Sunil Setlur’s HR lessons from a bottling plant internship

Updated: Feb 17

Sunil Setlur, Chief People Officer for Gojek, shares more on how he started in HR, including a tense encounter on the first day of a student internship.

COS Asia: How long have you been in the role?

Setlur: Two and a half years in Gojek, and about a year and a half in my current role.

COS Asia: How and why did you get into HR?

Setlur: I always wanted to be in HR. I studied Industrial Relations. I interned at an unionised bottling plant when I was in college. I think the union rep thought I was the new HR manager. He toured me around the facilities that ended at the backside of the factory. No one was there. He put his arm around me and said, “Sometimes my friends will not be here, but the timesheet will show that they're here. We're okay, right? This won't be a problem, right?”

My uni had a rule: submit a 5,000-word paper or intern. I picked what I thought was the easier option, interned, and quickly ran back after that. Then I wasn't sure I wanted to do HR because that experience was traumatic.

But Accenture had a management development program for HR trainees. I joined. I didn't fully fathom how much of a problem-solving, service-oriented job it was. We were designing frameworks and solutions.

Then I switched roles. I was an HR rep, and I turned to the executive learning and development team. I saw the very tangible impact those programmes had on senior executives and their behaviour in the organisation, how that changed culture, business strategy, people interaction, and the quality of people’s experience. That's when I fell in love with it. I stayed. It's only gotten more fun the longer I've been in it.

This feature was extracted from Chief of Staff Asia's exclusive interview with Sunil Setlur, Gojek’s Chief People Officer, based in Singapore. For further coverage please see any of the below links:

The “intentional” culture driving Gojek and its Chief People Officer

Gojek: Purpose-driven culture for the New Normal

Sunil Setlur’s HR lessons from a bottling plant internship

Getting to know: Sunil Setlur

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