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ISSUE 16.9

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DISHING UP DELIGHT Tristan Torres on Deliveroo's unique culture

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Dear HRM Asia readers,


s you would have read from this month’s cover, Deliveroo simply wants to make its employees happy. Driving this desire to delight its workforce is Tristan Torres, General Manager of Deliveroo Singapore. He has played futsal with his staff, is set to arrange Zumba and yoga classes for them, and constantly affords them with opportunities to undertake decisions together, lead creative projects, and build upon new ideas. According to Torres, the happiness of his staff “is worth more than any amount of money you can invest”. In this month’s cover story, he describes how this insatiable hunger to please his staff forms the cornerstone of his leadership style and transcends across all aspects of the food-delivery startup. Moving away from the local Singapore scene, we investigate how traditional work models in Australia are being usurped by flexible schedules. These are working to facilitate the work-life balance of not only mothers, but fathers too. We speak to several recruiters and companies from Down Under to learn how their HR departments are rejigging their work structures, and how the changes have helped to recruit, retain, and engage staff. During his 2016 National Day Rally address, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stressed that disruption had become a theme of today’s working world, and that businesses that haven’t already will have to quickly embrace the notion. IBM, which features in this month’s HR Insider, is one of the torchbearers when it comes to fostering agility within its ranks. Its senior HR team shares how it partnered with employees during a major business transformation. It also actively advocates a culture where staff are expected to constantly test, tweak, and update the company’s offerings.

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Sham Majid Editor, HRM Asia CONTACT US:

MICA (P) 110/07/2016 ISSN 0219-6883

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CONTENTS 16.9 COVER STORY 14 Dishing up delight

Straight-talking, self-professed ‘weird guy’ Tristan Torres, General Manager of Deliveroo Singapore, has no qualms donning a kangaroo onesie in public. Making his employees happy lies at the heart of his management style.



18 Striking a balance Down Under

Traditional work models are a thing of the past in Australia, where flexibility and work-life balance prevail. HRM Asia speaks to HR directors about how and why their organisations have broken away from the nine-to-six norm.

22 Charming Generation Y

As the tide of millennials rushes into the workforce, employers are getting creative to reach out to and hire these new kids on the block.

26 Plotting a self-directed pathway

Having significantly altered its business offerings in recent years, IBM is now driving an agile culture where employees are firmly in control of their own careers. HRM Asia speaks with the heads of HR for Singapore and Southeast Asia.


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26 32 Informed advisors

The best HR leaders have the ability and buy-in to drive effective organisational strategies. HR veterans share how they are keeping HR at the strategic table by being knowledgeable aides to the business.

36 Paying for performance

As the job scope of employees continue to evolve in today’s rapidlytransforming world of work, so too is the way they are being compensated for their efforts.


41 Rethinking resistance

When it comes to employees averse to change, companies need to look at resistance through radically different lenses, as HRM Asia reveals.

60 Paradigm shift

Disruptive market forces are rendering existing business models ineffective. HRM Asia tracks the progression of Munich Re as it looks to revitalise its global culture.

62 HR Young Gun

Every month, HRM Asia speaks to a young university talent hoping to carve out a career in HR upon graduation.

64 Lean and keen

Crowdfunding platform CoAssets may be a young startup, but what it lacks in size it makes up for with plenty of heart, creativity, and agility.

REGULARS 6 News 11

Leaders on Leadership

55 Resources 55 In Person 57 An HRD Speaks 57 Twenty-four Seven 67 Talent Ladder 68 HR Clinic ISSUE 16.9









Staff in India are a content bunch, at least when assessed against their counterparts from the wider Asia-Pacific region. This is the key result of a Michael Page study, which showed that 62% of the professional staff surveyed in India were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their current work, as opposed to 54% of their Asia-Pacific peers. The newly-published index also found that 54% of workers in India regarded their country’s economy as in good shape. Across the region, only 33% of staff felt the same about their respective countries’ economic position. The quarterly survey also tested the job confidence of workers in India, with this metric dropping in some of the key cities between the first quarter of 2016 and the second. In Mumbai, for example, job confidence dropped from 62% to 52% over the second quarter, while in Bangalore, only 68% of the survey respondents expressed confidence in their working conditions, down from 75% in the first quarter. Still, Nicolas Dumoulin, Managing Director of Michael

Page India, says there is a general sentiment of optimism in India right now. “The current economic outlook is positive and professionals are encouraged by the commitment to India from both the global and local firms,” he said. “In addition, the government’s ‘Make In India’ initiatives have created more opportunities for India’s export market which has led to increased investment in the manufacturing sector. “In particular, firms specialising in the production of chemicals, plastics as well as pharmaceuticals have established operations here.” The study assessed comparisons between the inputs of about 500 employees in India and around 4,000 employees across Asia-Pacific.


LOCAL HERO RANKED HIGHEST Home-grown food and beverage giant San Miguel Corporation has topped the list of favoured employers in the Philippines. It, along with Nestlé Philippines and Accenture made up the top three organisations in the 2016 edition of’s Top Companies Report. Other organisations that made the 2016 list respectively were BDO Unibank, Ayala Corp, Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines, SM Investments Corporatiuon, Google Philippines, Procter & Gamble, and ABS-


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Fewer than one in 10 organisations in Asia-Pacific fully comprehend how cyber attacks are executed. This stark figure was the key takeaway from an online survey by global software security firm Trend Micro. Close to 50% of the employees polled signalled there was no security awareness programme in their companies. Hence, 59% of respondents listed “employees’ lack of knowledge” as the biggest insider risk to cyber security. Other threats included the risk of corporate espionage (10%), disgruntled employees or former employees (13%), employee theft (six percent), and compromised credentials (12%). The survey further highlighted that only 25% of firms were optimistic they were fully equipped to tackle cyber-attacks, while close to 50% expected targeted cyber-attack in 2016. “Cyber threats are real,” said Dhanya Thakkar, Managing Director of Trend Micro, Asia-Pacific. “Furthermore, (they) are becoming more personal and more complicated. Taking control internally of people, systems and processes is the most significant step a business can take toward implementing a sound cyber security strategy. “Companies should enforce rigorous security awareness programmes, implement regular real-life security drills, and encourage people to constantly upgrade skills,” he added. The survey canvassed the views of 300 companies functioning in the Asia-Pacific region, including from Singapore, Taiwan, India, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

CBN Corporation. Wages and benefits were the most important consideration for jobseekers in the Philippines, the report stated. Following this fundamental concern, other drivers for staff ranking their preferred companies to work for included the respective prospects for career advancement, training and development opportunities, and company reputation. The drivers for fresh graduates and those with less than one year’s work experience were slightly different to the broader workforce. They considered training and development schemes the most important factor in their wishlist of top employers, followed by promotion prospects and then competitive salaries

coming in at third only. Those in managerial levels afforded greater weight to higher wages, benefits, and perks, although they were also eyeing firms with fantastic reputations. A total of 14,062 members participated in the series of surveys that ran between May and July this year.



Quality patient care begins with acquiring quality talent


AND THE GOLD MEDAL FOR SUSPECT SICK LEAVE GOES TO... Can you guess which country’s employees might have taken last month’s Olympic coverage a little too seriously? According to research conducted by recruitment firm Robert Half, New Zealanders are the most prone to calling in ill to work the day following a huge sporting spectacle. The cheeky survey found that nearly nine in ten (87%) New Zealand HR managers claimed it was likely that at least one of their staff would call in sick or conjure up an excuse to skip work the day after a major sporting event, with 19% citing it as “very likely”. New Zealand sits at the summit of the international list, followed by close neighbour (and sporting rival) Australia. Brazil (with 84% of HR managers expecting dubious postevent medical leave), Chile (80%), Austria (78%), Germany (76%), and Switzerland (75%) rounded out the top seven countries. Although many New Zealand firms seem to be anxious about workers’ absences, others see major events as a chance to engage and motivate staff. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of New Zealand HR managers said hosting company events to witness major sporting competitions enhanced employee engagement, while 43% felt it had at least a positive effect on motivation levels.

Chin Wei Chong

Marketing & Communications Director, Asia-Pacific, First Advantage


he Asia-Pacific region’s healthcare employment landscape is transforming. This necessitates exponential improvement in improved talent management. The Asia-Pacific region’s healthcare spending is expected to increase by 7.1% from 2013 to 2017. The trend of growth can be attributed to a host of reasons from changing the perception on healthcare to an increase in healthcare options. Macro-economic changes including the medical tourism boom, mergers and multinational pharma and R&D investments are also causing waves in healthcare employment. There are shortages in healthcare talents and infrastructure that could inadvertently contribute to an increase in negligence. Overall, an improved talent management process can help mitigate these challenges. Part of the solution involves a robust background screening process as part of an overall talent management to identify the best healthcare workers. In the healthcare industry, where millions of patients put their lives in the hands of trusted caregivers every day, the importance of background screening goes far beyond cost, compliance and legal liability issues. It can be a matter of life and death. It is the duty and responsibility of healthcare organisations to do everything possible to ensure that qualified healthcare workers are available to protect patient safety and privacy. In the First Advantage 2016 Employment Discrepancy Trends Report, 17.56% of applicants to the healthcare industry were found to have some form of background discrepancy. In an industry such as healthcare where the stakes are high, the margin for error is minimal. A quality talent management process that includes background screening would help ensure the hiring of quality candidates. Background screening in healthcare can help organisations better protect vulnerable patients and also enhance their brand.

In addition, close to a third (29%) felt that such events improved employee loyalty. “Kiwis love their sport, especially when our teams are expected to do well,” said Megan Alexander, General Manager Robert Half Asia-Pacific. “However it’s important to not let big sporting events disrupt employee performance. “While time differences might not always work to New Zealand’s advantage, workplace absences and distractions can place tremendous pressure on a company’s productivity levels. “To help mitigate this, businesses often host company events to watch major sporting competitions. While watching sports during business hours can impact a company’s workplace productivity, organisations increasingly understand the positive impact these activities have on staff morale.”


RETIREMENT CONCERNS ABOUND Almost half of professional employees in India are expecting to face retirement with fewer resources, benefits and savings than those of their parents’ generation. According to the 2016 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey, by Willis Towers Watson as many as 46% of professional-level staff in India had concerns over their retirement, and more than one in three revealed that their financial troubles were negatively impacting their lives. The study of more than 2,000 employees in India also found that 52% of workers believed they were less


productive during work hours due to their financial issues. Among staff who admitted to either short-term or long-term concerns, 75% confessed to above average or high stress. “The growing insecurities of employees around long-term financial stability demands the immediate attention of employers,” said Kulin Patel, Director, Willis Towers Watson India. “Companies are beginning to take steps by making their employees’ financial wellbeing a core component of their overall wellbeing strategy and employee value proposition.”

ISSUE 16.9


For a copy of First Advantage’s Employment Screening Healthcare White Paper, please contact Chin Wei Chong at 7







Employees who are treated rudely by their colleagues are prone to treating others in a similar manner. A new study by Michigan State University has found that condescending comments, put-downs, sarcasm and other forms of incivility are spreading across workplaces in the US. The study noted that although rude remarks and other uncivil actions do not involve openly hostile behaviour, such as bullying and threats, their frequent occurrence in the workplace will still have a significant effect on employees. “People who are recipients of incivility at work feel mentally fatigued as a result, because uncivil behaviours are somewhat ambiguous and require employees to figure out whether there was any abusive intent,” explained Russell Johnson, Associate Professor of Management at Michigan State University. He added that this mental fatigue in turn caused affected staff to act impolitely towards colleagues. These “incivility spirals” – when acts of incivility lead to subsequent acts of incivility – can occur unintentionally. “In other words, they paid the incivility forward,” said Johnson. “This happens even for employees who desire to be agreeable and polite; they simply lack the energy to suppress curt and impatient responses.” The study, which was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, also found that incivility spirals were more likely to occur in work environments that were perceived as political, and where co-workers “do what is best for them, not what is best for the organisation”. Some 70 employees participated in the survey on incivility and its effects, completing a questionnaire three times for each of the 10 consecutive working days.

There is a global shortage of cybersecurity professionals. This is according to a new international study from Intel Security, which found that 82% of business respondents admitted to a shortage of cybersecurity skills. More than 70% of them claimed the shortage was responsible for direct and measurable damage to organisations whose lack of talent made them more desirable hacking targets. In 2015, more than 200,000 cybersecurity jobs went unfilled in the US alone, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Despite one in four respondents confirming their organisations had lost proprietary data as a result of their cybersecurity skills gap, the survey found that there were no signs of this workforce shortage abating in the near-term. Respondents surveyed estimated that an average of 15% of cybersecurity positions in their company would go unfilled even into 2020. According to the study, which was conducted in partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the demand for cybersecurity professionals is

currently outpacing the supply of qualified workers, with highlytechnical skills the most in need across all countries surveyed. Hard skills such as intrusion detection, secure software development, and attack mitigation were found to be far more valued than softer skills including collaboration, leadership and effective communication. “To address this workforce crisis, we need to foster new education models, accelerate the availability of training opportunities, and deliver deeper automation so that talent is put to its best use on the front line,” said Chris Young, Senior Vice President of Intel Security Group. The study collected responses from more than 750 organisations across the US, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Mexico, and Israel.


RIO OLYMPICS FLOUT LABOUR SAFETY STANDARDS A total of eleven workers died on the job during construction projects for last month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Eight workers were also killed during the preparations for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, according to ThinkProgress. By comparison, there were six deaths reported during the construction phase of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and no reported deaths ahead of the 2012 Olympics in London. Although construction began in January 2013, workers were still struggling to complete several Olympic sites even as


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athletes began arriving at the grounds of the international sporting spectacle. An audit conducted by the Brazil Ministry of Labour at the site of the Olympic Village found that there were a number of labour conduct violations. It was reported that workers, among whom more than 600 were hired unofficially, did shifts that were in gross excess of the 10-hour legal limit. The audit also found that there was a lack of compulsory safety equipment at the construction site. “These employees have no official papers and are overworked. They are

pulling 23-hour shifts. This greatly increases the risk of accidents,” Hercules Terra, an auditor for the Ministry of Labour told press. The Ministry of Labour, which conducted 260 construction industry inspections between January, 2013 and March, 2016, found 1,675 safety violations and issued 38 temporary suspensions. The infractions included charges of insufficient worker training, lack of basic safety equipment, excessive working hours, insufficient rest time between shifts, and lack of potable water for workers.





European banks warn that they have new plans to shed more jobs in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria in Spain is cutting at least 1,500 jobs, equivalent to one percent of its total employee strength. As well as Brexit, this is partly due to its continued integration of the CatalunyaCaixa acquisition that it made two years ago. Barclays, which has sold off its African operations, is also lowering its headcount further to 80,000 employees, The Financial Times has reported. The UK bank retrenched 11,000 of its 130,000 staff internationally when Jes Staley became CEO in December last year, and subsequently ceased its operations in nine countries. Italy’s UniCredit is also preparing restructuring plans that will result in a significant number of job cuts among its current staff strength of 143,000. France’s Société Générale and the UK’s Lloyds Banking Group also announced plans to slash jobs. The French bank said it intends to cut some 550 jobs by 2020 as part of a plan to reduce the number of administrative centres in France from 20 currently to 14, while Lloyds said it will axe 3,000 jobs and close 200 bank branches across the UK. Industry analysts say these moves highlight the impact of the slowing economy, falling interest rates and political uncertainty caused by the UK’s Brexit vote.

Generation Y workers in the US are the most likely to forfeit time off from the office, even though they earn the least amount of vacation days. Project: Time Off’s new report, The Work Martyr’s Cautionary Tale: How the Millennial Experience Will Define America’s Vacation Culture found that the young generation stays at work because they feel more fear and greater guilt about taking time away from the office than any other generation. The study examined the negative consequences of that behaviour for the individual, business, and broader economy. These “work martyrs”, as Project: Time Off describes them, are worried they will be seen as replaceable, feel guilty for using time off, and believe they alone can do the job. The pressures of American work culture have produced ideal conditions for the rise of


the work martyr. Some 48% of millennials think it is a good thing to be seen in that light by their boss, outpacing the respondent average of 39%, and well ahead of the Baby Boomer generation at 32%. “The ‘entitled millennial’ narrative is dead wrong when it comes to vacations,” report author Katie Dennis said. “As the largest generation in the workforce, one that is now stepping into management, millennials are developing vacation attitudes that will define and negatively affect America’s work culture (for the long-term)”.





German carmaker Opel Group will be slashing staff hours at two of its home country plants this year in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. About 5,000 factories workers in Eisenach and Ruesselsheim will be affected by the reduced working hours. The company has not yet specified precisely how many hours will be cut, saying the severity of the downgrade will depend heavily on the company’s UK sales volumes. The Brexit vote in June resulted in a fall in the pound and euro, making imports in the UK more expensive for consumers there. The UK is the biggest market for Opel’s Corsa and Insignia models, which are sold under the Vauxhall brand. “The Brexit situation is an issue for everybody who does business in and with the UK at the moment,” the firm said. Opel is not the first company to directly blame Brexit for a decision to scale back. Fellow car manufacturer Ford, the biggest auto brand in the UK, also warned of job losses, factory closures, and rising car prices in the wake of the Brexit vote. Ford said Brexit could cost it some £750 million (US$988 million).

Following a three-week-long strike that started on July 28, the Chemical Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU) in South Africa has signed a new two-year agreement with the National Petroleum Employers’ Association. More than 15,000 petroleum workers from major refineries like Chevron, Shell, BP and Sasol, went on strike in demand of a nine percent wage increase. The CEPPWAWU agreed to a seven percent wage increase this year, effective immediately from July 2016, along with a further 1.5% hike in 2017. The new agreement also met workers’ demands for shift allowances, but at a lower rate than the union had requested. The strike disrupted fuel supplies in South Africa’s Gauteng province, where the country’s capital Pretoria and industrial hub Johannesburg are located. Jerry Nkosi, CEPPWAWU’s chief negotiator, told local media, “The strike was generally successful and finished with workers’ victory and improved working conditions. “One disturbing factor though is that some companies… used union-bashing tactics by paying workers a bonus for not participating in the strike. The strategy backfired, as the company later stopped the payments”.

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How engaged are your workers? Employee engagement rose most in Asia-Pacific over the past year, compared to other parts of the world. HRM Asia highlights some insights from the 2016 Trends in Global Employee Engagement survey ENGAGEMENT SCORES What are the engagement scores around the world?

Are Asia employees psychologically invested in their organisations?



Up 3 points from a year ago


say positive things about their organisations, acting as advocates.


strive to give their best efforts to help the organisation succeed.


intend to stay at their current organisation for a long time.



Up 13 points from a year ago



Up 8 points from a year ago



Which factors engage Asia employees the most?



Baby Boomers


Enabling Infrastructure

Generation X


Rewards & Recognition



Learning & Development



Career Opportunities



Employee Value Proposition

Source: 2016 Trends in Global Employee Engagement by Aon Hewitt 10 ISSUE 16.9




of employees worldwide are “Highly Engaged�


of workers globally said their engagement levels changed in the past year

4 OUT OF 5

regions surveyed had an upward trend in engagement; Africa was the only region to decline


What is the biggest challenge you face as a leader in a slowing economy? W e are in the hospitality business. We endeavour to create unique and memorable travel experiences, and to bring joy to our guests. This is also our brand promise: where “every encounter is a discovery of love”. However, this may not always be easy to accomplish, especially when faced with a slowing economy. At Park Hotel Group, we believe innovation is the key. It is our top priority to develop an innovative culture and a continuous improvement programme to ensure we stay on top of our game; by putting customers’ interests at the heart of the business and being innovative in fulfilling their expectations and anticipating future needs. We have hundreds of rooms in each of our hotels. The most important one is neither the Presidential Suite nor the General Manager’s office, but the “Room for Improvement”. Acknowledging there is always a chance to do things better is where innovation begins.

Adopting an innovative mindset to achieve customer satisfaction or business excellence does not only lie with the management team or front-liners. It is about instilling a culture in which everyone endeavours to do their best. It starts with identifying the right people to hire: the change-makers, and is followed by aligning attitudes to the company culture, and training and developing staff to provide the greatest value to our guests. The process is an ongoing and tireless one, led by the management team. One example of how we try to cultivate innovation is through the Productivity and Innovation Committee. Members are asked to take risks and make mistakes; to research and develop new ideas. It started with a handful of individuals and has grown to involve the whole organisation. Anyone can contribute an idea to the committee, and incentive schemes are in place to reward outstanding ideas.



Vice President of Corporate Marketing, Samsung Southeast Asia and Oceania

he consumer electronics market continues to be increasingly competitive, despite the slowing economy. At Samsung, we recognise that our improvements in the technology space should not just be for the sake of keeping up with competition. Our products must improve the day-to-day lives of our consumers and enhance their quality of life. As one of the leaders, one of my biggest challenges is how we can continuously introduce innovations that matter in order to retain the loyalty of our consumers, while attracting new ones. This focus on innovation is a key reason we were voted the top brand in Asia in the Asia’s Top 1,000 Brands 2016 survey by Campaign Asia-Pacific magazine in collaboration with Nielsen. Despite the pace of the economy, it is important we stay ahead of the curve. Innovation is key to achieve this. Our Research and Development teams

ALLEN LAW CEO, Park Hotel Group

constantly deliver breakthroughs and discoveries in technology and design which manifest in our ecosystem of products. Our innovations are underpinned by the knowledge that innovation cannot flourish if kept to oneself. As such, we work with partners all over the world and across all industries, from startups to established players. Innovation can thrive only through a culture of openness and collaboration. The reward we reap is the trust of our customers, who have made us the global market leader. Besides innovations, it is equally important to build up our brand equity, so we are constantly finding new ways to understand our consumers better. By conducting consumer research, we learn how customers use our products so we can make meaningful contributions to their daily lives. Understanding our customer is the core of everything we do at Samsung.

ISSUE 16.9



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11 – 12 October 2016 | Singapore

The spectrum of performance management is changing from what it was only 10 years back. Following ground-breaking pioneers, for example, General Electric and Adobe, more organisations are concentrating on organisational objectives as opposed to employee metrics. The conventional strategies based on data for assessment have been known to be obsolete. Hence many organisations are expected to embrace new strategies for aligning performance management that focuses more on talent development instead of just performance per say. HRM Asia is Excited to Launch Our Inaugural Congress on Performance Management & Rewards. This congress will highlight why traditional performance management and compensation and benefits methodologies are evolving and need to be reviewed. Performance Management & Rewards play a critical role in ensuring a higher level of employee engagement and productivity, especially during times of economic uncertainty. Join Us to Learn the Latest Performance Management and Reward Strategies Being Implemented by Your Peers.

Featured speakers: Toyohiro Matsuda Global Training & Recruitment Officer, GHRD Department Mitsubishi

Syed Ali Abbas Executive Vice President HR Lazada

Foo Chek Wee Group HR Director, SEA & Hong Kong Zalora

Ng Ying Yuan Director Human Resources and Organizational Development Economic Development Board

Kate Colley Head of People, Asia National Australia Bank

Dr Sandra Pereira Group Director HR & Talent Management Teledirect

Sujatha Maniya Chief Talent Officer Publicis Media

Gary Lee Chief HR Specialist, Global Talent Development and Organisational Development Grundfos

Contact: Luke Lai | Tel: (65) 6423 4631 | Email:


Bring them

HOME Returning Asians may be the answer to talent shortages in Southeast Asia

on September 1, considers the drivers of repatriation, the incentives employers in this region will need to offer, and also strategies for retaining returned talent over the long term. According to its research, between 60% (Malaysians) and 85% (Indonesians) of overseas-working professionals would be willing to make a return to their homeland. Familial concerns, such as the need to care for ageing parents, are one of the top three drivers, along with having an affinity with the local culture at home. The third top driver is the opportunity to leverage their international skills for higher pay and greater career progression. That means employers will need to offer higher market wages to secure these returning workers. Some 35% of workers looking to return to their Southeast Asian homeland told Robert Walters they were expecting salary increments of 20% or more. A further 20% would move back for a 15% to 20% increase in takehome pay, while 27% said they would settle for between 5% and 15%. Returning Asians are also looking for greater flexibility in working arrangements and a clear outline of potential career progression, the whitepaper found. Toby Fowlston, Managing Director of Robert Walters Southeast Asia, says employers have to be prepared to negotiate terms and go beyond the standard employment contract. “Hiring managers will need to strike a balance between budgetary constraints and hiring the right candidates,” he says. “Not hiring the right candidate due to initial cost savings may prove to have a greater adverse impact on the business in the long run.”

The retention issue


hile the talent crunch is still a global challenge, there are some pockets where the problem is particularly acute. Employers in Southeast Asia – in both the mature markets of Singapore and Malaysia, and the emerging economies of the likes of Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam – face their own unique talent conundrums. Rapid economic development across the region has left employers fighting for a small pool of talented professionals in a range of white-collar roles. As multinationals expand into the emerging markets, the dearth of high-quality multilingual talent is being felt in particular. However, there is a large pool of talent that employers are now turning their sights to. More and more, Southeast Asians who have been working internationally are being targeted for a return home. Global specialist recruitment consultancy Robert Walters’ latest research shows there are more than 4 million Vietnamese citizens working outside their home country. Add to that some 1.4 million Malaysians, almost 500,000 Indonesians, 212,500 Singaporeans, and close to 150,000 Thais and it is easy to see the potential of a new focus on this additional candidate pool.

Attracting home-grown talent The recruiter’s Return of the Asian Talent whitepaper, released

Of course, hiring a returning citizen is only half of the solution; employers also need to have a proactive retention strategy to keep these unique talents on board for the long term. Robert Walters’ research shows there is a significant temptation to overpromise or under-deliver on workplace culture and employment terms. While this may appear to be an easy solution, the risk of former foreign-based professionals returning to perceived greener pastures is all too high. The Return of the Asian Talent whitepaper found that a misalignment of job expectations, poor work-life balance, and troubles adjusting back into the home culture were the top three reasons returned Asians moved back to an international work environment.

Ongoing outreach In anticipation of the increasing demand for overseas Asian talent, recruitment firm Robert Walters has already begun a region-wide initiative to help lure back Southeast Asian professionals. The Singapore programme “Balik Kampung” was launched in 2015 and has provided a model for a broader regional rollout. In addition, the company has dedicated international candidate managers across Southeast Asia actively reaching out to overseas-based talent.

For more information on Return of the Asian Talent whitepaper, please visit us at ISSUE 16.9



BIO BRIEF As the General Manager of Deliveroo Singapore, Tristan Torres oversees everything from profit and loss statements and operations to employee development and client relationships. Torres started the Singapore operations for the Londonbased food delivery company in October, 2015. In less than a year, the 36-year-old has grown the Singapore team to 50 corporate staff and a fleet of more than 1,200 riders. Torres has extensive international experience in the fast-paced e-commerce industry. The native Spaniard was the Vice President of Sales for Groupon in Spain, tripling the company’s revenue during his tenure. In 2012, he moved from Spain to the Philippines to be a vice president for e-commerce company LivingSocial in Manila. After doubling the business there, he came to Singapore to be the Chief Sales Officer and Head of Business Development in Southeast Asia for online retailer Ensogo. He left the post in June 2015, but returned to Singapore to take the helm at Deliveroo a few months later.

14 ISSUE 16.9




You moved from Europe to Asia to hold leadership positions at several e-commerce firms. What was that like?

Straight-talking, self-professed ‘weird guy’ Tristan Torres, General Manager of Deliveroo Singapore, has no qualms donning a kangaroo onesie in public. Making his employees happy lies at the heart of his management style

personal life when I moved from Spain to the Philippines without knowing anything about the country. I also manage people based Coming to Asia was probably the best on feelings. When interviewing decision of my life, even though it was candidates, I never look at the résumé really hard as a manager. Europe and because I’m interested in the person Fiona Lam Asia are completely different. After my instead. If I have a good feeling, I do it. first month in Asia, 30% of my company I make mistakes, of course, but we are resigned because I was not able to young, and we need to make thousands communicate and engage with the staff. The biggest thing I of mistakes. The most successful entrepreneurs have failed needed to understand was the concept of ‘face’. That, along thousands of times. with the difficulty in communicating, really cost me when When it comes to my employees, I empower them to make I first arrived. In fact, after spending three months in Asia, decisions. If someone asks me, “Tristan, what do you want to there was a point when I considered returning to Europe. do with this?” I reply, “No, what do you want to do?” Instead, I hired a coach for nine months to develop my skills People tend to be scared to commit mistakes, but we should on engagement, empowerment and motivating people. That actually be happy to do so because you learn. Of course, I was a really good decision because for the last five years I’ve minimise the impact and the risk, but sometimes I allow been managing businesses in seven countries in Southeast employees to make the wrong decisions so that they can learn Asia, and I love it. My kids now attend kindergarten in from them. I want them to experience what it is like because Singapore, and we are happy here, so this is a long-term thing mistakes make you stronger as a professional. for me. I’m not considering going back to Europe. And when it comes to both marketing and operations, we aim to try new things every week. What works becomes the bread You have been described as a natural risk-taker. How and butter of the company. What doesn’t work, we learn from.


does your risk appetite impact on your management style?

I may be a risk-taker, but I am not a crazy guy. I don’t play roulette with my decisions. Life is too short. If you always worry about the future, you forget to live in the present. For me, it’s all about living in the moment and making decisions. For example, I risked my


Almost all of your 1,200-odd delivery riders are independent contractors. How do you manage and engage such a large contingent workforce?

The riders are the most important employees of Deliveroo. We call them ‘Roo-men’ and ‘Roo-women’ because they are the face of the company. They are extremely important.

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COVER STORY As the CEO, if I want to know what is happening in my company, I need to learn it first-hand. For example, for the last two weeks, I was delivering food myself on my bicycle, essentially being a Deliveroo rider for seven hours a day and seven days a week, covering an average of 75km each day. That helped me understand the problems these guys have been facing, both inside the company and outside with our customers and restaurant partners. The riders are really nice people, but I don’t think they are receiving the treatment they deserve because customers and restaurants can be rude. I had some customers just closing the door in my face, for example. So that is something I want to start changing. From that experience, I have compiled a to-do list to address those issues. I’m just trying to understand what they need and how I can make their lives easier. But I think that me delivering food for two weeks really proved to them that there are things that are going to be changed. It also shows my riders that the CEO is interested in them. Just because they are independent contractors doesn’t mean I treat them like dirt. Ultimately, the delivery guy is the face of the company, and I’m proud to say Deliveroo’s riders are people who give good service with a smile.


How do you interact with your staff?

I’m the kind of guy who buys cupcakes and writes a letter for an employee when I notice she has not been smiling for one or two days. If I see someone feeling sad, I call him and ask how I can help. I offer my support even for personal troubles, and that helps them trust me. We spend more time at work than at home, so I consider my employees part of my family. I want them to be happy in the office, with people smiling every single day. I am a ‘feelings’ guy! Recently, I was under some pressure, and it made me a little grumpy. So I called a meeting to apologise to my staff and explain that I was facing some personal problems. People really appreciate it if you say sorry. I don’t know why, but people tend to find it very complicated to apologise. Some believe managers shouldn’t apologise for their mistakes because it makes them look weak, but I believe that it actually sets a huge example for your team. Also, every week, everyone in the office goes for lunch together, and we have done this since our first day in Singapore. On Fridays, all of us – including myself – also wear kangaroo onesies to give out flyers on the streets. These are the types of activities we do together. People can come to work at 11am if they want, or take a nap. I’m okay with that! I mean, come on, we are in the 21st Century. Micromanagement doesn’t work now.


What is your approach to HR? I work closely with Siti, my HR manager; she sits next to me in the office. HR is a key element of any

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company, especially when it comes to building values and culture and empowering employees. Some older companies use HR for just firing and hiring, but I think HR should be a key part of the day-to-day business. Building a strong culture is important to me because culture is what allows you to engage your employees and customers, and determines whether you win or lose in a market. In any sector, the most successful companies worldwide all have a strong culture in place. I consider myself an HR guy. Half of my time is spent outside the office, sitting on sofas and speaking with people. My agenda for the day is usually empty, unless I have special appointments, such as meetings with lawyers. On a normal day, anybody in the company can come up to me to give suggestions or feedback. The CEO should have knowledge of the business strategy, but it is also super important that they be a HR partner as well, especially since we are in an extremely competitive environment. As the CEO, I don’t need to manage the business. Instead, I need to build people to manage it. When people ask what I’ve been doing to achieve our growth, I haven’t done anything! It’s all my employees, so I just hired the right people. I’m like the conductor of an orchestra, just directing them on when to play their instruments. I’m not doing anything else. My main goal as the CEO is to become dispensable, because that would mean I have built a super-strong management team. That should be the main goal of any CEO. The day I become dispensable in the company is the day I’ve done my job.


For you to be dispensable, your team needs to be able to function without you around. How do you make this happen?


You are a triathlete and even cycle to work every day. Does your love for fitness carry over to the rest of the company?

It is about empowerment, communication, and motivation. When it comes to any decision in the company, I never make it myself. For example, I meet the department heads every Tuesday, and we make the decisions together. When you include people in the decision-making process, they commit. I also train them, help them, give them feedback, and communicate. When you do that as the CEO, you cannot be the one managing the day-to-day business. If I need to go through numbers every day, I’m doing something wrong. However, if I empower my manager and build a team to focus on those numbers, then I can invest my time in the long-term strategy.

Yes, we have a lot of initiatives for employee wellness,

COVER STORY although my employees sometimes fool me with pranks – like requesting spinning (indoor cycling) classes and then backing out after I bought 200 sessions. I ended up spinning every single day for two months! Recently, some employees said they wanted pole dancing and Zumba classes, so we are going to have those. Another guy requested yoga, so we will probably start to have Tuesday yoga sessions in the office. Last week, we also held our first Deliveroo Futsal Championship at Kallang. I played futsal with the riders from 10pm to 4am. I even made a bet with them that if they fulfill their key performance indicators, I will book the amazing rooftop futsal court at Amara Hotel. When you are managing a company, yes, there are the costs and the profit and loss to consider, but there is also the happiness of your employees, which is worth more than any amount of money you can invest. So if yoga on Tuesdays is going to make them a little happier, why shouldn’t I do it? It’s going to cost me a few hundred dollars, but it is not always about the cost.


We try to think big, too. Shoot for the moon, so that even if you miss, you will land among the stars! When I have a project, I will ask who wants to take it up, and let whoever volunteers do it. If an employee suggests a new idea, they get to lead the project. I let them try it and see what happens, instead of shooting it down. I also encourage my employees to think big and think different, and that is in the DNA of the company. If you have a boss who is like a goalkeeper every time you go to him – someone who constantly says ‘no’ and tells you your idea won’t work – then you will become a machine. That is what I don’t want. I want humans, and I want people to feel like they need to innovate and change the food delivery business.

How do you encourage an innovative culture at Deliveroo?

I do it by empowering people and by trying new things. We do not have a separate creative team for innovation. Everyone in the company, from sales to customer service, can say whatever they want, whether it is criticism, or ideas for improvement.

ME MYSELF I I love: To make people happy. I also love being with my kids and family, who are the centre of my life. I dislike: People lying to me and people who run late. It’s quite funny because I’m Spanish, and Spaniards usually arrive late! My inspiration is: My wife. She had cervical cancer last summer, and she has been incredibly strong. While she was ill, she was still trying to make me happy and manage the kids. She’s like an angel to me. My biggest weakness is: I’m extremely impatient. I want things fast. In five years’ time, I’d like to: Build an ecosystem in Southeast Asia where the top CEOs help entrepreneurs achieve their dreams without economic gains in return. Currently, venture capital and seed funding usually go to foreign companies instead of local entrepreneurs. They have a lot of potential, but no one is putting money there.

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Traditional work models are a thing of the past in Australia, where flexibility and work-life balance prevail. HRM Asia speaks to HR directors about how and why their organisations have broken away from the nine-to-six norm


he number of part-time workers in Australia hit an all-time high in January this year. Employment data from the country’s Bureau of Statistics revealed there were nearly four million part-time workers in Australia at the end of 2015, representing 31% of the total workforce. This is the highest level of part-time employment ever recorded. Industry practitioners tell HRM Asia part-time employment is on the rise because it affords employees the freedom and flexibility that they need and want in their jobs. This same reason is why most say flexible work arrangements are not just commonplace in Australia, but even mandatory in some circumstances. While most of Asia is still sticking to conventional working models, a majority of Australian companies already have well-established flexible work policies. “Oh, it’s a foregone conclusion here,” remarks Fiona Jury, Director at recruitment firm ChapmanCG, on the prevalence of flexible work arrangements in Australia. “We have seen a lot of progressive companies move to flexible working. The ones who aren’t offering this are now behind the times.” Jury says one reason for the prevalence of non-traditional work policies is the growing number of mothers in the workforce, who are customarily also the primary carer in their families. “It’s very expensive for us to hire nannies and have live-in maids here in Australia so a lot of women need to work part-time or have job flexibility,” she explains. “So you look at an HR manager’s profile on LinkedIn, and it looks like they are only working three of four days a

week or they have got flexibility to start at 9.30am after school drop-offs.”

Two working parents But many organisations also recognise the need to extend these options to men as well as women – a point that Jury also expressed. National Australia Bank (NAB) is one such organisation. It not only offers a multitude of flexi-work options, but also has a parental leave scheme that is available to all employees, regardless of gender and marital status. Kate Colley, Head of People, Asia and International Branches for NAB, says the bank is putting its money where its mouth is and breaking away from the traditional nine-to-six office mindset. Colley says NAB employees have options to: work some of the regular office hours from home, or from another remote location; work the same number of hours over fewer days per week; job-share, which is when two part-time employees share the workload and pay of a single full-time role; or even take what the company calls “lifestyle” leave to volunteer or further their studies and personal interests. “We have policies in place, and we train our leaders to be able to support this practice,” she adds. Colley also echoes Jury’s sentiment that providing flexible work policies is a common practice in Australia. It is not just a perk job seekers want, but something they now expect. “People are requesting flexible work options in their contracts, but more importantly, they are expecting employers to have really great policies and practices around flexible working terms. Even if it’s not contractual,


Kelvin Ong

it should be part of the DNA of the enterprise,” Colley says. Further related to the demand for increased job flexibility is the emergence of more households with two working parents. This has increased the importance of family time across the country, Colley adds. “Men, as well as women, want to be fully involved in their children’s lives and in raising their families,” Colley says. She says there is an increased understanding that fathers who participate more in family life and childcare help to improve the cognitive and emotional development of their children. NAB rolled out a universal parental leave scheme across its Australian offices in 2015. Under the scheme, all primary carers are able to take leave for up to 12 months, of which NAB pays the full salary for up to 12 weeks, without impacting the individual’s job scope or career path. “Our enhanced parental leave policy considers the needs of our people from the time they are expecting or adopting a child right through to returning to work after a period of parental leave. It provides them with a variety of leave options and working arrangements,” Colley explains. “In doing so, we also want to better support and advance women’s careers by creating a culture that provides equal opportunity to all parents, regardless of gender or life goals.” The success of the leave initiative in Australia also prompted the bank to launch the scheme across its offices in Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore in June this year. “The Asia launch of the parental leave policy now aligns NAB in Asia with our group’s efforts in supporting married and ISSUE 16.9




single parents of children – biological or adopted – through greater work flexibility when they are the primary or secondary carer,” Colley says.

All roles flex According to Sarah Beck, Head of Executive Search at online job portal, changing social norms surrounding dayto-day parenting roles mean mothers are no longer expected to handle the majority of caring duties at home. More male employees are also looking for jobs that can accommodate their needs as fathers and carers. “It is increasingly common to have both parents in a household working, which means that work-life balance is becoming a bigger priority for both men and women who need to accommodate work and family responsibilities,” she explains. Seek recognises the importance and value of providing flexible work arrangements to support its “diverse and high-performing culture”. The company allows anyone to request for flexible work arrangements, although each request is

managed on a case-by-case basis. “We believe that helping take pressure off and allowing for greater balance across all aspects of employees’ lives creates a more productive and fulfilling work environment,” Beck shares. Telecommunications and media company Telstra, is also ahead of the curve when it comes to organisational flexibility. The company took on the results-oriented “All Roles Flex” approach a few years ago. “This means flexibility is the starting position for all work and roles – anyone can apply to work flexibly, and it will be granted, as long as business needs are met,” explains Darren Fewster, Executive Director of Global HR Shared Services with Telstra Australia. He adds that this exemplifies Telstra’s focus on work outcomes, and not facetime at the office. This mentality starts from the top of the organisation. “Flexibility is not just a reward for good performers – it’s for everyone,” he says. “Our leaders are asked to talk to their people about what they need to balance

AUSTRALIANS WANT MORE FAMILY TIME A Work and Family Policy Roundtable report published in May 2016 recommended that Australia’s National Employment Standards cap total working hours per week at a maximum of 38 hours. It also advocated giving casual workers and part-time permanent workers the benefit of paid parental and carer’s leave. The goal is for both men and women to play an equal role in parenting. The report also advocated for the following reforms: • Extending parental leave pay and “Dad and Partner” pay to 26 weeks in the coming three-year federal government term; and • Eventually extending both allowances to 52 weeks; The study stated that “Australia was moving backwards on work and family issues” because of the government’s increased emphasis on bottom lines over family life. It found that since the 2015 budget, major cuts had been made to the country’s first universal paid parental leave scheme, and plans to restructure the Early Childhood Education and Care funding by adding A$3.5 billion (US$2.7 billion) over five years had been deferred to 2018. 20 ISSUE 16.9


their work and personal commitments.” The “All Roles Flex” approach is executed right from recruitment stage. Fewster says the company has a designated searchable category of “flexible jobs” on the Telstra careers web portal. In fact, since 2014, all of Telstra’s job advertisements contain the following statement: “We work flexibly at Telstra. Talk to us about how this job could be flexible for you.” The policies at Australian telecommunications provider Optus also tend to follow broader demographic trends, with the company acknowledging that family time has indeed become a top priority for many employees. “In particular, people are having children later in life so they are trying to balance those priorities,” a spokesperson told HRM Asia. “We are very supportive of our staff in this regard, and we offer twelve weeks of paid maternity or paternity leave.” Optus, a subsidiary of Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel), even has

AUSTRALIA an on-site childcare facility to assist with the transition for parents back into the workplace. In view of this, at least half of Optus’ staff members have the option to work flexibly in some capacity. “Wherever this is possible, we try and facilitate the option for employees. Indicators suggest flexible working conditions have a very positive effect on the productivity of our business,” the spokesperson said.

Millennials in the digital age But it is not just changing family norms that have led to a rising number of candidates seeking part-time employment and other flexible work arrangements in Australia. Numerous studies have shown that while millennials now form the largest proportion of the workforce, they are also the least engaged demographic at work. It has been found that traditional work scopes and settings simply do not appeal to them. “The millennial generation is not inspired by the traditional work model,” says Colley. “They have a whole heap of stuff happening outside of work, and it doesn’t meet their needs. So we have to move with the times in order to attract, retain, and engage talents on the job.” Telstra’s Fewster agrees, saying “various studies now point to an increased focus on freelance work, particularly for millennials”. “People are being engaged in many different ways, with a significant shift to project work of a fixed or contractual nature. And research points to these trends not only continuing, but growing over time,” he adds. “We are seeing similar trends in HR at Telstra.” Parallel to the need to tailor work policies to the younger generation is the way digital capabilities have also enabled companies to rethink the traditional nine-to-six office arrangement. “Technology is enabling people to work effectively outside of the brickand-mortar office,” explains Beck. “This is opening up opportunities for people and businesses to re-think how people


“People are requesting flexible work options, but more importantly, they are expecting employers to have really great policies and practices around flexible working terms” Kate Colley, Head of People, Asia and International Branches for NAB

can contribute, communicate and get their work done in a way that is more accommodating to their personal life and preferred working style.” Cloud computing in particular is proving to be a transformative digital platform that has made remote working and other flexible arrangements possible, says ChapmanCG’s Jury. “The cloud has enabled flexible working because you can easily work from home, and you can easily go around and work through different IT platforms from wherever you are,” she says. “It used to be difficult to log in through some sort of virtual private network that invariably wouldn’t work, but the cloud has really enabled much more flexibility and working from client premises, or home, or anywhere really.” So ubiquitous is technology that it prompts Colley to go one step further, posing the question of whether ‘worklife balance’ should even continue to be labelled as such. “People are no longer working the traditional office hours, and with the emergence of technology, the line between traditional office work and home time has now become blurred.”

Business scalability The benefits of a flexible workforce flow in both directions. While staff enjoy greater freedom and empowerment, employers also see advantages, Beck says.

She explains that it allows employers to address changes in markets and to scale their businesses according to today’s turbulent economic landscape. “This has created an opportunity for HR professionals to creatively explore how their business can create an environment and culture that offers a fulfilling and sustainable approach to work for employees,” Beck says. Fewster notes that “companies can also benefit as they can more easily align to funding models for discrete projects or pieces of work, attracting the right talent for each project”. But he cautions that maintaining a core of high-performing employees who set the agenda, build the culture, and drive results will continue to be critical for most companies. Jury says having less-rigid policies adds to the employee value proposition. “(The flexibility) makes it a great reason to go to work for such companies because they are really moving more towards an output-based mindset, rather than having to sit in an office all day,” says Jury. Still, more models like these need to be continually monitored, and even altered periodically. According to Jury, the main challenges lie in ensuring group collaboration and leadership development. “Leaders who are managing virtual workers have to keep the communication high, keep workers engaged, and be on the front foot if there are any issues,” she says. ISSUE 16.9






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asie Millhouse-Singh takes a deep breath. She downs a shot of plum wine. The timer starts: the pink-haired, former gymnastics coach has three minutes only to wow the judges in a make-or-break presentation. Her opening slide flashes on screen: “The Art of Figuring (Stuff) Out”. She follows that with a surprise handstand, executed flawlessly, to gasps from the audience. The speech then follows. The 34-yearold Singapore-based American is happy to sprinkle profanities throughout, and has no issue sharing some frank stories of her own failures. Millhouse-Singh is not auditioning for a reality show. Rather, she is pitching herself to the likes of Netflix, Uber,

before stepping through the office door of their first job. “Before Pitch Perfect, there were no platforms for millennials to showcase their personality and talents, most of which don’t come across on a résumé,” Venn CEO Candice Aw says. From the pitches, employers can see right away if a candidate is a good cultural fit, she adds. Millhouse-Singh’s job search since June had been centred around job boards. “But this event makes it more real for me and gives me confidence, even though I have no relevant work experience and didn’t go to university,” she says. The world of recruiting has evolved, and employers being able to meet 13 people in an hour used to be unheard of, says Sunita Kaur, Managing Director

As the tide of millennials rushes into the workforce, employers are getting creative to reach out to and hire these new kids on the block Fiona Lam

Spotify and Chope, to convince them she deserves a job on one of their teams. Millhouse-Singh was one of 13 hopefuls at the inaugural Pitch Perfect event on August 18. Targeted at Generation Y jobseekers, the unique recruitment platform was organised by online job-matching company Venn to let shortlisted candidates skip the traditional job application line and pitch directly to hiring managers from some of Singapore’s best-rated employers. Pitch Perfect is just one of several new, unconventional hiring strategies tailored to the millennial generation – those born between 1980 and 2000. By 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the global working population, according to Deloitte. Characterised as ambitious digital natives who crave purpose in their work, they are already shaking up traditional HR practices even

at Spotify Asia, who was one of the panelists at Pitch Perfect. “I believe there is really something here.”

Leveraging social media Employers are fast embracing social media tools when it comes to recruiting technology-savvy younger staff. OCBC Bank, for example, advertises jobs on Facebook. “To attract millennial candidates, we have to widen our reach and showcase our employer brand on social media, so that they know more about our purpose, values and culture,” says Jacinta Low, Head of HR Planning at the bank. The Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) also has a strong focus on social media for recruitment. As well as Facebook and Twitter, the university uses LinkedIn aggressively to suss out

potential talent and post stories about happenings at work. Jaclyn Lee, SUTD’s Senior HR Director, says career talks are also promoted on social media, while Skype is used to screen overseas applicants. Although social media offers extra scrutiny and more personal data about candidates compared to the average résumé, SUTD typically does not use the information against them, Lee says. In addition, when hiring faculty members, the university has used a unique “360-degree” interview process for the last six years. This entails the candidates giving a presentation on their research, followed by evaluation from their peers and a team of senior faculty. Afterwards, the HR team invites the candidate for dinner with their peer group and head of department, to assess their interpersonal skills and ability to socialise with their future team members. “For millennial faculty candidates, we do a lot of networking, group interviews and peer interactions to ensure they’re able to work across teams in a multidisciplinary environment,” says Lee. Dutch electronics giant Philips is currently relooking at how it can better attract, assess and engage millennial candidates. A spokesperson for the AsiaPacific region says it is aiming to place more emphasis on social media platforms and online tools, and build a more robust talent programme in the region. “We recognise the importance of engaging this generation, given their go-getter personalities, creativity and technology know-how they bring to the business,” the spokesperson says.

Sky picnics and pop-up cafés Some companies are also using creative techniques and more informal settings to engage potential candidates and build their talent pools. At JP Morgan, the HR team has enhanced its engagement strategies with students on university campuses in Singapore in particular. Chew Ying Ying, Head of Campus Recruiting for AsiaISSUE 16.9


RECRUITMENT Pacific, says there are renewed efforts to help students understand what it is really like to work at the company, instead of just connecting with them at the surface level during recruitment talks and events. In particular, JP Morgan introduced pop-up campus cafés at high-traffic areas on university campuses earlier this year, for staff to mingle with students and explain job opportunities and what JP Morgan stands for as a firm. “Millennials tend to want to know the company and its people well before deciding to join,” Chew says. Picnics are another unique method. In July, OCBC Bank hosted 90 Singaporean undergraduates for a casual lunchtime sharing session at the highest level

far earlier in their university lives. “We found that millennials respond better to more frequent and longer engagement as compared to the earlier generations,” says Low. “Hence we’ve also been organising more talks and engagement events at campuses, such as pre-talk teasers, career fairs and career talks.” To ensure its strategies stay relevant, OCBC Bank also engages its existing millennial employees to find out what other candidates of their generation are looking for, and how it can fine-tune its approach to better connect with millennial-age recruits, Low adds.

Spotting talent Some younger companies, especially

Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, the SGAG recruiters trawl social media to find potential hires most of the time. “This has been a very effective way for us to hire the best talent,” Mak says. All of his 15 staff members are from Generation Y, and the team is still expanding. The SGAG websites allows people to submit their own content, which means the company can identify regular contributors and ask whether they are interested in working there. “That’s an even better filter because these people already love our work, and are passionate about submitting content,” Mak adds. Previously, SGAG tried looking for content creators using recruitment

Beyond recruitment Employers are not simply focusing their millennial-engagement strategies at the hiring phase. Instead of tweaking its recruitment measures, electronics and furniture retailer Courts is focusing on talent management initiatives that it feels resonate more with millennials. For instance, its personalised career development plan has been well-received by younger workers, who proactively seek autonomy over their unique career directions, says Kiran Kaur, Chief Talent Officer of Courts Asia. “Millennials are an increasingly important talent pool that needs to be stimulated, engaged and incentivised,” she says.

of the 50-storey OCBC Centre. The undergraduates and current OCBC interns gathered at the inaugural OCBC Sky Picnic to network with the bank’s senior management and division heads, and learn about the OCBC Young Bankers and Postgraduate Management Associate programmes. Rocco Hu, a second-year student at Oxford University, found the picnic more personable and friendlier than other recruitment events. “It was rather unlike what we usually think of a bank,” he said. The event was also an example of the many activities OCBC Bank is opening to not just final-year students but also second- and third-year students. It is hoping to engage students 24 ISSUE 16.9


those founded by millennials themselves, have had youth-focused hiring processes since their foundations. Consider SGAG Media, which produces localised, digital content for a number of online platforms in Singapore. The fouryear-old company has close to 500,000 Facebook fans. Co-founder Karl Mak says the company relies on its content creators to be good storytellers and able to consistently come up with viral posts. As such, it does not use any traditional modes of recruitment. “Instead, we first spot content that’s going viral, then approach the person who created it to discuss opportunities with them,” the 28-year-old says. Because viral posts usually trend on

websites. While there were responses, the conversion rate to a good hire was close to zero, Mak says. “Traditional methods don’t work for us; they’re a waste of our money and time.” Over at four-month-old startup Venn, Aw is now planning more pitch events similar to Pitch Perfect. She says the format could suit other sectors, such as e-commerce, opening up the scheme to a greater variety of both candidates and employers. Venn’s website matches young professionals to career opportunities using its proprietary algorithimc matching technology, which Aw says was inspired by dating website OkCupid. “We realised millennials look for jobs

RECRUITMENT very differently and are disillusioned with existing search options,” she says.

Revamping interviews Employers are also changing how they interview young candidates, developing strategies to make sure they ask the right questions in the right ways. In August, KPMG shortened its lengthy graduate recruitment process after surveying 400 millennial applicants and learning that more than a third were annoyed by the several weeks involved. Instead of holding three separate assessments on different days, the whole process now takes place in one day. Candidates will also know within two working days if they have landed a job. The accounting firm’s move comes in the wake of US investment bank Goldman Sachs’ changes to its own graduate hiring process. In July, Goldman Sachs began replacing face-toface interviews with video interviews for first-round undergraduate candidates, aiming to attract applicants from a wider range of disciplines. At present, JP Morgan is also piloting video-recorded interviews to replace first-round phone interviews, Chew says. “As millennials are collaborative in nature, we have also incorporated tangible case studies during interviews to observe how candidates work with each other to solve business problems.”

Give and take At the same time, many employers believe it is up to millennial candidates to also adapt their job-search strategies and expectations. While companies are busy creating work environments conducive for their unique qualities, millennials should likewise be proactive and seek to understand as well as adapt to the work and communication styles of other generations, says Chew. Mak from SGAG thinks many younger employees have a high tendency to jump ship in the first few months if they do not feel comfortable with a new employer.

“It’s important for HR to also remember that company legacies, deep smarts, and intrinsic historical knowledge exist with older staff” Jaclyn Lee, Senior HR Director, Singapore University of Technology and Design

Trying too hard

workers getting drunk on a work day. Within hours of the invitation going viral and being mocked online, Microsoft issued an apology for the gaffe. Aw from Venn says it is definitely possible for an employer to try too hard to cater to millennials. “Communicating with them is not just about adding hashtags to everything, and trying to use buzzwords to sound cool,” she says. “Millennials are a smart bunch and doing that without actually understanding their mindset just comes across as condescending and trying too hard.” Sharing the same sentiment is SUTD’s Lee. While it is essential to recognise

Of course, companies can also miss the mark when trying to court millennial employees. Microsoft, for one, found out the hard way that it is not easy being hip to the youngest working generation. In July, the 41-year-old software giant’s pitch to recruit US interns came off more cringe-worthy than charming. A Microsoft recruiter sent an email filled with youth-inspired language and colloquialisms, promising beer pong, “dranks” and “hella noms” at a party in Silicon Valley for “bae” interns. The not-quite-right invitation signed off with, “Hell yes to getting lit on a Monday night”, which unwittingly implied the company approved its

that millennials will form the bulk of the next generation of workers, she advises organisations to be careful not to over-cater to them. “It’s important for HR to also remember that company legacies, deep smarts, and intrinsic historical knowledge exist with older staff,” Lee says. Chew from JP Morgan points out that regardless of age, every employee wants to do meaningful work, have ample learning opportunities, and do well in their careers of choice. “Millennials are not that different from the other generations,” she says. “We just need to recognise their drivers for motivation and communicate effectively with them.”

“Sometimes they give up too easily and don’t have the traditional mindset of slogging it out,” he says. “Millennials can learn to put in the effort and grind it through, and understand that you may not always have things perfectly the way you want them.” Importantly, Aw points out that younger jobseekers also need to learn that some of their managers will hail from a different generation, and might not understand them at all times. “It’s important for millennials to communicate with their managers, instead of just dismissing them as ‘uncool’,” Aw advises.

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a self-directed pathway

Having significantly altered its business offerings in recent years, IBM is now driving an agile culture where employees are firmly in control of their own careers. HRM Asia speaks with the heads of HR for Singapore and Southeast Sham Majid Asia on how their teams are driving business outcomes


or those who still conceive IBM to be a hardware conglomerate, Pallavi Srivastava, Country HR Director, IBM Singapore, is keen to set the record straight. “We’re no longer about hardware, and this (change) was many years ago. We’re no longer about services either; we’re actually about cloud and cognitive solutions,” she says. “It’s a mindset change that needs to happen in clients, and in how the market perceives us.” Ann Shen, HR Director, IBM Southeast Asia, acknowledges that the organisation finds it a challenge to promote the new transformation. “This is because people’s perception of us is that we’re a hardware company. However, we’ve actually already transformed,” Shen explains.

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Driven by CEO Ginni Rometty, Shen says the transformation has led IBM into a new phase as an industryfocused cognitive solutions and cloud-platform company. “HR has to align with these business strategies,” Shen says.

Crunching data to predict trends One of the first aspects of IBM’s transformation is that the organisation is now placing a significant emphasis on analytics. Shen says this is reflected in the way IBM’s HR team utilises its workforce data to tell stories, to predict business trends, and to help business leaders drive higher levels of employee engagement. These objectives are then designed to eventually drive improved business results.

Srivastava says the first step is for her team to first define the concept of analytics. “When we look at the trends in the market, there are lots of HR management systems (HRMS) that already claim to provide some automated analytics,” she says. “However, analytics is not so much about tools; it’s the ability of HR professionals to interpret data and to predict a business trend out of that.” Srivastava next assigns each member of her team to lead an analytics project for the entire Southeast-Asia region. “We have not siloed them to do it just for their unit,” she says. “If you really go through the spectrum of what analytics means, it starts with something very basic like



Total number of employees at IBM (Global): Around 375,000 Key HR Focus Areas: – Skills transformation across all levels – Employee engagement, employee experience, and building an agile culture – Early professional (graduate) hiring, development and retention – Building HR capabilities for high-value analytics and strategic HR decision-making – Empowering managers to support employees’ career development

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benchmarking, and you then go into aspects like forecasting, diagnostics and predictive analytics. “We are really moving from benchmarking to predictive analytics. In order to do that, we have to link a lot of metrics.” Srivastava says most HR professionals are comfortable with HR metrics and will measure headcounts, attrition, employee satisfaction, and hiring levels.

As well as the principle of selfdirection, agility within IBM is also about the need to constantly test, revise, and update a programme. “You don’t have to be perfect the first time; you should start off and keep improving,” Srivastava says. “Small teams should come together and launch something. That’s what agility means.”

However, she says the ability to link all of this data into a holistic picture is the key to the people analytics challenge. “You have to be able to interpret and understand data. You can then come up with a picture for the business,” says Srivastava. Becoming digitally-attuned is another key element of IBM’s transformation, Shen shares. “Every company and every industry is also moving digitally. For example, banking and logistics are really focused on going digital. We are also thinking about this in HR and about how to do it in very simple and social ways,” she explains. One initiative has been the launch of Connections in IBM, an online business social network platform that allows the organisation to gather feedback from all employees.

Srivastava notes that while IBM marches on with its blueprint on becoming agile, the organisation has a diverse workforce with each generation represented, including a sizeable proportion of millennials, interspersed with many generations of employees. The company is focusing on emotional environment and gauging how employees in different demographics feel. “Our programmes, tools and policies are all catered towards understanding what the employee experience is like,” Srivastrava says. “Employees are also our customers in a way and we are very conscious of that.”

Self-directed teams The IBM evolution is not just about tangible developments in the cloud sphere. “Now that we’re a new IBM, we’re really focused on encouraging an agile culture,” says Shen. But what exactly does it mean to be “agile” in IBM? Shen says it is about fostering selfdirected teams within the company. “You can never say that you will not get support from anyone. Everybody needs to take ownership, starting from the small things,” she elaborates.

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Celebrating generations

Building synergies While Srivastava says IBM has a significant number of millennial employees within its ranks, Shen acknowledges that attracting this group to work for the organisation is one of her team’s key HR challenges. In response, IBM has created the Early Professional Seller (EPS) programme. “Normally, sales managers prefer experienced sellers and not new graduates from universities,” Shen says. “This has been a problem for many years. It has been really hard to get buy-in from our sales managers to hire new (graduate) professionals,” Shen elaborates. Having commenced the EPS programme during the first quarter

of last year, Shen says IBM now has a dedicated programme manager as well as two hub managers in Singapore and Malaysia to build it up over the next six months. “We need to make sure employees are well-educated and enabled before we deploy them to the business unit. The good thing is that we’ve already started seeing the benefits after we finished our first batch of EPS candidates in June,” she states. Shen says one of the EPS candidates helped to achieve the company’s first blockchain (a new cloud-based technology) deal in Singapore. Business consultants are another important group of staff for IBM’s new business focus, and the organisation has a dedicated development programme for them, Consulting By Degrees (CBD). “The employees go through the entire value chain of a consulting engagement, from proposal building, to designing the solution, delivering it, and then measuring the end satisfaction of the user,” she says. “It’s a rotational programme over two years and they go through all the experiences.” Srivastava stresses that both of these graduate talent programmes serve a crucial purpose for IBM. “If you compare EPS and CBD candidates, the latter are the ones who design the solution for a client, while the former will be the ones who help sell or get the deals from the market,” she says. “In the future, both groups will have to work very closely together. Hence, this is a group of graduate talent that we are building synergies with, and building industry expertise.” Srivastava concedes that industry convergence means IBM and its clients don’t yet know where each of their future competition will come from.


“It’s a little difficult to also then get the right kind of skills that will address some of those trends in the market, especially leadership skills,” she explains. “We are trying to build a focus on our leaders so they are able to scale up to these changes in the market. The challenge is really the fast pace, along with industry convergence, which is very new.” Shen says IBM has had to revitalise and refresh its talent pool in the wake of the transformation. “This is why we are very focused on our ‘ Build, Borrow, Buy’ framework. ‘Build’ refers to developing up talent internally. “Borrow refers to cross-country movement within the organisation while ‘buy’ means hiring externally,” she says. Shen explains that previously, IBM was almost solely focused on the “building” aspect. “This is why everybody thinks that IBM is a good place that has many opportunities, promotions and rotations. But because of our transformation, we’re also very focused on the buying aspect right now,” she reveals. “It’s very important, not just for the CBD or EPS programmes, but also for senior executive positions.” Shen says IBM has maintained a strong reputation in talent markets across Southeast-Asia. “People want to join us; even former IBM employees who have been away for 10 or 20 years would still like to come back to work for us,” she says.

Career development enablers Srivastava is firm in her belief that employees themselves are responsible for their own careers. “HR is not the owner of anybody’s career development,” she explains. “We are not there to physically give them their career roadmap. It is

“Our programmes, tools and policies are all catered towards understanding what the employee experience is like” Pallavi Srivastava, Country HR Director, IBM Singapore

entirely the employees’ responsibility to drive their own careers. If they don’t do that, they are going to find over a period of time that they are falling behind and that’s something they and their managers will have to talk through.” Rather, Srivastava says the company’s HR team supports people managers who go on to support employees. “Our managers are extremely important links between HR and employees. They are the ones giving employees work, and they are called ‘people managers’ because they have a team and they have to manage them,” she states. “They are responsible and accountable to ensure their career roadmap is aligned to what they want to do and we facilitate and enable that through our HR programmes.” Shen concurs with Srivastava, describing HR in IBM as “enablers”. “IBM’s principle is clear,” she says. “Employees need to own their career development.”

Training to build a pipeline IBM’s Leadership Development framework comprises of training programmes at different levels.

For example, the EPS and CBD candidates are exposed to a set of learning platforms, including e-learning as well as classroom sessions. Srivastava says for IBM’s top female talents can take advantage of a global flagship programme called Building Relationships and Influence. “There’s also a management development programme for newlyappointed People Managers,” Srivastava says. “There are more than 50 very popular training programmes.” “The focus is really on building a pipeline for leadership. All the talent programmes are supposed to build the pipeline for certain leadership positions.”

All-rounded engagement The IBM club is a key avenue of employee engagement within the company in Singapore. Srivastava says this is an internal forum that is separate from the management structure and any formal feedback tools. “There are sports clubs, music clubs, toastmasters, and discounts to events that we hold,” she says. “There are bring-your-kids-to-work

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“Now that we’re a new IBM, we’re really focused on encouraging an agile culture” Ann Shen, HR Director, IBM Southeast Asia

programmes, and annual gatherings. We also have a ‘We Jog’ club which organises fun runs around the Marina Bay area. “These are organised by IBM employees.” “We also try to engage employees by making sure that they have a fruitful and meaningful career with us. I think that’s the most important reason why IBM employees stay with us.”

Tackling retention with analytics IBM’s rewards and recognition strategies are tied to the “1-3-9” concept that company CEO Rometty unveiled when she assumed her role in 2012. “1” refers to IBM’s purpose, which is to be “essential”, while “3” refers to the company’s three values: dedication to client success, innovation that matters to the world, and the trust and responsibility of the organisation’s relationships. “Our CEO wanted to make it more personal to employees. She set out nine practices, and all our reward and recognition strategies are aligned with recognising who has been demonstrating those nine practices.” “If you go to any of our websites which talk about recognition, it will ask you to choose what practice the person displayed.” Analytics once again comes into

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play when it comes to employee retention. Shen says IBM launched a global proactive retention programme about four years ago which analyses all of its attrition data. “For the previous three years, we find out how many employees left, what was their job family, and what was their banding, job content, performance and salary range,” she says. “We analyse all of these data points together to find out what has been the common propensity to leave, and we then use this to see who may fit (the same pattern) among existing IBM employees. We then provide them with proactive retention. “After undertaking these steps, our attrition rate decreased by 25%.” A similar Southeast Asian retention programme has also now seen IBM’s regional attrition rate halved since last year. Srivastava stresses that throughout IBM’s transformation and into the future, IBM’s HR approach has had to be highly strategic. “We are transforming at such a fast level that if we are constantly focusing on transactional activities, then we’ll never be able to support our business. “That’s the core of how we are transforming HR,” she adds.


HR Director, IBM Southeast Asia

KUNIYA TSUBOTA Vice President, HR, IBM Asia Pacific


Sales Talent Center Manager, IBM Southeast Asia


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Informed advisors The best HR leaders have the ability and buy-in to drive effective organisational strategies. HR veterans share how as team leaders, they are keeping HR at the strategic table by being knowledgeable aides to the business Kelvin Ong


he strategic role that HR plays in an organisation is welldocumented in business literature, but most chief HR officers (CHROs) say it bears repeating, especially since its value is increasingly challenged by other functions. This is especially true for mature organisations with a presence in both developed and high-growth markets. For these regional companies, HR certainly cannot take a one-sizefits-all approach, and HR leaders and CHROs are the main drivers controlling this diversity.

Tiered approach One such organisation is medical 32 ISSUE 16.9


technology development corporation Medtronic. Its strategy for the AsiaPacific region is described by Regional Vice President of HR Lorraine ParkerClegg as “a tale of two cities”. “The reason for this is that my area of responsibility includes the territories from Japan down to Australia, and these two are highlydeveloped markets with quite different challenges,” Parker-Clegg shares. “In between these, there are the areas of Southeast Asia and India that have a different set of nuances, and those are the areas that we would describe as our high-growth markets. “So we would tier these countries into developed, developing, and truly

emerging markets,” she adds. Parker-Clegg states that Medtronic expects an average annual growth rate of six percent for the developed markets, a growth rate of between 10% and 18% per year for the developing markets, and a 20% to 25% growth rate for emerging markets like Southeast Asia. Aircraft maintenance service provider SIA Engineering is looking to a more international future, having already reached its peak output in its Singapore base. “The strategy going forward would be about expanding overseas because in Singapore we’re already pretty much where we want to be,” explains


Zarina Piperdi, Senior Vice President of HR at the SIA Engineering Company. Where HR fits in is in identifying and analysing whether entering a particular region or territory is a viable and lucrative option, in terms of employment laws and other factors such as how often labour strikes take place. HR’s role is to ensure the business case is sound. “For international expansion, it is not so much about what it means to HR but what it means to the organisation,” says Piperdi. “It’s for the organisation to know what is the growth that is planned out; what we need to be mindful of, and what issues come into play.”

Leaders drive culture An increasingly younger workforce has also meant employee engagement strategies have had to evolve to take this age group’s unique behavioural patterns into account. But this change is not only HR’s responsibility, says Jayesh Menon, former Global Organisational Effectiveness Leader, Micron Technology. He believes it should also be driven by organisation leaders across various functions. He laments that some leaders do not follow through on their engagement obligations. “There are leaders who do fantastically in certain things and there are leaders who

actually default on their commitment to engagement actions year-on-yearon-year,” he says. “If you ask them to commit in terms of specific action plans, they flail over it. This is not just once or twice – I’ve seen this consistently in my experience.” Menon says he rarely sees organisations punishing leaders who do not commit to improving engagement levels. “I rarely see that happening because businesses are also driven by what value you provide to stakeholders and other factors.” Menon believes the issue comes back to the organisational culture that the leader drives. He says it becomes ISSUE 16.9



How can CHROs motivate their workforces? Gregory Moore, Managing Director, Asia, Miller Heiman Group, says leaders and managers can use the “Skill versus Will Matrix”, a management tool made popular by author Max Landsberg in The Tao of Coaching, to help identify poor performers and the reasons for their lacklustre results. Moore says the matrix is a four-quadrant model with “skill” on the vertical axis and “will” along the horizontal. If an employee is not performing, managers need to ask the question: “Is this due to a lack of the skills needed to perform, or a lack of willingness (including motivation)?” If an employee is low on skill and high on will (lower right quadrant), skills training can address the problem, Moore says. If they are highly skilled but score low on willingness (top left quadrant), other approaches are needed. Leaders will need to identify the constraints that are holding the employee back, and tap into their individual motivators. Armed with this knowledge of employee motivators, managers will also find it helpful to distinguish between traditional performance reviews and “talent reviews”. “Performance Reviews are great platforms for discussing skill gaps to improve performance. But, companies with good talent management initiatives in place should keep their Talent Reviews separate,” Moore explains. “The Talent Review can be used for tapping in to the employee’s motivators about where a person wants to go with their career. Performance should be left out of this conversation.”


Provide guidance

Give autonomy and authority



Give very specific instructions

Give them something to be excited about LOW WILL

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difficult for a CHRO to have strong outcomes if other C-suite leaders are not on board. “If the organisation is not ready for an engagement approach, which is very different from what the CEO or the senior executives feel, don’t even enter the company to do it because that becomes HR for the sake of HR,” he warns.

Ensuring effective execution Apart from being involved with only formulation, HR leaders also need to oversee and ensure effective execution of policies. “I believe HR plays different roles and different aspects of the strategy formulation, and then subsequently the execution,” Piperdi asserts. She says it is important for HR practitioners to be at the policy formulation table right from the earliest stages. They would be able to provide research statistics, forecast and guidelines regarding the feasibility and profitability of the proposed plans. “That’s where HR can give advice on the issues involved,” Piperdi says. In the example of an organisation looking to find a new market to expand into, HR can alert leadership to the labour issues involved, something that may not be on the radar of other function heads. “If you are to go into these other areas, it would give you similar growth but those issues you see in Country A might not seen in Country B,” she says by example. After plans have been firmed up, HR then needs to draw out goals and targets. “We have to ask what it means to build up the organisation of the future, in terms of where we want to grow,” Piperdi says. “This could be about the number of people, the kind of technical workforce that is needed, and the leaders who will set up all the structures and foundations.” Parker-Clegg says her role combines that of a CHRO and a business partner

STRATEGIC HR to the president of Medtronic in Asia-Pacific. As such, she has to be “malleable” across different territories and their corresponding growth rates. “The process I go through in supporting my leader is quite simple,” she says. “The strategic plan is generated as a multi-functional process and from there we translate that strategy, which is usually a fiveyear horizon, into a set of human capital actions.” This process usually begins in October each year.

Staying relevant It doesn’t stop there. Both Piperdi and Parker-Clegg agree that people management leaders have to equip themselves and their teams with finance skills and knowledge in order to be effective business advisors. “I may be biased in this opinion but it helps to understand a little bit of finance,” Piperdi says. “It means you are able to connect better between the strategy and the bottom line. After all, at the end of the day, it is about leading to an improvement in the bottom line. “Some knowledge of finance can help you connect it with what it means to HR, why it is important for you to think about the resources in this way, and how does it link back to the strategy and the financial objectives.”

“I believe HR plays different roles and different aspects of the strategy formulation, and then subsequently the execution” Zarina Piperdi, Senior Vice President of HR, SIA Engineering Company

Piperdi adds that she has sent her HR team for specific “finance for non-finance executives” training. She believes this knowledge can help HR professionals “be heard louder in whichever forums they are in”. This will also contribute to the acceptance of HR across different aspects of the organisation, she adds. Parker-Clegg echoes the importance of HR personnel becoming financially-savvy. She says this is an important way to stay relevant to an organisation’s business needs, especially since data analytics are so widely employed in HR today. She says this relevance is created in a variety of ways at Medtronic. “We’re in the midst of HR transformation right now. It doesn’t matter if it’s high-growth or developed markets, we’re

transforming the way our HR business partners are equipped,” she shares. “Some business partners might have a lower ability to be able to build a business case in the language of the people they are serving,” says Parker-Clegg. “We need to understand the proposition and how it is going to work for the hiring managers,” she continues. “The relevance of that skill becomes especially important when you are driving lots of hiring, as we currently are in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. “We are really re-thinking the way we do our staffing and we’ve already moved to recruitment process outsourcing, but that’s not enough. “So we’re working on something now specifically for the high-growth environments.”

STRATEGIC HR SPOTLIGHT ROHEI Corporation is passionate about creating inspired learning experiences. Every training programme, whether it is a people skills training course for individuals or a customised learning carnival for a multinational, is crafted with deep care and attention to detail. Named one of the best SME workplaces in Asia, ROHEI has a high-trust culture and emphasis on people and relationships that translates into highly-effective training for every client.

Tel: +65 6716 9700 Email: ISSUE 16.9



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PAYING FOR PERFORMANCE As the job scopes of employees continue to evolve in today’s rapidly-transforming world of work, so too is the way they are being compensated for their efforts. HRM Asia speaks to senior HR leaders to assess how pay-for-performance cultures have been fostered in their respective organisations Sham Majid


ynn Hong, Director of HR at McDonald’s Singapore, says the concept of “pay-for-performance” is akin to dangling the carrot to entice better performance through tangible rewards. “This kind of enticement for better performance or desired workplace culture and output is common for goal-oriented organisations,” she says. “Studies have also indicated that employees find the process of appraisal more satisfying and credible when it is linked to reward outcomes.” Michael Goh, Chief HR Officer, Jurong Port, concurs. “Pay for performance requires that a portion of a staff menber’s compensation is contingent on the achievement of performance targets,” he says. Arindam Mukherjee, Group Head of Compensation and Benefits at DKSH Management, says the concept of “pay for performance” is closely linked to “pay for position”. “For each position, there is a pay reference point in the market which

represents the ‘right’ pay if the job holder is able to achieve 100% of the job requirements,” he elaborates. “Pay for performance is a concept of paying employees according to performance against that pay point.” For example, he says a high performer who has achieved 120% of their job requirement should be rewarded with 120% of the target pay point. “In cases where companies categorise performance into only a few levels, the better performer would also be better rewarded,” says Mukherjee. Hence, he stresses a pay-forperformance plan should incorporate a strong link between performance and reward, and a significant reward differentiation across different performance levels. “Paying incentive can be broadly divided into short-term incentives and long-term incentives,” Mukherjee explains. “A short-term incentive is utilised to drive short-term business goals, which are typically based on

performance criteria and metrics.” “A long-term incentive is more for long-term goals, retention of key talents, and value creation over the years.”

Does the concept work in Singapore? According to Hong, this concept of pay-for-performance is “very much applicable” in Singapore. She says McDonald’s incentivises better performances through its key performance metrics. “Examples of performance-based incentives include our variable bonus scheme, where individual performance is the main component in determining the final payout, and restaurant incentives,” Hong explains. According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), variable payments are common but not mandatory, unless stipulated in the employment contract or collective agreement. MOM’s Report on Wage Practices 2015 noted that the introduction of a monthly variable components (MVC) to wages was

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COMPENSATION recommended by the Tripartite Taskforce on Wage Restructuring. “Though the taskforce recommends a wage structure with 10% of total wages attributed to MVC, it is not an official rule as it recognises that different companies and industries could have different needs,” the report found. Hong says McDonald’s looks at the total salary and the market comparability when it comes to determining the MVC component. “As a rule of thumb, we always like to keep 10% of the pay variable,” she says. Goh says a pay-for-performance culture is well-embedded in Jurong Port’s rewards framework. “We adopt a ‘corporate scorecard’ approach to drive the focus of the company for each financial year. The achievements of the targets will determine the size of the variable bonus pool available for distribution to our employees,” he explains. “The distribution matrix takes into consideration the achievements of the division’s key performance indicators (KPIs), as well as the individual’s performance rating, which is in turn determined by his achievement against his own personal KPIs.” Mukherjee notes that it is important to recognise that other aspects also play a part in determining the pay of employees. “For example, in a more hierarchical and traditional organisation, seniority is always a consideration,” he says.

The flexible wage system The Report on Wage Practices 2015 revealed that most businesses in Singapore have adopted some form of flexible and performance-based wage system. Ninety percent of private sector employees were placed under some form of flexible wage system in 2015, the highest proportion since 2004. “Having a narrower maximumminimum salary ratio (the difference between the highest and lowest salaries in any given job) remained the most common wage recommendation adopted, 38 ISSUE 16.9


covering two in three (66%) private sector employees in December, 2015,” the report advised. “This was followed by linking variable bonuses to KPIs (52%) and having the MVC in the wage structure (32%).” Goh says a flexible wage system allows, on the one hand, companies to reward employees satisfactorily when they are doing well. “Conversely, it allows the company flexibility to also adjust wages downwards to manage

Steps to managing performance Arindam Mukherjee, Group Head of Compensation and Benefits at DKSH Management, says a robust performance management system should at least comprise of: • Performance management process • Specific, measurable, achievable, resultsoriented and time- bound (“SMART”) objective settings • Performance and reward strategy • Total reward philosophy and strategy • Learning and development philosophy and strategy • Managed succession planning for key talents

costs and avoid redundancies when times are hard,” he explains. Hong echoes Goh’s sentiments, saying a flexible wage will allow firms to adjust wage costs quickly in severe business downturns. “The MVC also gives employers the flexibility to take a percentage out of the total wage to reduce the absolute wage cost – usually done before retrenchments are considered,” she elaborates. Mukherjee says in past recessions, private-sector businesses have relied on cuts to employees’ Central Provident Fund contributions to keep their wage bills in check. “However, with the lowering of employer’s contribution rates, there will be little room for fund cuts in the next downturn. Thus, the flexible wage system has become even more important for business sustainability,” he shares.

What do employees prefer? A survey by recruitment firm Hays shed light on Singaporeans’ sentiments towards performance-based bonuses when it was released last year. According to the poll, 63% of Singaporeans would have taken a base salary cut for the chance to potentially command more total income through performance-based bonuses. Forty-six percent would have accepted a base salary cut of up to 20% so as to garner a bonus based on their actual performance. An additional 17% would have accepted a cut of over 20% for a similar chance. The final 37% said they would not reduce their base salary to potentially rake in more via a performance-based bonus. Goh says it boils down to the question of whether staff are able to see the big picture. “For someone who is confident of their abilities, a pay-for-performance compensation scheme is always more attractive, as it would offer more upside,” he states. “Of course, they would need to be

COMPENSATION assured of the company’s willingness and ability to reward outperformers with upsized bonuses.” Hong questions if the survey is reflective of the mood of the overall workforce today, as compensation plans varies depending on the industry, job type and the number of employees within the business. “My experience tells me that Singaporean workers prefer stability and certainty in their pay. Between earning a higher base salary and receiving performance-based bonuses, most will prefer the former,” she suggests. She notes, for example, that not all roles can have the variability required for performance-based bonuses. “Performance-based bonuses should complement the overall company’s compensation and benefits objectives, targeting specific groups of employees to drive a specific behaviour or performance,” she says.

Setting the foundation Hong says McDonald’s’ compensation and benefits philosophy aims to strike a balance between a fixed base and variable components. “With our diverse workforce demographics, our employees are given the option to earn more when they increase their productivity and work during peak periods,” she explains. Hong adds that the organisation believes in offering solid rewards and recognition in order to engage and retain a committed workforce, regardless of age, religion and gender. “It also shows our appreciation for their efforts in making McDonald’s a great business and a great place to work. Our awards and recognition cater to all levels of employees based on their productivity and achievements,” she elaborates. Hong says fostering such a performance culture requires discipline and a systematic approach in managing performance. “It guides how employees think, act and

feel,” she says. “Given this, the company advocates strong constant communication from the boardroom all the way to the crew room on the company’s goals and focus for each year.” On a micro-level, Hong says McDonald’s’ appraisal system focuses on a holistic process by communicating expectations, having ongoing feedback, and coaching sessions with each employee. “Progress and performance tracking are rolled up into the annual performance appraisal where the individual’s past performance will be discussed and used as a determinant factor of the overall compensation.” Meanwhile, Goh says where appropriate, productivity targets are cascaded down into the KPIs of Jurong Port employees. “This motivates them to achieve, and even exceed, the productivity targets for better rewards,” he explains. Goh says his HR team believes that maintaining a robust performance management culture is the responsibility of every people manager in the organisation. “HR facilitates this by creating and maintaining a performance management framework, and ensuring all managers and employees are

well-educated on its objectives and workings,” he says. “We worked closely with the CEO and the senior leadership team to ensure that the ‘corporate scorecard’ targets are cascaded down appropriately to the respective division’s KPIs, and then further into the department’s KPIs.” Goh says his team has spent time with each manager to ensure these KPIs are aligned with the overall company objectives, before they cascade them downwards to their teams and employees. He says effective KPI-setting is just the start. “Well-crafted KPIs will then allow us to measure the performance of our employees, teams, departments and divisions as objectively as possible,” he says. “Through careful deliberations with our board, compensation committee members, and the union, we then determine the bonus payout matrix, rewarding each staff member according to their respective performance levels,” Goh explains. “This will motivate our employees to strive to perform their best, knowing and trusting in the pay-forperformance culture.”

PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT IN DETAIL HRM Asia’s inaugural Congress on Performance Management and Rewards takes place in Singapore next month. The exclusive two-day learning experience, on October 11 and 12, will shine a spotlight on the new world of work and how it is impacting HR’s work in both performance management and compensation and benefits. Other topics covered include the relationships between recognition, employee engagement, and high performance, and how HR can leverage on technology and analytics to fine-tune their performance systems. For more information, contact Luke Lai on (65) 6423 4631 or email: ISSUE 16.9




E Bo AR o L On s k by Y BI ly ave 9 S RD S $1 up ep PE ,3 to $ tem CIA 95 40 be L 0 r&

Leadership in HR Asia Congress 2016

Leading Now, Leading Globally and Leading the Future 4 – 5 October | Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza

Emerging Asian markets are indispensable for any firm with aggressive growth commitments. However, to capture the Asian Market depends, in large part, on the quantity and quality of Asia Leadership teams. Unfortunately, qualified leaders are in short supply in the region. While C-suites and boards in Asia recognize that leadership development is a key priority for their business, many do not have the capability to address the issues that come with it. The unique diverse markets within the region – with some more mature than others – poses specific challenges. At Leadership in HR Asia, we have gathered HR Leaders from different industries to share their leadership experiences in HR as well astheir strategies for Leadership Development for the organisation.

Featured speakers:

Leadership in HR Asia features: • 2 Interactive Workshops

Explore mindfulness as a leadership practice and Practical Skillsets for HR Strategic Role in enabling business success

• 3 New Successful Case Studies Aparna Kumar Regional Human Resource Lead – Asia Pacific Monsanto

Ben Roberts Chief Talent Officer Worldwide Saatchi & Saatchi

Bobby Chiew Head of Human Resources Woodlands Transport Service Pte Ltd

Marie Petit Chief HR Officer Asia Pacific Socomec

Successful Case Studies from leading companies in different aspects of Leadership – HR as Change Champions, Leadership of the Past vs the Future and Corporate Culture

+PLUS Leadership Think Tanks Jaclyn Lee Senior Director, Human Resources SUTD

Kate Colley Head of People, Asia National Australia Bank

Irene Teo Regional HR Director Jardine Lloyd Thompson Asia

Priya Shahane Chief Human Resources Officer AXA Singapore

• • •

Building Asian Leaders for Global Markets Developing your Millennial Leaders HR Leadership - Today and Tomorrow

Half-Day Workshop: HR Strategy and Effectiveness • • Anuradha Purbey Director HR – Singapore Aviva Ltd

Neel Augusthy CFO Customer Logistic Services APAC Johnson & Johnson

Understand the overall HR context today including: the ways HR can be seen as a business partner; Be able to establish better connections between core HR processes, and build stronger capabilities in each process; Strategic leadership development and implementation: Developing and implementing HR strategies

Contact: Azrielle Looi | Tel: (65) 6423 4631 | Email:



E C N A T S I S E R When it comes to employees averse to change, companies need to look at resistance through radically different lenses. HRM Asia looks at some best practices in managing large-scale organisational change Fiona Lam


arlier this year, a large fastmoving consumer goods (FMCG) firm in China was forced to integrate with a US-based company, which had acquired its operations. A new leadership team had to be created while the two sets of support functions needed to be consolidated, among other large-scale changes that affected almost all of its 6,000 employees in Asia. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the company’s Chinese employees showed significant resistance and the firm enlisted the help of change management consultancy Ketchum Change. “The employees felt the acquiring company was not showing enough sensitivity to the way things were done in China,” says Gretchen Huestis, Regional Director of AsiaPacific at Ketchum Change.

“They thought that ‘western’ approaches were being forced on them and were concerned those approaches would not work in China,” she adds. As a result, the staff were initially slow to step into the new operating model and adapt to the new ways of working. The Chinese firm is not alone among organisations facing the uphill challenge of convincing employees to adapt to new circumstances. While many may be tempted to force past the resistance by ignoring the employees’ concerns or letting them leave the company, experts urge business leaders, HR and organisation development professionals to take a drastically different approach to the issue of change resistance. “Organisations and managers need to start seeing resistance as something to be understood rather

than something to be overcome,” advises Alex Swarbick, Regional Director for Asia-Pacific at the Roffey Park leadership institute. Too many managers are content to treat the phenomenon of change resistance as something inherent in the individuals involved, Swarbick points out. That, he says, puts responsibility for resistance in the wrong place. Two major risks arise from that approach. “First, it’s insulting to the intelligence of the people they regard as simply resistant by nature,” Swarbick says. ISSUE 16.9



“Whatever people are resisting, it isn’t the change per se, but actually the implications that they anticipate, which seem to conflict with something that is important to them.” The other risk is managers failing to skillfully inquire into the reasons for the resistance, which misses the chance to gather rich data about how the change is being perceived from the ground. This data could potentially help the change be more successful, Swarbick explains. “So simply dismissing resistance as something about the individual can pose an organisational risk which threatens to undermine the change.”

Communication counts Neo Chia Reei, Director of Organisation Development and Learning at NTUC Health, stresses that communication, coupled with patience and persistence, is crucial. “Often, communications need to go through the organisation eight to 10 times before they are accepted,” says Neo, who has extensive experience managing change in large organisations across different sectors. “Once this happens, the change process will be very fast because everyone in the ‘change trail’ has ownership of it and sometimes may even think they invented the changes!” Likewise, to manage resistance at the FMCG company in China, Ketchum Change focused on creating clear narratives that explained the reasons for the change, the specific timeline and steps, what was expected from each employee, and the support they could rely on. Huestis says the consulting firm also ensured messages came from all directions. A regular employee newsletter was introduced, and a series of senior manager blogs on integration topics was also started, among other initiatives. 42 ISSUE 16.9


Staying fluid Dynamic business environments are the new normal. Change management consultant Ketchum Change has identified four attributes key to success in changing environments: • Transparency: Communicate in a human way, with clarity and authenticity, across borders • Pioneering spirit: Promote curiosity and experimentation, and support risktaking to break through and innovate • Being dialed-in: Create strong connections with internal and external stakeholders, embrace fearless listening, and engage employees in dialogue around changes • Agility: Be energised when approaching change, and drive forward with passion and resiliency to act on opportunities in real time

In reacting to change, undercommunicating is often a big misstep, she warns. “This happens because of the sensitivity of the decisions being made, or because not all answers have been figured out.” Unfortunately, Huestis says pulling back on communication worsens the situation. “In the vacuum of silence, employees often fill the gap with their own inaccurate assumptions or false rumours,” she adds.

Sentiments on the ground Another avoidable blunder is to implement a change before making sure it is actually doable. “If you announce something but suddenly backtrack a few days later, you’ll be seen as a very flippant leader, and people will lose trust in your capabilities,” warns Eddy Putra, Operations Director at secretarial service provider Ottavia. “Always start with understanding the situation and getting the ground sentiment first, so you can make sure a change will be practicable,” he says. Moreover, convincing employees to adopt an initiative should go further than merely explaining the benefits. Putra says that above all, staff need to first know and trust the change leader sufficiently. “That means you need to build up the right reputation for your work ethic before you can gain their trust and implement change.” Challenges in getting buy-in from the ground can also come from language differences. The ongoing cultural transformation following a 2014 rebranding and reorganisation at energy services company Penspen was initially met with strong reactions in some Asian countries. Senior management made several presentations regarding the market situation and the urgency behind the changes, but employees did not embrace the new situation easily. “We realised it would have


had a stronger impact if we had communicated more in the local language,” says Anna Zavirukhina, Head of HR for Asia-Pacific. “A lot of information was given, but unfortunately some employees were not fluent in English, and many were also not very interested in paying attention to the financial data.” As a result, Penspen has now appointed a regional leadership team that includes local managers as change agents. Because local employees already trusted these managers, they could start new dialogues and formal discussions to change the subject of hallway conversations, Zavirukhina says. At times, change calls for the cooperation of not just the employees, but also outside institutions such as labour unions and government agencies. Bobby Chiew, Head of HR at private bus operator Woodlands Transport, gives the example of a production outfit that planned to halve costs within two years and redeploy hundreds of mature employees into completely different job scopes over an 18-month reorganisation. “For decades, the workers consistently executed what they were trained to do, and many were over 50 years old,” says Chiew, who was then Head of HR at the Singapore plant. To start with, the company held rounds of consultation with the union and government agencies. They worked together to anticipate questions and resistance to the changes, and came up with solutions where possible. Later, talks were given to explain the new situation to the employees, but the real challenge came when assigning them to new roles. Complaints about the disruption were rife. Some requested the machines to be slowed down, while others resisted typing computer entries because they preferred pen and paper. To respond to those grievances, Chiew engaged staff via both top-

“Organisations and managers need to start seeing resistance as something to be understood rather than something to be overcome” Alex Swarbick, Regional Director for Asia-Pacific, Roffey Park

down and bottom-up approaches. He also redeployed them in different roles until there was a good fit, while retraining them each time. Eventually, employees worked closely with the management, and the company achieved a 47-percent cost reduction by the end of two years. Communicating clearly the urgent need for change helped to foster trust, Chiew explains.

Roping in champions Identifying individuals to influence others to join the change journey is also a favoured strategy of change managers. An aviation client of Ketchum Change’s was going through a company-wide restructuring, but employees had a high level of distrust which was worsened by the many rumours circulating. “When we measured which communication channels were the most trusted for information, we realised the grapevine topped the list, well above formal channnels like the CEO newsletters or the intranet page,” Huestis says. Rather than fight the rumour mill, Ketchum Change used it to its advantage. It convinced the client company to assign a group of change champions to leverage the informal communication networks. “We met

them regularly for them to report the big worries circulating on the grapevine, and for us to share the key talking points and facts we wanted to enter the conversation,” Huestis says. Eventually, these positive messages took root virally, reducing the resistance among the workforce.

Less painful layoffs Employers can also soften the blow and reduce resistance even when staff are set to lose their jobs. Neo recounts her experience carrying out a major retrenchment exercise when she was the Regional General Manager for Asia-Pacific at the now-defunct industrial conglomerate General Electric Company (GEC). Tasked to cull 1,000 staff and exit all businesses in the region, Neo’s approach was more compassionate than usual, and helped avert the bitterness and protests typical of massive layoffs. Instead of handing employees pink slips on the spot and getting security guards to march them out, Neo first announced the company’s shock closure plan to all employees, counselled them, and gave them two weeks to “mourn”. “Then, I got them to do financial planning with their family members, and together we prepared an exit plan ISSUE 16.9



of six to 12 months,” she says. She also allowed employees to resign anytime they found a new job, and got the UK-based leadership to approve the performance-based bonuses within the exit plans and retrenchment package. The UK board of directors said it was the first time they had seen a retrenchment exercise carried out calmly, quietly, and with dignity. All GEC businesses in Asia were successfully sold off, customers’ maintenance contracts were taken care of, and millions’ worth of bad debts were collected, Neo says.

Letting the recalcitrant leave That being said, it is often not realistic to try to win buy-in from the entire organisation for every change. Besides being personally unwilling to accept the change, some individuals may also impact the productivity of their teams. “Resistant employees may impede the progress of an organisation, and sometimes also generate negativity which causes disengagement and will slow down the progress of the change,” says Clarence Hoe, Group HR Director at International Enterprise Singapore. Ketchum Change recommends measuring the change sentiment in an organisation and then shining a spotlight on those who are most supportive. The consulting firm has a framework that segments employees into “bystanders”, “skeptics”, “enthusiasts” and “ambassadors”, in order of increasing buy-in. The change ambassadors can then be studied to identify what it is about their mindset, capabilities, and work environment that supports their change position. “HR and managers may then replicate these qualities to create wider change throughout the organisation,” Huestis says. 44 ISSUE 16.9


“Sometimes, to move forward, you need to fire the recalcitrant” Neo Chia Reei, Director of Organisation Development and Learning, NTUC Health

However, if someone – especially a leader – remains resistant over the long-term, even after active listening, clear messages and patience have been tried and exhausted, then it may be time for them to transition out. “The shadow of a leader is particularly long during times of change, and role models who are not supportive can have significant negative impact,” Huestis says. An example can be drawn from when NTUC Health’s Neo was hired as a director of a local business school. Her division was losing money, and student enrolments were at an all-time low. Tasked to turn things around, Neo implemented several new systems and processes. All her 25 employees appeared amicable and showed no signs of resistance. Weekly meetings were introduced to monitor their progress. However, one senior manager gave constant excuses for not completing his assignments, which hindered the change process. Despite Neo taking the soft approach of counselling him repeatedly, nothing changed. As a result, she resorted to the last

option of collecting evidence that he was not doing his assigned work. After his forced exit, new members joined the division, and Neo was able to build a high-performance team through regular communication, mentoring and coaching, and performance-based incentives. In time, the division brought in profits and student enrolment for all its 10 programmes was at a record high. “A winning team can move mountains,” Neo says. “Sometimes, to move forward, you need to fire the recalcitrant.”

Change fatigue Besides resistance, burnout among employees can also impede change. Huestis says that continuous, accelerating change has become the rule rather than the exception, and is now an urgent matter of business survival. Last year’s Liquid Change Study by Ketchum Change revealed that 74% of leaders in large corporations had observed “change fatigue” among their staff. “The employees have hit the limit of their ability to deal productively with change,” Huestis says. Change fatigue is caused when senior leaders do not recognise the exhausting effect that continuous change and volatility have on staff. Hence, leadership behaviours, corporate cultures, and operating systems must adapt and become more liquid, Huestis says. Zavirukhina from Penspen is familiar with the phenomenon. “I worked at a company that had changes every year, and after a few times, people just stopped adapting because they knew another change would come the following year,” she says. “If transformational change – which completely alters the organisation and its processes – happens too often, one day people will no longer believe in it.”



As HR marches on in its quest to become a strategic business partner, technology is being used to drive that push across many of its functions, as HRM Asia finds out Sham Majid


o-Hahn Low, Global Head of HR Operations and Technology for agricultural trading business COFCO Agri, says many HR departments do not invest in quality time to design the right technology solutions. He says they end up retrofitting the technology to suit their current

processes, which ends up being the wrong way around. “Among HR transformation specialists, we call this ‘same staff, new toys’,” he says. “Nothing will improve if you simply roll out the technology – HR professionals need to be able to think outside the box and

challenge their own processes and rules.” Low says that because HR is perpetually busy in their field, HR technology often becomes an afterthought for the profession. “Several years ago I implemented an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) for a ISSUE 16.9



multinational company. The in-house recruiters had a ‘high-touch’ approach with the hiring managers, and they also relied on recruitment agencies” says Low. “Besides being too busy to help design a better recruitment system and better processes, they wanted to continue with their high-touch approach. The end result was that they did not want the managers to use the ATS self-service features and they still continued to use recruitment agencies.”

Hence, Low cites that this particular HR technology simply became a very expensive storage database, and the recruiters did not free up their time to be more strategic. “Recruitment costs did not fall and the worst thing was that the HR department had to hire recruitment assistants because there was more data to fill out on behalf of the managers,” he adds. Sudhanshu Tewari, CEO of Rewardz, a Singapore-based provider of employee engagement technology,

Top tech tips for HR Yo-Hahn Low, Global Head of HR Operations and Technology, COFCO Agri, says it is crucial to get buy-in from HR when it comes to deciding on which technology solution to implement. “This means getting dedicated HR resources which will give plenty of quality time to view the product, help design it and the new processes around, and be willing to change and use the new system,” he states. Low also suggests sourcing for a solution that best suits one’s business and culture, and not just settling for the most popular or latest gizmo. “Furthermore, this needs to be driven by HR, not IT,” he says. “HR is in the best position to understand what the business and HR strategy needs are. Sometimes, a non-biased consulting firm can add value to this search process,” he explains. Low also stresses that the information and data are more important than the technology itself. “No new system will fix your problems if you have poor quality HR data. Before building the solution, understand what your key data sets are and clean them up to a good degree,” he says.

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says there are always a lot of interesting concepts and ideas that companies want to implement. “However, it’s a daunting task to implement these ideas due to the effort required in executing them,” he states.

Not solely about the technology Contrary to popular notion, Low stresses that technology itself should not be the focal point of HR systems. “This may sound counter-intuitive but I think HR technology is actually centred around using information effectively in an HR context,” he explains. “Don’t get me wrong, we still require actual HR technology products. “However it’s about enabling candidates, employees and managers to access information in a variety of ways; in order to apply for roles, access and maintain job records, hire and retain people, and make informed decisions via data analytics and reports.” Low highlights the key aspect is that the HR technology has to be intuitive, easy to use, and that the data and information is accurate and more importantly, useful. Kara Walsh, Chief Human Capital Officer, Unit4, says HR technology encompasses solutions designed to manage every aspect of a firm’s human capital. “As such, the various aspects HR technology addresses are fluid, as the role of employees, and subsequently the HR function within an organisation, continues to evolve,” she elaborates. Walsh acknowledges that companies today are facing increasing competition to hire the best people and maximise performance. “In such a scenario, engaging and empowering employees is the lever to business success, as organisations with high levels of engagement outperform on profitability, productivity, and customer service.”


“Key aspects of HR technology must then address issues such as talent retention, engagement and productivity to drive business success.” Tewari aims to divide key HR technology solutions into broad categories: recruitment, HR administrative functions (onboarding, payroll, time, travel and expense management), employee benefits and wellness, learning and development, and recognition including performance management. “I consider HR technology as a suite of applications for the listed categories that simplify day-to-day functions for HR, reducing manual overheads and becoming a one-stop shop for employees,” he elaborates. “There are very few organisations who have manged to consolidate all the HR functions in a single technology interface, across all areas.” Tewari says HR technology should be an “enabler” for all of HR’s most important activities. “Its main role is to improve the efficiency of the HR function so HR can focus their energies on fresh ideas to recruit, train, motivate, and retain talent. A technology solution is successfully implemented if it takes away the pain of implementing ideas from HR teams,” he adds.

HR benefits Tewari says his company offers three products to HR departments of medium to large organisations. These are known as Emperks, Flabuless and Skor. Emperks is a mobile perks platform for employers to reward their employees with exclusive privileges across Singapore, with rewards redeemable via the mobile app. Flabuless is a corporate wellness platform that tracks physical activities, and motivates and rewards employees for following healthier lifestyles.

“With the integrated perspective from technology across HR, finance and projects, HR can make strategic decisions to drive business success and build an empowered and engaged workforce” Kara Walsh, Chief Human Capital Officer, Unit4

“The platform connects to different wearable devices and can be leveraged to organise fun challenges and manage company events,” explains Tewari. Meanwhile, Skor is a new-age mobile flexible benefits platform that aligns itself with the organisation’s rewards strategy and can also act as a one-stop employee communication tool. Tewari says HR in Singapore has been experimenting with wellness programmes for the last few years. “With Flabuless, we managed to connect various wellness programmes with some of our clients like Fuji Xerox and Lendlease on a single platform, and were able to determine return on investment on their wellness dollars,” he says. Tewari says all of his company’s products serve as tools for HR to make employees feel rewarded, loved and cared by their respective organisations. “We believe that this can prove instrumental in building a sense of belonging and retain staff,” he shares.

Walsh says Unit4’s Office of HR solution provides human capital management that goes beyond the traditional functions of HR technology. “In addition to solutions such as the Unit4 Absence Manager, Unit4 Time Management and Unit4 Travel and Expenses, we offer HR and payroll applications as core solutions in the Unit4 Business World On enterprise resource planning suite,” she says. “The applications provide comprehensive support with a fully-integrated range of functions, including, but not limited to, training and development management, remuneration, promotions, staff changes, and shift patterns.” Walsh says these talent management solutions assist with identification and administration of employees’ competencies and skills, employee development and learning, recording of employee performance, and succession management. “Companies can keep track of ISSUE 16.9



“This may sound counter-intuitive but I think HR technology is actually centred around using information effectively in an HR context” Yo-Hahn Low, Global Head of HR Operations and Technology for agricultural trading business COFCO Agri

staffing by easily identifying if the required number of skilled staff are in place, and they can comprehensively manage the recruitment process by identifying the best internal and external applicants,” she says. In addition, the Unit4 People Planning resource provides firms with an overview of the availability and planned activities of HR, whether by project or department. Walsh says organisations can optimise the use of people resources and track the progress of various projects to ensure those resources are being put to best use. “Employees are also given more control of their own schedules so that they can update or make changes to their planned activities,” she adds. Low says in his role, a wide range of HR technologies is utilised, with the crucial one being the enterprise resource planning system. “In order to serve the business, we promote the use of self-service (absence management, personal and employee data) and easy-to-use reporting tools,” he says. “Typical to most companies these days, we incorporate a single sign-on and use a one-stop HR portal as the gateway to all our HR technology.” Low says that regardless of which HR technology application an organisation uses, it needs to be 50 ISSUE 16.9


configured to be easily accessible and usable, and to be on par with purposebuilt consumer web-based systems such as those used for online shopping. “I am aware that not all companies have the latest HR technology, but all companies do have HR-related information needs,” he says. “So, to serve the business well, the data and information has to be fairly clean and usable, and employees, managers, and HR need to be able to trust the data and see that it’s consistent.”

A strategic player As HR continues its journey toward strategic partnership with the business, Walsh says it is imperative that HR technology does not lag behind. “The HR function has evolved significantly over the years, and HR technology needs to keep up,” she says. While Walsh acknowledges that some businesses are making positive steps in the right direction, she adds that many continue to limit investment in HR technology to administrative functions only, such as payroll, expenses and leave management. “While the automation of these functions helps free up HR professionals to work on more strategic tasks, HR technology should also directly address the changing responsibilities of HR personnel,” she says.

Walsh says modern HR technology enables success by providing HR professionals tools for attracting talent, boosting engagement, and managing business changes such as mergers, acquisitions and downsizing. “With the integrated perspective from technology across HR, finance and projects, HR can make strategic decisions to drive business success and build an empowered and engaged workforce,” she says. Tewari says Rewardz is continually focused on identifying the needs of the HR market and launching new products in the employee engagement and wellness spaces. “We are already researching on our next product in mental wellness, which is slated to launch in 2017,” he shares. However, Low has a slightly different take. He says as HR technology solutions are becoming more sophisticated, the landscape changes quickly and this forces HR itself, and not necessarily HR technology, to be more strategic. “When I first came to Singapore a couple of decades ago, I searched the one-inch thick Straits Times employment pages and sent my résumé and cover letters out,” Low reminisces. “A few years later, you would search for jobs on specific company websites, and then online job portals came along and pooled this information for you.” Due to today’s applications such as LinkedIn, Low notes it is possible to find out about almost every employee in the world, which company and sector they are from, and where they are located. “Then, employers can decide whether to try and recruit these targeted individuals (directly). So, HR needs to be more strategic to leverage these tools to find talent but on the flipside, it also needs to guard against competitors who are doing the same thing and targeting their best people,” he adds.


Maximise your HR potential with HRiQ T he technology landscape is progressing rapidly, and companies must keep up or risk getting left behind. With the mantle of profit and success lying on operational divisions, the HR department is easily overlooked when planning for upgrades. Both management and HR are critical in driving HR’s potential to be a strategic business partner. One of those ways is to stay technologically relevant. Through working with HR practitioners and utilising their industry know-how and best practices, we developed HRiQTM Human

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into our talent management functions – performance appraisal, recruitment, succession planning, talent assessment and learning development. Your HR managers can make use of our comprehensive, flexible and data-rich modules to develop versatile talent management plans to engage, motivate, develop, and retain your staff.

Comprehensive and Relevant Fully integrated and comprehensive, HRiQ addresses your HR and talent management needs and issues. Every piece of the puzzle is tightly

linked through seamless data transfer and rich reporting, allowing your HR department to blaze through their HR operations and management. HRiQ is fully web-based, allowing users to access data anytime and anywhere. Customers can choose to implement either on cloud or on premise. With HRiQ in place, companies can truly maximise the potential of their HR department.

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nit4 offers a full suite of solutions for HR practitioners – our best-in-class Unit4 Prosoft HRMS and Unit4 HR Outsourcing. This allows our clients to have complete control in-house or to outsource to tap onto best practices through industry professionals.

About Unit4 Prosoft HRMS Prosoft HRMS has been serving the HR community in AsiaPacific companies across multiple industries since 1988. Its rich capabilities provide a fully-integrated solution covering core HR capabilities such as personnel management, payroll processes, leave management, attendance time management and claims management. Its regional focus allows for compliance in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Hong Kong, Macau, China, Taiwan and Vietnam. Prosoft HRMS enables our clients to achieve optimum productivity and operational effectiveness through: • Current and future statutory compliance via a robust and transparent Payroll module • Flexibility in managing

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work/shift patterns and attendance records via the Time and Attendance module, which caters for unlimited shift patterns, electronic overtime applications and approval, rule-setting for overtime allowances or benefits • Improved HR productivity with accurate reporting

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delivered by industry experts complement each other and keep track of every employee’s wages, offering end-to-end support for your processes. Below are some of the outsourcing services which we provide on top of our-award winning HRMS solutions. • Payroll processing - Payroll computation - Statutory compliance - Bank submission • Leave/Claim management - Entitlement management

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How mentally tough are you?


ou just finished a presentation. Everyone at the meeting was impressed. Your boss congratulated you for a fine piece work completed. Now, imagine you took a midnight flight and have just landed at the airport. You are in a different time zone. Your spouse is on the phone telling you that your grandmother has fallen ill, your daughter has just been hospitalised due to a serious fall in school, and you have just realised that your Powerpoint slides are corrupted and that you only have the older version of the same file … Would you still be able to deliver the same presentation tomorrow morning, with the same poise, quality and style? Many of us can generally perform well at work in most conditions. We lead teams, we bring in the revenue, and we manage projects. But, can we still perform optimally when under pressure, stress, and time constraints? Until recently, there was no psychometric tool available to measure a person’s propensity to mentally

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“break down” when under adversity or challenge. The Mental Toughness Profile was originally developed with this single objective in mind. Singapore’s leading authority and expert on mental toughness, Edgar Tham, spent many years working and researching elite athletes and high performers in various domains. As a traveling Olympic sport and performance psychologist supporting national teams, he observed that mental toughness was the defining quality that demarcates between the good and the great. Backed by cutting-edge research, locally and internationally, we are now able to measure mental toughness, coupled with proven cognitivebehavioural strategies to enhance the qualities of individuals and teams. The programme has proven to be a success in many high-performance domains, including Olympic sport, military precision shooting, sales and marketing, and education, just to name a few. Performance Leadership, with the support of HRM Asia, is honoured to

partner with Singapore’s pioneer sport and performance psychologist Edgar Tham in promoting the programme to Singapore corporations and organisations. On July 21 this year, for the first time ever, 17 HR leaders from both the public and private sectors, experienced the profiling and training. Many welcomed the idea of a new profiling tool to provide additional insights into building a mentally tough and resilient workforce. “Existing assessment tools in the market are mostly personality-based. The mental toughness profile is unique, unlike the run-of-the-mill type of programmes,” said one participant. Another HR leader highlighted that there was “finally” a tool to determine the type of individuals that brings results to the organisation. Tham was quick to point out that while the use of the Mental Toughness Profile is extensive, including in the area of recruitment, it is important to use it in an ethical manner and not to discriminate against any person or groups.


Director, Talent Management, AIG

How many years of HR experience?

I have 11 years of talent management and learning and development experience in the financial industry.

Why HR?

In my first job with a foreign bank, I had to manage the launch of a country-wide service quality initiative, and the interesting thing was that this role was “placed” within the HR and learning function. I gained the opportunity to observe how my colleagues worked on their projects, and I was highly energised by their creativity and passion. Their positivity ignited my interest in HR and learning, and once my project concluded, I seized the chance to join the learning team.

Why AIG?

I believe AIG is an organisation for individuals who: are innovative and enjoy challenges; are resilient and open to change; and are focused to deliver tangible results. I have been with AIG for over three years, and there’s never been a dull moment here. In AIG, you are expected to set a leadership example, regardless of your designation.

Biggest achievement?

Throughout my career, I have been given opportunities to lead and implement big-scale projects such as introducing new performance management systems across geographies. I have also mentored young, talented employees, and the best part is seeing them learn and grow. I would say that my biggest achievement is being able to inspire others.

After hours?

Pilates, tennis, catching up (or rather, feasting) with family and friends. Family bonds are very important to me, especially when I had to travel a lot in the past, and missed out on major family events. So, I strike a balance between working hard and spending time with people whom I hold dear.


I am getting married, and we are in the midst of planning our wedding reception for October or November this year. It is a big project beyond our day jobs!

BOOK REVIEW Stay ahead of the game T oday’s business environment is extremely competitive. Thrown into the shark tank, leaders and HR professionals need to better prepare their companies to navigate the race to successfully change and innovate. A passive armchair position is not an option for those looking to survive over the long term. These are the key messages from husband-and-wife authors Andrew and Gaia Grant in The Innovation Race. The book provides both practical and strategic tools to transform any organisation into a more creative and productive one, regardless of its individual growth stage. The authors suggest the drive to innovate has become a mad cut-throat dash towards an apparently unachievable goal. Readers are encouraged to recognise the ambiguities inherent in the widely-accepted idea that innovation is a race. The Grants question: Is it always a race? Does it need to be one? In challenging the race metaphor, the book also explores potential alternatives to it. In addition, the Grants say innovating organisations tend to face a tension between the need for exploration of new growth ideas and the need to maintain and develop existing systems for stability. The book hence unpacks the key factors underlying this tension and advises how it can be better managed for long-term innovation success. The Grants also dive beneath the surface and examine the cultural changes needed to support sustainable and less-competitive innovation. They note that innovation should be more of a relay race than a marathon. To win it, companies need to have teamwork and a shared ethos across a group of contributors who pass the baton at the right moment every time. Full of applicable checklists and real-life case studies from different cultures and contexts, The Innovation Race takes readers on a lively global adventure, lifting them out of their comfort zones and helping them to start seeking deeper values and different perspectives on innovation. Readers will be urged to reevaluate what they understood about innovation and give their processes the boost they need to stay ahead of the game.

Title: The Innovation Race Author: Andrew Grant & Gaia Grant Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Australia Price: S$37.40

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HRM Asia Readers Choice Awards would like to thank everyone for voting to recognise exceptional vendor organisations and to showcase the best Corporate Service Providers in Singapore. proudly owned by

We will unveil the Winners of HRM Asia Readers Choice Awards for 2016 in our October Issue, so stay tuned for the results!

Award Finalists


Valuing commercial HR leadership C redit Suisse is around nine months into its new organisational structure in Asia. The new model defines the Asia division as a key focus area of the bank and one which will heavily contribute to the overall success of the Credit Suisse Group. Our strategic focus on ultra-high net worth and entrepreneur clients requires an integrated approach in our private and investment banking businesses, across multiple geographies. The contribution of HR functions to our sustained growth has been vital. In my role as Head of HR for Singapore and Southeast Asia, I partner closely with the most senior leaders in all human capital matters. Truly commercial HR


leaders must balance our roles as “enablers” where we help foster growth, and also protect the brand in highly-regulated and volatile markets. We must intimately understand the business objectives, strengths and challenges in order to deliver our support firm-wide. Our regional HR team of business partners and subject matter experts provides best practice guidance. We help manage our human capital throughout its lifecycle: from how we source the best talent and differentiate ourselves as an Employer of Choice, through to keeping our employees engaged and enabled, and developing their careers within our global organisation. We administer various talent programmes aimed at different

6.30 AM I start the day by getting my daughters ready for school. Then, it’s time to grab my coffee on my way to work! I believe that things are always better done with coffee – be it reading news or sorting through messages on my mobile.

9.30 AM

Meriam Katombo HR Business Partner, Ericsson Indonesia

I reserve this slot for reviews, progress updates with my team, and regional conference calls. As we work across eight major markets in our regional HR Team, scheduling a regional conference call is best done during this period to accommodate the different time zones within Southeast Asia and Australia.

12.00 PM It’s not just about quelling the hunger pangs! I like having lunch with my colleagues or

demographics: our young talent, female talent, our senior leaders, and the technical experts. We continue our commitment to diversity and inclusion through groups such as the Credit Suisse Women’s Network. The internal mobility strategy has been key to our retention goals, and has resulted in many of our growth positions being filled internally. HR’s involvement in strategic decisions has been long-standing at Credit Suisse, reflecting the bank’s overall confidence in the function. Looking forward, as businesses globalise and vie for strategic advantages, we will find the more progressive organisations are those that place increasing value and expectation on their HR functions.

team members to get a feel of the buzz in the organisation and the hot topics on people’s minds. As an HR leader, this information is important as this is indirect feedback to the work that we do in HR, and the leadership team.

1.00 PM Nothing should stand between a girl and her cup of coffee. I use the power of caffeine to help clear up emails, go over my notes from the morning’s activities, and make follow-up plans or prepare for afternoon meetings.

2.00 PM Most of my brainstorming or problem-solving sessions are done in the afternoon. I am particular about the preparation for this type of session, as the effectiveness is usually determined by the quality of

George Kanaan Director, HR, Credit Suisse

the pre-work done. I also like to schedule external meetings with the local HR associations.

5.00 PM I would typically use this time to recap my day and work on action points from various meetings, read through documents I need to approve and sign, and go over the items I need to prepare for the next day.

6.00 PM This is my “me-time” and I spend it by doing my daily run. Typically, I would spend 1.5 hours to exercise and get back the energy I need to have quality time with my family when I get home. I have been able to get this far in my career because I have a strong support system. So I take the time to nourish my relationships. ISSUE 16.9




PARADIGM SHIFT Disruptive market forces are rendering existing business models ineffective. Hundred-year-old companies, like German-founded reinsurance firm Munich Re, are undergoing systemic changes to keep up with the times. HRM Asia tracks the company’s progression

Munich Re staff get creative during a Design Thinking workshop

Kelvin Ong


unich Re considers itself a global company with the heart of a start-up. The reinsurance company might employ more than 43,000 employees internationally, but in Singapore, it looks largely to the start-up scene for ideas and inspiration on creating a culture of innovation – a top priority for the organisation.

Evolving by innovating “I always look forward to visiting Singapore’s start-up hub at Blk 71,” says Dr Katja Bucher, head of HR at Munich Re Singapore. Bucher recalls one such visit to the Singapore equivalent of Silicon Valley. “Along with our talent programme candidates, I recently met with the co-founders of a finance start-up. These two young entrepreneurs had strong business orientation, and incredible passion for what they were doing,” she recounts. “I really admired their entrepreneurial spirit.” Bucher says her team always leaves the meetings energised and full of new ideas for elevating their own operations. Another lesson they took away was that they should not be 60 ISSUE 16.9


afraid to challenge the status quo and examine past processes that may be ineffective. “We learned from their entrepreneurial attitudes, and we endeavoured to be more agile in our work approach and responsive to business needs. We find ourselves asking more questions, looking for ways to simplify processes and make them leaner and faster,” shares Bucher. Bucher says the global insurance industry is currently in the midst of a change, and old business models are being disrupted. To remain relevant, larger corporations like Munich Re have to evolve by thinking outside the box, and they can learn how to do so from much smaller start-up entities. “To stay ahead of these developments, the Munich Re Group must continue to offer the most innovative products and services. Many of the most impactful innovations for our industry are coming from start-ups in the areas of financial technology, block chain innovations, and big data,” she explains.

Design thinking It was with this focus on innovation that Munich Re’s global

“Design Thinking” methodology was created, and then rolled out internationally late last year. Bucher says Design Thinking is a method of creative problemsolving that requires individuals to follow six well-defined steps: to understand; observe; define; ideate; prototype; and to test. “Design Thinking is about creating ideas, and then adapting and adjusting those ideas through testing and iterating. There is also a focus on giving and receiving feedback. These aspects tie in with being more agile and having more effective communication,” Bucher explains. But Bucher qualifies that design thinking also represents a broader change of philosophy across the organisation. “It also entails a mindset that has the power to change the culture of a company in a positive way, as innovation depends upon different factors like leadership and organisational set-up.” Indeed, Munich Re hopes to nurture a culture of innovation throughout the organisation. The company believes the ability to generate innovative solutions will lead to improvements in overall client interaction and experience, among other business goals. The creative thinking formula has been applied across several functions, including HR, and employees have begun practicing the method in their daily work tasks.

Multiplier effect The HR team recently used the Design Thinking strategy to articulate the organisation’s employer value proposition. A staff initiative called “Cultural Snapshot” – with the objective of extending employee collaboration across AsiaPacific – saw different groups come together to brainstorm ideas using Design Thinking. Several workshops involving clients also used the procedure to conceptualise new product ideas across Munich Re’s AsiaPacific offices. Design Thinking workshops have been carried out in five locations across Asia-Pacific, during which over 100 employees have been trained. In Singapore, more than 25 employees attended the workshops and from this group, nine staff members received more in-depth training as moderators. Bucher says there has been a “multiplier effect following this series of workshops in Singapore”. “Our trained moderators ran sharing sessions and activities within their own teams, to expose more colleagues to the methodology,” she shares. Bucher adds that Design Thinking is just one of several innovation-focused initiatives introduced by HR to drive employees towards becoming creative problem-solvers, based on client needs. “Design Thinking is a starting point and one aspect of our continued efforts to foster innovation in our organisation,” she says. “At Munich Re, we strongly believe that the client-centric methodology helps to create new solutions based on our clients’ needs, which is an essential success factor in the current market environment.” Bucher says many of the company’s HR activities are progressive and geared towards having an innovative workforce in order to achieve business goals. “We believe that in the challenging times ahead, looking back and doing more of what made us successful in the past

Munich Re’s Singapore HR team will not be sufficient to generate solutions which ensure future success,” explains Bucher. “Design Thinking will help work on these challenges and create innovative solutions, based on the needs of our clients.”

Creative culture Another way HR is facilitating creativity at the workplace is the introduction of a casual dress code beyond only Fridays. The relaxed dress code was initially implemented on a sixmonth trial basis. But positive feedback from employees led the company to retain the policy permanently. “Having the right environment matters,” Bucher says. “We stand for the principle to focus on substance over form, and hence applied a casual dress code to the entire work week,” elaborates Bucher. Bucher says HR also helped facilitate the participation of one of Munich Re’s business units in a co-creation workshop. “This then led to cross-industry collaboration with a multinational engineering and electronics company. Discussions to launch a new product are still ongoing,” she adds. Staff responses to the changes across Munich Re have been positive. The Singapore office’s controller, Kavitha Manickavasagam, says the design thinking workshop helped her realise that “we often invest too much time in the ‘prototype’ phase, and end up defending our services or processes to our users”. “Since the workshop, I have made sure that I regularly request feedback from users, and redesigned my deliverables to meet their expectations. “Also, as the Design Thinking course was made available to many participants in the office, it allowed us to multiply the positive effects by creating a culture that is more open to feedback and solving problems.” Jill Hoffman, Munich Re’s Chief Operating Officer, says she has been able to apply the concept on her daily work tasks. “We were developing a new Excel tool and I reminded the team, that we must ‘iterate’ and receive feedback from the end users. We must not get too caught up in our own designs, but really listen and engage with the users. “The end result was a tool that suits everyone’s needs.” ISSUE 16.9



HR FROM THE CLASSROOM Every month, HRM Asia speaks to a young university talent hoping to carve out a career in HR upon graduation What attracted you to HR? Why are you studying it? I enjoy learning about various HR concepts, and the main reason I am attracted to this field has to be attributed to my personality. I am a people person and I love human interaction. I am particularly interested in enhancing my soft skills, which I believe are highly valued today, through a career in HR.

What aspect of HR do you hope to specialise in upon graduation? I hope to specialise in Training and Development, and Talent Acquisition. Training and Development serves as a platform for me to interact with colleagues from other departments, and allows me to put my communication skills to good use and develop empathy. Talent Acquisition gives me a well-rounded understanding on how HR and Marketing can complement each other in creating a positive perception about an organisation. I view this as a fulfilling job and aim to help promote the quality of an organisation’s workforce.

The top three things you want from your HR career? Firstly, I’d like to transform myself into a leader. My amiable personality has led to me becoming a follower so as to avoid disputes. My path towards being a leader will entail challenging myself to contribute valuable ideas and encouraging the same of my peers and subordinates.

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Secondly, I hope to clear a common misconception that the HR team always puts the interests of the company above those of its employees. HR stands on a fine line between ensuring compliance and guarding the interests of all parties. I want to serve as a bridging gap between employees and the company. Finally, I’d like to mature as an individual. Learning to embrace obstacles as learning opportunities is definitely one of the takeaways I am hoping for.

What challenges do you anticipate? On a personal level, one big challenge is the perception about limited job prospects in HR. I’ve had relatives advising me not to pursue this career. However, with the increasing importance of human capital today, I strongly believe that the HR function is more critical than ever. I am confident that my passion in HR will take me far in this profession and that I will eventually be able to prove that my decision was right. On a corporate level, the challenge may involve the HR team not being able to engage with all employees within a large company. A huge amount of cooperation is required among all stakeholders of the organisation to build a positive working environment.

Your HR career five years from now? As I progress up the corporate ladder, my goal is to become a successful HR manager. If the opportunity arises, I would like to pursue a Masters and PhD in HR.

Yeo Shu Qing First Specialisation in Management and Human Capital, NUS Business School, National University of Singapore

Hobbies or inspiration? My family is my greatest inspiration. My parents have cultivated in me a spirit to invest maximum effort into any task. My brother, a Singapore Armed Forces scholar, is also my role model. His constant pursuit of knowledge has motivated me to adopt a positive learning attitude. In addition, my elder cousin who works as a senior HR manager has shown me how she attains fulfilment and satisfaction from her career, and the passion she has for her job has rubbed off on me.

Acquiring the fit, developing the worthy, retaining the best By Yeo Shu Qing


aving an efficient workforce is vital in the age of a competitive work environment, where companies strive to differentiate themselves from one another. HR professionals bear the responsibility of finding the right fit for a job vacancy within the shortest time possible. In an age where technology is disruptive and pervasive in our lives, HR needs to embrace technology and use it to redefine its strategies in hiring, developing and retaining the best talent. As author, speaker and international advisor on education Ken Robinson once said, “Human resources are like natural resources; they’re often buried deep. You have to go looking for them. You have to create the circumstances where they show themselves.”

Getting it right While looking for a potential employee with the necessary qualifications may seem easy, sourcing for talent that also provides a desirable cultural fit can be challenging. As a larger population of Generation Y and millennials enters the workforce, social media is playing an increasing role in the recruitment and selection of candidates. To help employers establish their

company branding and start off the recruitment process, firms may utilise social media websites such as LinkedIn to first foster a basic level of interaction with prospective applicants. The company then gains a deeper understanding of the candidates, ensuring they are employees who not only “can do”, but also “will do” and are a good fit for the company at the same time.

Personal development Upon employment, staff are strongly encouraged to undergo training and development to upgrade themselves, as a better educated and skilled workforce is essential for the continual advancement of an organisation. The best results can be obtained only when training is oriented towards the firm’s goals and strategies. The programmes can be supported by a variety of tools such as learning management systems and collaborative software to enhance the overall development experience. Nevertheless, over-training may bring about unintended negative consequences, such as increased stress levels and decreased productivity among employees. It is hence crucial for a company to design an appropriate mix of training and development programmes

suitable for the improvement of the overall workforce. This entails detailed and comprehensive analysis of the organisation, tasks, and employees. Companies may also create more conducive working environments by implementing ethics and diversity training programmes, which are effective in ensuring compliance and preventing discrimination.

Retaining talent As employees mature in the company, it is also important that they are constantly challenged and fulfilled. A career development path and detailed succession planning are critical for the long-term growth of the company and its ability to retain its best employees. Technology also plays an important role here. Remote work systems can be a powerful incentive to employees who prefer flexible working arrangements. Developing an efficient workforce is vital in this competitive age. The notion is enforced by entrepreneur and author Jim Rohn, who said, “You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” HR plays a vital role in finding the right talents, developing the worthy employees, and retaining the company’s top performers.

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Crowdfunding platform CoAssets may be a young startup, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for with plenty of heart, creativity, and agility


or more than two years, startup CoAssets was spending six hours to assess the credit risk of 10 potential deals to be listed on its crowdfunding platform. Today, it evaluates 30 deals in less than an hour. This surge in productivity has been thanks to the company’s new credit risk assessment model, which automates the process of assessing the credit worthiness of SMEs seeking financing. CoAssets’ platform lists real estate projects looking to raise funds, and allows investors to access the offers directly. Because most projects are listed by SMEs which have no audited accounts, evaluating each of their individual credit risks is crucial. The CoAssets Risk Assessment Model is a proprietary innovation developed with one of the Big Four accounting firms. It replaced an earlier system that was slow, labour-intensive, and highly unstructured. “For each potential deal, we have to look through at least 10 documents and analyse more than 40 parameters or numbers, so the probability of human error is very high and you need someone to check and to write a report,” CoAssets’ Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Lim says. Using the new model makes the assessment far more accurate and structured, breaking the process down into a step-by-step procedure that even an untrained new employee can easily pick up. “The model is also objective because it spits out a specific number, which is 64 ISSUE 16.9


indisputable and anchors the discussion. Previously, people would just say they ‘felt’ a certain deal should be done,” Lim says. With the time saved from credit risk assessments, the company has been able to pour more resources into verifying the authenticity of statistics and discussing the subjective merits of each deal. CoAssets started working on the model in March this year. The pilot was launched in April, and the final version was ready by May. Come November, CoAssets will showcase the model at the inaugural Singapore FinTech Festival, organised by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Its other technological solutions include data analytics, which it uses to streamline internal processes and the design and format of its materials, as well as a cutting-edge customer relationship management system.

Mixing work and play To a large extent, innovation at CoAssets

Fiona Lam

is fostered by the flat organisational structure and vibrant and open culture. Its young workforce, made up of vivacious millennials with an average age of 30, attest to a “youthful”, “fun”, and “casual” environment. All employees are also part of the company’s WhatsApp chat group, where they share inspirational quotes, congratulatory messages for birthdays and graduations, group photos, videos, and news articles. Emojis pepper the conversation; even the C-suite leaders use them liberally. Open and frank dialogue also lies at the core of the company culture. After every CoAssets event, the business leaders hold a debriefing session and all employees get to talk about their takeaways and suggestions for improvement. “We can see that the C-level people really value everyone’s opinions,” says design and marketing associate He Yihong. “All voices are heard and everyone is open to criticism.” In the office, there is also an open wall for staff to pen down their reflections. Lim says, “We want to encourage them to be confident, transparent, and unafraid to voice their views and share the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

Keeping things candid The culture of transparency also manifests in the frequent, direct feedback through an online performance review system. Depending on the department, the CoAssets Management By Objectives (CAMBO) assessment takes place either

SME SPOTLIGHT weekly or quarterly. Individual staff members are given a score from 0 to 5 based on their work performance against previously set targets, the extent to which they adhered to processes, and discretionary contributions beyond the primary job scope. The scores are aggregated to determine staff bonuses and share options. “CAMBO gives us a very good pulse of things,” Lim says. A big reason to assess his staff every week or quarter instead of biannually is the volatility in the industry, Lim says. “To do only midterm reviews, you need a stable environment. But our market needs more frequent tracking. “We want our new hires to learn quickly, and we want to know if employees are consistently hitting their targets so that we can give them bigger roles,” he explains.

The daily huddle Alongside CAMBO is a performance management system that helps staff to synchronise and keep track of their daily and weekly progress. Without fail, a scrum meeting kickstarts the daily office routine at 9.30 each morning, with each department head gathering with their team. Employees talk about their key tasks, the areas they need help in, and what they are going to do to help their teammates. “This allows the superiors to lead by example, hear first-hand the feedback from their people, and address any concerns,” CEO Getty Goh says. Each team also has an ‘integrator’ to help coordinate information and tasks with other departments. Senior marketing executive Choo Jin Wen is the integrator for the design and marketing team, which works with the IT team on electronic direct marketing campaigns. “We send the data to IT, while IT updates the servers. So I will inform IT that we’re going to send on, say, Tuesday and check whether they’re facing any issues,” she says. The morning scrum is done “very openly”, Lim says. “Everyone knows what’s happening because people will just stand up and talk in our open-concept office, so the subordinates will also hear what their superiors are discussing.” For Choo, the scrum has helped her team set clear goals for the day,

track their progress, and respond to impromptu or urgent tasks. “If I have a lot of things on my plate, I can also air my concerns. It lets us have a mutual understanding and we can talk through issues instead of just emailing,” she says.

Self-engaged employees Lim, who was the former Chief Artillery

Toughen up with soft skills Crowdfunding startup CoAssets has seen multifold growth in its short three-year existence. From five employees on its first day, it now has 40 in Singapore, 12 in China, and five in Australia. The publicly-traded startup also has upcoming offices in Indonesia and Malaysia, and a possible partnership in the works in Myanmar. To keep up with the company’s expansion and the business environment’s rapid changes, all employees are expected to be adaptable, hardy, and quick on their feet. “We’re running a marathon at the speed of a sprint, so we need people who are comfortable with this pace, can sustain the tempo, and react to new things,” says Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Lim. Learning and development are hence crucial. The firm puts a heavy focus on not just training its staff in technical skills, theories and new market developments, but also building their soft skills. Lim says this focus on the oft-overlooked areas of communication and service is what gives the company an edge, Employees learn how to talk effectively on the phone, engage people face-to-face, make presentations, and manage difficult situations, such as an unhappy investor.

Officer of the Singapore Armed Forces, says his time in the military taught him that employees need to have personal convictions and a sense of purpose in their work. “You cannot convince people to do something for you if they don’t have some sort of respect or allegiance to the organisation. You need to engage them, especially for Generations Y and Z,” he says. “Simply barking orders at people doesn’t work.” Describing himself as a “Type B” person who is the “Papa Smurf” of the company, Lim says he frequently asks the staff how they are and where they want to be in half a year, to learn more about their personality and goals. So far, however, employee engagement has mostly been organic and impromptu. Lim says it is often initiated by the employees themselves who are eager to brand the company; the senior management then readily greenlights the ideas and participates themselves. For instance, staff have taken the initiative to create and post videos on Facebook. They recently recorded themselves talking about their experiences, got Lim to share with viewers about his day-to-day duties, and created a video montage of the company retreat in Phuket. “In their free time, they will also interview people who have done business with us, to find out how they view the company,” Lim says. This freedom to be creative with how they want to build a compelling brand for CoAssets motivates the employees, and gives them a sense of ownership and pride in the company. “We engage employees by giving them the freedom to engage themselves,” Lim says.

HR plans CoAssets is moving to list on the Australian Stock Exchange. Once that is complete, the company is planning on designing an upgraded remuneration scheme and to formalise its culture, values and code of conduct. Lim says employees will be involved in the latter process. “We want to grow the soul and spirit of the company together,” he says. “We’ve always been running in this race, but now we want to run for passion; the soft aspects.” ISSUE 16.9


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Kathy Kwok

Aaron Lim

Syed Ali Abbas

Kathy Kwok, a seasoned HR practitioner with significant regional management experience, has joined The Hoffman Agency as Senior HR Manager, Asia-Pacific. Based in Hong Kong, Kwok will work closely with Lydia Lau, Vice President of Global Operations, to define the firm’s strategic direction for talent acquisition, employee engagement, learning and development, and workforce planning. In this new role, she is also responsible for building a high-performance team for the five markets of China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Singapore. Prior to joining The Hoffman Agency, Kwok worked with Burson-Marsteller Asia-Pacific for more than 17 years. She was the Regional HR Manager of Asia-Pacific, where she reported to the Managing Director of HR, Asia-Pacific. At Burston-Marsteller, she was responsible for the implementation and maintenance of policies and processes covering employment, compensation and benefits; and compliance with local employment laws. “I am delighted to join The Hoffman Agency and will focus on deepening and strengthening the firm’s talent and functional capabilities to support sustainable business growth,” said Kwok. “Our staff are the firm’s greatest asset. Talent management is key to continued success. A large part of our focus is on recruitment, training, and talent development, which are the cornerstones of our commitment to clients.” Kwok holds a Master of Science in Strategic HR Management from Hong Kong Baptist University.

Aaron Lim has taken on a new role at Zalora Southeast Asia, as an HR Business Partner. He will work on all aspects of HR to help support company growth by partnering with all stakeholders based in Singapore, Zalora’s regional headquarters. In his new post, he will report to Foo Chek Wee, Group HR Director, Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. Prior to this, Lim was the Assistant HR Manager at the Robinsons and RSH Group, where he supported the talent management function across the Asian region. He also had HR Business Partnership responsibilities for the Marks & Spencer brand in Singapore. In this new role, Lim hopes to contribute to an emerging e-commerce market and seeks to be an integrated business partner within the internet space. Lim has more than five years of accelerated HR experience, with areas of expertise spanning across a wide range of HR management tasks such as employee engagement, talent management and performance management. His educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree with honours, majoring in mechanical engineering from the Nanyang Technological University. He is also accredited with an Advanced Certificate in Training and Assessment. In his free time, Lim has a passion for aviation, and once achieved a solo flight during his time with the Singapore Youth Flying Club.

Syed Ali Abbas has joined Global Fashion Group (GFG) as Group HR Director. GFG is a leading global e-commerce fashion player consisting of Dafiti (South America), Lamoda (Eastern Europe), Namshi (Middle East), The Iconic (Australia and New Zealand), and Zalora (Asia). As the corporate HR leader for the group, Abbas will report to the group CEO Romain Voog. “It’s exciting to have an experienced leader like Abbas join our team,” Voog commented. “I’m sure he will contribute greatly in our journey to becoming the most successful fashion e-commerce company in the world.” In his new role, Abbas is tasked with delivering HR leadership at the corporate level, as well as acting as a strategic advisor to the various group companies. “My immediate priority is to help the entire group align around the new GFG vision and then build the organisational capabilities required to execute it,” Abbas said. Prior to this new role, Abbas led general HR at the Lazada Group for a brief period. Before that, he was chief HR officer of the Pacnet group, and part of the leadership team that led the successful turnaround of the company and subsequent acquisition by Telstra. He has also spent more than a decade with US-based telecommunications provider AT&T in multiple roles, including Executive Director of HR for the Asia-Pacific region, and India. Abbas continues to be based in Singapore for this role.

Senior HR Manager, Asia-Pacific, The Hoffman Agency

HR Business Partner, Zalora Southeast Asia

Group HR Director, Global Fashion Group

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Should employees’ personal lives affect their potential for advancement?


n general, an employee’s personal life is their own business and the organisation should stay out of it. However, this only applies if employees do not let their personal lives affect their productivity or the organisation’s reputation. Otherwise, the organisation will need to play a more active role to manage the situation. Let me share three examples: JANE is going through a divorce which entails protracted discussions with lawyers, filing for a restraining order and fighting for child custody. However, she has not let it affect her work outcomes. The organisation should not let Jane’s personal life affect her professional advancement, as she has displayed the ability to manage it well. PETER was diagnosed with Stage 2 cancer. He needs to go for chemotherapy which has taken a toll on him physically, affecting his work output. What the organisation can do is to support him, give him time off, or let him to work part-time with a lighter load.

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Peter can ramp up along a faster trajectory once he is physically ready. JIM has been having a romantic and sexual relationship with his direct subordinate for two years. Evidence of the relationship circulated quickly around the office and within the industry. Jim had been a star performer and his departure would be a great loss. However, given his professionally unethical actions that have caused the organisation great disrepute, the right thing is to let Jim exit. There is no standard approach. Conversations with the employee are critical to ensure the decisions are constructive and tailored to the situation. In people management, we should never use a blunt approach.

Ng Ying Yuan

Director of HR and Organisation Development, Singapore Economic Development Board

Ask our HR experts. Email your questions to

HR Business Partner

Head of Talent Acquisition

Head of Shared Services

› Well-established MNC in the Manufacturing Industry › Strategic HR function

› Global MNC in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry › Management role

› MNC in the biotechnology industry › Head of Shared Services

Our client is a well-established leading player in the industrial sector, and has built a strong presence as it continues to expand itself in the APAC region. They are currently seeking a seasoned HR professional to partner the business in achieving its objectives and fuel long-term growth.

The Head of Talent Acquisition is primarily accountable for managing the entire talent acquisition function. You will be involved in driving and executing the local talent acquisition process and strategy.

The successful candidate is an impact-driven HR professional of high strategic calibre and strong operational exposure. You will have demonstrated excellent stakeholder management skills, takes a proactive and analytical approach around resolving issues and have proven success around implementing and executing initiatives. Reference number: CC/JD438444 Contact person: Celestine Chia (Registration Number R1442191)

Degree qualified with a minimum of 8 years relevant experience ideally recruiting in MNCs and in the manufacturing environment. You will have proven success in the recruitment methodology and is a hands on, self motivated individual who thrives operating in a fast paced environment. You should also possess strong communication and influencing skills.

Reference number: JO/JD448851 Contact person: Jennifer ONG (Registration Number R1324297)

The successful candidate will manage a team of 5 to ensure the smooth running of shared services. You will also work closely with the HR head and business leaders to advise on process improvement strategies. Degree qualified with a minimum of 10 years relevant experience with a strong HR generalist background. You will have proven success of 5 years in a management role and is a hands on and energetic individual who has worked with senior stakeholders. You should also possess strong communication skills.

Reference number: JO/JD451861 Contact person: Jennifer ONG (Registration Number R1324297)


In this role, you will report to the Country HR Director, while partnering closely with senior business leaders and HR CoEs to deliver best HR practices. You will take a strategic and yet handson approach, with the mandate to provide counsel as well as drive and implement changes around people strategies.

The successful candidate will support hiring for the plant as well as corporate support functions and serve as a business partner to all organizations and employees in Singapore. You will also work closely with the HR head and business leaders to advise on recruitment processes and strategy.

The Head of Shared Services is primarily accountable for managing the entire shared service function. You will be involved in running the shared service function based in Singapore covering 8 countries in APAC.

Your Human Resources recruitment specialists To apply, please go to and search search for for respective respective reference reference number. number. and For a confidential discussion, you can contact Maureen Ho consultant for the relevant position our Singapore Office on +65 6511 the relevant for the specificinposition in our Singapore Office on 8555 +65 6511 8555.

Singapore Pte Ltd. Company Reg. No. 200909448N EA10C4544 Licence No. 10C4544 Allegis GroupTalent2 Singapore Pte Ltd Company No. 200909448N EA Licence No.

Opportunities for Life

An Allegis Group Company

RGF HR Agent Singapore Pte Ltd EA Licence No. 10C2978

C&B and HR Projects Manager

HR Business Partner

• Covers Asia Pacific region • Based in Singapore

• US MNC • Advisor to the business

Our client from the chemical industry is seeking a dynamic C&B Manager with keen interest in HR projects.

Our client, who is experiencing strong, continued growth, is a well-known market leader in the technology industry. They are seeking a HR Business Partner to join the HR team.

This is a new headcount where you will assist the Regional HR Director in various regional projects in C&B, talent management/ development, succession planning, implementing processes and procedures. Your role will assist with strategies, establish and review guidelines and implementation. Working closely with HR Business Partners, you will coordinate the process, review and develop strategies in line with organizational and business objectives. Management experience would be beneficial as our client is looking for someone to contribute to staff and long term strategic development. You will be a graduate in HRM with 8 to 10 years HR experience with more than 5 years strong regional C&B knowledge and experience. You hone exceptional skills in establishing operational guidelines, systems and processes for assessing program performance. Ideally, you should come from a sizable regional MNC. Traveling is expected to industrial areas in Indonesia, India, Thailand, etc. To submit your application, please email your resume in word format to Li Li Kang at or Audrey Chong at audrey@ EA Personnel Registration No. R1108467 & R1105147

Reporting to the Senior HR Manager, you will be a strong HR professional who can deliver all aspects of HR as a generalist, and have a proven track record in communicating with and consulting senior level executives. In this exciting and challenging role, you will partner department heads to lead overall HR strategy and execution, providing strategic advisory services and solutions to support the business. You will have undertaken a similar role previously and be familiar with an engineering/ technology industry environment. You will be a senior HR Business Partner with a degree in HRM or relevant, ideally with 8+ years of HR generalist experience. You will have an excellent track record in building and maintaining relationships at all levels within a business. Experience working independently in a highly matrix environment is mandatory. To submit your application, please email your resume in word format to Maureen Ho at or Audrey Chong at EA Personnel Registration No. R1105976 & R1105147

RGF is the global brand of Recruit Holdings, the world’s fourth largest HR and recruitment services company and the largest in Japan, generating over US$13 billion in annual revenue. For more than 50 years, RGB provides comprehensive HR and talent acquisition services which include retained and contingency executive recruitment and market mapping, senior to staff level specialist and contract recruitment as well as payroll services. RGF operates in more than 45 locations across 26 cities in 11 countries and markets in Asia with in-country specialist consultants. Winner, The Executive Search Company of the Year 2015 and for the second year running, The HR Recruitment Company of the Year 2015.



ISSUE 16.9


Headquartered in Singapore since 2003, Kerry Consulting is Singapore’s leading Search & Selection firm. Our consulting team is the most experienced, and amongst the largest, in the ASEAN region. We offer positions in the following sectors: Banking & Financial Services Commerce Finance Energy & Commodities Engineering & Supply Chain Healthcare & Life Sciences Human Resources Legal Sales & Marketing Technology

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HRMASIA.COM | Returning the Human to Resourcing

HR Business Partner

Regional C&B Manager

Newly Created Role Based in the East, Singapore Medical Technology Industry

Regional Role Central Location Health & Life Science Industry

This leading organisation within the medical technology industry is expanding their HR team due to the growth of the regional business and its headcount. It is now seeking a HR Business Partner, a newly created position, to support the SEA region.

This global organisation within the medical manufacturing industry is now seeking a C&B Manager to support the APAC region.

Reporting directly to the Senior Regional HR Manager, you will be responsible for the provision of support to various business units, in the form of professional HR services. These include performance management, organisation development, rewards, talent selection and management, HR processes, and strategic business planning. You will be degree qualified in Human Resource or a relevant discipline with at least 6 to 8 years of HR generalist background. Ideally, you will have been in a HRBP position for at least 3 to 5 years— work experience in an MNC within the manufacturing industries will be an advantage. You will also have strong interpersonal skills for building rapport across all levels, leadership abilities, and a partnering mentality. To apply, please submit your resume to Joy Seow at, quoting the job title and the reference number of JS10785. We regret that only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

Reporting to the Regional C&B Director, you will design, develop, and implement compensation policies and benefits schemes. These include performing job evaluation, salary benchmarking, merit matrix design, as well as benefits review and administration. You will also lead the annual compensation review. Ideally, you will have at least 10 years of C&B experience with a good track record in reward design and implementation. You will also have proven influencing and relationship management skills, along with experience in project management and the execution of rewards policies and processes— experience in harmonisation will be an advantage. To apply, please submit your resume to Joy Seow at, quoting the job title and the reference number of JS10687. We regret that only shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Licence No: R1107886

Global Organisation Fast-paced Environment Exciting Growth Opportunities This leading global organisation is now seeking a Talent Acquisition Manager for its Singapore team. Reporting directly to the HR Director, you will be responsible for the full life cycle of recruitment for positions that are mainly based in Singapore, with some ASEAN coverage. In your role, you will develop and implement a strategic Employee Life Cycle Process that’s in line with Global EVP initiatives. You will also develop the strategy for the recruitment and integration of new employees according to priority areas in the development of the business. This is where you will be the thought-leader in the development of talent attraction strategies, as you provide the right approach and partner with hiring managers to build a talent pipeline of qualified candidates. In addition, you will develop and drive Internships, Fresh Graduate Hires, and Management Trainee Programmes. You will be degree qualified in a relevant HR domain with at least 8 years of recruitment experience, including 3 to 4 years of in-house recruitment exposure. You will also have a proven track record in effective recruitment and recruitment vendor management. Work experience in a fast-paced environment will be an advantage. To apply, please submit your resume to Joy Seow at, quoting the job title and the reference number of JS10624. We regret that only successfully shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Licence No: R1107886

Newly Created Role Regional Exposure Excellent Career Platform This fast-growing energy company with an exciting and entrepreneurial culture has been enjoying strong year-on-year revenue growth, and its APAC business is expected to grow rapidly over the next two years. In your role, you will lead and execute benefits programmes and processes in the APAC region, as well as provide input and feedback on the benefits strategy as an individual contributor. You will also demonstrate operational excellence in ensuring that the implementation of the benefits programme is in compliance with local regulatory requirements. Though this role will be based in Singapore, you will need to be experienced and well versed in benefits for both Singapore and the APAC region. You will be degree qualified and have at least 5 years of strong benefits experience gained in MNC environments. You will also be a proactive, mature, credible, and tenacious individual who is able to influence priorities and build relationship at all levels. To apply, please submit your resume to Finian Toh at, quoting the job title and reference number FT10888. We regret that only successfully shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Licence No: 16S8060

Licence No: R1107886

Recruiting Manager

Benefits Manager — Energy Industry

Head of HR (Based in Yangon, Myanmar)

ASEAN HR Leader — Financial Services Industry

Global Oil & Gas Organisation Country HR Leadership Role Exciting Emerging Market Environment

Global Financial Services Organisation Southeast Asia Coverage Excellent Career Platform

This leading Oil & Gas organisation with an established global footprint is currently undergoing extensive organic growth and aggressively expanding their APAC market presence. It is now seeking a Country Head of HR to be based in Yangon, Myanmar.

This leading global financial services organisation serves as a hub for the regional business in APAC. Due to expansion plans, it is now seeking a dynamic and high calibre HR Business Partner (Director-Level) for the SEA region.

Reporting directly to the General Manager and APAC HR Director based in Singapore, you will manage a team and be responsible for all aspects of human resources business partnering for several business units, covering areas such as performance management, organisation development, rewards, talent selection and management, HR processes, and strategic business planning. You will also have wide exposure throughout the organisation, as you play a key role in supporting the General Manager's commercial strategy, actively participate in senior leadership decision-making, develop a robust learning and development agenda, lead change management initiatives, and create an innovative and commercially-focused HR team.

In your role, you will strategise with global leadership to direct regional talent priorities, manage succession plans, and generate ideas and actions to improve employee engagement in line with global strategies. You will also provide the regional business with relevant oversight of the execution of all HR activities, including staffing, recruitment, performance management, promotions, employee relations, and compensation. Additionally, you will coach global senior business leaders on regional HR matters, leadership style, and fostering a positive culture.

You will be degree qualified with at least 15 years of relevant experience in blue-chip MNCs. You must be able to build rapport across all levels and markets, demonstrate strong leadership abilities, and display a partnering mentality. To apply, please submit your resume to Finian Toh at, quoting the job title and reference number FT10823. We regret that only shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Licence No: 16S8060

You will be degree qualified and possess at least 10 to 15 years of HR experience within the financial services industry. You will be a self-starter who is able to work well independently and who can articulate well across all business levels and build strong rapport with internal clients with strong communication and interpersonal skills. You will also strive for excellence and be flexible and driven in your approach. To apply, please submit your resume to Finian Toh at, quoting the job title and reference number FT10459. We regret that only shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Licence No: 16S8060

ISSUE 16.9




C&B Manager

A superb opportunity has arisen for a HR Business Partner to work for a global MNC within the financial services industry looking after the APAC region. In accordance with the business strategy, you will provide comprehensive HR services to stakeholders across Asia Pacific and champion the full spectrum of HR to recruit, develop, reward and retain employees, ensuring the region meets its objectives. In conjunction with global as well as the country HRBPs and HR functional teams, you will also lead projects for respective functions as well as other related HR activities.

As a Compensation and Benefits (C&B) Manager for this leading logistics player, you will report to the Director and be responsible for the development and benchmarking of C&B strategies, as well as support the performance appraisal process. Apart from minimum of 6 years of hands-on C&B experience, the successful candidate should also possess a Bachelor’ Degree and exhibit high level of analytical and communication abilities.

Contact Ash Russell (Reg ID. R1109296) at or call +65 6303 0721.

Benefits Manager APAC A globally-renowned technology company is seeking a Benefits Manager for their APAC operations. This role reports to the global headquarters and will work closely with business partners in APAC. You will be responsible for designing, refining, and delivering customized benefits programme across the countries in Asia Pacific to contribute to the success of its people agenda. The ideal candidate should have a Bachelor Degree and at least 8 years of experience in leading regional benefits programs, and the ability to handle complexity. Contact Ash Russell (Reg ID. R1109296) at or call +65 6303 0721.

EA License Number: 07C3924

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Contact Kelly Shia (Reg ID. R1552203) at or call +65 6303 0721.

Regional HRBP If you are an experienced HRBP with at least 8 years of relevant HR experience, this may be your next career move. A newly created opportunity has emerged within a leading pharmaceuticals company for a Regional HRBP. This is a key position, working closely with the business in areas including performance management, succession planning, policy alignment and employee relations. Besides business partnering expertise, you should also be excellent in stakeholder management. Contact Kelly Shia (Reg ID. R1552203) at or call +65 6303 0721.

ISSUE 16.9


HRM 16.9 Dishing up Delight  

— Tristan Torres on Deliveroo’s unique culture