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From Tech Support to Director of Talent Acquisition India: Santosh's Career Progression Tips

santosh headshot

Santosh TK. | Director, Talent Acquisition | Bangalore, India

Originally Published: May 24, 2023

My Journey at Dell Technologies

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management and spending 10 years in the hospitality industry at the Taj Group of Hotels, I found an opportunity to join Dell Technologies as a Technical Support Team Manager in 2004, and I’m proud to say that was the start of my 19-year journey at Dell!

I was leading a team of technical support experts providing support to our North America Consumers customers. It was an interesting change to support a customer over the phone vs. having one in front of you in the hospitality industry!

Having done the role of a Team Manager for about 18 months and having a fair understanding of the technical support world, I was fortunate to be considered for the role of Process Lead which was created solely with a view of providing data insights and recommendations to business leaders that would help them in improving customer NPS and productivity – I moved from running the business to change the business activities! A year in, I experienced first-hand the power of networking - I met a HR colleague at Dell who was a customer of mine from my days in hospitality and began a mentorship journey that culminated in being offered a rotation in Human Resources.  

My first role in HR was as a HR Generalist, where I grew steadily from an Advisor to a Consultant, eventually leading a team of nine. To formalize my journey in Human Resources, I invested in a long-distance master’s in human resources - this helped me bridge the knowledge gap I had as a HR professional.

santosh dell

I was accepted to an open role in Regional Human Resources (RHR) as a director for India. The role gave me the opportunity to use all the knowledge I had learned as part of my MBA program – the legalities, labor laws, and employee engagement. This role also provided me the opportunity to oversee the HR function for our Factory in Chennai, India.

Dell has a culture of learning and leadership development - I took advantage of our learning opportunities to grow and expand my skill set by enrolling in the Director leadership program. While in this program, I was offered an opportunity to lead the Asia Pacific & Japan Learning & Development (L&D) function.

This decision was not easy as it meant moving from a country to a regional role in a function that I have never done before! L&D was a new function to me, but thanks to encouragement and support from Vanice Hayes, Senior Vice President of Diversity, I said yes. What started as a role leading APJ Delivery expanded to include all of Europe and the United States. Moving into a global role was rewarding, and it was interesting to learn from team members and colleagues all around the world. My three years in this role were pivotal to expanding my skillsets and growing as a leader.

Dell is an organization that is focused on encouraging the growth of internal talent. As I completed my 3-year stint in L&D, I was given the opportunity to lead the India Talent Acquisition team. I now lead a team that is 90 people strong and handles 24% of global hiring. It’s great to be leading a team that has an enormous impact!

My journey has been one of learning, development, and discovery. Every step I took taught me something that has ultimately led me to where I am today.

  • Technical Support – How to create positive experiences for our customers. 
  • HR Generalist – How to enhance Team Member experience & protect Dell’s interest. 
  • My L&D experience opened my eyes to how the organization is tied together and helped me discover more about our People Philosophy, Culture Code & Leadership Principles – all things that are critical to the existence of any organization. 

All in all, the 7 roles I have done over 19 years at Dell have resulted in great relationships with customers, stakeholders, and team members. 

santosh and his wife

    So, How Did I Do It? 

    I strongly believe that if you cultivate a “can do” attitude and are open to learning new skills, the opportunity will follow!

    The four things that have helped me the most in my career and these 19 years at Dell are:

    • Staying curious and being aware of opportunities
    • Selling myself and being open to taking risks
    • Networking
    • Mentorship

    Dell is a relationship-based organization, and I take pride in the relationships I’ve built since the start of my journey. I have been mindful of maintaining connections while I make new ones.

    Mentors are key to my success. I am fortunate that I’ve had the best mentors, pushing me throughout my journey - There is always something you can learn from others who’ve been there before you.

    My Advice for Young Professionals

    • Be patient - skills and careers are not built in a day. Organizations need to see value in you for you to grow. 
    • Stay curious - keep learning and upskilling to stay relevant to the organization. Use mentors as a sounding board. 

    Be aware of opportunities across the broader organization, network with peers, and find mentors to seek honest and open advice on your potential, performance, and skills. Mentorship is not one-sided; instead, it is a two-way relationship where young professionals can also teach their mentors through reverse mentorship, exchanging their unique insights and knowledge. 

    santosh cooking

    How I Keep My Passions Alive

    Outside of my role in TA, I am the True Ability ERG Lead at Dell India and co-lead for APJ.As someone who feels strongly about diversity and inclusion, my association with True Ability is only natural. Through True Ability, we have been successful in making huge strides towards accommodating those with physical disabilities by transforming our physical space, sensitizing our organization, and changing lives by providing opportunities - But the work is never done.

    Taking part in meaningful work that positively impacts the community is what I am passionate about and gives me a lot of pleasure!

    In my free time outside of work, I enjoy cooking, candle-making, motorbiking, and traveling. 

    To learn more about career growth and life at Dell, please visit growing your career and our stories. 

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