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“I am proud that our organization not only provides salaries that people look forward to every month through direct employment with us, but also ensures that thousands of people across the country and across the globe are paid salaries on time everytime through our managed payroll services,” says Subramanyam S, Founder and CEO of Ascent Consulting Services Private Limited.

Subramanyam always envisioned himself being an entrepreuner than being an employee as it enables him to be socially aligned and give back to the society by creating employment opportunities for the student community and the youth in general. This dream to create led him to establish AscentHR.

Now, AscentHR has stepped into its 20th year with a larger organization and has a strong presence in India and South-East Asia catering to clients across industry segments. Recently, the company opened a fullfledged delivery center in Phillipines and is planning to open a delivery centre in Kuala Lumpur. Let us get to know the company better.

AscentHR, founded in 2002 and headquartered in Bangalore, is a privately held HR technology and services company, providing comprehensive HR, Payroll & Compliance Services. The company entered the payroll services market in 2003 when it launched its proprietary PowerPay platform. The company is a solutioning firm with a consultative approach in its DNA, enabling organizations to nurture their human capital through seamless workflows and processes.

Today, AscentHR is a leading comprehensive HR Operations services provider that offers HCM on cloud, payroll & related compliance, corporate compliance management solutions, and consulting & advisory services as a one-stop-shop. The company delivers 1 million transactions per month for over 550 customers, with a substantial gross processing value.

The company has a strong presence in India and South – East Asia and operations with a capability of 74 countries, giving it a partnering prowess that is unique and unmatched. The company’s emerging partnerships and subsidiaries, and active hiring to strengthen its existing teams make AscentHR a name-brand employer. Active hiring across several functions makes it a top recruiter and one of the fastest-growing private sector companies.

AscentHR was born out of a passionate desire to be trailblazers in the Payroll, HRMS, and Compliance domains. It was Subramanyam’s quest to introduce innovative solutions and services in the HR industry that led him to build AscentHR.

Subramanyam established AscentHR in 2002 during a time when the technology bubble had already burst and the emergence of HR Operations outsourcing marketplace in India was still nascent. This was also the time when labour regulations in the country were in a state of flux in terms of amendments, consolidation, and codification.

He recognized that businesses were evolving dynamically leveraging the Internet and this would open new opportunities, which would in turn transform the HRMS landscape. As a visionary, he recognized that providing innovative and tailored HR Operations services with a consultative and partnership approach was the need of the hour.

Subramanyam says that their solutions are built to fit their clients’ purpose and are scalable.

He explains “our comprehensive services meet our clients’ current needs and are upgradable to cater to their future needs as well to cover more areas of HR processes as their business scales geographically and in size. For instance, as a small- and medium-sized business, a client may not need Performance Management feature immediately. However, as they grow, as they add more employees they may need it in future. To bring in efficiency, they may want to automate certain activities in the Performance Management process. At that point of time, our solution can be easily expanded to run additional processes.”

While talking about the company’s USPs, Subramanyam says “Our differentiating factors are rooted in an intimate knowledge of how technology, domain expertise, market intelligence, and innovation can be harnessed to create unmatched value and customer delight. Our services have been effectively ensuring value generation across industries through our engagement in the spaces such as Business Support, Automation, Consulting, Staffing, and Corporate Compliance. Our agility, commitment, and ownership in responding makes us a great partner to work with.”

Subramanyam unpacks the meaning of their tagline, “when we claim ‘Powering People Practice’ as our tagline, our focus is to incessantly refine tried & tested workflows.” He adds, “we know how to inculcate the wisdom of experience into our service offerings to generate better value for the clients while handling an all-encompassing range of customization requests, configurations, and engagement mechanisms.” All of it, empowering our customers to deliver superior experience to their employees and manage workforce efficiently.

He quantified the impact they have been creating with numbers and few quick stats:

  • During January through March, over 6.25 lakh client employees have benefitted as we delivered through our timely interventions with their tax computations. We have tenaciously delivered our services even during the peak COVID-19 lockdowns.
  • We have delivered superior employee experience through our automated processes to organizations with over 1,00,000 distributed workforce operating across more than 30 countries.
  • 65% of our customers have benefited from RPA enablement in our solutions.
  • Over 1.5 lakh client employees found our Dynamic Tax Calculator very useful for staying tax-friendly and compliant.
  • Our clients have benefited by using our AI-enabled chatbot that help understand the pulse of employees dynamically. A case in point – this has enabled one of our important clients in the ITES domain to identify the top-five actionable interventions to implement & monitor.
  • Some of our client entities have seen ~60% savings in their administrative costs through our process excellence consolidation and automation of year-end activities.
  • Our clients in workforce management space have virtually on-boarded their remote employees successfully leveraging our AI-enabled on-boarding platform.
  • More than 100 clients from various functional areas have benefited from our in-depth examination & interpretation of legislations, including the Draft of Code on Wages.

“HR Automation is no longer a secret weapon. It is out in the open as a bankable one,” says Subramanyam. He says it is available to businesses that aim to align their strengths to gain an edge of speed, efficiency, accuracy, and data-led insights. Automation in HR allows functionaries to focus on what is important – attending to the strategic and development-oriented activities of the Human Resources of their organization.

It cuts out the deadwood of time and resources lost in performing mundane administrative tasks. He believes that HR Automation enables companies sharpen focus on their organizational goals – both established ones and the ones that emerge during their growth journey. Leveraging features of AI, ML, and NLP into workhorses using automated workflows, HR Automation peps up organizations for the uncharted future of an undulating tomorrow.

AscentHR’s Internship Program ‘Begin your Ascent’ at AscentHR is a structured eight-week program that provides interns exposure to the corporate world. The program covers:

Domain: Areas such as Payroll processing, Compliance management, Sales & Marketing, Material Management in Logistics, Service Delivery, HR & Staffing practices.

Projects: You will start working with real-time data. At one glimpse, you understand how client relationships depend on day to efficiency and the meticulous level of detail involved.

Mentorship: You meet with the chain of command concerned with your job description understand the purpose of the entire division. Nitty-gritty of daily operations are explained by your Mentors and guides so you can relate with your university learning and how they fulfil organizational goals.

Training: On-the-job-training in a workplace is different from your learning heretofore in that you “learn by doing” here. Your actions and decisions have immediate, lasting real-world consequences. The how and what of each step that you take as a representative of an organization becomes clear at this internship.

How to Begin Your Ascent We take in outgoing graduates from the faculties of Marketing, Operations Management, Sales, and Advertising.

‘Begin your ascent’ is an internship program available only to cohorts of students and are required to go thru the representatives of the college/university. Interested universities and placement officers can contact – lead to form /write to [email protected]

Subramanyam exuded passion while speaking about innovation and technology. He says, “Our innovation and technology aspects are streamlined to deliver efficient and above-par results. We leverage technology to put the Human in Human Resources. Our foremost goal of leveraging our innovation and technology capabilities is to empower other enterprises to facilitate their business prospects ensuring smooth HR functioning.” Even during the challenging times, they were able to offer a slew of cutting-edge technology tools to their clients.

He says, “We enabled our clients to deploy a COVID Donation add-on tool that makes it easier for the users to voluntarily contribute towards a charitable trust called PM CARES Fund. The tool also had the capability to facilitate COVID-related loan, expense accounting, and reimbursements.” The ontime releases of such enablement to suit situational demands were well received by AscentHR’s customers and their employees.

Realizing the importance of R&D, AscentHR invests around 15% of its revenues annually in R&D efforts. The company aims to enhance its technology offerings by including deeper AI/ML and NLP infusion to address additional use cases, drive deeper user personalization, and enable a predictive analytic insight capability.

AscentHR has an inclusive work culture that embraces diversity. They consider diversity at workplace as one of their business priorities and they understand that it is an essential ingredient for fostering innovation, driving growth, and enhancing their competitive advantage. The company makes conscious efforts to bring onboard people from all backgrounds and apply their diversity approach in hiring and other organizational activities across their offices. Subramanyam says that their diversity journey is an ongoing process and it reflects in their various initiatives.

He says, “In our hiring process, we avoid biases in terms of job aspirant’s age, gender, religion, or any other attributes that have zero bearing on their inherent talent. We look for people who share our goal and enthusiasm to deliver the best, innovative and compliant product. AscentHR is an equal opportunity employer.”

The company’s leadership philosophy is built on the foundation of its beliefs – Accuracy, Adaptability, and Accountability, which were originally embodied by Subramanyam. These are now the firm’s DNA. Applying these  principles into their transformation approach has moved AscentHR up the value chain, through organic growth and strategic acquisitions to a next-gen HR technology and services company.

When asked about how he deals with criticism as a leader, Subramanyam says that criticism is inevitable. He believes that “as leaders, it’s our responsibility to listen to critics completely with an open-minded approach rather than shut them down. In fact, it is required to fight complacency and to stay focused on the mission.”

On how he inspires teams, he said that “to inspire employees in a difficult period, employees need to feel the rush of motivation. The basis of this is trust, which starts with the simple act of getting to know and relating to the other participants in the process. When this happens successfully, employees feed off each others’ positive energies and keep on going, working towards organizational goals and driving superior outcomes.”

During his professional experience over the years, Subramanyam has learned that Accountability, Accuracy, and Adaptability are the driving forces required for uninterrupted functioning. He has woven these attributes into AscentHR’s culture and has also incorporated his own personal learnings as a strategy to deliver effectively in any situation. Sharing his life lessons, Subramanyam spoke about the importance of having a steady source of income. He says that a monthly salary is the warp and weft of the lives of countless Indians – it is the life affirming anchor that keeps loss, suffering, and hardships at bay.

AscentHR has been recognized as a Major Player in NelsonHall’s HCM Technology vendor assessment and as Innovators in MCPO Digital Payroll Capability. The company was also positioned in the Everest Group’s latest PEAK Matrix® assessment in the MultiCountry Payroll (MCP) Solution” for 2021. The firm was also showcased in Forbes India, January 2021 edition prominently through an article titled “The Unstoppable Amidst A Pandemic.”

Some of the recent awards comprise:

  • Consultant of the Year 2021 from The CEO Story
  • Best Service Provider 2021, MCPO (HR), Global HR Excellence Awards, World HRD Congress, 30TH Edition
  • Winner, ‘Future of Work’ – Automation, Human Excellence Awards 2021
  • Asia Pacific HRM Congress, Best Payroll Outsourcing Partner 2019, Human Resources Vendors
  • Best HR Management CEO – India & HR Outsourcing Solutions Provider of the year – India, Global CEO Excellence 2017 Awards
  • SR Entrepreneur Award. 30 fastest-growing companies in Asia – SR 2016 30 Entrepreneurs of the Year

He concluded saying that “after going through the entrepreneurial journey for the last 20 years – right from conceptualizing an idea, finding a co-founder, building a team, raising and managing capital, and staying connected to the vision- it has been a challenging yet rewarding experience.” As a message, he said “I wish for other budding entrepreneurs to create such opportunities for themselves and experience the satisfaction of contributing back to the society. I advise them to hang on till they find some ground and get the initial breakthrough.”

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