Ujala Sabharwal

Architecting HR Leadership & Visionary Insights

Ujala Sabharwal

Senior Director, India People,

HealthEdge

Ujala Sabharwal’s journey is adorned with intriguing facets that speak volumes about her multifaceted persona. Renowned for her adventurous spirit, Ujala immerses herself in diverse cultures, embracing regional languages and capturing moments through her photography that mirror her rich experiences. Engaged in community initiatives, she passionately supports education for underprivileged children, believing in knowledge as a catalyst for change. Starting her journey in Jammu & Kashmir, her MCA from Jammu University led her through cities like Jammu, Chandigarh, and eventually to Bengaluru, where she transitioned from a tech background to HR, spurred by personal milestones like marriage.
Each pivotal moment shaped Ujala’s path to influential leadership. Transitioning from DotNet to HR marked her resolute pursuit. Leading Softtek’s People function prepared her for her current role as HealthEdge’s Senior Director of India People. Her leadership reflects strategic acumen and a commitment to fostering inclusive, innovative environments. Ujala embodies resilience, adaptability, and an unwavering pursuit of excellence, driven by a deep belief in individual potential and the transformative power of inclusive workplaces.
In an interview with TradeFlock, she uncovers her journey and leadership traits. 

How have your HR skills evolved over the years, and what influenced them?

My journey in HR burgeoned naturally from a computer science background to my initial role as a recruiter, prompting me to fortify these skills. Pursuing an MBA in HR and executive programmes at MIT Sloan highlighted the essence of people skills for effective team management and leadership. Recognising the pivotal role of visionary leadership in fostering enduring impact, I delved into honing these attributes— prioritising relationship-building and agility. Understanding that lasting leadership hinges on executive presence, I dedicated myself to crafting a unique style through continuous learning and personal development. Networking with industry leaders became a cornerstone, offering unparalleled insights and enriching my skill set through their seasoned expertise. These interactions have been pivotal, shaping my evolution and contributing significantly to my skill refinement.

How have you tackled significant HR leadership challenges, and what insights did you gain?

In my HR leadership journey, I’ve navigated challenges in talent identification and adapting to remote work during the pandemic. Prioritising employee well-being and enhancing our brand ensured talent retention amid the shift towards flexibility. By emphasising empathy and work life balance, I’ve cultivated a forward-thinking employee experience. At HealthEdge, we’ve shifted productivity focus to outcomes, offering remote, in-office, or hybrid work arrangements. Tailored training has addressed isolation while enriching team synergy. We emphasise culture, OKRs, and transparent communication. Our enhanced EVP includes flexible setups, learning initiatives, and DE&I commitment. Celebratory initiatives like iBelong and HealthEdgeCares champion diversity. Our comprehensive healthcare and mental wellness support empowers our workforce, while a rethought hybrid model attracts diverse talent, bolstering retention in our evolving landscape.

How have your strengths contributed to your leadership success, and in what areas are you currently improving?

My leadership hinges on integrity, selfawareness, and empathy. Self-awareness boosts confidence, decision-making, and positive influence. Clear values guide decisions and foster respect. Understanding and reinforcing company values sets behavioural standards and connects teams to objectives. Empathy, especially amid pandemic stress, shapes a positive workplace by listening, advocating growth, prioritising wellbeing, fostering transparent communication, and encouraging feedback. In today’s landscape, empathy isn’t a luxury but integral to corporate culture, ensuring engagement, authentic relationships, and organisational success in an increasingly challenging workforce environment.

How do you plan to ensure diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunities in your team and organisation?

In today’s workplaces, diversity and inclusion fuel vibrancy, innovation, and empathy. Beyond a moral obligation, they’re strategic imperatives. Diversity encompasses humanity’s rich tapestry; inclusion fosters respect and empowerment, dismantling barriers for diverse voices. Building an inclusive workplace faces challenges like biases, inadequate training, and leadership gaps. At HealthEdge, our approach includes education, leadership commitment, inclusive training, open communication, diverse representation, ERGs, mentorship, inclusive benefits, continuous evaluation, external collaborations, and allyship programmes. These strategies foster an environment where everyone feels valued and empowered. Embracing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives cultivates workplaces mirroring global diversity, promoting equality, understanding, and unity.

What's your perspective on leading change, and how do your leadership traits drive change within the organisation?

Leading change in today’s complex landscape intertwines personal experiences with professional challenges. Amidst this transformative era, authentic communication, collaboration, determination, positivity, and curiosity form my leadership arsenal. Sharing personal challenges builds trust, linking changes to our mission clarifies their purpose, and fostering teamwork aids transitions. Maintaining a problem-solving attitude guides you through obstacles, while optimism inspires productivity. Encouraging curiosity nurtures a culture of inquiry, adapting to evolving needs. As a transformational leader, my focus remains on empowering teams and individuals, navigating change by leveraging personal experiences, and fostering an environment conducive to growth and adaptability.

What are your HR leadership future plans and contributions to team and organisational growth?

In the HR landscape, my approach spans diverse facets. I engage with teams, aligning strategies with our organisation’s vision. Decoding business challenges, I collaborate to proactively address issues and propose effective solutions. Strategic agility defines my HR leadership— integrating business goals into long-term strategies and foreseeing talent needs for our trajectory. Problem-solving is an art, leveraging critical thinking to preempt risks. Transforming into a trusted advisor, I cultivate impactful relationships, amplifying influence. At HR’s core, I cultivate a positive ethos embodying ethics, DEIB values, and organisational alignment. Proactive, results-driven, and empathetic, I balance organisational interests and employee advocacy. Continuous development drives me to lead effectively in the dynamic HR sphere, ensuring an evolving and influential presence.