Professional success beyond knowledge and skills at workplace: Insights from Dileep Choyappally, VP & Head of HR at NeST Digital


24 minutes


Dileep Choyappally

In the inaugural episode of The NeST Digital Podcast, host Nisha Mary Verghis, a seasoned professional from the marketing team at NeST Digital, engages in a thought-provoking conversation with Dileep Choyappally, the VP & Head of HR at NeST Digital. Together, they explore the secrets behind creating thriving workplaces and achieving professional success that transcends conventional knowledge and skills.

Success in today’s dynamic workplace is not just about technical skills; it’s about embracing continuous learning, challenging comfort zones, and taking ownership of your journey. At NeST Digital, we believe in fostering innovation, diversity, and inclusion as we navigate the ever-evolving tech landscape.” -.” Dileep Choyappally


  • Talent Evolution: Explore the changing landscape of tech talent acquisition, from an employer’s market to an employee’s market. Discover the in-demand skills and competencies.
  • Beyond Tech Skills: Uncover the behavioral aspects that enhance professional success, including continuous learning, challenging comfort zones, and taking ownership.
  • Innovation Strategies: Dive into effective approaches for fostering creativity and innovation, along with techniques for encouraging fresh ideas.
  • Diversity & Inclusion: Understand the significance of diversity and inclusion in tech, and how they drive productivity and innovation at NeST Digital.
  • Employee Engagement: Explore best practices for motivating and connecting remote or hybrid workforce setups.
  • Continuous Learning: Discover HR’s role in supporting ongoing learning and adapting to new tech trends.
  • Talent Retention: Learn strategies for identifying and retaining high-performing employees and creating a positive employee experience.

Nisha Mary Verghis: Welcome to the Nest Digital Podcast, your gateway to tech, innovation, work life fusion, and so much more. Join us as we converse with industry leaders, visionaries, and trailblazers shaping the tech landscape. Let’s navigate the digital world together. I’m Nisha, and you’re tuned into the Nest Digital Podcast, where we explore the dynamic world of technology, innovation, and the people who shape it.

Welcome to the show. In this episode, we’re talking about professional success beyond knowledge and skills at the workplace. Today, we have a very special guest joining us. Someone who holds a wealth of knowledge and experience in creating thriving workplaces. Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Dileep Choyappally, the Vice President and Head of HR at Nest Digital.

Dileep brings with him a remarkable track record of fostering productivity, driving employee engagement and shaping a culture of success within the tech industry. Dileep, it’s an absolute pleasure to have you on the show.

Dileep Choyappally: Thank you. Thank you, Nisha. The feeling is mutual. I’m very glad to be part of the show as well.

Nisha Mary Verghis: 

Great. I’m also very eager to dive into our discussions today. But before we jump in, I would just like to know this. So you’ve been instrumental in shaping workplaces that buzz with success. Can you share a few words about your journey and your passion for creating such dynamic work environments?

Dileep Choyappally: Thank you. Thank you for the wonderful question. See I started my journey as a very regular employee. For me, getting a job was the most important thing, but I slowly realized that my career beyond the job is actually in HR and my calling is in people development and ensuring that there is good HR practices for the organization.

So to give you a little bit of history, like any postgraduate, I joined straight from the campus into my first organization. I was looking into the quality assurance, primarily ISO CMM certifications, process engineering, and things like that. But for me, that was a very internal function. I was doing well there, but I wanted some exposure outside and I asked for a role which is more customer front ending.

So for the next couple of years, the next few years, I’ve done pre sales, product management, a little bit of branding for the product that I was doing. I’ve travelled extensively to customers and then demonstrated the product. But slowly I realized that even that was becoming very monotonous for me. And my real calling is actually in people development.

So I’ve always been involved even while I was doing the quality assurance role or even while I was doing the product management role. I was still involved in imparting trainings, grooming new people who come to the organization. I was part of the selection process and all that. So a gradual progress happened and there was a calling from my side as well as from the organization side for me to switch the sides of the fence and then HR eventually happened to me. So that had been my journey for almost seven years I’ve been into business in different roles and then post the seven years for the rest of the 21 years of my career, the balance of the 21 years of my career, to be precise, I’ve been a part of HR. So this had been my career contour and I absolutely love this job because for me, each person is different and developing each person is a different challenge altogether.

So I really thoroughly enjoyed this particular job at this point in time.

Nisha Mary Verghis: Awesome Dileep. I think your track record is truly impressive and I have no doubt that our listeners will find it inspiring as well. Moving on to our next topic of discussion, talent acquisition. So I’m curious to know how has talent acquisition in the tech industry evolved over the years?

What are the in demand skills and qualities that companies look for in candidates today?

Dileep Choyappally: Oh, okay. All right. You’ve touched on a topic which is close to the heart of any HR professional and probably one of the toughest part in HR is in terms of building a team and acquiring talent, right? So here, one, one major observation that I have and one major shift that the industry had taken, the tech industry per se is, when I started my career and when I moved into HR, it was always an employer’s market.

The employer were calling the shots, but off late, especially during the pandemic era and the kind of changes that followed. The industry has shifted gears from being an employee’s market or a job seeker’s market. So I believe now the employee or the job seeker calls the shots and the employer is supposed to fulfill a certain level of demand that the employee is seeking for.

So this is one major shift that I’ve observed in terms of talent acquisition. Now goes without saying that this particular shift has made life challenging both for HR as well as the business profession. Attracting, engaging and retaining talent continues to be one of the biggest challenges for anybody who is part of a large organization.

Now, coming to the second part of the question, what are the in-demand skills, right? From both a technical as well as a behavioral standpoint, my two cents is that see technology evolves and there is a new skill or new demand or a new update almost every day that comes up in the market. Now, often you see people who are conversant with chat GPT, now chat GPT is a technology less than a year in the market and there is a demand for such skills already.

Now, let me come very specific to Nest Digital. I see embedded programming being in demand, uh, embedded front end like Qt, QML being in demand, automotive domain, banking domain, GIS, cybersecurity, DevOps, Python. There’s a lot of technologies which are in demand primarily because our customers are also pushing for such skills.

Now, that’s one good thing that I’ve seen in NeST because we are not focused on one particular technology and we don’t go deep. into one particular technology and we don’t recruit one particular technology alone. So that means that as a professional, you’ve got a lot of fungibility that is required. You have to learn new skills, adapt yourself and you know, start moving yourself out of your comfort zones.

So skills are in demand. There’s a, there’s a list of skills which I can go on and on, uh, uh, you know, in terms of what the, what the new skills that are in demand is. The one thing that I would require each and every one of you to do is, uh, see do a self evaluation of your skills. Uh, whenever you update the skills, update your resume, update your skills database so that you are clear that you’re progressing every day or every quarter or every half year.

It is very important to keep a track record of how updated you are. And it is also important to keep updating yourself as you go. Now beyond the technology I have three things which I would call, which is important from a recruiter standpoint, from an employer standpoint, I would be absolutely impressed with any person who showcases their learning capabilities or learning abilities.

So the first and foremost point is be a learner every day, try to pick up something new. Even if your job is routine, try to make a difference in it and try to learn, pick up one new skill every day that you come to office or you log into work. Challenge your comfort zone. Don’t be happy with what you are.

Don’t be happy with what your current skills are. And the most important aspect is ownership. Own up everything that you do. I go with the statement that even if it’s a mistake that you’ve made, have the courage to own it up and say that I’ve learned something from the mistake. I will not repeat that again.

So being a learner, challenge your comfort zones and owning up everything that you do is irrespective of the technology space that you are in. You have to have this, to be employed in the industry.

Nisha Mary Verghis: It’s absolutely right Dileep. And I think those are some valuable insights, both needed for professional and personal growth, I believe.

Delving into our next question, how do you encourage employees to think outside the box and bring fresh ideas to the table?

Dileep Choyappally: Okay. One of the things that I’ve noticed in the industry is that when the word innovation or thinking outside the box is discussed, people always talk about some big achievement or some new invention, that Eureka moment of something that is totally new and unheard of, right? That thinking itself limits innovation.

They keep thinking, say they’re saying that, Oh, that’s a small change. How is that going to be an innovation? When I want to innovate, I want to do something really big. For me, innovation is always incremental. It is, it is like the small drops make a big ocean, right? You do everything today in a hard way.

Think of how you can simplify it for tomorrow. If you take it at a granular level, you’ll be able to think outside the box and do something different. In order for you to start moving in the direction, first you must love what you’re doing. And most importantly, be able to have an uncluttered and open mind.

So if you approach your regular work with an uncluttered and open mind, I think incremental innovation happens. And over a period of time, incrementally, you discover something completely new. And you, you know, you go into that right track of innovation. So for me, long story short, think of, think of being how incrementally you can innovate.

Think of making one small difference every day to what you’re doing, and over a period of time, you tend to innovate better.

Nisha Mary Verghis: Awesome. I think your perspective on innovation is spot on. Uh, innovation doesn’t always have to involve ground-breaking discoveries, as you just rightly pointed out. It’s all about making your work and your processes better one step at a time. Moving on to our next question. Why is diversity and inclusion important in the tech industry?

And how does it contribute to organizational success? Adding on, what steps has our organization, Nest Digital, taken to create an inclusive work environment?

Dileep Choyappally: All right. Diversity and inclusion is a hot topic in the industry and especially amongst the HR professionals. To me, diversity brings a fine balance at workplace.

Now connecting it to our previous discussion, when you have diverse minds in the team, when you have different thought processes coming in, it naturally fosters innovation in the team.

When there’s diversity and inclusion as part of the work culture, I think professionalism takes precedence over everything. I strongly believe that, you know, it ultimately leads to improved productivity and more innovation. Even before the rest of the world had, uh, you know, hit the diversity bandwagon, I think NeST had always been an equal opportunity employer.

In fact, our gender balance is much better as compared to many of the IT organizations in the same space. We have women leaders and, in. Very senior positions we’ve got women representation, which stands as a testimony for the fact that Nest had been an employer who has never gone ahead with a glass ceiling.

And we also support people who are differently blessed, I would say. Now, if you look at our hiring pattern over the last few years, also, there have been absolutely, no, no change with respect to the ethnicity, demographics, uh, any, anything for that matter. So this is something which I’ve been very happy and very proud and I’ve been telling it many forums about NeST Digital that see, even before the world was thinking about diversity, we had gone, gone ahead in that. And one thing that I also noticed, uh, with the organization is that it is there in the innate design of the organization. We have never used diversity and inclusion as a branding tool, like many other corporates in the market. So for me, diversity is a very close to heart topic and we have been there. We’ve always been there in the forefront with respect to diversity and inclusion. And that fosters professionalism and a better, better ground for a lot of innovation. That’s my take.

Nisha Mary Verghis: Okay. Coming to our next question, it’s on effective strategies.

What strategies have you found effective in retaining high performing employees?

Dileep Choyappally: All right. See, if you were to retain a high performing employee, it is particularly important that you spot the high performance talent in the first place. It is important that all the managers, everyone who has a people management responsibility is aware of what performance demarcators are and how high performance can be spotted early on.

Now it is, it has to be a culture for anybody who’s managing people to spot high performance and reward them instantaneously. Now, a simple rewards and recognition mechanism which we have put in place is one of the first steps towards identifying and rewarding high performance. Now, rewarding is one part of it.

High performers always look for better opportunities. And most importantly, they would also look for better empowerment and active participation in the organizational decision making. Now, be it the development of new POCs, pitching new ideas to the customer, or even managing small events for the organization.

These are all things which any organization can do to foster higher performance. I think we are there in the right track already. It is also particularly important that you show the high performer in terms of what the future holds for them. So here is where you are, you’re already doing well. These are probably some of the areas which you could achieve over and above what you’ve already done.

I think if this message is conveyed by every manager to their high performer, it sets the right culture and through rewarding a high performer, you’re also calling out a positive behavior so that even if there are mediocre or low performers in the team, they will aspire to be higher performance in the future.

That’s my take on high performance.

Nisha Mary Verghis: Great Dileep, totally agree. Now let’s shift our focus to the rapidly evolving landscape of the tech industry and its profound implications for HR practices. So Dileep, what emerging trends and challenges do you foresee in the tech industry and how will they affect HR practices? How do you think, I’m sure everybody is interested to know this, how do you think the role of HR will evolve in response to these changes?

Dileep Choyappally: See, HR is a function which is always challenged by technology innovation. On one side, we will think of how that particular new technology can be adopted into the HR profession. And on the other side, we are also responsible for ensuring hiring, retaining talent in that particular technology space, right?

So a new technology or a new buzzword in the market always gives double the challenge for an HR person. Now, as technology grows, hiring, retaining, engaging talent will continue to be a big challenge for HR as a team. Now we no longer recognize ourselves as a support function and that is one shift that I’ve seen in HR because of the technology changes that is happening.

We are a true enabler for business. Now one thing that is important for HR is to understand what this technology is and how the technology is to, is going to influence each and every business unit of yours. So how your internal customer is going to be benefited or not getting benefited out of the technology evolution is something which would be a challenge question for any HR who is doing the true enabler role.

Now, personally, if you look at it, two things that fascinate me is, artificial intelligence, AI, and there is a lot of impact on HR per se due to AI. Now you see recruitment boards and recruitment engines powered with AI, uh, you know, you can, you can do better shortlisting than a human being themselves.

The other side that fascinates me is technology world is going more and more towards the low code or the no code. Now this, this again would pose a challenge to HR because earlier, your coding skills were seen as a prowess in terms of shortlisting you for a particular role. Now, what do we do? Because the entire world is going towards no code or low code.

I’m not saying that these are the best of the things in HR, but these are my personal things. I mean, personal favorites when it comes to what fascinates me from a technology standpoint. Now, to, to sum up that particular response, I would say that life would continue to be challenging for HR professionals because you have to enable the business whenever a new technology comes up in the market, and HR will also have to adapt their style of working by getting some of these technologies to the function as well.

Nisha Mary Verghis: That was an incredibly insightful discussion, Dileep. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge and experiences with us today. Before we wrap up, is there any final message or advice you’d like to share with our listeners?

Dileep Choyappally:  I would start from this particular organization, NeST Digital. One thing that I’ve always liked and advocated of NeST Digital is that we’re a very simple and humble group of people who stay together as a family.

The underlying culture of the organization is really nice and you hardly see any hierarchies and people are very approachable. I would want everyone to realize, imbibe and inculcate that as we move forward. Now coming to the industry, right? Software industry is definitely going through a lot of turbulence.

Be it in terms of new technology coming in, adoption happening, adoption of new technology happening, or even job threats at some point in time. Mm-hmm. . So if we stay together, work without boundaries, I think the future is, will be brighter for all of, by this I mean every NeSTian, I would urge every NeSTian to work towards the goal of business growth, hiring the right talent, being part of organizational initiatives, upskilling, reskilling yourself, spotting the right opportunities with the customers whom you’re engaging. And pitching our capabilities for the same, it could be anything of that sort. And I would summarize or I would like to put a one word saying that, you know, in your day to day life or in your day to day work, try how you can go that extra mile for yourself and for the organization.

And for that, for, for doing that. You have to be really owning up what you’re doing. And that to me is the most important part of your work, going that extra mile and showing tons of ownership. That would be my key takeaway or my key advice or recommendation to every NeSTian who’s listening to me right now.

Nisha Mary Verghis: That’s wonderful, Dileep. Thank you again for joining us and sharing your valuable insights with us. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the podcast today. To all our listeners, thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of the Nest Digital Podcast. We hope you gain valuable knowledge and perspectives on creating successful workplaces.

Remember to implement the insights shared by Dileep Choyappally, Vice President and Head of HR at NeST Digital. And continue striving for excellence in your professional endeavors. Thank you.

Thank you for tuning in to the Nest Digital Podcast. We’ll see you next time for another captivating episode. Until then, keep innovating, keep learning, and remember that the possibilities are limitless.




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