A Leading Name in the Landscape of HR Advisory Flourishing Under the Thought Leadership of Sonica Aron
“EACH DAY IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO LIVE OUR PURPOSE- MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN PEOPLE’S LIVES AND CAREERS AND DRIVE RESPECT AND EQUALITY FOR ALL”- SONICA ARON
The corporate world, along with the recruitment sector, is undergoing a significant transformation as the world gallops into the second decade of the 21st century. In this evolving time, Marching Sheep is reckoned as one of the foremost frontrunners for proven excellence in adding sustainable value to clients’ businesses through specialised people management solutions.
The firm is uniquely positioned in the market and has successfully carved a niche for itself, helping clients drive profitability and productivity through optimised HR operations and processes, high-impact talent development initiatives, and successful diversity and inclusion programmes. Marching Sheep is dedicated to helping businesses gain a competitive edge by empowering them to drive change, which is the key to success in disruptive business scenarios.
The company is home to a strong team of HR professionals who are passionate about the work they do and whose work and opinions are frequently referenced and published in leading publications. Marching Sheep is a consultative HR solution provider. None of their interventions is canned products. They work closely with their clients to conduct a thorough diagnostic, need analysis, and co-create the solution and deliver it.
Their high-impact solutions and interventions are the reason that once a client of Marching Sheep, always a client of Marching Sheep. Marching Sheep’s journey traces its roots to 2013 when the founder – Sonica Aron, an experienced HR professional, inspiring business leader and certified coach, envisioned the firm with the objective of delivering tangible business values through enhanced people management strategies.
The company that started its operations as a one-woman show today thrives as a pioneer in the panorama of HR advisory services in India and globally. In the course of 10 years, they have encompassed major industry players and innovative startups as partners and clients. Over the course of Marching Sheep’s journey, the firm has become a leading HR name worldwide, having worked in over 80 nations across the globe.
Marching Sheep invests in substantial research and non-profit campaigns in addition to working with clients. In order to understand what clients and today’s workforce need to stay relevant and meaningful, they do research involving significant industry outreach, panel talks with CHROs of top organisations on pertinent issues, and pulse polls.
Their on-ground awareness campaign, Marching with Pride, saw the team engaging with people from the LGBTQIA community in candid conversations about life, growing up, challenges, inclusion at work and much more. Another campaign, 21Marching contributed to raising awareness of the 21 disabilities recognised under the 2016 Rights for Persons with Disabilities Act.
Service Portfolio Highlights
• Diversity & Inclusion Strategies and interventions: They support their client organisations in developing their diversity charter and strategy through diversity diagnostic and executable plans, and also partner with the execution, drive mindset change, and culture building. They believe that inclusive organisations are more productive. Today, organisations are talking about the inclusion of the LGBTQIA community, individuals with disabilities, multigenerational workforces, racial and cultural diversity, indigenous peoples, and other groups in addition to women, expanding the definition of diversity.
• Human Resource Consulting: Organizations need their HR strategy, process, and policies to enable employees to deliver on the business strategy and goals. The Marching Sheep team collaborates closely with client organisations to streamline the vision, mission, values, behavioural frameworks, HR strategy, policies, and practices, drive communication and socialisation and develop internal leadership and managerial aptitude.
• Bespoke learning interventions: As the socio-economic fabric is evolving, the competencies needed to succeed at work are evolving. The Marching Sheep team works with clients to develop the appropriate abilities that will help managers, leaders, and individual contributors succeed. Through the facilitation of insights, reflection, and practice, they craft each intervention to promote the desired behaviours.
• Health & Wellness Portfolio: Today, wellness comprises of one’s mental, emotional, and physical health. The physical part can be handled by policies and insurance, but it is still necessary to raise awareness and develop life skills for coping with problems like fatigue, anxiety, stress, and burnout. With programs curated after research and with the help of clinical psychologists, Marching Sheep enables individuals to become emotionally resilient by identifying their own stress triggers, their own stress responses, and coping mechanisms and hence more productive, personally, and professionally.
What Is the Differentiating Factor for Marching Sheep
Being a consultative service provider, Marching Sheep takes pride in the fact that they do not have canned products or services. Every solution or intervention offered is curated after an extensive diagnostic and engagement with the client team to understand the real need or problem statement. This ensures high-impact
solutions and outcomes.
Second, they are not merely trainers but HR experts who have discovered a passion for directly benefiting client organisations. They are living out this enthusiasm through their work at Marching Sheep. Thirdly, Marching Sheep does not just consult, they also help in the implementation, and all the assignments are KPI linked. They truly help clients move the needle.
The Key Motivation behind the Conceptualization
Sonica always thought of herself to be the most risk-averse person. Business growth and networking were not something that Sonica enjoyed because of her introversion. But as she moved through various stages of her career and personal life, she came to the conclusion over time that what truly made her happy was making a difference.
A significant difference took place when she took a sabbatical in 2012. She was at that time heading HR for Philips Consumer lifestyle business. When a mother of two needed to return to work after a year, she realised the need to have efficient HR policies and processes, an aligned, motivated staff, and strategic HR business partnering roles after working in industries such as FMCG, FMCD, telecom, and healthcare for more than a decade.
Having been a woman professional, she had also seen the evolving narrative of diversity and inclusion and the gaps in the industry closely. Armed with these insights and experience, it was but natural for her to establish Marching Sheep with service lines in these areas.
A Glimpse of Industry Evolutions in HR
HR processes are evolving with the evolving business landscape and evolving workforce expectations and needs. There has been a considerable change in the work in massive past three years old. All aspects of the HR process, from recruiting top talent to keeping them engaged, rewarding them, and developing and nurturing them, all need to be viewed from multiple lenses- from the lens of the employee, from the lens of business sustainability, from the lens of simplicity, accessibility, inclusion, and efficacy. Long drawn, tedious, bureaucratic processes and giving way to simpler processes. There is more transparency
Jewels in the Crown
Traversing the path of success, Sonica Aron and the firm have won several accolades in the journey for their strict adherence to innovation and excellence. To name a few: –
• Forbes India has ranked Sonica Aron among the top 10 female business owners for 2020.
• She was honoured by Forbes India in 2021 as one of the “India’s Most Valued people.”She has been recognised as an “Inspirational Icon in Leadership” by Fortune in 2021.
• She has been named among the “Top 100 digital influencers” by Yourstory.
• She has been listed by Business Today in 2021 as “Most Inspirational Women Leaders in India”
• Most recently, Sonica has been recognised as “The Woman Entrepreneur of The Year” by the Indian Achievers Forum at 75th Atmanirbhar Bharat Summit in 2022
“We take satisfaction in staying together as a team and surviving the challenging year of COVID. No one in Marching Sheep was laid off or sent on furlough. No salaries were reduced. We worked very hard during the year, but it was worthwhile. This has been our biggest achievement. Not only did we win each other’s trust, but of the industry and our clients,” Sonica Aron further shared on being asked what the most significant achievement for her has been.
Diversity and Inclusion Strategies
“Diversity is a fact; inclusion is a choice, and allyship is action!” – Sonica Aron.
Every day, every moment, people in the world have a choice that they can exercise. By raising awareness, streamlining policies and HR procedures, fostering managerial and leadership abilities, building transparent and effective communication platforms, and doing so much more, the team supports people in exercising that decision.
Inclusion is a journey, and organizations require a consistent 360o approach. Organisations can change the direction of their journey toward their goals by using a disciplined, step-bystep framework that starts with diagnostics and ends with monitoring impact.
Marching Sheep’s High-impact ROI-based Interventions
Employees today want to work with companies that are mission-driven and offer a nurturing environment for learning and development. Instead of mandatory training schedules and coerced nominations, they choose meaningful learning programmes that advance their professional objectives. Organisations will need to adopt a fresh perspective while examining the learning frameworks.
Technology and e-learning modules are amazing, but do they actually change behaviour or are they just a box to check? There will be some challenging questions to ask and address. Second, it will be crucial to find and keep vital and top talent in the era of great resignation, quick quitting, and quiet resigning, where employee retention, employer attractiveness, and employee engagement will be crucial.
Organisations will need to devote time and effort to finding and developing these individuals. Some of the solutions and capacities that organisations will need to consider are assessment centres, development centres, continuing feedback, constructive feedback, and developmental feedback.
One size fits all approaches to policies and HR practices are no longer valid. Organisations will be forced to take a close look at their policies and make them more contemporary and relevant to meet the needs of their people as a result of a workforce that spans several generations, a variety of working arrangements, including remote, hybrid, and work from anywhere, evolving mindsets, and growing irreverence toward stereotypical norms.
Stay interviews are a highimpact, long-lasting method of addressing employees’ needs by listening to them, comprehending what they genuinely need, and then meeting those needs in an organised way.
The Key Driving Force behind Marching Sheep’s Exponential Growth
Integrity is the core value of Marching Sheep. They only take assignments within the ambit of their expertise and work closely with the client team to arrive at the project’s scope, deliverables, and milestones. To be able to provide high-impact treatments for the customers, they, as a team, also continuously educate themselves on new concepts and trends.
Multiple consultants are hired for every task to prevent errors and make use of their combined knowledge. Instead of promoting pre-packaged solutions, they work with clients to develop tailored interventions and execute ROI-driven programmes. We are still in a very early stage, Sonica continued. So much work still has to be done. Not simply as a business but also in the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We anticipate putting forth more effort, developing more quickly, and interacting with more businesses and people.
The Open Work Culture at Marching Sheep
They are a close-knit team consisting of 5 members. There are no hierarchies, and they work collaboratively. While they all have the roles defined, that is only 70% of their overall operation. The rest 30% get involved in special projects like the international women’s day campaign, the Marching with Pride campaign or the 21Marching campaign. That ensures that everyone has the opportunity to learn outside of their regular occupations and support one another.
Sonica’s Insights on Success
Success means different things to different people. At Marching Sheep, we experience success in many little ways. Learning something new every day is a success! When a client comes back for more work with new assignments, it is a success because it means we made an impact. When a participant who attended a session sometime back calls to thank or invite to their wedding, it is a success. When clients treat you as partners and friends, it is a success.
Flagships Developed Out of R&D
As a consulting organisation, Marching Sheep has to evolve with the evolving times. They connect with the industry extensively and develop a wide range of curated interventions according to the customer’s requirements. Additionally, they have observed the evolving role of HR as strategic partners in business recovery, continuity, and growth.
They have created a strategic HR business partnering certification that is based on action learning, and they have successfully organised seminars in collaboration with the FICCI Quality Forum that HR professionals from various firms have attended. Similar to this, they have introduced the most comprehensive DEI certification in the nation in collaboration with FICCI in light of the growing emphasis on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging across sectors.
Giving Back to the Community
In addition to the non-commercial campaigns that the company runs each year, they do work on a small scale with acid attack survivors.
They support an NGO, Brave Souls foundation, where the team contributes every month to the education of the resident acid attack survivors. They are also very dedicated about helping transgender people get jobs, and they do everything in their power to connect customers with prospects from the Tweet Foundation. They do not do this because of any compulsion or any act.
They do this because they firmly believe in making a difference. They will have succeeded if their support and contribution enable even one acid attack survivor to achieve financial independence. If their efforts help even one transgender person get a job, this person can further help four more transgender persons, and the virtuous cycle begins.
Words of Wisdom
Follow your dreams- unhesitatingly, unashamedly, unflinchingly!
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