six months. This further prepares our talent pipeline for growth and greater responsibility.

What are your strategies to make Western Digital a women-friendly workplace and offer benefits you provide to female employees to make them feel safer, comfortable and confident?
We believe in creating a balanced work environment which is gender-neutral and values equity and equality for all alike. It is very important to us that each individual can thrive through a sense of belonging, respect, and contribution. We have a Women’s Innovation Network Board, which is an employee-led group that advocates women to achieve their highest potential in the company. I am part of the global board and responsible for ensuring if diversity is well integrated in mainstream business.

We have a five-pronged strategy that focuses on Hire, Grow, Develop, Network and Engage and we are proud to say we have made significant progress in ensuring better representation of women in the workforce through the levels as we have journeyed over the last seven years, that I have been here with Western Digital India. It’s important that we create inclusivity in our culture and that we bring in men as allies. However, it is equally important that we develop women exclusively and coach them on how to be visible and earn their seat at the table.

We have a Sponsorship Program wherein senior leaders sponsor women, Real Women-Real Inspiration series, wherein we have inspirational talks by both internal and external speakers to create more role models for young and aspiring women. Our Phase back program focuses on women on maternity break and guides managers on how to stay connected and supports women transitioning back to their work.

They say culture eats strategy for breakfast and I strongly believe in getting the culture of diversity and inclusion right because if this is done right, the results are not too far.

Kindly elucidate on your HR policies, other in-house facilities and fun initiatives that motivate employees to mark their attendance daily and instill enthusiasm. Also, how are you helping them strike the work- life balance right?
Western Digital has long been at the forefront of game-changing innovations and this has only been possible because of our fast-learning, extremely talented and highly creative workforce. Our HR team is a strategic business partner to enabling the right culture of Think Big, Doing It Together and Making it Happen. From the time of interviewing talent to integrating employees into Western Digital
culture, all the way to engaging in an open dialogue and enabling career development, are multiple aspects wherein HR Team leads from the front. What is important is to note that we make leaders responsible for their teams and it’s their role to hire, mentor, coach, develop and retain talent. HR is the facilitator, eager partner and enabler to getting this right.

Building trust, ensuring accountability and overall focus on creating healthy teams is the fundamental role of each leader and we invest significant energy in institutionalizing this for our teams. We believe in work-integration more than work-life balance. We understand working at Western Digital is a part of our employees’ lives and bringing pride in this relationship, valuing their personal space and ensuring flexibility in the work culture is our way of working towards this.

How has Western Digital’s grown in recent times in terms of employee numbers? What is the future roadmap to escalate employee engagement in the company?
India is a strategic region for Western Digital and we have grown almost ten times in the last 5-6 years and almost doubled in the last two years. The focus has been to develop strong end-to-end capabilities in product development across multiple segments of our diverse product portfolio. University hires, hiring PhDs and hiring for diversity are key strategy pillars within the world of Talent Acquisition. We have approximately 2000 talented workforce. We are always interested in meeting talented individuals in the field of engineering and product development.

We.Celebrate, Toastmasters International, the recently conducted Data Innovation Bazaar in liaison with The Government of India, Hackathons are examples of purposeful employee engagement initiatives. Having an engaged workforce is a big priority for us.

“Our culture of innovation, collaboration and execution excellence embodies our values of Think Big, Do It Together and Make It Happen. Our collective objective is to create an inclusive and trust-based environment for all our employees such that this is a home away from home, wherein you take pride in work, joy in achievements and have openness to explore yourself and develop to your full potential and above all find Western Digital a cool place to work at”.
-Supria Dhanda, Vice President & Country Manager, Western Digital India

“It is Western Digital’s vision to be an ideal place to work, and we constantly foster a culture of learning, development and inclusivity. We believe that our strength lies in differences, not in similarities, and we thrive in embracing different perspectives. Our people truly are our greatest asset and therefore we invest a lot in them to ensure that we create a diverse and inclusive culture”.
-Surinder Bhagat, Head - HR, Western Digital India

“The diverse opportunities that Western Digital provides us with, energizes me every day to do more, be it growing in our professional journey or upskilling our knowledge to learn and master it or sheer experimenting for learning a new technology. There is a strong culture of trust and flexibility which gives us our space to deliver our best at work and manage personal responsibilities as well. I am happy to be a part of its family and look forward to building my career here”.
-Kalpit Bordia, Senior Engineer- Firmware Engineering, Western Digital India