Pizza Hut's total rewards lead: From call centre to HR stardom

'I thought, hey, how difficult can HR be? And oh, I will regret that statement till my dying day'

Pizza Hut's total rewards lead: From call centre to HR stardom

For Sanjukta Dasgupta, HR was never her ‘go-to’ point. Speaking to HRD, the Total Rewards Lead at Pizza Hut says that she ended up in HR by accident.

"I fell into HR,” she tells HRD. “I would want to run away miles and miles away from HR if possible.”

But as fate would have it, her transition from a booming call center market in India to a role in Dubai changed her trajectory.

“Originally I was doing the call center job,” she tells HRD. “ I migrated to Dubai and at my work there the director said they needed a local HR person and asked if I was willing to do it. I thought, hey, how difficult can HR be? And oh, I will regret that statement till my dying day. It is difficult.”

Joining Yum! Brands, the parent company of KFC, in 2016 marked the beginning of her affiliation with a dedicated learning and development mindset. Starting as an HR admin supporting teams from marketing to finance, Dasgupta’s journey saw her climbing the corporate ladder quickly; moving to Pizza Hut, Canada in 2020.

"As I started to build my HR capability, I realized we need dedicated focus on growing people... and today this journey has led me to be the Total Rewards Lead for Pizza Hut Global."

‘Are you a business that pays a lot of money, or are you a business that develops people?’

Navigating the nuances of various markets, she specifically touches upon her experience with the Canadian market.

“We look after Canada,” says Dasgupta. “I was the HR business partner for Canada – we’re 100% franchised within Canada. I’m looking after the 30 people within my organization. However, we have 570 stores.”

The question then becomes, how do you create support to help stores without breaking the rules of the franchise or franchisor relationship? The centerpiece of Dasgupta’s HR approach is an unwavering emphasis on talent development, bearing in mind the intricate challenges that retention and recruitment present globally.

Understanding the pivotal role of rewards and recognition in the current job market, Dasgupta believes in leveraging the strengths of the business.

"Are you a business that pays a lot of money, or are you a business that develops people?” she tells HRD.

“With the incoming generation, they’re eager to know. Not all corporations can match the fiscal muscles of giants. While we might not compete with some organizations in terms of salary, our commitment to learning and development for employees is paramount. We promise rich development training opportunities to those who join us.”

Dasgupta highlights Pizza Hut’s strategy during challenging times, sharing how the brand's focus has always been on job preservation & people development, sometimes even necessitating certain temporary adjustments.

“During the last recession, our stance was clear,” she tells HRD. “A merit freeze ensured we didn’t resort to layoffs.”

And such strategies reflect the brand’s people-centric philosophy.

Highlighting Pizza Hut's dedication to nurturing talent, Dasgupta cited a cornerstone of their learning and development department strategy - the 'individual development plan'.

“The 'individual development plan' is an annual exercise,” she explains. “For me, it’s like an open canvas. Whether you aspire to take on a leadership role or aim to be the next CEO of Yum, this plan provides the roadmap. Together, we'll chart the course.”

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