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ISSUE 16.12


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Strategy guru Gary Hamel on the coming innovation revolution


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Klaus Duetoft Senior Director, MyHR, APAC, eBay Inc Asia Pacific

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Hari V Krishnan Chief Executive Officer PropertyGuru Group

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Aparna Kumar Regional HR Lead, Monsanto

Dr Andrew Epaphroditus Tay Director (Health and Productivity) - Singapore EHS Shared Services, GlaxoSmithKline

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Dear HRM Asia readers,

EDITOR Sham Majid




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HRM Asia Pte Ltd 60 Albert Street, Albert Complex #16-08 Singapore 189969 Tel: +65 6423 4631 Fax: +65 6423-4632 Email: ©HRM Asia Pte Ltd, 2016. All rights reserved. Republication permitted only with the approval of the Editorial Director.


elcome to the special holiday edition of HRM Asia, with extra news and features to take you through the Christmas and New Year season. This month saw the launch of HR Summit 2017, and I am extremely pleased to include our exclusive interview with keynote presenter Professor Gary Hamel as our cover story. Professor Hamel has been at the forefront of research and thinking on business innovation for more than 30 years, and will be speaking on the constricting nature of bureaucracy in large organisations today. He warns that the tradition of top down management, and of “big leaders picking little leaders” will be ultimately unsustainable in a more volatile and complex business environment. HRM Asia also sits down for an exclusive chat with Lucas Ngoo, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Carousell this issue. He shares the arduous journey he and the mobile classifieds business undertook and explains how HR proved to be a vital cog in its machinery during its recent phase of rapid growth. With an employee headcount of 7,000 in Singapore alone, one could be forgiven for thinking Standard Chartered Bank’s local learning and development policies would be rigid and hierarchical. However, as the bank’s Head of HR Charlotte Thng explains in this issue’s HR Insider, the sky is the limit for every single employee when it comes to career pathways. And as we usher in the New Year, the clock is also ticking ever-so quickly towards HRM Awards 2017. We reveal all of the nominees across 21 categories, with a full lowdown of the event. The New Year is also a timely reason for HR to take stock of the upcoming trends and issues that will come into focus in the 12 months ahead. Hence, do check out our Guide of the Year 2017 where we foresee the key developments that are set to shape HR decisions next year, as well zoom in on potential trends in the Learning and Development space. On behalf of the entire HRM Asia team, I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Best Regards,

Sham Majid Editor, HRM Asia CONTACT US:

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

Read something you like? Or something you don’t? Perhaps there’s some insight we haven’t considered? Have your say on HRM Asia’s news, features, and contributions by emailing:




Bureaucracy buster

Professor Gary Hamel is one of the world’s most influential business thinkers. Ahead of his exclusive appearance at HR Summit 2017, he shares with HRM Asia how building a true innovation culture means taking an axe to some traditional management practices.



12 Building from the ground up

Beneath the quiet exterior of Lucas Ngoo, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Carousell lies an individual who is fiercely determined to ensure that one of Singapore’s most successful start-up stories is translated onto the global stage.


Battling to be the best

Come February next year, the HR fraternity will get together in Singapore to herald the 14th HRM Awards. HRM Asia reveals the nominees and explains the mechanics behind next year’s edition.

37 Passing the baton

Too often, employers neglect developing strategic succession plans. HRM Asia reveals that HR needs to go beyond just putting names in boxes on an organisational chart if it wants to build an effective leadership pipeline.


All over the roadmap

There is no ceiling on the range of roles Standard Chartered 2

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37 Bank employees can progress into in Singapore, as long as they undergo one of the bank’s 80 learning and development programmes.


Coaching in, evaluations out?

There is a lot of talk in HR about performance management models that emphasise consistent conversations and not ratings, but the jury is still out on how progress can be usefully tracked in the absence of measurable data.



Talent retention lessons from the little guys

Sam Neo, Assistant Manager, HR Business Partnership and Scholarship Engagement, Changi Airport Group, shares how conglomerates can emulate startups when it comes to enticing and engaging millennial talent.



4 News

Super-sized studies

Fast food giant McDonald’s belief in fast-tracking careers has seen it sponsor two different tertiary programmes designed specifically for staff to study while juggling work in the hospitality industry.


A balancing act


Leaders on Leadership

63 An HRD Speaks 63 Twenty-four Seven

As food distributor Teck Sang strives to reconfigure its business operations to meet today’s demands, it is equally vigilant of safeguarding its cherished values.

66 HRM Asia Congress Insights


67 Upcoming Events

HRM Asia’s Smart Workforce Summit

Over 100 delegates took part in four days of future work-focussed discussion, workshops, and excursions during HRM Asia’s Smart workforce Summit in October.


HR Young Gun

For the first time, HRM Asia’s Young Gun section speaks to a recent graduate now making waves as an HR professional.

70 Resources 70 In Person 71

Talent Ladder


Reader Advice ISSUE 16.12







HR Summit Asia is set to return on May 3 and 4 next year, with a fresh new look and revamped learning platforms. With the theme of “Disruption Proof. Agile. Future-ready,” the event will provide unparalleled coverage of the most pressing workforce management challenges and issues in the market. In this 15th anniversary special, HR Summit Asia 2017 will bring together some of the world’s most influential business thinkers, including Thinkers50 management thought leader and author Professor Gary Hamel (see: Cover Story, page 16), who will host a key plenary session on techniques to “bust the bureaucracy” that is still holding many organisations back.

World-renowned leadership and success coach Brian Tracy will also be making a never-before-seen presentation on today’s most significant issues, challenges and opportunities for C-level executives, HR leaders, and other business professionals. Delegates can also look forward to fresh and dynamic presentations from companies pushing the boundaries of HR culture and innovation. Case studies featuring the likes of Netflix, eBay, GlaxoSmithKline and Petronas will provide new perspectives on HR challenges and solutions. A suite of new experiences will also be available for the expected 4,200 delegates from across all industries in Asia-Pacific. This will include: • Workshop sessions: For the first time at HR Summit Asia, there will be a selection of new workshop streams on a wide range of issues beyond the usual HR offerings, providing stimulating discussions to inspire and enrich delegates’ Summit experiences. • Company site tours: A unique opportunity to learn the inner workings of organisations that have successfully implemented best HR practices, systems and processes first hand. • Discussion Dens: These provide an interactive platform for HR and business professionals to participate in spontaneous discussions, share best practices, and network.


JOB DISSATISFACTION BREWING Organisations in India have a massive job on their hands in keeping their professional employees motivated and engaged. The new Job Satisfaction 2016 Survey by career portal TimesJobs. com showed that 60% of staff were not content with their present jobs, while 80% said they were actively looking to change roles. In comparison, the 2015 edition of the same survey cited that 78% of employees claimed they were satisfied in their present positions. The 2016 study showed that of the 60% of unsatisfied respondents, the majority came from the junior ranks. When quizzed on the reasons


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behind their increasing dissatisfaction, the following factors cropped up: • Among the respondents who said they were discontent, half cited poor work-life balance, 30% pointed to “meaningless” work, and 20% attributed their ill-feeling to poor wages; • Of the respondents who claimed to be content, 45% pointed to work-life balance as being the key reason for their job satisfaction. A further 35% pointed to their good salary, and 20% said a positive work profile was keeping them enthusiastic about their work. “The paradigm of job satisfaction

has moved from salary optimisation to career optimisation with a healthy work life balance,” said Nilanjan Roy, Head of Strategy, Times Business Solutions. “Unfortunately, a lot of India Inc (comprising of India’s government and corporate sectors) is still concentrating on salary optimisation to increase employee satisfaction. “Although a lot of discussions have happened on taking care of holistic career aspirations of employees, it is high time definite steps be taken to arrest this dissatisfaction.”



Do you know what to look for in a background verification service?


INCREASED SALARIES TO TACKLE TECH TURNOVER As the employee turnover rate in technology-sector organisations continues to rise, companies are having to offer significant wage increases in a desperate bid to retain talent. New data from the Radford Trends Report showed that median voluntary employee turnover at technology companies was over 10% in eight of the 10 key Asia-Pacific markets researched. India recorded the steepest trailing 12-month voluntary turnover rate in

Chin Wei Chong

the region (13.6%), followed by Malaysia (13%), Australia (12.4%), Singapore (11.7%), Hong Kong (11.3%) and China (10.8%). Both Japan and South Korea faced significantly lower turnover rates. In response, technology sector salaries are on the rise across the region. Pay increases in each of the 10 surveyed markets are projected to increase in 2017, even compared to the generous raises experienced this year.


2016 Actual

2017 Planned







Hong Kong


















South Korea







INDUSTRIAL PARK SET TO OPEN The Kendal Industrial Park in Central Java, a joint Indonesian-Singaporean project, is set to become a hotbed of employment over the coming years. The park, also known as “Park by the Bay”, is a joint venture between Indonesia’s industrial estate developer PT Jababeka and Singapore’s Sembcorp Development. The 2,700-hectare park is expected to entice manufacturing firms in industries such as furniture making, food processing, building materials,

and textiles in particular. It was officially opened by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Joko Widodo during their leaders’ retreat in November. Sembcorp Development CEO Kelvin Teo said 20 organisations from Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, and Australia had agreed to invest in the park. They will invest a total of IDR 4.3 trillion (S$450 million), generating an expected 100,000 job opportunities.

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Marketing and Communications Director, Asia-Pacific, First Advantage

he growth of every organisation depends on its employees and hiring the right talent is the ultimate goal. To achieve this, employers spend significant time to sieve through multiple applications for every vacany. Unfortunately, the job of a responsible employer does not end there; they have to do a probity check before offering the job. Employers can partner with a legally qualified background screening service provider who has the expertise and experience. Before initiating the background check, employers need to understand what they really want to know. Background screening services can be divided into full-service background checks and DIY (Do It Yourself) checks. Full-background verification services can undertake multiple checks such as employment, education, address, criminal, credit, directorship, financial regulatory, global dataset search, identity check, media search, reference check, and résumé checks. These checks can be customised depending on the industry and designation. DIY Background Check can be done by in-house or external recruiters. They would conduct a check by calling references provided by the candidate or doing a google search. There are potentially multiple loopholes with a DIY Background Check process. It is also important to research the background screening service provider as the final decision to recruit is based on their report. Partnering with an experienced background screening service provider will help employers to recruit the best talent, thereby minimising the cost of a bad hire.

Overall Salary Increase for Tech Staff Market


For a copy of First Advantage’s Employment Screening Healthcare White Paper, please contact Chin Wei Chong at 5





With high turnover rates highest among junior managers and supervisors in the Land of Smiles, there is growing pressure on these staff to maintain their performance levels and prove their worth. According to the Total Compensation Measurement Study and Benefit Survey 2016 by Aon Hewitt, performance continues to determine pay-related decisions for 95.1% of organisations in Thailand. With junior management and supervisor levels recording voluntary turnover rates of 14%, and involuntary turnover rates of 5.3%, one tactic being utilised is to offer wage increases, with salary

increments ranging from 4.7% to 6% in 2016 across the industries polled. Across the Thai economy, the retail and life sciences sectors offered the most generous wage increase in 2016, with an average increment of 6%. On the other hand, the travel industry witnessed the lowest average salary increase, at 4.7%. The study also showed that other strategies were being employed to keep hold of employees. For example, 72.2% of employers offered individual performance awards, while 38.9% offered special recognition as short-term incentives to retain staff. “The high turnover rate among junior managers should warn employers in Thailand to think about their compensation

policies in the context of their overall talent retention strategy,” said Panuwat Benrohman, Country Leader, Aon Hewitt, Thailand. Panuwat cautioned that companies have a responsibility to arm junior managers with the skillsets necessary to make the step up from individual contributor roles. “With ‘better external opportunities’ and ‘limited growth opportunities’ among the top three reasons for attrition, a focus on learning and development will help employers in Thailand build a strong leadership pipeline from within, while still compensating high performers attractively,” he added. A total of 174 organisations across all key industries in Thailand participated in the survey.


“THEY DON’T REALLY CARE ABOUT US” While developing employees’ careers has long been one of the core strategies to engage and retain talents within an organisation, Australian employees are just not feeling the love these days. A recent survey conducted by recruiting firm Hays found that 51% of Australian staff felt their managers did not bother with career development. Only 22% claimed their manager actively promoted career development, while the final 27% of survey respondents revealed their manager cared about their career development to some degree, but only when pushed


ISSUE 16.12


toward it. “This is a wasted opportunity for employers, who know that offering career development is an important retention tool,” said Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director of Hays in Australia and New Zealand. “We know a lack of career development is a top reason why people look for a new job, so why don’t bosses champion it and sit down with their staff to map out a career development plan?” Deligiannis said career development does not necessarily refer to promotions, although that could be the case. “And not everyone actually

wants a promotion. That’s why it’s so important to sit down one-on-one with people to find out what their career development goals are,” he said. The recruitment firm explained that career development options could also include stretch opportunities, projects, coaching, mentorships, and formal training. A total of 2,043 Australian employees took part in the online poll between August and October this year.





US President-elect Donald Trump has specified that economic growth and labour reforms will be among the top priorities of his administration. One of the top regulations political analysts say Trump will seek to reverse is the overtime pay issued by President Obama’s administration, which was due to come into effect on December 4, 2016. Under the new overtime regulation, more than four million US workers will become newly-eligible for overtime pay. However, the overtime rule is expected to impose costs of about US$600 million on businesses in the first year, along with an

estimated paperwork burden of 1.2 million hours. Obama’s administration effected the change by raising the salary threshold for overtime pay from US$23,660 to US$47,476. All workers earning less than the new threshold will be eligible for overtime pay, regardless of job functions. Trump had already said during his campaign trail that he intended to reverse most of Obama’s regulations, including the flagship healthcare reform known as Obamacare. Analysts say that with Republican majorities in both the Congress and Senate, they will be easily repealed by the next President.



Troubled music streaming service Guvera, which ceased operations in most of the world earlier this year, still owes pay and entitlements to most of its former employees. HRM Asia learned that former staff at the Singapore office, which shut down in August, are still owed at least one month of salary. Staff in the other closed markets of Australia, the US, Europe, and other parts of Asia, have also complained of money owed by the still-operating company. Former staff in the US and South America wrote directly to

Guvera founder Claes Loberg in September pleading for a payment plan, noting that “many of us are facing financial distress”. “When the initial public offering (on the Australian Stock Exchange) failed, we understood that in the absence of funding, hard choices would follow,” staff wrote in an email. “While it was still a shock to be informed of the closure of our markets on June 30, we understood the economic reality facing Guvera and the decision to refocus on the most viable markets. “Claes, it is now more than three months since any of us received any money from Guvera. No administrator has been appointed. No payment plan has been presented.” Guvera still operates in India, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia, and recently launched in the United Arab Emirates.


South Africa’s National Economic Development and Labour Council Advisory Panel has proposed setting a minimum wage level, in an effort to bridge the country’s wide income gap. The new minimum wage will be set at 3,500 rand a month, or roughly S$350. Nearly half of South Africa’s labour force currently earns below this level. McDonald’s South Africa has publicly declared its support for the wage proposal But the Government agency’s proposal, which it says attempted to balance the competing demands of businesses and labour unions, still received backlash from both sides. Labour unions said the new national minimum wage level was “inappropriate, and far from addressing the triple challenges of unemployment‚ inequality and poverty.” The Government is now working to reach an agreement with businesses and labour unions. Should this happen, the minimum wage law would be introduced over the next two years.


FACEBOOK TO INCREASE HEADCOUNT Facebook plans to hire 500 more employees at its new UK office next year. This would boost the world’s largest social media platform’s UK labour force by 50%. “The UK remains one of the best places to be a technology company and is an important part of Facebook’s story,” said Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “We came to London in 2007 with just a handful of people. By the end of the next year we will have opened a new headquarters and plan to employ 1,500 people.” She added that many of the new roles would be high-skilled engineering jobs, “as the UK is home to the largest engineering base outside of the US”. Facebook’s new developments in the UK follow similar projects by Apple and Google, making it the third Silicon Valley giant to announce expansion plans after the country’s landmark Brexit vote in June. Both Apple and Google had said they will open new campuses in London in 2021 and 2018 respectively.

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VOLKSWAGEN TO SLASH 30,000 JOBS... IN EIGHT YEARS’ TIME As part of a global restructuring, German carmaker Volkswagen announced that it would be cutting 30,000 jobs globally from its core brand, with 23,000 of the cuts to be made in Germany. Volkswagen and its labour unions came to the agreement in exchange for a commitment to avoid forced redundancies in Germany until at least 2025. This comes in the aftermath of the automobile manufacturer’s diesel emissions scandal that tarnished its image and left it with billions of euros in fines and settlements. The job cuts will bring about annual savings of €3.7 billion (US$3.92 billion) by 2020, and will lift the core brand’s operating margin to 4% in that year, up from an expected 2% in 2016. In the same announcement,

the company also pledged to create 9,000 new jobs in the areas of battery production and mobility services at factories in Germany. This reflects in part the company’s efforts to shift output toward electric and self-driving cars to keep up with competition. Volkswagen chief executive, Matthias Mueller, said the restructuring was “the biggest modernisation programme in the history of the group’s core brand”. “The Volkswagen brand needs a real shake-up and that is exactly what the future pact has turned out to be.”



Key Argentine business leaders have agreed not to lay off workers without justifiable cause until March 2017, following rising unemployment and the prospects of a global economic recession. They signed an agreement with Argentina’s largest umbrella labour union after a meeting coordinated by


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the federal government. The agreement is meant to provide workers with job security for at least another few months. Official government data shows that unemployment in Argentina was 9.3% in the second quarter of 2016. Since taking office in December 2015, President Mauricio Macri has been introducing marketfriendly reforms after more than a decade of interventionist policies had caused an exodus of foreign investment from Argentina. But new capital has not yet returned at the rate expected and the economy is forecast to contract a further 1.5% in 2016. Workers are also being impacted by an alarming inflation rate of around 40%.



Instead of climbing the corporate ladder, American millennials are more focused on learning the technical and personal skills needed to ensure long-term career security. Just 17% of millennials ranked aspiration for leadership roles as a top career priority, according to a recent ManpowerGroup study. This compared to the 61% who wanted to develop their technical, personal or technology skills in the next year. Manpower says this is because for millenials globally, “skills are the new currency”. Four out of five would change jobs for a role with the same pay but more skills training opportunities. Millennials also prioritise pay and purpose. Asked about their career goals, 28% said making a positive contribution was a priority, followed closely by earning “a lot” of money (26%) and working with great people (19%). They are looking for work they believe in and projects that allow them to build a “career for me”. “Millennials see traditional managerial paths as less appealing than learning technical and personal skills,” said Mara Swan, Executive Vice President, Global Strategy and Talent at ManpowerGroup. “Loyalty is a two-way street. To cultivate the next generation of leaders, employers need to show them how taking on managerial roles aligns with their long-term career goals and will help make them more employable in the future.”





GE WORKERS REJECT CONTRACT OFFER FROM NEW CHINESE OWNER Factory workers at the former General Electric (GE) appliance division in Kentucky have voted down a proposed work contract from new owner Qingdao Haier Co. Over 2,600 employees on hourly rates rejected the Chinese company’s proposal, while only 1,000 workers voted in favour of it. Under the rejected contract, new employees would have started their jobs at US$12 an hour, US$3.52 less than the $15.52 that entry-level hires currently make. Additionally, instead of a salary increases, workers were being offered US$5,500 in annual increments, beginning in January 2017. The company also pledged to invest US$90 million in four manufacturing buildings

5 Tips for More Effective Corporate Team Building Events

at the Kentucky-based facility. The new agreement also would have cut overtime and led to buyouts for some 450 workers. Instead, workers will stay at their current hourly wages, and longtime GE union employees will enjoy rates of up to US$30 an hour. GE Appliances was acquired by Qingdao Haier in June 2016, for US$5.4 million. This was the first labour contract proposal under the new ownership.


s your organisation maximising the full potential of your corporate team building events? Having organised and managed over 1,500 corporate events at TAG TEAM since 2011, here are 5 tips to make your next event effective:

Plan early Schedule the team building event as early as possible. Commit resources – time and money – to it. Send the message that attendance is compulsory.


Set clear objectives


Danish courts have ruled that e-car hailing service Uber is illegal. The courts found that Uber’s profit motive meant it was not a true ridesharing programme, but was instead akin to an illegal taxi service. An Uber driver was ordered to pay a fine of 6,000 krone (US$850) by the country’s Eastern High Court following the ruling. Six other Uber drivers had previously also been found guilty of violating taxi

Be specific with your event objectives and communicate them to the organising team or vendor. Do not try to achieve too many goals with a single event and do not disguise an intensive training workshop as team building.

laws by the Copenhagen City Court. Despite this, Uber, which has 2,000 drivers in Denmark, said it was still legal and operational in the country. Meanwhile, a London court has come down on the side of Uber drivers in a dispute over benefits. It ruled drivers should be classified as fulltime employees, rather than as “gig” workers or independent contractors. This means drivers will be entitled to basic workers’ rights, including minimum wages and paid vacations. Uber is appealing the decision and more than 100 drivers have taken to the streets to protest the appeal, insisting that the company should pay them at least the relevant minimum wage.

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Get out of the comfort zone We encourage getting participants to work with colleagues from other departments on common team objectives. This works wonders in pushing team dynamics and performance.

Involve everyone Ensure team building activities are inclusive for everyone and each participant can contribute in one way or other.

Have fun! Laughter, besides being the best medicine, is a great way to bond people. Work is already serious and stressful enough.


John Lim, Director (Business Development) TAG TEAM INC. PTE LTD Pictured above with the Singapore Prestige Brand Award trophy


Where have the talents gone to? As Singapore continues to restructure its workforce to become leaner and more productive, organisations are finding it increasingly difficult to secure candidates with the required skillsets and aptitude. HRM Asia shares some insights from staffing firm Manpower Group Singapore’s 2016/2017 Talent Shortage Survey.

How many employers are having difficulty filling jobs

10% 40% 51%

2014 2015 2016

The hardest skills to find For the first time, sales representatives are the hardest jobs to fill in Singapore; Engineers are in second place, followed by Technicians and Accounting and Finance Staff


Sales Representatives




sales executives, sales advisors, and retail sales people

mechanical, electrical, and civil engineers

Lack of experience and looking for more pay than is offered are the top reasons employers can’t fill positions.


Lack of experience


Looking for more pay than is offered


Lack of available applicants


Lack of hard skills and technical competencies


Lack of soft skills and workplace competencies

How are employers responding? Technicians

Most are looking to better develop existing staff and to avoid

production, operations and maintenance technicians

the competitive talent markets


Accounting and Finance Staff




Skilled Trades

bookkeepers, certified accountants, and financial analysts

truck, lorry, heavy goods, heavy equipment, and construction drivers

electricians, carpenters, welders, bricklayers, plasters, plumbers, masons, and more

Source: ManpowerGroup Singapore’s 2016/2017 Talent Shortage Survey 10 ISSUE 16.12

Why employers say it’s hard to fill positions



Offer training and development to existing staff


Pay higher salary packages to recruits


Recruit outside the talent pool


Outsource the work



How do you communicate your company’s core values to employees?

s Castlery grows as a company, it has become imperative to explicitly define our core values. In particular, we put our customers, not our competitors, first. We emphasise our core values even before people get their foot in the door and join the company. We have carefully designed a set of values that we intensively test candidates on during our job interview rounds. Hiring talents with not just the right skills but also the right values has been our primary focus in recruitment, which has enabled us to build a great team. The last thing we want to see is employees becoming negative influences within the team, or externally towards customers. Importantly, values should be understood by everyone. Like the company’s vision and mission, core values need to be articulated in such a way that they flow easily from any employee’s lips. We hence try to avoid statements that are complicated or not

relevant to our business and strategy. More often than not, values are general beliefs that can possibly be interpreted in a number of ways by different people, so we need to define and turn them into actionable principles. Castlery does so using our corporate handbook, and by giving more specific dos and don’ts. However, once values are crafted, laminated, and put up, they often get left there, and are only referred to again at gatherings like office parties. As an alternative strategy, we take every opportunity to talk about and promote the values, to keep them alive. Lastly, remember that actions speak louder than words. Talking about something without evidence of it being done reinforces people’s skepticism about the believability and significance of corporate values. It is important for the company founders and senior team to embody the values in absolutely everything we do.


LAWRENCE LIM Chief Operating Officer CoAssets

t CoAssets, we want our people to be innovative, treat each other with respect, and have high personal integrity. We also work to engender an environment where there is trust. A key aspect of how we communicate such values starts with the senior management being clear about what the values actually are. Internally, the management team at CoAssets spends a lot of time discussing what our company’s values should be, and we consciously try to deploy a very consistent message, from the top down. Once a month, we meet to talk about whether we have been communicating and exhibiting the core values in a consistent manner. We want to be able to say that the core values start from the management, and if we haven’t been communicating them well, then we will have to address that from the top.

FRED JI CEO Castlery

Next, we want our people to own and internalise the core values. We conduct workshops every quarter for employees to come together and talk with each other about how they feel about the values being exhibited in the company: what we are doing well; what we can do better; and if we should give out further guidance and clarification on the types of behaviours that exemplify our espoused values. In these workshops, we highlight real-life examples to better explain the dilemmas faced. Lastly, we also invite people from outside the company to help us perform values analytics and audits. These consultants facilitate our workshops and give us a third-party perspective of whether what we are doing is congruent with our values. They also advise us on the areas we need to improve, to close the gap between what we say and do collectively.

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Building from the ground up

12 ISSUE 16.12



An unassuming figure, the eyes of Lucas Ngoo, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Carousell, light up when he talks about his pet project. What started as a three-man operation has now morphed into one that serves 14 cities across six countries. As HRM Asia discovers, beneath this quiet exterior lies an individual who is fiercely determined to ensure that one of Singapore’s most successful start-up stories is translated onto the global stage Sham Majid

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How did the idea of Carousell come about?

Carousell started with three people: Quek Siu Rui, Marcus Tan, and myself. We were National University of Singapore (NUS) students and we spent a year in Silicon Valley under the NUS Overseas College Programme where we worked with technology start-ups. We also studied part-time courses at Stanford University. That was where the inspiration came from. We saw companies such as WhatsApp and Instagram, which only had 60 engineers, but were able to build something to serve hundreds of millions of people. When we came back, we were determined to do the same thing in Singapore. At that time, everyone was buying and selling items on

forums such as Hardware Zone and ClubSNAP. Advertising has always been undergoing an evolution. “Classifieds 1.0” was about selling through the newspapers, 2.0 was about websites and forums. At that time, there wasn’t a 3.0 available through which to sell. 3.0 is about going mobile. If we didn’t do this, someone else would have done it. That was a golden opportunity for us, and we just went for it.


The Carousell demonstration model was built in 54 hours in March, 2012. How was that possible?

We joined a global hackathon competition called Startup Weekend, wanting to showcase our concept that selling through mobile could be really simple, by snapping a photo and selling within 30 seconds. You had 54 hours to design, code and prepare a presentation for the judges. The 54 hours spent building the working prototype wasn’t the full product but proof that the concept actually worked and that it was simple to buy and sell through the platform. It was a really intense 54 hours, but we made use of existing mobile functions, to develop the prototype faster. We didn’t really sleep much; we were just intensely coding. After building it, we pitched the idea and the judges loved it. We won the competition and that sparked us to embark on this full-time.

ME MYSELF I I love: Being able to build a strong engineering team and culture to create something meaningful with technology, and seeing it positively impact millions of people around the world. I dislike: Settling with the thought that we’ve done enough, as there is always more to learn and meaningful problems to solve. My inspiration is: To be able to build the future with technology. There’s a saying “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” My biggest weakness is: Communication. I am introverted by nature, and would love to be able to express myself better. In five years’ time, I’d like to be; Still growing with Carousell, helping it to be at the forefront of technology, be the world’s number one classifieds and be part of a world-class engineering team. Favourite quote: We are less than one percent done.

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You were juggling school with full-time work when full-time development of Carousell began in May 2012. Describe that journey.

After the competition, the three of us moved into the co-working space at Block 71, a hub for start-ups and entrepreneurs. We spent the next three months building up the actual Carousell product. In the mornings, I was a full-time student, and I would come to Block 71 at 5.00 or 6.00pm and be a full-time entrepreneur. The only thing that stopped the three of us from working till very late was the last-train home just before midnight. Weekends were better for us at it was usually much quieter. At times, I spent my Saturdays working on my university assignments, while Sundays were spent working on Carousell.


What were some of the initial struggles during that period?

Since this was our first official job, and the first time we had built an app, we were faced with many technical issues. We also initially struggled with aspects such as marketing. We had to be resourceful and learn things on our own. After taking three tough months to build the app, we submitted it to the app store. We all felt relieved and happy when the app was approved. But, our happiness didn’t last for long. Once people started using the app, it crashed. We had to figure out how to better scale the product and how to better build our servers to support the huge number of users. We actually stayed overnight at the office on the day it crashed to migrate our servers to a new provider.


Describe a typical day at work for you now

I work very closely with the engineering and data teams, and I spend my days having quality time with them. Engineering and data are core components of our entire business. I make sure our projects are running well. The normal working hours for our employees are from 10.00am to 7.00pm. I usually come into the office at 9.00 or 10.00am and stay till 10.00 or 11.00pm – that is the cycle for the co-founders. I also make it a point to spend personal time with the different teams. For example, we bring food back to the office everyday so we can all have lunch together. On Fridays, we will cater food into the office and there will be company announcements, people sharing developments, and we will all eat together.


How does Carousell compete with the much larger Amazon and eBay in the e-commerce scene?

In terms of the product itself, we are actually unique in the sense that Carousell is not just about e-commerce, but also about communities. You do not just come into Carousell to buy or sell and then leave; you also come into Carousell to be a

part of its communities. One of the features we have is “groups”, where you can join special interest groups, such as music groups. That is what makes Carousell special. We also focus very much on individual sellers, whereas a lot of e-commerce players focus on merchants, such as those who sell in bulk. What about the everyday people like you and me who may have things lying around that we want to sell? You can find some really unique items on Carousell which you may not find on other larger e-commerce platforms, which usually sell more structured items. Carousell makes it simple and discoverable for individual sellers. The positioning of Carousell will always be “individuals and communities-first”.


What are some key HR challenges in your organisation?

One is definitely attracting and recruiting the best talent to the company. This especially applies to engineering and is always on top of our minds; how can we build a company that attracts the best engineers to work for us? The unique thing about Carousell is that we offer ‘ownership’. In a bigger company, you may just be one out of a thousand engineers, and the impact you have on the firm is different from us. We currently have 23 engineers and we’re growing our team to about 60. Even at this size, the team is serving millions of users and that’s a very attractive proposition for talents. We get a few hundred applicants especially for popular positions, but we always look for quality, rather than quantity.


How would you describe the culture at Carousell?

One key value of our organisation is to be “missionfirst” in whatever we do, be it in engineering, customer support, or marketing. Everyone here is working towards serving the larger mission, which is to be the number one mobile classified site in five to 10 years’ time. We are also relentlessly resourceful. When we began our start-up, we did not have funding, but we grew by being resourceful. For example, we went to schools to paste posters and visited flea markets to hand out free water bottles. Even though we have grown to nearly 100 employees now, we still need to retain that mindset. Not everything can be solved by simply throwing money at it. There are still lots of creative things we can do.


Employees at start-ups are not known for staying long in their roles. Does this apply to your organisation?

After the three co-founders, Victor and Huang joined Carousell as our Numbers One and Two employees respectively. They are both working in engineering and have been with us for four-and-a-half years. Victor has even grown from being a back-end engineer to one who is now managing teams and devising strategy.

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LEADERS TALK HR This is the kind of culture we’re trying to create, where people can really grow their careers. We are also seeing a lot of our other early employees now managing teams. I don’t think attrition is a problem; it’s the kind of culture we create that allows people to grow and take ownership.


How would your staff describe you?

I am “Mission-first”, always. In the earlier days of the company, I was driving things a lot more but as the company continues to grow, you learn how to give more power to the team and let managers run and own the show.


What are your thoughts on Singapore’s start-up sector?

We always say we’re lucky to be at a stage where we’ve witnessed growth. When we started, there weren’t many start-ups or Venture Capitalists coming into Singapore. But this has changed. Now, more international investors are setting up shop here and more start-ups are popping up. When we started, there was just this one co-working space available (Block 71). But the Government is now heavily supporting the start-up hub, and a number of other blocks that house start-ups have been built, with further construction also ongoing. Another key culture of Carousell is to stay humble. We always say there is less than one percent done, and there’s still so much we can do. That’s the mindset we want to instil moving forward and that’s what we tell everyone as well.


What is your utopian dream for Carousell?

We want to be the leading mobile classifieds in five to 10 years’ time, and we want to be Number One, not just in this region, but globally as well. That’s a very tough target, as it generally takes a long period of time for a classifieds platform to become dominant. But we have this ambitious dream to achieve it in that time.

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Another utopian dream would be to move to “classifieds 4.0”. We think machine-learning is going to bring us to the next level. Imagine if you can point your phone at an item and it can auto-populate your title description, and then give you the best price. We believe that’s the foundation of 4.0.


What is your biggest regret?

Having not started coding earlier in my life. I only began coding when I went to university. I was wowed when I had my first lecture in coding during my undergraduate studies. We hear lots of stories of people who started coding when they were 12 or even eight years old. I only started when I was 18.


What is your top tip for aspiring leaders?

You have to find something you’re passionate about and just persevere with it. This four-and-a-half year journey for us really hasn’t been a rosy one. The only way you would stay on to do things for a very long time is if you’re passionate and show perseverance.

Giving away his Legos Lucas Ngoo, co-founder of Carousell, says one of the most difficult parts of scaling up the organisation has been having to delegate duties and responsibilities to incoming staff. He uses a phrase coined by Molly Graham, who had the same problem as a senior executive with both Google and Facebook in their key development phases – “to give away your legos”. Graham says scaling up an organisation quickly is akin to building with lego building blocks. Children feel a lot of natural anxiety when they need to share. They want to be part of the team that completes the project, but they don’t want to be sidelined or stuck doing the less interesting parts. “Everyone’s first instinct is to grab back the legos — to fight them for that part of the tower or to micromanage the way they’re building it,” Graham says. “But the best way to manage scaling (and one of the secrets to rapidly growing a company) is to ignore those instincts, and go find a bigger lego tower to build.” It’s something Ngoo can identify with all too well. Having started Carousell as one of three co-founders, he was responsible for almost every aspect of the business in the early days. However, as the organisation grew rapidly to its current headcount of nearly 100, Ngoo says he simply had to begin delegating tasks away. “As an entrepreneur, it’s sometimes hard to give away that responsibility.” Handing over the legos in this way was however, ultimately rewarding. “People tend to hold onto things but in order to grow the organisation, you have to hire people who are better than you,” he says.



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Bureaucracy Buster So you think your organisation is “serious” about innovation? Professor Gary Hamel, one of the world’s most influential business thinkers and keynote presenter at HR Summit Asia 2017, sets an extremely high bar. He says truly serious innovation requires a complete overhaul of the traditional management model


rofessor Gary Hamel doesn’t look or act like the famed business disruptors that have inspired his career. There is none of Richard Branson’s upstart brashness, Steve Jobs’ geek chic, or Bill Gates’ competitive aggression. Rather, Professor Hamel looks more at home in the traditional academic setting, seemingly in line with his PhD qualifications and heavy focus on research. But the subject of that research is anything but traditional. Professor Hamel is at the forefront of thought leadership when it comes to the innovation and creativity that organisations in the digital age are craving. “Virtually every CEO on the planet will tell you their organisations are not changing as fast as they need to at the moment,” he tells HRM Asia. “It’s no longer about whether you have a competitive advantage at any one point in time – but how you can sustain an advantage over time.” The problem, Professor Hamel says, is that many organisations are fooling themselves about the extent of change that is required. Instead of looking at an entire culture change and reorganisation toward innovation, many businesses simply add an innovation branch to the existing organisation chart – which, Professor Hamel says – is part of the original problem. “When CEOs tell me they are ‘serious’ about innovation, I talk to their frontline (customer-facing) employees to find out the real story,” he says.

Up close with: Gary Hamel

Based in: Salt Lake City, US Academic background: PhD in International Business, University of Michigan Mantra: “Revolutionary goals; evolutionary steps” What does that mean: You have to be able to imagine an organisation that is fundamentally different from where you are today. And you have to know how to build that starting from where you are. Is the glass half full, or half empty? It’s half full and getting fuller. There are so many organisations with so many creative people in the world. Anyone who says you can’t build something new is not looking in the right places. Your presentations are complete and you have 24 hours in Singapore. What’s on the agenda? Singaporeans are the world’s greatest shoppers. I’ll try to emulate that and find a gift for my wife.

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COVER STORY “I ask them three things: have you been trained as a business innovator or has the company otherwise invested in your creative ability? If you have an idea, is it easy to get funding for development? And is it clear to you that your boss feels accountable for innovation?” Professor Hamel says these policies should be standard practice for any business looking to excel in a world of constant disruption and change, but few are willing yet to let go of their old ways. “I often have to go back to the CEOs and ask if they really know what the word ‘serious’ means?”

Intellectual journey Professor Hamel says he moved into the field of competitive strategy in part by accident. After completing his PhD in International Business, he went on to accept a teaching position at London Business School – but some last minute staffing changes led him to head up the specialist strategy course instead of his then much broader field of study. This was in the 1970s, just as a number of companies were breaking away from traditional business strategies with great success. Professor Hamel recognised businesses like Virgin, The Body Shop, and Microsoft as what would later be termed “disruptors” and was keen to research the origins and designs of their groundbreaking strategies. “I wanted to understand why some people see opportunities where others do not,” he says. “At the same time, the other question was: how do you change a strategy once it has started to mature or reached its sell by date?” That marked the beginning of a long intellectual journey for the three-time Thinkers 50 List member (2011, 2013, and 2015). Through it, he has researched and interviewed hundreds of business leaders and analysts, with a common theme quickly emerging. “A lot of the companies we celebrate for being innovative – were innovative for a while,” he says. “But the company then gets to the end of the founder’s

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headlights and stalls. “There are just not that many that are ‘serial innovators’.”

Who sets the benchmark? Of the handful of entities that earn Professor Hamel’s praise, Amazon stands tallest. From its beginnings as an online book store only to the vast cyber-retail hub that today offers everything from books and music to airline tickets and accommodation, change has been a constant. “There is no company innovating as consistently as Amazon,” Professor Hamel says. Google also earns his respect for its willingness to change, adapt, and test out new ideas, such as high-altitude balloons that can deliver wi-fi connections to remote areas. “They are the master of moonshots,” he says. “The vast majority of Google’s profit still comes from ads linked to search but it is willing to be bold and still has a lot of creative energy.” In Asia, Alibaba and its web of offshoots dominates the innovation space, setting a high benchmark for organisations across the region and world. And China’s Haier – the largest appliance maker in the world – has a strategy to “turn every employee into a CEO”; something Professor Hamel describes as “entrepreneurship at scale”.

Out with the old So what is holding the rest of the business world back? Professor Hamel draws what might be an uncomfortable conclusion. “Organisations, particularly large ones, have an operating system called ‘bureaucracy’,” he says. “It’s pretty much the same for any organisation that has more than a couple of hundred people.” Bureaucracy was effective at building loyalty and obedience during the 100 years following the industrial revolution, Professor Hamel says, but it also left organisations incapacitated in certain ways. “Large organisations today actually have a set of core ‘incompetencies’,” he says. “They lack proactive change skills, and business agility.” Today, it is creativity and innovation that set businesses apart, and these traits struggle to survive in that traditional hierarchy that organisations have developed for themselves. “Most CEOs will tell you that they love being in a free market, but inside, their companies are being run like the Soviet Union,” Professor Hamel adds. “Maybe, where we really need innovation is in management itself. What are the alternatives to these top-down models? “Can you somehow have organisations that are simultaneously efficient and

“Most CEOs will tell you that they love being in a free market, but inside, their companies are being run like the Soviet Union” Professor Gary Hamel


empowering; that can exploit the advantages of scale, but still be flexible?” It is a difficult tradeoff but this “postbureaucratic model” could hold the answer for organisations looking to transition to more creative and adaptable workforces.

And in with the new It’s not only the fast-changing technology that is forcing this change on businesses today – though the digital revolution has certainly contributed. Professor Hamel says dismantling the old bureaucratic management regimes is more critical than ever before because of the incoming generation of employees. There has been plenty said about Generation Y in the workforce, but the biggest difference between these millennial workers and those that preceded them is a demand for autonomy even early in their careers.

“These workers want their ideas taken seriously, and organisations need to have systems in place to make sure they are heard,” Professor Hamel says. If competitive pressures weren’t already enough impetus, he says the struggle to attract and retain talent will make life very difficult for any organisation not willing or able to adapt to the new world order. And what sort of transformation is required? Professor Hamel says tinkering around the edges will not help. Rather, he advocates traditional organisations undertake a full-scale reorganisation. Importantly, while the top leadership needs to be involved, every level of the workforce should play a role. “You can’t reengineer the management process top down – too many people have a stake in the old model,” Professor Hamel says. “You have to open this up to the whole organisation.”

Live in Singapore Professor Gary Hamel will be delivering a keynote plenary address at the 15th anniversary edition of HR Summit, on May 3 and 4 next year. His presentation, Beyond the Buzzword: Innovation from Everyone, Every Day, will make audiences rethink the legacy of traditional management practices and also shine a light on a new, systematic approach to unleashing the innovation and creativity in your organisation’s workforce. Professor Hamel will also be facilitating a workshop for delegates in the C-Suite Symposium stream of HR Summit Asia 2017. In Busting Bureaucracy and Building a Change Platform, he will leverage on his research and pioneering work on strategic resilience to lay out a blueprint for a unique new structure of organisational management.

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Battling to be the best Come February next year, the HR fraternity will get together in Singapore to herald the 14th HRM Awards. Ahead of Asia’s premier HR awards showpiece event, HRM Asia gives the lowdown on the mechanics Sham Majid behind next year’s edition


t’s that time of the year again. For just one night, the HR fraternity in Singapore – comprising of multinational corporations, SMEs and government agencies – will get the rare chance to put their best feet forward, socialise over great food and wine, let their hair down, and most importantly, celebrate the best there is in HR. Held on February 24 next year at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, the 14th edition of HRM Asia’s HRM Awards will once again pay tribute to the sterling work undertaken by HR leaders and departments, regardless of the size of their

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New categories to mirror HR trends Next year’s showpiece event will see companies battle it out in a total of 21 categories. In line with HR’s commitment to constantly tweak and revamp its people practices to bring the best out of its company’s employees, HRM Asia has also scrutinised its own awards framework and introduced four new categories to reflect the changing trends in the HR profession. The Best HR Transformation Through Tech award


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FINALISTS recognises an organisation’s transformation or overhaul of an HR process through the use of technology to improve efficiency, while tackling a workforce challenge. This award considers how the winning employer has embraced and leveraged technology to move the organisation forward to keep up with the rapidly-changing global environment. Best Workplace Culture and Engagement is another new category that has been launched for this year’s awards. It is no secret that an innovative and robust workplace culture lays the foundation for having an engaged workforce. This gong distinguishes the character and personality of an organisation and its uniqueness in terms of values, traditions, beliefs, and how the organisation has leveraged on this to foster employee engagement. With change being the only real constant in today’s workforce, it is apt that a new category titled Best Change Management Strategies has been rolled out. This award celebrates an organisation’s stellar achievement in improving business performance by plotting and executing an effective change strategy. The winning firm will need to demonstrate that the strategy has resulted in a clear transition and improvements to the business. Last but not least, the Best Next-Gen Opportunities and Development award lauds an organisation’s resolve and willingness to develop its talent pipeline by affording employment and experience opportunities for young people and graduates within the company. The winner will have crafted detailed and effective graduate, internship, or trainee recruitment, aligned training to organisational goals and future talent needs, devised coaching and mentoring programmes, and measured the impact of that training on graduate retention rates.

Split categories

For the second year running, the 2017 HRM Awards will have split categories that celebrate great HR in both large and small employers. Following extensive research and feedback, it was found that, similar to SMEs, medium sized companies were also having difficulty in being recognised for their HR work due to manpower and budget constraints, as compared to their bigger local and multinational counterparts. Hence, the Best Work-Life Balance, Best Talent Management Practices, and Best Workplace Culture and Engagement categories will have awards for both large and small organisations, with those employers with fewer than 500 staff able to compete in isolation. These will place smaller organisations on a more even keel with their peers when being assessed and honoured for their great HR practices.

The biggest prize of all Of course, the flagship prize at the HRM Awards remains the Hays Award for Employer of Choice. This year, eight of the best-known and favoured employers will be vying for the title. Lynne Roeder, Managing Director of Hays in Singapore says there is a strong brand connection between the recruitment specialist and the award. “We believe the HRM Awards provides a benchmark for celebrating and recognising excellence and best practices in HR,” she says. “We are extremely honoured to be the title sponsor of the awards and sponsor of the prestigious Employer of Choice Award for the seventh year running.” In addition to the 21 categories whose finalists are listed in this special feature, the HRM Awards will also celebrate a unique individual for their efforts to boost and advance the HR profession in the Asia-Pacific region. The

Glowing testimonials “To me, HRM is the gold standard. If you have won the HRM Award, you’ve received true industry recognition for the work you’ve done.” Vineet Ghambir, Vice President of HR at Yahoo! Asia Pacific “Without this awards ceremony, the key achievements of HR personnel would go unnoticed so we value immensely, our sponsorship with the HRM Awards as it raises the overall profile of the specialisation.” Lynne Roeder, Managing Director, Hays Singapore “Winning this award is more about employee branding. It gives us the testimony that we’ve done the right thing and it means that we are in a better position to bring in the best talents.” Lynn Hong, Director, HR, McDonald’s Singapore

“There are a lot of SMEs who feel that they are fighting fires and that good employers are only for big companies. I love that I can be part of the message that as SMEs, we can be good employers and be good businesses too.” Sherwin Siregar, CEO, Atlas Sound & Vision

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FINALISTS winner of the Outstanding Contribution to HR Award will be announced on the night.

The judging process

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The winners of each of the HRM Awards are not known until they are announced on stage at the gala ceremony, marking the end of a long journey that commenced much earlier this year. Stage One of the process took place between July and October, with the HRM Awards accepting nomination entries from all HR and related industry professionals. Total nominations, including self-nominations, were limited to eight per company. The second stage occurred in November, with the HRM Awards 2017 team having presented a summary of all eligible applications to the esteemed judging panel for their consideration and review. The judging panel comprises of independent HR experts and thought leaders from a wide range of sectors.

Finalists were notified last month, with the full list unveiled for the first time here in HRM Asia magazine. The third phase involves each of the finalists in each of the categories preparing a detailed report on their candidacy. The reports will be based on specific category criteria, with finalists given over four weeks to compile and submit. The final stage is where the panel of esteemed judges will review all finalists’ submissions. Judges will rely on their years of experience and knowledge to evaluate each of the finalists, and then select the winners. Their adjudications will be kept secret until the gala ceremony on February 24. Next year’s event will see 206 category finalists from a total of 108 organisations. They will stand against each other to be crowned Singapore’s best in each category. Among them, 64 companies will be making their first appearance as finalists in the 2017 HRM Awards. They include Vodafone, Tower Transit Singapore, The Body Shop International (Asia-Pacific), and NBCUniversal.

Best Health and Wellbeing The Best Health and Wellbeing Award celebrates employers who take an active role in the long-term health of their staff. The finalists below have each incorporated key wellness programmes into their HR strategies, and are seeing positive returns in terms of productivity and staff retention. • Accesstech Engineering • EPCOS • Force-One Security • JTC Corporation • Lendlease • M1 Limited

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And the nominees are...

• Schneider Electric • Titansoft • Tower Transit Singapore • Unilever Asia • Vinci Construction Grands Projets (SCL 1103)


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Teo Mei Ling General Manager, ACP Computer Training & Consultancy

Joann Goh Assistant Vice President of HR, dnata Singapore

Vaishali Azad Batra Regional HR Manager, South Asia and Pacific Ecu-Worldwide (Singapore)

Chin Yin Ong Head of People Operations, Grab



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Best HR Leader Tim Rath Chief People Officer, Lazada

The Best HR Leader Award celebrates the best of the highest levels of strategic HR leadership. The 12 finalists listed here are not just taking their organisations forward on a daily basis, but also advancing the HR profession across Singapore and the wider Asia-Pacific region.

Josephine Chua Director of HR and Quality, Ramada and Days Hotels Singapore at Zhongshan Park

Neo Chia Reei Director, Organisation Development and Learning, NTUC Health Co-operative

Lee Eng Kian HR Partner, PKF-CAP

Mark Fletcher Director of HR, The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore

Brandon Lew Vice President of HR, T-Systems Singapore

Brandy Lee Head of HR, Vinci Construction Grands Projets (SCL 1103)

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Best Work-Life Balance The Best Work-Life Balance Award celebrates those organisations that truly understand the need for employees to develop both their careers and their personal pursuits. The finalists here have demonstrated commitment to such holistic development, through flexible work initiatives, health and recreation facilities, and a broad range of leave benefits – all with significant management buy-in. • Building and Construction Authority • Citi Singapore • Dell Technologies • EPCOS • Far East Organization • Lendlease


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• OCBC Bank • Rockwell Automation Singapore, Asia-Pacific Business Centre • Schneider Electric • Tata Consultancy Services AsiaPacific

Best Work-Life Balance (<500 employees)

Work-life balance is not just a perk of working for the biggest multinationals. Smaller organisations in Singapore, the following finalists in particular, are also seeing the need for employees to be able to pursue both their career and personal commitments concurrently. • BitTitan • QuintilesIMS • Fitbit Singapore • Ramada and Days Hotels Singapore at Zhongshan Park • Food Playground • Titansoft • Force-One Security • Vinci Construction Grands Projets • Gardens by the Bay (SCL 1103) • MatchMove Pay • Wendell Trading Company • PacificLight Power


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The Best Talent Acquisition Strategies Award is particularly relevant as the war for talent heats up in Singapore and the Asia-Pacific region. The finalists here will be judged on the innovation behind their recruitment strategies, particularly the harnessing of social media, and how these have benefitted the wider organisation. • NTUC Health Co-operative • SPRING Singapore • Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre • Tata Consultancy Services Asia Pacific

HR Team of the Year HR is not an individual sport. Successful strategy and project implementation invariably comes down to good, honest teamwork – and it is here that the following organisations shine bright. Their HR teams have contributed to broad workforce goals as a single unit, setting an important example for the rest of their organisations. • AccorHotels Asia-Pacific • ACP Computer Training & Consultancy • Containers Printers • Credit Suisse

• • • • •

Mandarin Oriental, Singapore PALO IT Singapore Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel SPRING Singapore T-Systems Singapore

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• Cycle & Carriage Group of Companies • Dell Technologies • Ericsson • Land Transport Authority • McDonald’s Restaurant


Best Talent Acquisition Strategies

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New in Best Workplace Culture and Engagement 2017

The Best Workplace Culture and Engagement Award recognises the wide variety of characters and personalities that organisations in Singapore now share. The finalists here have developed a unique vision of themselves in terms of their values, traditions, beliefs, and how these are leveraged to enhance employee engagement. • Bloomberg • Changi Airport Group (Singapore) • DBS Bank • Dell Technologies • FedEx Express (Singapore) • Lendlease • McDonald’s Restaurants


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New in Best Workplace Culture and Engagement 2017 (<500 employees) The value of a great workplace culture is not just something that large multinationals can leverage on. The finalists for the Best Workplace Culture and Engagement Award for smaller organisations have also been able to shape a unique and positive environment for their hard-working staff. • BitTitan • Civil Service College, Singapore • Fitbit Singapore • Flight Centre Travel Group • Gardens by the Bay • Kadence International • Linxens Singapore

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• National Kidney Foundation • Rockwell Automation Singapore, Asia-Pacific Business Centre • Select Group • Tower Transit Singapore • Unilever Asia

• Merlin Entertainments Singapore • NBCUniversal • PropertyGuru • The Body Shop International (AsiaPacific) • Titansoft


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Shi Soon Heng Chief Operating Officer - Human Capital Accesstech Engineering

Yogev Vardi CEO and Founder Apex Retail

Axel Pannes Managing Director BMW Group Asia

Paul Chong President and CEO Certis CISCO Security



Best C-Suite Leader DRSV Varma Head of Operations Cyient Singapore

To truly succeed and add value to their organisations, HR departments need the buyin and support of their top leadership. The following C-Suite level leaders are known as fiercely passionate champions of the HR profession, and offer great contributions to the design and implementation of HR initiatives throughout their organisations.

Rowan Tan Managing Director Doma Far East

Dirk Peter Van Leeuwen Senior Vice President and General Manager Red Hat Asia-Pacific and Japan

Bastien Grandgeorge CEO Decathlon Singapore and Indonesia

Peggy Chong Deputy CEO Gardens by the Bay

Tony Cousens General Manager Ramada and Days Hotels Singapore at Zhongshan Park

Nicolas Debray Managing Director The Body Shop International (AsiaPacific)

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Best Leadership Development The Best Leadership Development Award recognises the achievements of organisations and HR teams that build effective internal pipelines of leadership talent. The judging criteria will consider the effectiveness of succession planning initiatives, and how future needs are incorporated into performance management, mentoring, and career planning. • AccorHotels Asia-Pacific • Building and Construction Authority • Centurylink • Credit Suisse • National Kidney Foundation


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Best Diversity and Inclusion Strategies The Best Diversity and Inclusion Strategies Award acknowledges the important innovation cultures that come with inclusive workplaces. The finalists here not only celebrate their diversity, they actively seek it out, with policies that ensure merit-based hiring is aligned with broader organizational objectives. • Accenture • Building and Construction Authority • Credit Suisse • Dell Technologies • EPCOS • FedEx Express (Singapore)

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• Ramada and Days Hotels Singapore at Zhongshan Park • Red Hat Asia-Pacific • Unilever Asia

• Force-One Security • Lendlease • Red Hat Asia-Pacific • Schneider Electric • Unilever Asia • Vodafone


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The Kaplan Professional Award for Best Training, Learning and Development celebrates companies that excel in building up the capabilities and skills of each part of their respective workforces. The finalists here have all strategically aligned their training programmes with their organisation’s goals and future talent needs. • • • • •

SMRT Corporation Starbucks Coffee Singapore Tata Communications The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore Unilever Asia

HR Manager of the Year

The HR Manager of the Year Award celebrates the individual HR professionals taking great strides toward their organisation’s strategic objectives. • Tay Choon Guan

• Ng Sher Lynn

• Alicia Cher

• Angela Tan An Qi

• Lim Swen Choo Grace

• Han Yulan

• Karen Wong

• Goh Siok Ling

• Chan Pei Ling

• Norman Teng

• Catherine Ham

• Lynn Lim

Apex Retail

Breadtalk Group

Cyient Southeast Asia and Japan

DLE Mechanical and Engineering

Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre


Ramada and Days Hotels Singapore at Zhongshan Park Smarte Carte Singapore SPRING Singapore SMRT Corporation

Tower Transit Singapore T-Systems Singapore

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• Building and Construction Authority • JTC Corporation • Lendlease • NTUC Health Co-operative • Pan Pacific Hotels Group • Robinsons and RSH Group of Companies


Kaplan Professional Award for Best Training, Learning and Development

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New in Best Next-Gen Opportunities and 2017


This award celebrates the ways employers are crafting employment and experience opportunities specifically for young people and graduates. The finalists here are each investing heavily in their next generation of talent for long-term improvements to productivity, engagement, and retention. • Accenture • CrimsonLogic • In Touch Systems • L’Oreal


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PALO IT Singapore Simmons (Southeast Asia) SMRT Corporation The Ascott Limited

HR Rising Star of The Year

The HR Rising Star of the Year Award recognises the value and importance of celebrating the next generation of HR talent. Especially for early career HR professionals with less than three years’ experience, the award will take pride of place on the mantle of one of these hardworking stars. • Teo Lai Mun HR People Advisor, Accenture

• Alphy Ng

HR Officer, Breadtalk Group

• Cruz Hershey Grace

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• • • •

• Lau Yan Yee

Talent Acquisition Specialist, Asia-Pacific, Fitbit Singapore

• Jacqueline Tan Wei Qian

HR Executive, Mandarin Oriental, Singapore

HR Executive, EDZ Interior Contracts


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This award, new in 2017, recognises companies that have transformed or overhauled a key HR process through the use of technology, in particular to increase efficiency whilst addressing a workforce challenge. The finalists will be judged on the needs identification processes involved, how the transformation related to a broader business strategy, and the end results of the change. • Singapore Land Authority • Telstra Singapore • T-Systems Singapore

New in Best Change Management Strategies 2017 The Best Change Management Strategies award celebrates organisations that have improved business performance through an effective change strategy. The finalists here have each demonstrated a compelling case for change, and then followed through with a clear transition resulting in marked improvements to the business. • Centurylink • CrimsonLogic • EDZ Interior Contracts • Ericsson • Feinmetall Singapore • Keppel Offshore & Marine

• Lazada Group • Manulife (Singapore) • Public Service Division, Prime Ministers’ Office • SMRT Corporation • UTAC Holdings

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• AECOM Singapore • Farrer Park Hospital • Feinmetall Singapore


New in Best HR Transformation Through Tech 2017

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Best Talent Management Practices The Best Talent Management Practices award celebrates the arts of finding and developing high potentials, aligning onboarding and development initiatives to the organisation’s business objective, and effective succession planning. The finalists will be judged on their across-the-board approach to the full employee lifecycle. • ABR Holdings • Courts Asia Limited • Credit Suisse • Decathlon • Hilti Far East


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Best Talent Management Practices (<500 employees)

The Best Talent Management Practices award for smaller employers recognises that highly effective talent management can be found in all organisations, regardless of size. The finalists here will be judged on their across-the-board approach to the full employee lifecycle, something of vital interest to smaller business in Singapore. • Feinmetall Singapore • Food Playground • Gensler • PacificLight Power

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• Keppel Offshore & Marine • Kimberly-Clark Asia-Pacific • Lendlease • Robert Bosch • Unilever Asia

• Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel • Study Group • Vinci Construction Grands Projets (SCL 1103)


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Cyient Singapore


Berries World of Learning School

e2i Best SME Employer of the Year The e2i Best SME Employer of the Year Award is the flagship prize for small and medium organisations at the HRM Awards. The finalists will be judged on a wide range of criteria, including managementâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s commitment to human capital development, employee communications, and overall corporate culture. Supported by:

Feinmetall Singapore



Brown-Forman Worldwide

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DLE Mechanical and Engineering

Fitbit Singapore

Ramada and Days Hotels Singapore at Zhongshan Park

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12/1/2016 2:28:40 PM

2 0 1 7



Changi Airport Group (Singapore)

Dell Technologies

FedEx Express (Singapore)

Hays Award for Employer of Choice

HCL Technologies

The Hays Award for Employer of Choice stands alone as the most prestigious prize for HR teams and the impact they have on their organisations. The eight finalists here will take part in a rigourous judging process that will look at all things HR, from culture and employer brand to learning, training, and staff development initiatives, as well as corporate social responsibility practices.


Supported by:


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Tata Consultancy Services Asia Pacific

Unilever Asia


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Too often, employers neglect developing strategic succession plans. HRM Asia reveals that HR needs to go beyond just putting names in boxes on an organisational chart if it wants to build an effective leadership pipeline Fiona Lam


t Far East Hospitality, the responsibility of steering the succession planning initiatives rests with the CEO together with the heads of HR, operations, and marketing, who support and facilitate the strategy, programmes, and processes. “We meet weekly, and the people, performance and development thrusts are always on the agenda,” says Arthur Kiong, CEO of the regional hospitality operator. The company’s parent, property development group Far East Organisation, was founded as a Christian enterprise and thus “governed by the principles of stewardship and grace,” says Kiong. “So we are all stewards of the organisation, responsible for the complete wellbeing of the business and for handing it over to the next steward in a better state than when it was handed to

us,” Kiong says. Far East Hospitality’s heavy emphasis on people development and grooming the next generation of leaders is, however, not such a common sight on the Singapore business landscape. A 2013 global poll by Robert Half found that Singapore had the lowest rates of succession planning for Chief Financial Officer roles in the world. Local finance leaders were the least likely to favour being replaced by a subordinate as part of a talent pipeline. This year, a survey by PwC and the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry revealed that only one in five family-run firms have structured succession plans. More than half of the firms cited succession planning as a business issue for them. ISSUE 16.12


SUCCESSION PLANNING Without a systematic approach to succession planning, many companies rely mainly on replacement planning instead. Replacement planning focuses on immediate needs and securing immediately-available personnel. It assumes the organisation chart will remain unchanged over time, and does not go further than naming employees as back-ups for the incumbents in top positions. In contrast, succession planning focuses on developing high-potential people for long-term needs, instead of merely identifying them as replacements. The goal is to build deep bench strength such that whenever a critical position is vacated, the company has a selection of qualified candidates available internally for advancement.

More strategy needed “Succession planning must be approached as an ongoing process rather than an item to check off on an annual agenda,” says Anthony Devadoss, Managing Director and Vice President for Asia-Pacific at search firm BTI Consultants. “Robust succession planning contains many elements, especially leadership development, corporate culture, and strategic planning, and thus needs to be seen as a critical component in its own right,” Devadoss says. Unfortunately, lapses and oversights, such as not communicating with the succession candidates or failing to get their support and understanding, can significantly hamper succession plans. Other common mistakes include procrastinating at the start of the planning process, having an insufficient collaboration of thoughts, not investing enough in learning and development for the identified successors, and not adhering to a set timeline. Many organisations also take a ‘fill-in-the-box’ compliance view, by simply building organisation charts and highlighting executives who are expected to be ready for career progression in a certain number of years. Graham Poston, Regional Managing Partner at executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles Singapore, cautions that this approach can create a false sense of security. “It does not identify, address and track the critical few development priorities in order to help these leaders fully realise their potential,” Poston says. “As a result, the succession process often stagnates. Charts can still be stating executives as ‘ready in two years’ even after the two years have passed!” In many cases, the company will end up having to expend significant resources to make an external hire, instead of promoting an employee.

Key benefits “Good, strategic succession planning enables companies to have the right people in the right place at the right time, to achieve desired business results,” says Devadoss. It also develops qualified pools of candidates prepared to fill 38 ISSUE 16.12


critical or key positions, and improves employees’ ability to respond to changing environmental demands. The resultant stability in leadership and other positions helps sustain a high-performing culture. Annie Yap, Group Managing Director and Chief Strategy Officer at recruitment firm AYP says it is essential for companies to keep on functioning even when they lose their key players. Effective succession planning also serves as contingency planning, and makes it simpler for companies to handle unforeseen attrition, she adds. At the same time, employees will tend to stay longer if they understand the organisation has made feasible arrangements for their futures. “Generally, it makes for an exceptionally positive air inside the organisation and leaves employees fulfilled in terms of career advancement and job motivation,” Yap says.

Not just for CEOs Devadoss recommends organisations expand their succession planning process beyond identifying and developing successors just for the company’s top seat and senior management roles. “Ideally, it should include other key positions, such as specialists, risk management, and compliance office bearers. For these, HR must develop leadership programmes to train employees to take on mid-management roles early in their careers,” he says. This will help create a talent pipeline and address the current shortage of middle managers as well, he adds. At Far East Hospitality, a three-year target has been set to develop a strong core of future leaders at both the corporate and operations levels. The plan involves plotting career development paths for all of the company’s management and specialist staff. “In particular, those with the highest current estimated potential will be further challenged and tested to assess their leadership potential and capacity,” says Kiong. To help them perform and manage effectively as leaders, staff members receive mentorship as well as customised training and development opportunities. Far East Hospitality’s succession planning focuses on positions such as the Chief Operating Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, the directors of sales and marketing, and general managers. “We emphasise leadership training and development for these staff because it takes time for people to come into their own,” Kiong says. However, he stresses this does not mean that other specialist staff, such as the directors for revenue management, sales, and housekeeping and rooms are unimportant. “Our strategy for these positions is to cultivate a wide base of talents and hone their technical and managerial skills,” Kiong explains.

SUCCESSION PLANNING A group effort Both the board and the CEO have pivotal roles to play in an effective succession planning strategy. Best practices typically entail strong commitment and involvement from the board and upper management, along with a regular talent review process which cascades down the entire organisation. In successful initiatives, the senior leaders are usually personally involved and hold themselves accountable for grooming leaders, while employees are also committed to their own self-development, says Devadoss. “Senior leaders should form a partnership with HR, to ensure the succession planning process addresses challenges such as diversity, recruitment and retention,” he adds. “This must be aligned with the business strategy which clearly articulates the business case for doing succession planning.” At AYP, upper management and the HR department are jointly responsible for succession planning, which focuses on key positions including managerial roles. AYP’s initiatives are integrated with other parts of its talent management strategy, such as performance management, learning and development, compensation, and assessment. Training and developing talents is a particularly strong focus, to help the company groom potential successors in ways that best fit their strengths. “We also automate the succession planning process for more efficiency and less operational risk,” says Yap.

Never too soon While views may vary in terms of exactly how soon the wheels of succession planning should be set in motion, the consensus appears to be that companies can never start too early. “The ultimate succession planning strategy starts from the very beginning of your employee development programmes,” says Devadoss. Likewise, Heidrick & Struggles says it receives constant

feedback from clients saying they wished they had started doing so earlier. Over the last few years, however, more firms have begun to embed succession planning as a continuous practice and culture. “These forward-thinking organisations no longer treat succession planning as a one-time event to be kickstarted only as the incumbent leader approaches the end of their tenure,” says Poston. Companies that start early reap benefits such as greater visibility into the true capability of internal successors; accelerated organisational performance; a team of leaders capable of leading future success; and greater flexibility in deploying high-potential talent to critical roles, Poston says. Far East Hospitality spots talent as early as one year into their initial roles. The company’s engagement with employees also extends beyond the formal half-yearly appraisals. “We keenly engage with them on a weekly basis, which allows us to identify high performers readily,” says Kiong. “We actively discuss their aspirations with them. Everyone wants to do better in their careers, but not everyone wants to take on heavier responsibilities or tougher assignments.”

Hurdles One difficulty Far East Hospitality faces is striking a balance between hiring new blood and promoting employees from within. With the company’s highly centralised support functions, promotions bring “a huge advantage in setting high-potential executives up for success”, Kiong says. However, at the same time, hospitality is a highly dynamic business. This requires the company to continually evolve its processes and be creative in order to address growing customer expectations and become more efficient, Kiong says. “Without fresh ideas and perspectives, we could fall into the

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trap of ‘groupthink’ very easily,” he adds. Another hurdle is the difference in employer-employee relationships today. “These days, there is less loyalty between companies and employees,” Yap says. Younger workers generally do not have high rates of retention, which means they often do not stay long enough for the company to include them in succession plans, she adds. Finding out what motivates these employees to retain them is therefore critical, but still extremely difficult.

The ‘ready now’ myth Many succession planning exercises also focus on selecting ‘ready now’ successors, which some experts advise against. Poston believes this tends to lead companies to favour candidates with proven track records and reputations in roles of similar scope and complexity. “No candidate, whether internal or external, is ever 100% ready until they have been in the role for a period of time,” he says. For example, external candidates need to adapt to a different culture in the workplace, while internal candidates must step up and build different relationships with their former peers. Poston says, “Nobody is perfect. If someone looks too good to be true, they probably are. Dig deeper!”

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Movies, not still shots At its worst and with bare minimum effort, succession planning offers a one-point-in-time snapshot assessment of the available candidates, made close to the end of the incumbent’s tenure. But Graham Poston, Regional Managing Partner of Heidrick & Struggles, Singapore, says an effective succession planning project should have far more elements and detail. Rather than this polaroid still shot, HR should be aiming to produce a movie, he says. Poston says succession planning is a team sport requiring different stakeholders, who often have different starting agendas, to align and collaborate with each other. Drawing further on the production metaphor, he says an organisation’s Chief HR Officer needs to play the role of the casting officer, and work with that alignment in mind. “The Chief HR Officer works closely with the Chairman of the Board (or the film’s executive producer), the CEO (the director), and the incumbent leaders and their potential successors (the lead actors and their understudies,” Poston adds.

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There is no ceiling on the range of roles Standard Chartered Bank employees can progress into in Singapore, as long as they undergo one of the bankâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 80 learning and development programmes to beef up their chosen skills. Kelvin Ong

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t is not uncommon to hear of employees who have been with Standard Chartered Bank Singapore for a couple of decades, and of careers that have taken some rather unconventional trajectories for the finance sector. Take Franky Tanudjojo for example, the bankâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Head of International Banking, whose career with Standard Chartered started from humble beginnings. Having joined the financial institution some 17 years ago as a personal financial consultant at its Battery Road branch, Tanudjojo was quickly promoted to Branch Manager of the Holland Village branch, where he was placed in charge of operations. During this time, he enrolled in several internally-conducted leadership classes, and received on-

the-job training from more senior and experienced managers, all of which he says made him a better team lead. Having demonstrated his capabilities as a leader, Standard Chartered then appointed Tanudjojo as the Head of Virtual Banking in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2007. There, he was tasked with setting up a contact centre. Tanudjojo was also given the opportunity to take on a more technical portfolio, despite his lack of experience in call centre operations or IT. What mattered more was his appetite for constant learning and development, a quality highly valued by the organisation. It was ultimately this quality that helped him to complete the assignment successfully. This success, along with Tanudjojo willingness to up-skill, led him to yet

another, different portfolio in 2010, becoming General Manager of Standard Charteredâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Indonesian offices, before finally landing in his current position.

Crossing functions This is a common practice at Standard Chartered, its Head of HR Charlotte Thng, who herself started out as a

AT A GLANCE Number of employees (Singapore): 7,000 Size of the HR Team: 70 Key HR Focus Area: - Talent Development - Talent Acquisition

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HR INSIDER country HR Business Partner 13 years ago, tells HRM Asia. There are many employees who have grown into new portfolios a world away from their initial job functions. That is because extensive talent development opportunities and flexible career progression paths form the foundation of Standard Chartered Bank’s employee value proposition, she says. Varied career trajectories like Tanudjojo’s are possible because of the bank’s simple and transparent policy on movement. Employees are able to specialise in a spectrum of fields, on the condition that they have acquired the necessary competencies, undergone the relevant learning programmes for the role or job function, and demonstrated their ability to apply these lessons. What this means is every employee, whatever their educational background, can take on a wide range of portfolios. They simply need to be ready to don their training wheels and put in the hours in classroom and on-the-job training. To ensure equal opportunities across the organisation, HR has now formalised this practice. It provides all employees with a transparent job function-specific career and learning roadmap, that is published on the employee intranet portal. The roadmap methodically displays what stage of their career employees are at through “job grades”, and what knowledge or skills they currently lack to advance to higher grades, or to be eligible for new roles. All staff members are able to see for themselves what corresponding courses of study they have to undergo to advance into more senior positions, or to also move laterally across functions. And they are advised to do so regularly, Thng says. An Investment Adviser, for example, can take the typical path toward

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becoming a head of their department. But they can also choose other paths, such as a move towards a Product Manager, Relationship Manager, or Investment Strategy role. A Product Analyst can choose the path towards eventually becoming Product Head, but has other options including roles in the Process and Delivery areas. All they have to do is leverage on a few of the bank’s 80 learning and development programmes to prepare for the move. “We are very open about the internal job grades because we want people to look at the higher job grades and aspire to reach them,” says Thng. “Whether you want to be a sales manager, an acquisitions specialist, or a business banking person, it doesn’t matter. There are various career paths you can go into.”

Career conversations

Tanudjojo attributes his own personal success to such conversations with his mentors and bosses, as well as being afforded such a wide range of opportunities through the bank’s investment in learning and development. “We’re guided by the aspiration to be an employer of choice”, says Thng. “Our philosophy is that we should not just take care of the high-potentials, but we should take care of everybody.”

Holistic learning To differentiate its talent development strategy, Standard Chartered deliberately adopted a holistic approach to learning and development, with both soft and technical skills celebrated. The bank categorises skills development into four main “pillars”, Thng says. These are: Professional Development, Business and Function Learning, Leadership Practice, and SkillsFuture programmes. Professional Development trains individuals on soft skills, such as how to become a better presenter or the art of negotiation. The other three pillars are classified as technical learning, designed to impart expertise relating to a particular field. Classes under each learning pillar are then further segmented according to the

Should employees (literally) not make the grade, all is not lost. Managers will sit down one-on-one with such team members to give advice or recommendations on what they have to do to continuing moving things forward. In fact, line managers have set “key conversations” with each of their reporting staff annually. At the beginning of each year, line managers set job objectives with team members. This is followed by career conversations, where employees share what their ambitions and long-term goals are. But it is the learning and development conversation that is most pivotal, Thng says. “This is when managers analyse a staff member’s strengths and weaknesses, and have honest discussions KOH LI KENG about which courses they Head, HR, Corporate should undertake to brush up and Institutional Banking, Southeast on their weaker areas.”

Asia and South Asia


Head, HR, Commercial, Private Banking and Wealth Management

VERNON NUNIS Head, Employee Relations

HR INSIDER bank’s business divisions: Corporate and Institutional Banking, Retail Banking, and Information Technology and Operations. For example, under the Business and Function Learning pillar, the Corporate and Institutional Banking arm will train its corporate relationship managers who have to meet with clients, treasurers, and financial controllers, on the latest technical analysis and financial tools. One of the bank’s newest tools is called cognitive financial planning, and helps managers in this division examine financial numbers without cognitive bias. With a staff population of 7,000, in Singapore alone, Standard Chartered naturally has many people managers. Thng says it was therefore necessary for Leadership Practice to be created as a standalone component of the learning and development roadmap. First-time managers undergo the “New Manager Programme”, before later taking on the higher-level “Management Mastery Programme” a few years down the track. As managers progress to the highest job grades on the roadmap, there are programmes like “Leaders Drive Performance”, which trains senior-level staff on factors beyond simply being

good people managers. It is designed to help them also become experts in driving the business. In August 2016, Standard Chartered also launched its S$2 million SkillsFuture@sc programme. This specifically covers both transferable soft skills that employees are able to apply across different roles, as well as the essential technical and industry-specific skills required by Standard Chartered’s operations, says Thng. Under SkillsFuture@sc, staff are not just able to take up an approved course under the Singapore government’s SkillsFuture umbrella, but also any one of the 50 organisationsponsored courses that have been carefully identified and sourced for. To further encourage and incentivise Standard Chartered employees to take up more training, each staff member is entitled to three days of paid training leave per annum, Thng says. “We tell our people that at the very least, we want them to attend two things – one technical or professional development course, plus one SkillsFuture course per year,” says Thng.

Brown bag lunches Mentorship from the highest ranks of the organisation also serves as a form

of learning for Standard Chartered employees. This even includes CEO Judy Hsu, who speaks regularly with talent through scheduled phone call sessions. During these, all employees are able to dial in and ask any questions they like, from requests for career advice to what is happening across the business. HR also organises cross-functional “brown bag lunches” for country managers and team heads to meet with rank-and-file staff from other departments. These events allow both groups to chat about their work and career issues in a casual setting. Thng says these are kept deliberately cross-functional because that allows individuals to have a better idea of where they stand in the organisation’s ecosystem. Today, there are some 240 employees who have been with Standard Chartered Singapore for more than 25 years, with one employee even having worked with the bank for 49 years. Thng says that with all these investments and effort put into talent development, this number of long-term stayers can only grow. “We find that people do want to take these courses up and they do find time for training,” she says.


ARI KRISHNAN Head, HR, Retail Banking


Head, Performance, Reward, Benefits, Southeast Asia


Senior Manager, HR, Operational Risk


Head, Talent Acquisition, Singapore


Head, HR, IT and Operations

ANJALI GANZU Head, HR, Support Functions

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Coaching in, evaluations out?

There is a lot of talk in HR about the benefits of performance management models that emphasise consistent conversations and not ratings, but the jury is still out on how progress can be usefully tracked in the absence of measurable data. HRM Asia examines both sides of the argument Kelvin Ong


here was perhaps no stronger advocate of the annual performance review, rating scales and all, than General Electric (GE). But at HRM Asiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s HR Summit 2016, the organisation shared how it had since made the historic move to remove performance reviews altogether. It has instead replaced these with a unique

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feedback app that staff can access via their smartphones. The new app, called Performance Development @ GE, allows line managers to have constant conversations with team members, or provide instant and timely feedback in under 30 words each time. Employees can also give one another

feedback, or simply communicate more casually about their work. The multinational conglomerate says it removed traditional performance appraisals for two reasons. Firstly, it notes that millennials form the largest part of its workforce, and apps fit in neatly with their existing habits and lifestyle. But more importantly, the change was made to facilitate consistent communication between managers and staff, placing more focus on talent development, and less on evaluation. GE famously used to conduct oncea-year performance review meetings, rate employees on a traditional grading scale, translate them into a bell curve,

PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT and then continually fire the bottom 10%. “A lot of companies are getting rid of ratings and appraisals, and moving away from that old model,” said Vikram Cardozo, Senior HR Director, GE Southeast Asia (Malaysia). “So now with this app, we’re making things less about the ratings and more about people’s development.” With Fortune 500 companies like GE and also Microsoft now leading the charge, it is no wonder an increasing number of companies are exalting the virtues of eliminating appraisals and moving towards a rating-free style of performance management. But while there are plenty of discussions, studies and literature on the advantages of being rating-free, the jury is still out on whether this model truly works in the grand scheme of things.

How did we get here? Before going any further, it is worth clarifying how these traditional performance management models and reviews used to work. Although both terms are often used synonymously, it should be noted that the two are actually totally separate functions. Performance management is a continuous and fluid process of identifying, measuring, managing, and developing the performance of employees involving line managers. A performance review, on the other hand, is a rigid, top-down system that places a score on each and every staff member by line managers and HR. These scores are based on a limited set of indicators that do not necessarily cover all of their skills and qualities comprehensively. Instead of executing both functions separately, companies tended to fuse performance management and performance reviews together as one big (and often very stressful) conversation at the end of the year. Combining the two tended to place more focus on “how well did this employee do?”, than on “what can this

employee do to improve?” And what this meant was there was no action plan drawn up for each individual to achieve their goals, and thus they had little motivation to perform well apart from (in GE’s case at least) avoiding being in the bottom 10%. Employees also lost motivation when they saw an entire year of hard work could be reduced to one otherwise insignificant digit. Being numerically rated against their coworkers also created a competitive and hostile environment, which could lead some employees to become further disengaged. Gallup’s Workforce Panel Study 2016 found all that, and more. According to the paper, there was a significant lack of goal setting, feedback, motivation, and incentives in traditional performance management strategies. That was because evaluations primarily examined past results before dishing out rewards or punishments, the

research found. A development focus, on the other hand, focuses on improving future behaviours and reaching future achievements.

Regular conversations Proponents of ratings-free performance management models say that by eliminating annual reviews, line managers are encouraged, if not forced to conduct more regular conversations with staff, or even weekly coaching sessions. The millennial factor also lines up with this argument. Several studies have shown that learning and development is the number one factor affecting this generation of workers – who will soon make up the bulk of the workforce – when deciding whether to join an organisation. Brocade Communications is one company that has embraced the development model. Three years ago, the technology company dropped its ISSUE 16.12


PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT classic performance rating and labelling processes.  Instead, the company’s performance management framework is now made up of formal mid and end-of-year selfassessments, manager appraisals, and ongoing coaching, feedback and day-today management. Employees’ performances are assessed widely and fairly against their core job function, the planned goals for the period, and the effective demonstration of Brocade values in accomplishing those goals. In addition to this new system, Brocade also introduced two employee surveys aimed at uncovering the true pain points in its workforce. Department managers and organisation leaders review the results of the annual employee engagement surveys and put action plans in place to address anything that may be restricting overall group performance.  The “Customer First” survey is then

leveraged by internal departments to provide candid feedback on the effectiveness of cross-organisational partnerships and company initiatives. Emily Draycott-Jones, Director of HR, Asia-Pacific, Brocade Communications Singapore, says that without ratings, companies now conduct regular surveys and conversations to keep their fingers on the pulse of internal stakeholders. “Now self-reflection and managerdriven feedback happens throughout the year, instead of just once at the end of the year,” she says. This kind of feedback focuses on “what” and “how” goals were achieved, she adds. The impact of performance can also be connected to the level of rewards, and any performance issues are addressed with specific improvement plans. “Employees emerge from their performance conversations with a sense of feeling acknowledged, recognised, and rewarded. They are aware of the

Combining conversations with reviews According to HR consultancy CEB, companies can focus on improving their performance management in three ways: yy Increasing informal performance conversations In addition to offering more timely feedback to employees, managers who have ongoing (not episodic) performance discussions are better able to adjust expectations about what’s required from employees. This adjustment can improve employee performance by up to 12%. yy Forward-looking reviews Assessing and discussing future performance requirements (rather than just analysing past performance) helps employees understand their ability to meet future business needs and how to improve in order to meet them. yy Add peer feedback to manager evaluations The need for collaboration has exploded – two-thirds of knowledge workers now interact with upwards of 10 different people each day. Collecting feedback from peers who understand employees’ work helps managers accurately assess and discuss employee performance.

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development opportunities that would be most impactful to their careers and feel genuinely enthused about future challenges,” says Draycott-Jones.

Achieving deeper goals In other industries, consistent conversations and coaching have already been taking place for many years. Team leaders at outsource contact centre Teledirect for example, have weekly coaching sessions with their staff, where they consider what motivates them, and anything that may be holding staff back from performing well. “It’s a standard in the contact centre industry. So what others are talking about is already a reality for us,” says Dr Sandra Pereira, Group Director, HR and Talent Management, Teledirect. She says team managers and leaders are well-equipped to make meaningful impact in these coaching sessions. Coaching is also coupled with monthly forecast meetings, where managers use hard data to discuss the performance with each employee. Figures such as the number of cases solved in the previous month provide a constantly updated snapshot of each staff member’s contribution to the whole. Managers then use the data and insights to make detailed action plans for each individual staff member to help them achieve the goals set for the following month. Pereira says that last step is the most important, because data means nothing if it is not translated into insights. The insights also mean nothing if they are not translated into actions, she says. But goal-setting is not about setting only numerical targets. At Teledirect, the real end result desired is to help customers solve problems and “make them smile”. Pereira says that the true end goal of performance management conversations is likewise about helping individuals find their purpose, directing


“Performance ratings are crucial for organisations that desire a high-performing and engaged workforce” Brian Kropp, HR practice leader, CEB

them towards the right steps, achieving those ideal outcomes, and becoming self-motivated.

Justifying pay decisions While the constant feedback model has its benefits, it’s still early days. Emerging research shows that ditching performance reviews is not without its problems. According to HR consultancy CEB, employee performance drops by an average of 10% when ratings are absent from the review process. This is largely due to the inability of managers to effectively manage talent, it says. The consultancy researched the “before” and “after” cases of a number of firms who had eliminated performance ratings. While there was often an initial positive reaction from staff, CEB says companies became

concerned that the quality of manager feedback ultimately suffered, taking employee engagement levels along with it. CEB also found there was a greater impact on high-performing employees than on average or low performers. High performers were typically less satisfied with the amount of time managers spent on performance management in environments without ratings. On the other hand, lower performing employees were happy when ratings are removed and they were not confronted with a score. Without a rating to reference, managers can also struggle to explain how pay decisions are made and link them to individual contributions. In fact, in organisations where there are no ratings, the number of employees

who believe their organisation connects performance to pay decisions is 8% lower than among workforces who rely on ratings. High performers are also less likely to feel that they are rewarded appropriately for their contributions in such an organisation, says Brian Kropp, HR practice leader, CEB. “Performance ratings are crucial for organisations that desire a highperforming and engaged workforce,” he says. “Without the tangible symbol of a rating, employees don’t understand the processes or the philosophies behind their organisation’s performance management, which causes them to put forth less effort at work and become disengaged.” Removing ratings, as revolutionary or attractive as it sounds, could be just as counterproductive as its predecessor models. Pereira thinks the best approach is one that incorporates the best elements from each system: the regular coaching sessions and conversations from the new model, along with some form of performance ratings from the traditional practice. “Having business intelligence at your fingers, and enabling people to achieve goals through constant feedback tops everything else,” she says. “Then whether you want to do performance reviews or not, that’s completely an organisation’s choice.”

PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT SPOTLIGHT Training Vision Pte Ltd is a passionate advocate for HR and training, with a vision to become the leader in human and organisational development. It provides both integrated training and integrated consultancy packages to help clients maximise their human potential through applied knowledge, best practices, and building innovation cultures.

Tel: +65 6848 5213 Email: ISSUE 16.12




The HR profession – a global perspective

Singapore Management University took time out to launch its new, accredited Masters of Human Capital Leadership programme in November. Together with its project partner – the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development – the university brought together more than 100 HR professionals and business leaders to learn the rationale behind the course.


eter Cheese, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), says HR is living in extraordinary times, particularly in this part of the world. His presentation to Singapore Management University’s (SMU’s) launch event for its new CIPDaccredited Masters of Human Capital Leadership programme touched on a few nerve points for HR and business leaders, but ultimately delivered a positive view of the way the profession is evolving in Asia-Pacific. In a wide-ranging speech, he noted that HR had risen through the ranks significantly over the last decade, to now be a vital player in many organisations’ strategy setting apparatus. But that development has not been uniform across the economy or individual sectors. Cheese says that some organisations remain passively disconnected from their HR departments, and this represents a dangerous position to be in as the war for talent intensifies across Asia-Pacific. It is up to HR to work together with their leadership to ensure that talent issues like effective recruitment, talent engagement, and retention are given their due status. “CEOs get the HR they deserve,” he said, noting that those business leaders who refuse to engage with HR issues will be quickly left behind. “But at the same time, HR also gets the CEOs they deserve,” Cheese also warned. He says HR departments facing disinterested leadership need to fine-tune their communication to ensure their gravity of HR issues is

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relayed. That means developing well-researched and datadriven business cases for the initiatives they plan to develop. “For many business leaders, HR offers too much Powerpoint, and not enough Excel,” Cheese quipped, highlighting the value that data can have in strategic SMU’s Richard Smith (left) and Gerry George with conversations. CIPD’s Peter Cheese and HCLI’s Wong Su-Y Cheese concluded by saying that it was not too late to start giving greater strategic significance to HR of the HR profession in Asia and issues. But the clock is ticking. internationally.” “This is a profoundly important time Professor Gerry George, Dean of for HR,” he said. “Decisions taken SMU’s Lee Kong Chian School of today will have a significant impact on Business, said the CIPD collaboration workforces many years from now.” was an important recognition of SMU’s strong reputation in business An academic focus education. “This leading-edge The SMU event, titled The HR programme blending the best industry Profession – A Global Perspective, knowledge drawn from our strong saw around 100 business leaders, HR partners has set a new, unparalleled professionals, students, and academic industry benchmark,” he said. “It also specialists at the University to witness strongly resonates with SMU’s mission both the launch of the Masters of of providing transformative education Human Capital Leadership programme and producing global leaders with an and its official accreditation ceremony Asian perspective.” with the CIPD. Double-award programme Cheese said the UK-based SMU’s Master of Human Capital organisation was proud to have Leadership was designed in partnership partnered with SMU for what was a with the CIPD, the Human Capital first of its kind academic programme Leadership Institute, and the US-based in Asia. “SMU’s vision to equip Wharton Centre for HR. Graduates of senior leaders with the know-how the part-time 15-month programme and acumen to meet strategic human will earn both a Master’s degree and the capital challenges aligns with the CIPD Level 7 (highest level) Advanced CIPD’s purpose of championing better Qualifications Diploma. work and working lives,” he said. For more information, visit www. “This is an important milestone in the process of raising the standards

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RETENTION LESSONS FROM THE LITTLE GUYS Sam Neo, Assistant Manager, HR Business Partnership and Scholarship Engagement, Changi Airport Group, shares how conglomerates can emulate their start-up counterparts when it comes to enticing and engaging millennial talent

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y 2020, the millennials (inclusive of Generation Ys) will take up an estimated half of the global workforce. Like it or not, this is a group which is very different from their predecessors – the Generation X and Baby Boomers, who are typically known to be hardworking, independent and less tech-savvy. The next wave of talents will hit the workforce sooner than we expect; so, how should companies prepare themselves? What do these millennials really want? There are four key traits that are evident in today’s millennials: Access to top management Millennials are eager to prove themselves and learn from the best. What’s better than learning straight from the top leaders themselves? Mentorship from the top management has become something important and simply getting some tips from them is one way for young talents to shorten the learning curve.

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR Eager to make a difference and take ownership Making a difference in things that they do and achieving it fast is essential for them. Ranging from creating breakthrough products to changing the world, these young talents derive satisfaction from the impact they make. Besides that, they are also keen to call assignments their own rather than just be a part of them. Ownership gives millenials a sense of purpose which is important to keep them engaged.

“Start-ups are usually not as cash-rich as their MNC counterparts. Equities and stock options are often highlights in their total rewards offerings.”

Emphasis on the work environment Spending over 40 hours a week at work, millennials are seeing the importance of having a work environment that they enjoy being a part of. Open concept work spaces, a well-stocked pantry, and a gaming area are some features of offices that are increasingly popular and wellliked by the millennials. Staying connected via social media In the era of high technology and connectivity, social media has become an integral part of millennials’ life to help them stay connected. It has also become an avenue for self-expression and interaction among these individuals. Having the ability to connect on the go and getting live updates about things happening globally is now a basic expectation.

Lessons that can be learnt from start-ups Since many MNCs are complaining the loss of young talents today, where did the outflow actually lead to? Millennials are increasingly interested in joining start-ups or even venturing into their own businesses. With this ongoing trend, what can MNCs then learn from start-ups and customise to their advantage?

Strong purpose at work Start-ups are set up with a clear and identifiable mission in mind. In order to differentiate themselves from the competition, they often seek to create greater value propositionS and meaning in their business. This is an added advantage which millennials today get excited about; being part of a journey to make a difference. Nonprofit organisation Buy1Give1 is one such social enterprise start-up with a vision to change the way businesses give and make a difference. This appeals to millennials who have a similar desire to make a positive impact in the world. In addition, young talents recognise that being part of a lean team with lofty dreams, small actions can be translated into huge impact.

Fun work environment Unlike traditional thinking which separates work from play, the element of fun is actually a catalyst for greater productivity at the workplace. It encourages unguarded exploration and discovery which are important for solution-finding in a highly-stressful workplace. In addition, it can also spark creativity which is essential in today’s competitive business landscape. Employee-engagement platform is one company that attempts to create

such an environment by having things like a mini games room and allowing employees to express their creativity through dress-up days with interesting themes like Pokemon. With such an environment, companies can then create a feeling of home for millennials and help foster a stronger sense of belonging.

Becoming owners of the company Start-ups are usually not as cash-rich as their MNC counterparts. To ensure that they stay competitive on the remuneration front, equities and stock options are often the highlights for their total rewards offering. Grab for instance, gives employees stock options and the opportunity to own a part of the company. By building equities into the pay package, not only will it give young talents a greater sense of ownership, they will also be more motivated to deliver their best since they are now owners of the business.

Results-only work environment A start-up’s key focus is on delivering the best value to the end consumers, rather than emphasising on the need to follow certain protocols while getting the job completed. This means that results are what counts and they can come at the expense of regular working hours, defined reporting structures, formal ISSUE 16.12


GUEST CONTRIBUTOR About the Author Sam Neo is currently serving at Changi Airport Group’s People Team as a Business Partner and Scholarship Engagement Officer. He is an HR professional with over four years’ of accelerated HR experience in market leading companies such as Keppel Corporation and Changi Airport Group. His passion for HR has seen him take on a diverse range of roles in his young career including Talent Management, Business Partnership, Talent Acquisition and Staff Engagement.

dress codes and many other typical standards observed at MNCs. The lack of proper structure may come across as disorganised to some but in fact, the free flowing structure allows quick access to decisions and guidance. At Shopback, a junior staff member can easily speak to the CEO and its leaders anytime while having the valuable chance to be mentored directly by e-commerce veterans, primarily because of their flat hierarchy.

more, it also encourages an environment of learning which is a key ingredient for development and growth for both the individuals and the company. Google is one organisation that thrived on this culture when it was a start-up back in the days. It has led to many breakthrough products and helped them constantly improve their work processes. Even till today, as an established tech giant, this culture is still anchoring their way of life at work.

Culture of experimentation

Active engagement of technology and social media

Due to the limited resources available, start-ups are usually more daring in their experimentation efforts and thrive on innovative solutions to get ahead of competition. Failure is expected for most parts of their journey to success, so the lessons gained are valued rather than frowned upon. By inculcating a culture of experimentation, companies are also allowing their young talents to break new ground and fail productively. What’s 54 ISSUE 16.12


Many start-ups are effectively leveraging on social media to keep their millennials connected and in turn, helping the company connect with the customers. Zalora, being in the online fashion business, is one start-up that leverages on social media to share interesting updates to connect with the tech savvy millennials. Even though social media can be a double-edged sword, the right

usage can present the organisation with a powerful tool to enhance the outreach and image of the company’s brand. That’s probably why start-ups are often seen as being a cool place to be in, despite the hard work and long hours. Social media shapes perceptions.

Moving ahead for MNCs MNCs are run differently from startups because of their sheer size, operations and other business related considerations. Learning how startups are attracting millennials is not to encourage MNCs to replicate the model. The key is to break down and identify the elements that are essential to achieve organisational goals while modifying them to integrate effectively within the system. By understanding the context and playing to the strength of the organisation, MNCs can then continue to thrive and remain attractive, while facing strong competition from their smaller counterparts in the long run.



SHAPING INNOVATIVE CAREERS AND WORKPLACES The annual Shaping Careers and Learning event inspired both employees and representatives of employers for a day of learning on innovation and strategies to get ahead in tough economic times


he National Trades Union Congress, together with Workforce Singapore, held its annual Shaping Careers and Learning event on November 1, bringing together a wide range of thought leaders on innovation and workplace productivity for two separate streams. The employees’ stream targeted professionals, managers, and executives – the knowledge workers who are set to propel Singapore’s development over the coming decade. Over 150 employees of all levels attended the seminar at the NTUC Centre. They heard from the likes of Amanda Sabri, co-founder of Hafta, and Mark Koh, CEO and founder of temporary job-matching service Temploy, who both shared on the coming challenges for employees in an increasingly complex and disruptive working world. With slowing employment rates, an economy in restructure, and an uncertain labour market, participants were given strategies to stand out from the crowd, to consistently add value to their organisations, and to thereby avoid becoming a redundancy statistic.

NTUC and Workforce Singapore also hosted local employers in a second stream that focused on the value of innovative workplaces, and some key strategies for businesses to build them. The Employers Stream programme was coordinated by the two tripartite partners, in partnership with HRM Asia and the Singapore National Employers Federation. Around 100 business leaders and HR professionals attended the afternoon stream; and all were given a unique insight into the inner machinations of some of Singapore’s best working cultures. They heard from two key leaders of the DBS Innovation Group, a standalone research and development unit within DBS Bank. Managing director Neal Cross shared how the unit came to be, and the positive results it has had for the wider organisation so far. While there has been several specific innovations that have helped to put DBS ahead of its competitors in the finance space, he says the biggest change has

been the development of an innovation culture beyond the Innovation Group itself, spreading throughout the bank. Cross’ presentation was followed up by his colleague, Chief Operating Officer of the DBS Innovation Group Cade Tan. With a background in advertising and creative work, she said she had seen a need for disruption in the employee experience specifically. With open-plan offices, and a continuous emphasis on communication, she says the unit has helped inspire productivity and innovation across the wider DBS organisation. Tiffany See, Executive Director for HR in Asia-Pacific at Dell, discussed an employer branding challenge that the technology company has been focusing its HR energies on. With changing workforce demographics in its key labour markets, she says Dell has been leveraging on engaging, empowering, and thereby retaining staff through social media tools and strategies. Joanna Yeo Learning Leader in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa for Mercer followed this with a presentation on best practice learning and development strategies. The seminar was then concluded by Jaya Dass, Country Director of Randstad Singapore. She gave the employers and HR leaders present an insight into the current state of professional recruitment markets in Southeast Asia, highlighting the sectors that were being most affected by the talent shortage across the region.

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Fast food giant McDonald’s belief in fast-tracking careers has seen it sponsor two different tertiary programmes designed specifically for staff to acquire business knowledge while juggling the demands of work in the hospitality industry By Kelvin Ong


im Peck Suan’s career as a hospitality professional has seen tremendous growth since she first joined McDonald’s Singapore as a part-time barista five years ago. Today, she is a second assistant manager at McDonald’s Causeway Point, where she leads a team of 10 crew members and oversees daily restaurant operations. Sim attributes her progress to the company’s consistent practice of providing employees with ample training and educational opportunities.

Sponsored education Besides basic mandatory training in areas like customer service and food 56 ISSUE 16.12


preparation, Sim also completed a National Institute of Technical Education Certificate in food and beverage (F&B) operations through a fully-sponsored

programme jointly run by ITE College West and McDonald’s Singapore. After graduating with an impressive 3.81 grade point average (out of 4.0), she then joined McDonalds’ Restaurant Management Trainee programme, where she received on-the-job training in business processes like cost management, inventory planning, driving sales, and hiring and training crew members. Last month, she received another academic opportunity, becoming part of the first batch of 22 employees to enrol in a new part-time Diploma in Business Practice (International HR Management), offered by McDonald’s in partnership with Republic Polytechnic. The course of study is, again, entirely paid for by the fast food chain. Along with other selected restaurant managers, Sim will undertake business modules in Organisational Development, Learning and People Development, and Manpower Resourcing and Management. Apart from not having to reach into their own pocket for the educational opportunity, employees who participate in the programme are also not bonded to the company for any length of time after completion.

helping its people reach their full potential because it understands the value they bring to the table. “Our people are our greatest asset and having an engaged and motivated workforce is critical in delivering exceptional service for our customers,” says Hong. “This is why we want to empower our employees to grow in their careers, giving them training and development opportunities such as the sponsored Diploma in Business Practice.” This new education initiative also complements McDonald’s existing structured training programme, which provides employees with development and educational opportunities to skill them up at every stage of their careers.

Customised calendar McDonald’s chose to work with RP because of the tertiary institution’s Diploma in Business Practice (International HR Management), which offers modular certificates in areas that impart sound business fundamentals and skills that F&B professionals need to

advance in the industry. However, because restaurant staff work on shifts, attending classes based on the existing three days-a-week academic calendar would have been extremely difficult. So, to ensure that employees are able to pursue the diploma while maintaining their full-time jobs at McDonald’s, Hong said the HR team worked with Republic Polytechnic to customise an academic calendar that condensed classes into just one and a half days per week. Because of the less rigorous academic calendar, Sim has been able to balance her diploma studies with the demands of work. “This opportunity allows me to further my education while acquiring greater managerial skills that I can apply at work, so I really appreciate and look forward to it,” she says. “I believe that the diploma complements McDonald’s existing technical, on-the-job training and will ultimately make me a more well-rounded manager.”

Equipping managers McDonald’s decision to sponsor the diploma programme was based around the need for restaurant managers to be better equipped with business and management skills, in order to effectively run all aspects of their restaurant, says Lynn Hong, Director of HR, McDonald’s Singapore. Managers have to be prepared to make business decisions, acquire the right talent, groom potential leaders, and ensure customer service standards are met and exceeded. “This diploma will equip managers with those skills and will give them sound business fundamentals enabling them to progress as F&B professionals,” says Hong. “In a highly competitive and fastchanging customer-centric environment, continuous learning is crucial to success, so we support our employees in their learning journeys.” The organisation is committed to

The making of coffee masters McDonald’s Singapore’s McCafé Training Academy at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College West is the first of its kind in the region. The academy, which serves primarily as a barista training facility, also trains and prepares individuals for the growing food and beverage scene across Asia-Pacific. Trainees are put in authentic work situations, as the McCafé Training Academy replicates the design and equipment used as in an actual McCafé outlet.

The collaboration and cooperation between barista trainers from McCafé, and ITE staff and students at the academy also provides an effective platform for exchange and development of new F&B products and service ideas. As part of the collaboration, McDonald’s also started a new National Institute of Technical Education Certificate in F&B Operations traineeship – an “earn-as-you-learn” programme that gives trainees on-the-job practical training with the restaurant and off-the-job learning at ITE.

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As food distributor Teck Sang strives to reconfigure its business operations to meet today’s demands, it is equally vigilant of safeguarding its cherished values and practices which have struck a chord with its workforce Sham Majid


n the midst of the hustle and bustle of Singapore’s Central Business District lies the quaint, sleepy, and old-fashioned laneway of Hong Kong Street. There you’ll find a traditional, nofrills grocery store, one that epitomises the thriving trade sector of Singapore in the 1960s and 70s. You’ll also find the headquarters of family-owned food distribution business Teck Sang. This importer and logistics service provider for a wide range of traditional Chinese herbs, spices, seafoods, and other traditional Chinese foods prides itself on its close partnerships with suppliers, retailers and customers. While from the outside in Hong Kong Street, things look like they might be working just as they did in that trading hey-day, Dr Andrew Seit, CEO, says things inside are far more modern. He says the organisation is determined not to let its storied history – having launched in Hong Kong and China 70 years ago and set up home in Singapore over 50 years ago – become its “Achilles heel”.

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Teck Sang is hence ramping up efforts to stay relevant in an era where traditional brick and mortar stores are being squeezed by digital e-commerce platforms.

Fusing technology with trust The organisation currently has around 85 employees on its roster, covering both the office in Hong Kong Street and its warehouses in Jurong. Teck Sang’s overall operations comprise of seven distinct channels, including retail (the traditional grocery store in Hong Kong Street spreads across two buildings) manufacturing and packaging, wholesale, and import and export. A large proportion of that workforce is made up of “uncles and aunties,” Seit says fondly. While these mature workers are largely from an earlier generation, the company says they are embracing the digital journey it has been promoting for the last six months. Seit says the business is now working to develop an “Online to Offline to Online” strategy.

With the company having already established a strong brand rapport with its traditional customers, it is now turning its attention towards the younger generation of shoppers. Ironically, Teck Sang is tapping onto its network of old contacts to win over these new customers. “For the younger generation, the last place they would want to come to buy traditional items is a place like here. It’s not relevant to them,” he says. “They’ll probably go to a supermarket and see three or four choices. But if their partner’s mother comes to our shop to buy ingredients, they can recommend them to their children who can then come to our online platform, order items, and drive by to pick them up later.” Dr Seit says the organisation’s key communication and technological platforms for its employees are WhatsApp and the free instant voice messaging app Wei Xin. Recently, in preparation for Chinese New Year, Teck Sang employees received training on customer engagement and

SME SPOTLIGHT retention. Dr Seit says staff are taught that sales is not about pushing products to customers; rather, it’s about service and building rapport and trust. “We’re very different from supermarkets. If you go there and ask for a product, employees will say, for example, ‘Shelf A21’,” he says. “Here, when you ask our staff the same question, they want to know why so they can then advise, recommend and suggest other ingredients for the specific ginseng tonic you may want to make for your wife.”

Subject-matter experts This ability to counsel customers on the finer ingredients does not occur by chance. Dr Seit shares employees have become knowledge experts over the years spent, developing an in-depth understanding of particular ingredients, such as nuts. These subject-matter experts are dispatched to trade fairs globally to access the best possible ingredients for customers in Singapore. “For example, one of them will be looking at beans and will then have to do forecasts. They will then come back and talk to clients about their expectations. They spent years learning, as well as eating,” he says with a laugh.

Old-school recruitment Despite its digitalisation endeavours, recruitment at Teck Sang is deliberately “offline”. It is predominantly conducted through word-of-mouth and character references offered by current staff. The organisation also carefully scrutinises candidates to ensure they are of the right cultural fit. “We require employees who have an appreciation of food, and who like the finer things in this industry. These are people who are in their 30s or 40s and who have families,” he says. As Teck Sang strives to diversify its business, company employees are also kept in the loop on future job roles, with some expressing a desire to move into new positions and take on different challenges. Should employees possess good understanding and experience, and can

handle the responsibility of working in the company’s different channels, they are encouraged to make the transition. On certain occasions, those who have previously worked in other retail outlets and even supermarkets have approached the company to explore job opportunities. “We have actually recruited some of them,” says Dr Seit.

Family culture There are some aspects of Teck Sang that are still steeped in tradition. Not only do employees receive an annual wage supplement at the end of each year, they also garner an extra month’s bonus. “I call this our ‘hong-bao’ bonus”, says Dr Seit, referring to the traditional Chinese red packets given out during Chinese New Year. Last year, the organisation also handed

out gold-bar magnets which were part of its gift packs distributed to staff during Chinese New Year. The gold-bar magnets represented a blissful blessing for the family, something that employees were deeply appreciative of. The family-friendly atmosphere also makes up an important part of the workplace culture, with the organisation employing three chefs to cook a daily lunch, complete with afternoon desserts. Due to space constraints, different meal-times are structured for employees to have their lunch within the company’s kitchen. “The most important thing is the homely message that the meal is kept warm for you,” says Dr Seit. “You might laugh at this, but even when I have outside engagements, the chefs will call me to ask if I’m coming back for lunch.”

Packing a punch Teck Sang was established in Singapore more than 50 years ago, and continues to trade with one eye on the traditional culture of its Chinese heritage. But that doesn’t mean that CEO Dr Andrew Seit isn’t ready to branch out into other fields. When two close friends, both boxing trainers, saw a business opportunity to run boxing classes on the fifth floor of the business’ headquarters in Hong Kong Street in Singapore, Dr. Seit was happy to get involved. Teck Sang employees are now entitled to special rates for the classes. Dr Seit says his younger staff, who enjoy close-contact and vigorous activities, had expressed an interest to pursue this particular

passion. “If you can adopt this into their workflow routine, it makes their lives much easier,” he tells HRM Asia. “We thought about this and we partnered with the two trainers to have their boxing lessons on our premises.” Being a stone’s throw away from the Central Business District has rubbed off on other employees looking to improve their health. The organisation’s female employees often partake in outdoor dance activities within the vicinity. Even Dr Seit enjoys sweating it out, though he says he prefers to jog around the picturesque Marina Bay area.

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SMART WORKFORCE SUMMIT October saw HRM Asia’s Smart Workforce Summit take place at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre. Over 100 delegates took part in the four days of discussion, workshops, and excursions that all focused on the future of work in Asia-Pacific


orkplaces are always evolving. Where once professional office environments consisted of countless cubicles and otherwise disconnected staff each pushing a different agenda to move the whole of an organisation forward, today open plan offices with emphasis on communication and teamwork are considered key. But what then of the future? Technology has certainly helped bring people together within their work environments over the last 20 years, but is that evolution now nearing its peak? Not in any way at all, according to futurists and technology experts. They expect the pace of change to accelerate even further in the years ahead. Some technologies that will be a part of this are already known: virtual and augmented reality technologies are expected to change the way people work as fast as mobile phones changed how they communicated.

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Other advances may not yet even be being planned yet. But they still have the potential to revolutionise the arts of production and creativity within even just a few years of their discovery.

The future is smart That vision for the future of work was laid forth as part of HRM Asia’s inaugural Smart Workforce Summit, held in Singapore between October 18 and 21. The first-of-its kind event featured a wide array of speakers, as well as some hands-on, practical demonstrations of real and next world innovations. Among the lineup, for example, was “Edgar”. This avatar robot was developed by Nanyang Technological University’s Institute for Media Innovation. It is able to project the gestures of its human user, who is able to control him from anywhere in the world. The user’s face and expressions, and even upper body movements, are mirrored by Edgar in



real time. Edgar was on hand through the first day of the Smart Workforce Congress, held at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre. He gave delegates a first-hand experience of the kinds of innovation that HR professionals will need to take into account in the workforce of the future.

Coming HR challenges

A futurist’s HR vision HR Futurist and Business Coach Rick Von Feldt (pictured above) conducted a mini-workshop for Smart Workforce Summit 2016 delegates, sharing how HR is being disrupted through technology and “disruptive unbundling”. He explained five future HR trends that will transcend all organisations globally: • HR will need to have “strategic foresight” as a critical skill, and build experience in leading teams through future trend and patterns sessions. HR needs to help organisations create priority matrixes on what to do first; • HR will focus much less on diversity, and much more on inclusion. The goal will be for organisations to help managers and leaders allow everyone to bring their best selves to work;

• Virtual and augmented reality will change the way we work as fast as mobile phones have changed how we communicate. Experiencing and experimenting with augmented and virtual realities will be an important skill for HR; • Organisations will divide their employees into demographic “archetypes”, each with its own set of needs, motivations and ways in which they work. It is no longer enough to have a homogeneous workplace; • Cognitive technologies (such as artificial intelligence, predictive data, and machine learning) will bring in robust predictive data and recommendations. HR departments will also need to have a data scientist on their teams.

A wide range of human speakers also shared their insights over the first two days of the Congress. They included futurist and leadership expert Rick Von Feldt, human development consultant and senior Advisor on Asia to the European Foundation of Management Development Bob Aubrey, and Twitter’s Regional HR Business Partner for AsiaPacific Bala Subramaniam. Together, they painted a vision of the future environment of work as a very different and more challenging place, but also one of opportunities for innovations and human development. In particular, each of the experts reminded the HR delegates presents that it would be up to them and their teams to set an example of agility and responsiveness to the rest of their organisations. Among the challenges discussed and dissected were: • The automation and precision technology that could replace some human jobs, and the impacts that may have on the wider workforce • The technology and innovations (such as Edger the robot) set to improve the way people work • The importance of soft skills for human workers, and the best ways to develop these • How new HR technologies will help to drive smarter workforces • The importance of the Agile Model of HR, and how it builds HR teams that are adaptive to change • The people and leadership skills that will be needed to bring change and transformation to organisations • What employees will be expecting in this new world of work, and how to ISSUE 16.12


EVENT REPORT engage and connect with them

On site technology But it wasn’t just run of the mill presentations that delegates to the Smart Workforce Summit were able to experience. An event based on technology and future could not be comprehensive without a significant element of interactivity to ensure a holistic learning experience for participants. With this in mind, the programme also featured a range of interactive workshops on the basics of change management and HR transformation – two key tasks that will keep HR teams at the forefront of strategy over the coming decade. The Summit also hosted a dedicated Exposition and Demonstration lounge, featuring the latest HR tools and software on the market. Several technology startups were also on hand to demonstrate their still yet-to-be-released technology.

Training and excursions Around 20 Smart Workforce delegates also attended a full-day training seminar on gamification strategies. This exclusive Masterclass, held on October 20, focused on one of the most celebrated, tools to enhance and inspire learning and development in workforces of all levels and specialisations. Gamification strategies have helped to revolutionise training programmes in a wide range of companies, giving learners an added incentive (to improve against their friends and colleagues) to take part and engage with internal development courses. Masterclass participants were presented with both the theory and the modern practice of gamification as it has been used in a wide range of employing organisations around the world. The final day of the Smart Workforce Summit saw delegates hit the road, with guided visits to some of Singapore’s most technology-engaged workplaces. The Company Site Tours programme shared the inside HR story of organisations such as DBS Bank (see: right), Dell, Grain, and the Singapore Sports Hub. 62 ISSUE 16.12


Ergonomics of a collaborative workplace As part of the inaugural Smart Workforce Summit, delegates visited DBS’ offices at the Marina Bay Financial Centre, where they saw first-hand how the Singapore bank’s newlyrevamped work spaces help to fuel employees’ creativity and boost productivity. People today want “work spaces” more than “work stations”, says Vanessa Lin, Assistant Vice President of Internal Communications and Marketing, DBS Corporate Real Estate Strategy and Administration. DBS’ level 15 office, which it has dubbed “JoySpace”, is a case in point. JoySpace breaks away from DBS’ old office set-up of neatly arranged desks separated by dividers. Instead, two massive, long desks shaped after the letters “J” and “S” have been placed right in the middle of the space, along with greenery cleverly located in strategic corners for a change in aesthetics. There are also movable desk-chair pods (school-style chairs fitted with desk surfaces), breakout rooms for more conducive

discussions, window booth seats overlooking the Marina Bay, as well as other unconventional work areas. Employees can sit anywhere they please and the mobile pods in particular are extremely popular. As one employee says, they allow users to travel around the office freely without having to get off their seats! DBS designed JoySpace with the aim of facilitating greater interaction and flexibility, a goal Lin says has been achieved and surpassed. For example, employees are now able to communicate freely without barriers and engage in spontaneous discussions without needing to set aside separate, cumbersome meeting times. The Smart Workforce Summit company tour programme, held on October 23, also brought the 32 participating delegates to the digitally-focused premises of computer hardware developer Dell, integrated food service provider Grain, and the Singapore Sports Hub.


Opportunities that global mobility offers


ith the increased pace of globalisation, we start to see the emergence of a talent market where organisations now look beyond their traditional borders and industries to tap onto a global talent pool that is increasingly mobile and diverse. The reason for this increase in demand stems from retiring workforces in both developed and emerging markets. In addition, there is an increase in the number of well-educated and talented individuals who are more globally-connected and seeking to move internationally than the Baby Boomer generation was. This trend provides new opportunities for companies to


Mausami Arora HR Business Partner, British American Tobacco, Singapore

attract the best people, but at the same time, they also open themselves up to the risk of losing their most talented people to competitors. From my personal experience, I would like to offer a few options for companies to leverage this trend and stay ahead of the competition in attracting talents: • Build a strong employer brand by creating a culture of diversity and inclusion • Stay connected with the global pool of talent by leveraging on technology such as social media • Develop a more agile and constantly-evolving mobility strategy that is tailored to the diverse needs of internal high potentials.

6.00 AM

Having lived and worked in both mature and emerging economies, I would like to offer a few options to anyone considering a more global HR career: • Actively plan to make relocation a reality by discussing with your family before the opportunity arises • Be open to work in emerging markets which could give you the opportunity to learn new things and build your leadership capabilities • Adopt a new mindset with a global outlook. Instead of asserting your own culture bias, embrace other cultures and their best practices which could help you in being a true global leader for the future.

I start my day early with a session of yoga. It keeps me calm and dynamic throughout rest of the day. I use my commute time to plan the day ahead and do some reading to keep myself abreast of the latest happenings in business and the HR world.

drive British American Tobaacco’s talent agenda. We emphasise on building the means to develop our talent further; to drive behaviours positively impacting the bottom line; and to keep improving British American Tabacoo as an employer of choice.

9.00 AM

1.00 PM

I spend the first 30 minutes with my team prioritising deliverables and resolving any potential bottlenecks for everyone involved. This allows us to quickly segue into building actual solutions and proposals, before taking over the inflow of new workstreams.

I use lunch time to catch up with colleagues beyond work in a less formal environment. Post-lunch, I am all geared up to play the second half of the innings! Every day is a new day with different challenges. I am either involved in regular exercises, like cost budgeting, workforce planning, and talent reviews, or proactively resolving people issues to facilitate British American Tobbacco’s business goals.

11.00 AM By now, I am already engaging the leadership teams across businesses to continuously

Lee U-jin Head of HR, Asia Sibelco Asia

3.00 PM You may also find me working with my stakeholders in the region to facilitate talent movement, or drive change management or continuous process improvements. It will also depend on the larger people agenda that we are driving at any point as key business partners.

5.00 PM I finish off my last few meetings for the day and start working on the numerous action items that have been identified.

7.00 PM On my way back home, I clear my emails and use the time to prioritise my work for the next day. Once at home I make it a point to spend quality time with my family in the evening. ISSUE 16.12





While itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s common for HR heads to juggle a plethora of job duties, none may be as diverse as the portfolios assumed by Darren Lim, HR Director, KFC and Pizza Hut Singapore. HRM Asia caught up with him ahead of his presentation to the Singapore Talent and Recruitment Show in March, 2017

Darren Lim

HR Director, KFC, and Pizza Hut Singapore Darren Lim has been a practicing HR professional for almost 20 years. He started his career in airport operations in the aviation Industry with Singapore Airport Terminal Services and has since established a long-term career in HR with other Singapore companies including Asia-Pacific Breweries (APB). He spent several years in regional roles with Fortune 500 companies Honeywell and Yum Brands. Most recently, he joined KFC Singapore and Pizza Hut Singapore as the Director of HR. He holds an Honours Degree from National University of Singapore and a post-graduate qualification from the Singapore HR Institute.

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Please describe your roles in KFC. How do you divide your time between them?

I am the Director of HR for KFC and Pizza Hut Singapore, but I really have two roles - HR and Information Technology. I know it’s an odd dual portfolio for a HR professional to have, but my previous work experience managing IT projects helps me. I would not survive a day in KFC if I wasn’t surrounded with a team of competent HR and IT professionals. So, having a good team is the most important success factor. Second, I focus on planning and prioritising initiatives and tasks. This helps keep me focused on the big picture and pay more attention to the actions and activities that matter most. Also, it keeps me from engaging in any micromanaging.


What is the biggest recruitment challenge for KFC?

Attracting talent into the food business is challenging and will become more so in Singapore. First of all, the F&B industry is not the top career choice of Singaporeans. The preferred career choices are often MNCs, Financial Services, and branded Singapore companies. Second, working in the F&B industry is hard work. Long hours, both in the office and at retail levels, tends to be a given. Third, even if people choose this industry, there are lots of employer choices as hundreds of new food retail concepts enter the Singapore F&B scene every year. KFC needs to compete with all the current incumbents as well as with these new entrants.


With many fast-food establishments around, how does KFC differentiate itself in the war for talent?

KFC is an established brand in the food and consumer industry. We are known, in

EASING HR’S BIGGEST ANXIETIES Darren Lim, HR Director, Kentucky Fried Chicken Management & Pizza Hut Singapore, will be part of a formidable array of speakers and progressive HR leaders presenting at HRM Asia’s Singapore Talent and Recruitment Show. This is the only and first-ever two-in-one Congress event in Asia-Pacific combining two

of HR’s biggest concerns in this region: talent management and recruitment. The March 1-3 event will arm delegates with key talent management and recruitment strategies to retain and engage employees, enhancing loyalty and reducing turnover.

For more information, visit:

the food industry, to be a good employer that has good management across the organisation, strong training, and career advancement opportunities. It has also, not least, proven longevity in this competitive and volatile industry. The corporate culture in KFC is second to none. We believe in Employer Branding from the “Inside Out”. Our culture on Being Our Best at KFC has six key themes and we have a practice to “recognise” individuals for being a great role model. We identify and publicly praise individuals for being great role models in customer service, positive team behaviour and being a leader that walks the talk. We constantly refresh our learning and development programmes. In its most recent refresh, we launched several new workshops and programmes on frontline leadership, service recovery initiative and diversity. All these programmes are designed specifically for our high-paced industry. We also launched workshops with the objective of breaking through new ways of thinking. Our participants typically include not just office teams but almost always, restaurant teams as well.


It is notoriously difficult to retain talent in the fast- food industry. Does this apply to your organisation as well?

If attracting talent into the food industry wasn’t hard enough, retaining talent is tougher. However, KFC has been

successful in retaining talent within our restaurant management team and our office talent as well. Our turnover at restaurant level has dropped significantly in recent years but we are never complacent. This year, we will embark on an Employee Engagement Survey (EES) and we included full timers and part timers. We are serious in asking their feedback and improving ourselves as a company.


What will you be focusing on in your presentation to the HRM Singapore Talent and Recruitment Show?

To be honest, I have not nailed down a specific topic yet. But I intend to share my perspectives on attracting talent via new methods of technology but also pay homage to “old methods” that work well too. In addition, I would like to elaborate on the importance of company culture and looking for culture fit when hiring.


What practical insights are you hoping to gain from the HRM Singapore Talent and Recruitment Show yourself?

As I accumulate more candles on my birthday cake, I have come to realise that I really don’t know enough of many things. So, at this forum, I intend to listen and observe, and hopefully learn from others around me.

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n his




ith millennials forming the bulk of today’s workforce, organisations are being forced to learn to communicate effectively and engage with this demographic. That’s where HRM Asia’s Employee Engagement and Experience Congress, held on November 16 and 17, was able to shine a valuable light. The event saw HR leaders and managers gather together to exchange best practices and ideas about engagement and the employee experience across their organisations. One key presentation was by Prem Bhagat, HR Director of online grocery service Redmart. He said changes in people’s motivations and the greater availability of information meant that what keeps

employees engaged at work has also evolved. Organisations need to give employees the opportunity to be their “authentic selves”, he said. They should also aim to identify employees’ signatures or key strengths, create challenging experiences for them, and even encourage dissenting opinions. These measures will work to boost the employee value proposition, which keeps staff excited and dialled in to their company, Bhagat said. Selena Nimerick, Vice President of Customer Satisfaction and Quality at Schneider Electric Singapore also shared the company’s employee engagement philosophies with the Congress. For the energy management and automation company, this revolves


largely around diversity and inclusion. It is part of the “He For She” movement, and has set a goal of achieving salary equity across genders lines for its 150,000 employees by 2017. Some 16,000 employees internationally have also attended Diversity and Inclusion learning, Nimerick said. There has been a significant payoff in terms of staff retention and engagement, Nimerick said, with the company’s most recent employee survey indicating that diversity and inclusion rated the most important out of six engagement drivers. Inclusive talent management also means leaders have to be more aware of and sensitive to the needs of their people. “We ask team members ‘how are you feeling today?’ instead of ‘how are you doing?”, says Nimerick.

been tracking our employee engagement for the past couple of years. We are doing quite well in this area but we still want to do better. So we are constantly looking out for opportunities where we can learn from the industry and what’s happening in other companies so that we can apply the best practices.

How did the content relate to your work?

Meghal Goradia Senior HR Business Partner

Advanced Micro Devices (Singapore)

Describe your role at Advanced Micro Devices and what brought you to the Employee Engagement and Experience Congress? As a Senior HR Business Partner, I take care of the whole employee lifecycle, from the time they onboard to the time they exit. I ensure that this lifecycle is complete as well as fulfilling for the employees. The topic really drew me to this event. Also, at the moment Advanced Micro Devices is undergoing a lot of changes. We’ve 66 ISSUE 16.12


It related to quite a significant extent. A lot of things that were shared were regarding different sections of engagement, and there was very detailed discussion on each. It brought in a lot of thoughts. We don’t want to do a copy-and-paste of what is happening in other companies, but it gives us some food-for-thought about how differently we want to introduce these ideas to Advanced Micro Devices.

What was the biggest takeaway for you? In the panel discussion on “Equipping Managers with The Right Competencies for Engagement”, there were a lot of good ideas about how engagement should be. It’s an ongoing debate about how do you tie engagement with happiness. Do you really tie these two together? Or should engagement be customised? At Advanced Micro Devices, we believe engagement should be tailor-made, so it’s good to hear other viewpoints.


17-18 Jan Learning and Development Congress

EVENTS CALENDAR first quarter, 2017 14-15 Feb 01-03 Mar

Measuring ROI on Training and Development Masterclass

Singapore Talent and Recruitment Show

24 Feb

HRM Awards Gala Presentation

15-16 Mar HR Business Partner Congress

3-4 May HR Summit Asia

30-31 Mar Strategic HR Business Partnering Masterclass

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BRINGING THE CLASSROOM TO WORK For the first time, HRM Asia’s Young Gun section speaks to a recent graduate now making waves as an HR professional What attracted you to HR? My interest in HR came about by pure coincidence, considering how little I knew about it just two years ago. The change of course only came about when I was given a leadership role in a student organisation that focused on people development and talent management. As I engaged in the discussions around talent issues and took part in the planning and execution of various programmes, I grew to better understand and appreciate the role HR plays in influencing an organisation’s success. That spark of interest in HR eventually pushed me to explore a career in this field.

How have your applied the knowledge learned in university to the working world? At Microsoft, I am now acquiring further skills and knowledge to build on the foundation that classroom learning laid down for me. While onthe-job learning is contextualised and embedded with more practical value, it is often less structured and I still find myself falling back on the classroom frameworks to connect the dots. Classroom learning, on the other hand, is taught in a topical fashion that rarely highlights the interdependence of various HR disciplines on a shared outcome. Nonetheless, the things I have learned from the classroom and on the job complement each other, providing me with a good headstart.

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How has your graduate role with Microsoft been so far? It is very exciting and challenging. Hired through the Microsoft Academy for College Hires (MACH) programme, I will spend the first two years gaining exposure to multiple aspects of HR in Microsoft. My first two months was primarily centered around onboarding activities, which spanned from joining the MACH onboarding conference to learning the basics of Microsoft’s HR management. I was given the best forms of support to manage the initial learning, as well as time to forge relationships with my colleagues and other stakeholders.

What are some early challenges you have encountered? The formidable learning curve certainly gave me a fright. Apart from that, the people at Microsoft are so passionate about their work that self-initiative is pretty much the way things work here. I am still adjusting from the college experience where I would normally receive more instruction from my professors.

Where do you see your HR career five years from now? After my role as a MACH, I will identify an area in HR, probably compensation and benefits, in which I can develop an in-depth expertise. I also look forward to taking on any challenge that stretches my limits, including an

Hoa Mai Nguyen HR Manager (Asia-Pacific region), Microsoft Graduated: Bachelor of Business Management, Singapore Management University

international assignment or further cross-training in other HR disciplines.

What are the top three things you want from your HR career? At the end of my HR career, I hope to have gained broad exposure to a wide range of different HR disciplines, had several deep international experiences, and built a network of peers and mentors that sustains my passion for people and HR.

Jump starting a career Hoa Mai Nguyen


t has already been two months, but I still jump out of bed every morning filled with excitement about the day to come. People think I am on a world tour. No, I just joined Microsoft.

The new Microsoft I joined the company here in Singapore in the midst of a momentous transformation, led by the company’s third CEO – Satya Nadella, who suceceded Steve Ballmer in 2014. Nadella is a cool tech-geek who whole-heartedly embraces the value of a “growth mindset”, the belief that one’s ability can be continuously acquired and developed with effort and persistence. Putting himself on a mission to transform Microsoft’s culture, Satya has permeated the organisation with this learner attitude. My time in Microsoft has not been long, but I can certainly feel the growing optimism among my colleagues about where the organisation is heading. The Microsoft I am part of today is a safe learning space where the thirst for growth is celebrated. Often, people ask me if I feel intimidated being in a team of seasoned HR colleagues, each of whom has at least a decade worth of experience under their belt. My answer has always been a firm “no”. Despite the gap in terms of experience and maturity, my colleagues have never made me feel anything less than a sense of appreciation for who I am and what I

bring to the team. Few things can give an anxious newbie more confidence and assurance than that. The Microsoft I am experiencing today is also loaded with enthusiasm and passion - so infectious that you will be swarmed with clouds of energy from the moment you step into the room. What I feel today did not happen by chance. It marks the culmination of a concerted effort of reshaping Microsoft’s culture to bring out greater empowerment from within. The result of it is reflected right on its people – the best living artifacts manifesting the values this organisation espouses – and in the work of innovation that has impressed the international technology community over the past few months.

What I have learned I have been given a role that carries a good balance between both the strategic and the more operational dimensions of HR. By getting my hands dirty in a series of internal consulting projects, I will get the chance to gain a broad exposure to the talent lifecycle. All these will be done while I can continue to deepen my interest in People Analytics. With a heavy emphasis on data insights and investment in data technology, there is a chance to explore the power of Big Data in influencing the people agenda. Having such intense learning packed into a short period of a few

years, it is only natural that I face a steep learning curve. The revelation that HR cannot operate in a vacuum highlights the need to develop a solid understanding of how businesses are conducted, so HR can effectively add fuel to their engines. More importantly, the nature of the job demands a high degree of peopleorientation. Although the recent HR practices have evolved to be more scientific and data-driven, HR is still less of a science and more of an art. I am constantly reminded by my colleagues to stay “people-centric” in everything I do.

Start with the end in mind In my short time here, I have gained immensely from working with what I believe are some of the most brilliant minds in the function, tapping on their wealth of experiences and dissecting the mechanics of the best talent practices across the technology industry. However, I do sincerely believe this is certainly not the only way, nor the only place to kick-start a succesful career in HR. There are many other organisations just like Microsoft that are placing a great emphasis on people and have the availability of resources in support of their HR investments. More than a job, HR is a career; and often the starting point does not matter as much as the destination. It is more important we can sustain our passion for this career path and the desire to learn and grow as HR professionals.

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Vice President of Employee Success, Asia-Pacific, Salesforce

How many years of HR experience?

I have over 20 years of experience working in HR. I am really showing my age here - when I started my undergraduate studies, it was not even called “HR” – it was “Personnel Management”!

Why did you choose HR as a career?

Whatever my thought process, it was long ago and a little by chance. I am incredibly grateful as it has turned out to be a very rewarding and exciting career where I have had lots of great opportunities to work with some great companies and leaders. Seeing the changes within HR as a function has also been exciting. Now more than ever, HR professionals are in a position to make a great impact on their organisations.

Why Salesforce?

The strong culture and organisation values set Salesforce apart from any other company I have worked for. Our values of Innovation, Customer Success, Equality, Trust, Transparency, Wellness, Giving Back and Fun are core to creating the Salesforce Ohana – which is Hawaiian for “Family”. The values are real and show up every day in our work.

Biggest achievements?

I have had many career highlights. Personally, I really feel a sense of achievement in seeing others develop, grow and reach their potential. I have mentored many HR professionals and see it as a way I can give back to the profession. Seeing these people now excelling in their own careers gives me a deep sense of pride.

What do you do after hours?

I make a conscious effort to switch off from work once I am home, and spend time with the kids. I try to make sure I am home on time so we eat together as a family and I am pretty tough on homework and making sure they get to bed on time. After that, I enjoy catching up on some of my favourite TV shows (I am hooked on Suits at the moment) and reading.

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caling up faster, farther, and more effectively is the key to business success, especially for startups and smaller companies. However, as all organisations grow bigger and mature, they run the risk of getting derailed by lofty goals and the slide towards mediocrity. In their book Scaling Up Excellence: Getting To More Without Settling For Less, authors Robert Sutton and Hayagreeva Rao identify a key obstacle to scaling efforts, which they dub “The Problem of More”. Although leaders and managers may be able to identify the pockets in their organisations where people are performing well, it can be difficult to extend such practices beyond a small population as businesses expand. Sutton and Rao discusses what it takes to build pockets of exemplary performance for effective scaling and improving organisations’ processes, so as to maintain sustained growth. Scaling Up Excellence does this by revealing the strategies used by effective leaders to develop, instill and spread new behaviours and beliefs in their people. It draws from academic research and insider accounts from a wide range of industries, including start-ups, airlines, healthcare and financial services. Notable examples include IKEA and Salesforce. Sutton and Rao also present useful frameworks and ideas gleaned from practitioners through a seven-year research process, described in the book’s appendix. Scaling efforts are complex and can be fraught with uncertainty, but the best leaders and scaling teams muddle through – and even revel in – the inevitable moments of unpredictability. Scaling Up Excellence is an insightful read peppered with practical, easy-to-follow case studies. Its lessons are broadly applicable, but the book ultimately reminds us there are no silver bullets in successful scaling, with everyone’s journey being different.

Title: Scaling Up Excellence Author: Robert Sutton and Hayagreeva Rao Publisher: Random House Business Books Price: S$21.03


S Padmanabhan Group Chief HR Officer, Tata Group

Tata Sons has appointed S Padmanabhan as Tata Group’s Chief HR Officer. All Group HR responsibilities will now be overseen by Padmanabhan, in addition to his existing responsibility of leading the Tata Business Excellence Group (TBEG). The appointment comes after the sudden departure of chairman Cyrus Mistry and several other senior executives of the Tata Group, including former Chief HR Officer N S Rajan. Padmanabhan, as the chairman of the TBEG, had kick-started the process of moving away from an initial focus on quality. TBEG had set itself a target of enabling at least 25 Tata companies to achieve industry leadership by 2025. As executive director of Tata Power Company since 2008, Padmanabhan has been responsible for the sustainable operations of all thermal and hydro generation plants across India, and the transmission and distribution systems in Mumbai. Padmanabhan’s HR experience can be traced back to his time as HR director at Tata Consultancy Services. Padmanabhan is a veteran at Tata Group, having spent nearly 35 years with the organisation. He first took on a senior executive position in 1982. Globally, Padmanabhan’s portfolio encompasses project management, customer management and diverse global workforce management. He is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore.

Jean-Michel Wu CEO, Asia-Pacific Grace Blue Partnership

Former McCann Worldwide Group Asia-Pacific’s Chief Talent Officer, Jean-Michel Wu, will be joining Grace Blue Partnership’s global board as AsiaPacific CEO. As CEO, Wu will lead expansion across the region, with the aim of opening offices in Shanghai soon alongside the existing hubs in New York, Singapore, and Mumbai. Wu will be based in the regional head office in Singapore alongside Michael Maedel, Helen Duffy and Hilda Ng, and will focus on expanding both Grace Blue’s geographical reach and its capabilities within the region. He will also be launching Liberty Blue, a business within the Grace Blue Partnership that works with the leaders of the future. Wu also plans to continue expanding the partnership’s consultancy services. Prior to his stint at McCann Worldwide Group, Wu spent over a decade with advertising and PR group WPP in a number of senior talent-related roles, including more than six years leading its leadership talent acquisition function across Asia. “At the risk of being cliché, this is a people-driven industry. Putting the right candidate in the right role at the right time has a profoundly transformative effect on a business. Grace Blue are at the forefront of innovative talent identification and recruitment and I am excited to be part of the next stage of their success”, said Wu.


Genevieve Godwin Head of HR

Telenor Digital Businesses Telenor Digital Business has appointed Genevieve Godwin to the new role of Head of HR. In this position, Godwin’s main focus will be on people development, something the company believes will be core to achieving its business goals. Godwin will be working across the digital business verticals predominately in Asia, Europe and the US. “Telenor takes prides in being bold and open to exploring new things outside the traditional telco core,” says Godwin. “This is also the case with how we approach HR. “I am able to leverage the amazing HR team and programmes we have within Telenor, as well as the opportunity to be dynamic and forward-thinking in the way we look at HR.” Telenor Digital Businesses is a global unit that manages Telenor’s investments in the digital space. The unit seeks to build strong positions within a selection of verticals including Online Marketplaces, the Internet of Things and advertising and marketing technology towards 2020, combining these with the existing core services, culture and footprint. Originally from Australia, Godwin has been in Singapore for five years and previously held the role of Asia-Pacific HR Director with advertising agency J. Walter Thompson. She has a strong background in the Technology and Communications sector, having spent eight years at Harris CapRock in various HR leadership roles, including Singapore for the Asia-Pacific region.

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WorkPro: A Win-Win Scheme for Employers and Employees

Companies can tap on WorkPro, an initiative under Adapt and Grow, to create age-friendly and flexible workplaces to boost performance and productivity


ur workforce is ageing. In 2006, only 13.4% of Singaporeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s resident workforce was aged 55 years and above, but this grew to 22.3% in 2015. With the imminent extension of reemployment from age 65 to 67 on July 1 next year, companies should make early adjustments to their HR practices to tap on the skills and experience of older workers. To optimise the contributions of older workers, jobs need to be redesigned. Job and process redesign can be fairly simple and cost-effective. This leads to greater efficiency and leaner organisations. More efficient work processes mean workers can perform

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tasks using less time, leading to an improvement in morale and motivation. To address these issues and foster progressive workplaces, augment local manpower and strengthen the Singaporean core in our workforce, the Ministry of Manpower and Workforce Singapore, in consultation with the National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), jointly developed the WorkPro scheme. The scheme, under which companies can receive funding support of up to S$480,000, was enhanced from July 1, 2016. The scheme comprises three grants. These are:

Age Management Grant

The Age Management Grant

offers organisations up to S$20,000 to raise awareness, build competencies, and support the implementation of good age management practices.

Job Redesign Grant

The Job Redesign Grant provides up to S$300,000 to help companies create easier, safer, and smarter jobs for older workers, aged 50 years and above.

Work-Life Grant

The Work-Life Grant offers up to S$160,000 for the implementation of Flexible Work Arrangements at workplaces for employees to vary their work to suit their individual work-life needs and achieve work-life harmony.


All local companies, including societies and non-profit organisations, if they are registered or incorporated in Singapore, can apply for these three grants, either separately or collectively. SNEF is an official programme partner appointed to administer WorkPro. Companies can email SNEF at or call 62907694 for more information and to apply for the grants today.

60 Paya Lebar Road, #13-45 Paya Lebar Square (Lobby 2) Singapore 409051 Tel: +65 6290 7694

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READER ADVICE Is your HR career progressing as you’d planned? Obstacles and barriers come in all shapes and sizes, but seasoned advice is never far away Email: to anonymously connect with the only career advice column exclusively for Asia’s HR community

Dear Laurence,

Dear Laurence,

Dear Laurence,

I am being made redundant from a job that I loved, as an assistant manager in the employee rewards team of a multinational in Singapore. I could continue to work for another six months, but my instinct is to leave as soon as possible. How big a disadvantage is it to be looking for work, but no longer have a job?

I graduated from a Singapore Poly almost one year ago and have not been able to find my first job in HR. I worry I have missed my chance to break into the profession. My grades are not perfect, but I do have a lot of extra-curricular activities and community service on my CV. Are there easier jobs to get that might provide a bridge toward a HR career in the future?

My organisation has a history of instituting redundancies at the slightest hint of outside economic pressure. I’m relatively new to the company’s HR team but understand we are setting up to cull staff again because of the expected downturn. Is it even possible to highlight alternative strategies?

Stranded Outside, Singapore

You really need to dig in to the details to understand what has led to this. Is it activist shareholders? Is it a domineering CEO? Whatever it is, you need to understand why. From there, you can build a sound business case that appeals to reason and the particular fears that have informed the history. Procter & Gamble once identified how much it spent on an ongoing cycle of retrenchment during tough times, and then rehiring and training costs during the better times. It turned out that having a longer-term view was far cheaper and offered greater performance. That may be intuitive, but you need the hard data to back up the theory in your organisation’s specific case. So yes, look at alternative strategies that you can present to decisionmakers, but make sure you understand the historical context first. You need to relate the alternatives back to those specific fears. If you are to have any chance of breaking the cycle.

Need a Job, Singapore Most recruitment managers and recruitment teams prefer passive job seekers rather than active job seekers. As such, I would be loath to quit unless I had something new to go to. I understand you want the mind space and clarity to embark on this next phase of your professional life, but I would still advise you to stay where you are for the time being. I would, however, encourage you to get out of the office more – head to industry events and take every opportunity to meet new people on a professional basis. This is networking from a position of strength, and is by far and away the best strategy for finding the next career move. Of course, this is assuming your personal life requires maintenance of income over at least the short to medium term. If you’re independently wealthy, it’s possible to depart early and conduct your new job search from the beach in Bali. For everyone else, stick to the job but focus as much as possible on your networking. You want to find not just the next job, but the best fit job for you.

Any form of recruitment, marketing, or conference producing jobs are potentially suitable roles. But if HR is your passion, don’t give up on it without a fight. You mention a lot of extra-curricular activities. Are these part of your HR résumé? If not, it’s time to start aligning your professional and personal lives more closely together. Consider taking a course through a massive, open online course provider like Coursera. I’d strongly advocate finding yourself a mentor. There are so many HR networking events that are either free or very low cost. There also the chambers of commerce that have regular meetings and brown bag lunches. Lastly, consider joining a startup. Singapore is a hotbed of new technology organisations and so many don’t have the capacity to invest in HR. But they would be keen to have you on board to help them in their growth. So in summary: create your own competencies, build your network, and if need be, try then building your own job.

Worried, Singapore

Laurence Smith is a board-level advisor to With 25 years of working experience in consulting and HR, his career has spanned across different industries and countries, including stints and projects with LG Electronics, GE Capital, McKinsey, the World Bank, and as Managing Director of HR for DBS Bank.

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Learning and Development Congress 2017 Enhancing Learning and Development to Drive The Workforce of the Future

17-18 January 2017 Singapore

On 17-18 Jan 2017, HRM Asia is bringing leading HR practitioners together to take attendees on a learning journey through the strategies, tools and technologies they are leveraging to enhance and align their learning and developing initiatives with the demands of the new workforce. A snapshot of the themes and topics that will be covered, as well as some of the speakers who will join us:

THEME 1: Learning And Development Initiatives And Technologies That Drive Performance

THEME 2: Creating A Culture of L&D Where Employees Are Accountable For Their Own Learning And Development

Micro Learning: The Future Of Training In The Workplace

Case Study From UTAC: Strategic Role Of Learning And Development In Driving People, Culture And Business Performance

Tarun Gulrajani, Head of Human ResouRces – asia & Pacific, REHAU

Sureash Kumar, Global Director – Talent Management, UTAC

Utilising Blended Learning Approach To Enhance Workforce Performance Jennifer Rogers, LeaRning and deveLoPment gRowtH LeadeR, asean + JaPan KoRea, DuPont

Capability – A End2End Winning Mindset Raman Sidhu, Global Head of Learning – Global Commercial, Shell Eastern Petroleum

THEME 3: Measuring The Effectiveness And ROI Of Your L&D Programs

THEME 4: Getting Buy-Ins from Stakeholders for Your New Learning and Development Initiatives

Measuring ROI in Learning and Development Initiatives

Panellists: Meghna Shukla, General Manager Talent and Organisational Development, Fonterra

Loes Schrijvers, Group Learning Manager – Leadership Management, Unilever The Critical Conversation: Connecting ROI To Expectations Sharyn Porter, Senior Vice President HR, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Understanding the Process, Current Issues and Trends in Training and Development ROI Evaluation

Angie Ng, Chief Human Resource Officer, Manulife Singapore

In this 2-day Masterclass developed by Dr Mariam Sha, participants will develop the skills needed to plan and deliver an effective return-on-investment (ROI) evaluation for learning and development. Participants will have an understanding of the content required in training programs to meet the individual, team Mariam Sha and organisational objectives, having the Managing Director Awakening Excellence end in mind. MASTERCLASS TRAINER

+PLUS 2-day Masterclass Measuring ROI on Training and Development Masterclass 2017

Raman Sidhu, Global Head of Learning – Global Commercial, Shell Eastern Petroleum

14-15 February 2017 Singapore

REGISTER TODAY! Tel: (65) 6423 4631 | Email: | ISSUE 16.12 HRMASIA.COM


Opportunities for Life

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

Talent Partner

Human Resources Director

• Focus on Talent Acquisition and Talent Management • SEA focus

• Global technology player • Strategic, challenging and hands-on role

Our client is an European MNC and they are currently seeking a dynamic professional to oversee all talent acquisition and management initiatives for the SEA region.

A global brand with extensive Asia footprint, our client has an immediate need for a consummate HR Professional to lead its people agenda in a growing market.

The role encompasses both Talent Acquisition and Talent Management domains. Reporting to the Talent Lead, you are an integral member responsible for the full suite of talent acquisition and talent management activities for your business group partnering closely with Business Heads, Shared Services and HR Business Partners. The successful candidate should be a graduate in HR Management and preferably worked within a matrix team environment with at least 8+ years of relevant experience. You should have excellent regional exposure with a strong background in talent attraction and management; possess broad perspective and have strong ability to be hands on and strategic. You are someone who is excellent in managing Talent Management Framework and have strong communications skills with proven track record in people strategy. Candidates should have relevant experience working with global corporations. To submit your application, please email your resume in word format to Li Li Kang at or Audrey Chong at EA Personnel Registration No. R1108467 & R1105147

You will develop and implement HR strategies and programs in areas of talent acquisition and development, total rewards, workforce planning to support attainment of business objectives. As a strategic HR advisor to leadership team, you will participate in business strategy development, maximize organizational performance and take lead for HR projects. You will provide direction, develop and coach local HR team with required competencies to support the business. The successful candidate is degree-qualified in Business Administration or HR with minimum 8 years relevant experience in strategic HR leadership roles. Demonstrated ability in stakeholder management, dealing with ambiguity in a highly matrix and fast-paced work environment is mandatory. Those with pre and post-merger & acquisition HR related experience coupled with strong project management skills are desired. You are a hands-on leader with coaching and mentoring skill, and possess excellent interpersonal and communication skills. 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.



• Newly created opportunity for Asia • Develop and communicate culture and value change for the region • Employer Branding and Employee Engagement Responsibilities Our client is one of the world’s leading industrial manufacturers that has established a strong presence in Asia is currently seeking to hire an experienced HR professional to develop and execute change management communications and organizational development. In this newly created role, you will partner closely with HR Business Partners, CoEs, and senior business leaders to create and implement internal and external communication programmes that will drive culture change. The successful candidate will have demonstrated a strong track record of organizational development, culture building and takes a strategic approach towards problem solving and people development. This individual should have high drive and energy, possess excellent communications, project management and stakeholder management skills. Reference number: CC/JD484305 Contact person: Celestine Chia (Registration Number R1442191)

Director, Compensation and Workforce Planning • Newly created opportunity for Asia • Lead a robust workforce planning process • Optimize and integrate compensation strategies for the region Our client is an esteemed European MNC and prides itself as a market leader in the manufacturing industry. With a recent transformation, they are currently seeking an experienced HR professional to set up the Compensation and Workforce Planning CoE in Asia. In this newly created role, you will partner closely with HR Business Partners, other CoEs, and senior business leaders to ensure a robust workforce planning process across the business for the region. You will gather and analyze workforce information, trends and benchmarking data that will resolve workforce issues and support the capability of the organization. The successful candidate will have demonstrated a strong track record around compensation strategies and workforce planning processes, has strong analytical skills, is process-driven and has strong communications skills. Reference number: CC/JD484284 Contact person: Celestine Chia (Registration Number R1442191)

Your Human Resources recruitment specialists To apply, please go to and search for the respective reference number. For a confidential discussion, you can contact the relevant consultant for the specific position in our Singapore Office on +65 6511 8555. Aston Carter (formerly Talent2) is an operating company of Allegis Group, the global leader in talent solutions.

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Allegis Group Singapore Pte Ltd Company No. 200909448N EA Licence No. 10C4544

HR Advisor • MNC Manufacturing Client • Reports to : Regional HR Business Partner, South Asia This role is for a HR professional supporting the business in executing the functional strategy and achieving business goals and objectives by ensuring data quality of HR systems (accurate and up-to-date),reporting on headcount movements, managing hiring and recruitment trackers and performing org mapping for engagement surveys. This individual would be the main point of contact for Regional HR function with regard to data and systems and would provide Regional Management Team with requested HR-related data (taking into account data privacy and other applicable legislation). They would also perform mapping for ViewPoint engagement survey for the region. Being involved in Change Management, Organisation design and compensation & benefits space, this role is for a well grounded HR Generalist. You are an excellent communicator and have a flair for Business partnering at the same time strong in data and HR operations. The organisation is fast paced and multicultural. Reference number: CC/ 483980 Contact person: Celestine Chia (Registration Number R1442191)


Senior Manager, Organizational Development





Regional Compensation & Benefits Director › Strategic responsibilities › Key leadership position Our client is a renowned global leader that has established a strong sales and manufacturing footprint, as well as business growth, in the Asia Pacific region. As the functional head, you will be responsible for creating a vision and generating compelling compensation and benefits (C&B) strategies that are aligned with corporate needs. You will serve as the key go-to C&B advisor in Asia Pacific, driving best practices in C&B processes and capabilities. You will develop and institute equitable and competitive C&B programmes that complement the organisation’s attraction and retention strategies, building a compelling workforce that will help achieve business objectives. Please contact Aprilyn Chan (Reg. No: 1216039) quoting ref: H3745220 or visit our website.

Talent & Organisational Development Manager, Asia Pacific › Newly created role › Dynamic work environment

Assistant HR Director › Stable organisation › Highly visible position

Our client is a well-established engineering technology organisation with a strong foothold in the Asia Pacific region. To support their regional expansion, they are looking for an experienced HR practitioner to partner the business in a greenfield project, designing and delivering the organisation’s overall learning and growth strategy with a focus on organisational culture and behaviours, talent and leadership development. You will be the key driver in conceptualising and implementing learning agendas and managing interventions to drive organisational effectiveness.

Our client is a renowned leader in the research and development field with strong contributions to the industry. They have continuously achieved strong business performance in line with their presence and are now looking for an assistant HR director to lead a team of up to 10 HR practitioners for the organisation’s full spectrum of HR needs. You will be a key member of the senior management team, and will play an advisory role on all human capital matters in Singapore. You will design longterm HR strategies and provide practical medium-term solutions to meet business goals. The key to your success lies in your ability to engage senior leaders at a strategic level while retaining oversight on HR operational matters.

Please contact Aprilyn Chan (Reg. No: 1216039) quoting ref: H3542690 or visit our website.

Please contact Dan Pang (Reg. No.: 1545469) quoting reference H3741080 or visit our website.

To apply for any of the above positions, please go to and search for the reference number, or contact the relevant consultant at +65 6533 2777 for a confidential discussion.

Get Connected. Stay Ahead.

Human Resources

15867-AC_SG_HRM_1611.indd 1

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15867 | Michael Page International Pte Ltd (EA Licence No.98C5473) is part of the PageGroup. Registered Office: One Raffles Place, #09-61 Office Tower Two, Singapore 048616


24/11/2016 4:17:02 PM



Headquartered in Singapore since 2003, Kerry Consulting is Singaporeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leading Search & Selection firm. Our consulting team is the most experienced, and amongst the largest, in the ASEAN region.

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R i i w t a t

I r m p t e I c

T j t s


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


T A g t p

Y H t a C a t C p a m

Y P d s e s d h c

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HRMASIA.COM | Returning the Human to Resourcing

APAC L&D Specialist

HR Regional Manager, APAC

Senior HR Manager

Newly Created Position APAC Portfolio 50% Travel Required

Health & Life Science Industry APAC Portfolio Strong Hands-on Generalist Experience

Strong HR Operations Stakeholder Management Dynamic Environment

This leading global organisation is seeking a L&D Specialist to support the APAC region. In this newly created position, you will play a key role in supporting and developing training programmes for the client and its partners. Due to the focus in the development of talent and the development function in APAC, there is an exciting opportunity for a dynamic individual to join the Talent L&D team.

This leading MNC within the healthcare industry is looking to expand its presence in APAC. It is now seeking an APAC Regional HR Manager.

This global leader in its industry is seeking a Senior HR Manager with strong HR operations background and business partnering skills set.

Reporting directly to the Global HR Lead, you will be responsible for building the HR structure and supporting the regional business.

Reporting directly to the Talent Director, you will assist in the implementation of the learning needs analysis exercise to identify the total learning needs for the countries. This includes working closely with the business, HR, and regional partners to support the optimal sourcing and implementation of HR and L&D strategies and programmes for all functions within the organisation in accordance with the learning plan.

You will have the ability to balance the need for strategic HR leadership with the need for hands-on generalist support in functions such as talent management, C&B, employee relations, and training. Your role will require you to travel within the region 30% of the time.

Reporting directly to the APAC HR Director, you will be responsible for end-to-end HR spectrum, including talent acquisition, business partnering, C&B, HR operations, and payroll.

Ideally, you will have 6 to 8 years of experience in Training or related curriculum, along with proven experience in designing multiple training events in a corporate setting. You will also possess knowledge of learning management software and training design—work experience in a manufacturing environment with regional experience will be an advantage. In addition, you will be a self-starter with strong communication, influencing, and presentation skills. To apply, please submit your resume to Joy Seow at, quoting the job title and the reference number of JS11002. We regret that only shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Licence No: R1107886

You will be degree qualified in Human Resource or a relevant discipline with at least 10 years of HR generalist, HRBP or operations background. Work experience in a MNC organisation within the FMCG or pharmaceutical industry will be an advantage. You will also possess strong interpersonal skills for building rapport across all levels, as well as 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 JS10326. We regret that only shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Licence No: R1107886

You will have solid HR operations experience and a very hands-on approach. You will also possess strong interpersonal skills for building rapport across all levels, as well as leadership abilities and a partnering mentality. You will be degree qualified in Human Resource or a relevant discipline with at least 12 years of hands-on HR operations—work experience in a MNC organisation will be an advantage. As the HR Director is not based in Singapore, you will need to be someone who is independent, detail-oriented, and who has the ability to manage changes. To apply, please submit your resume to Joy Seow at, quoting the job title and the reference number of JS11034. We regret that only shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Licence No: R1107886

Regional C&B Lead (VP Level), Banking Industry

Plant HRM – Global Manufacturing Organisation

Vice President, HR (Group Benefits) – Banking Industry

Prominent Asian Banking Institution Newly Created Role Dynamic Work Environment

Global Organisation Country HR Leadership Role Team Lead Role

Major Banking Institution Regional Scope Conducive Work Environment

This is a reputable bank with footprint across the Asia Pacific region and a strong track record of solid growth and profits. Building on its sound foundations, the bank has embarked on an exciting journey to prepare for its next stage of growth.

This prominent organisation has recorded strong business growth in the region.

This major banking institution is recruiting a dynamic and high calibre Vice President to head the Group Benefits team.

You will report to and work closely with the Group Head of C&B to lead, design, develop, and implement the rewards and performance management strategy across the bank, as well as develop and implement the C&B strategy, philosophy, policies, and programmes across the group. As this is a newly created role, there will be significant opportunities to help shape the C&B function across the region while you work in close partnership with the in-country HR leads. You will also be responsible for all C&B and performance management matters across the Asia Pacific region. You will have a strong foundation of C&B in the Asia Pacific region. You will also be an experienced and driven individual with strong stakeholder management skills. You should have worked in fast-paced environments and are prepared to ‘roll up your sleeves’ while being able to advise on strategies to drive business growth. In addition, you will need to have the gravitas to influence the business in a commercial sense. To apply, please submit your resume to Finian Toh at, quoting the job title and reference number FT110911. We regret that only shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Licence No: 16S8060

Reporting directly to the Global HR VP based in Singapore, you will manage a small team and be responsible for all aspects of human resources business partnering for a high-performance commercial organisation with complex operations and some markets that are undergoing double-digit growth rates. Focusing on areas such as Learning & Development, talent roadmapping, performance evaluation best practices, and HR strategies, you will gain wide exposure throughout the HQ and access a clear path to advance into a global role. You will be degree qualified with at least 10 years of relevant experience in blue-chip MNCs (including at least 5 years of experience in a managerial position). You must be able to build rapport across all levels and markets, demonstrate strong leadership abilities, and display a partnering mentality. You will also be strategic in mindset and tactical in delivery. At the same time, you will possess strong interpersonal and communication skills, as well as a team mindset. To apply, please submit your resume to Finian Toh at, quoting the job title and reference number FT10414. Due to high volume of responses, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Licence No: 16S8060

This leadership role will be instrumental in managing the Group Benefits programme, including programmes such as Employee Share Purchase Plan and Staff Loans, as well as play a lead role in managing the global mobility programme. You will also be the key decision-maker for human capital, drive people agenda, and contribute to the alignment of business and employee objectives through utilising appropriate HR interventions and change management tools. As a specialist, this role encompasses design, development, and implementation of benefits schemes and new initiatives at the Group Level. You will be degree qualified and possess significant years of HR experience gained in a major MNC or financial institution, along with a proven track record in HR policy development, leadership, and management roles. You will also be someone who is highly credible and tenacious, as well as a self-starter and a lateral thinker who is measured in your approach. To apply, please submit your resume to Finian Toh at, quoting the job title and reference number FT11029. Due to high volume of applications, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Licence No: 16S8060

ISSUE 16.12


RECRUITING HR EXPERTS ENHANCING HR CAREERS HR Operations Manager An exciting opportunity has arisen within a global pharmaceutical organisation for an HR Operations Manager. Reporting into the HR Director and leading a team, you will be working within a shared services environment providing after end-to-end quality HR operational support throughout an employeeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s life cycle from global mobility and benefits administration to onboarding and payroll. Degree qualified, you will have a minimum of 8 years of HR operational and generalist experience, including 3 years of managerial experience in a large matrix environment handling high volumes and transactions. Contact Ash Russell (Reg ID. R1109296) at or call +65 6303 0721.

Assistant HR Manager An exciting opportunity exists for an experienced HR Generalist to join the HR team of this well-known European MNC that services the oil and gas industry. This is a newly created role in a business with a stable growth trajectory. Reporting into the HR Manager, you will provide full spectrum support and advisory services in all areas of HR in particular within employee engagement. Leveraging off the specialists within recruitment and compensation and benefits, you will be rolling out initiatives and working with stakeholders on policies and procedures.

Talent & Organisation Management Consultant A large management consultancy firm is currently seeking a Senior Consultant responsible for supporting senior leaders with change and talent management. You will be accountable for developing profitable business through effective client relationship building, account management, and collaboratively working with colleagues. You will utlilise your experience to understand client issues and customise solutions to fit requirements. Contact Sophie Baker (Reg ID. R1658732) at or call +65 6303 0721.

APAC Learning & Development Manager A Swiss MNC with over 200 employees is currently seeking a Regional Learning & Development Manager to join the HR team in Singapore. Reporting into the Global Head of Learning & Development, you will be responsible for providing learning and organisational development solutions to the business. You will identify learning needs across the region in close partnership with business heads in order to strengthen the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s competitive advantage. Contact Ash Russell (Reg ID. R1109296) at or call +65 6303 0721.

Contact Sophie Baker (Reg ID. R1658732) at or call +65 6303 0721.

EA License Number: 07C3924

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With proven track record in a diverse range of industries, our services and solutions can be adapted and customised for almost any industry.


HRM 16.12 Bureaucracy Buster  

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