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S MARCUHAM G IN K C U B at it m HR Sum sia A o p x E & 0 & 1 0th May 2

Breaking all

the rules Price inc. GST $9.95

Marcus Buckingham on innovative leadership


Sa Ea ve Dis rly Ov co Bi er unt rd 50 %




As the Go-To HR current HR trends expectations of ou

H R 4 . 0 – R e t h i n k T h e W a y Yo u W o r k

Get to grips trends in t














Benchmark your HR practices and strategies against others Understand the most important HR and management developments

Why Attend?

Network with over 4,000 industry peers

Share your thoughts and ideas with fellow attendees


110+ concurrent sessions covering practical topics designed f 8 conference streams and cost options. Choose from one of




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he Go-To HR and Workforce Management Event in Asia, HR Summit & Expo Asia 2018 will be focusing on ent HR trends and the new ways of working that are transforming our daily professional environment and the ctations of our employees.

Speakers Update: Surviving the Tech Storm - The Future of Work and HR

Get to grips with the current trends in the local market

Nicklas Bergman Serial Entrepreneur, Tech Investor and Futurist Hear best practices from the industry’s most progressive organisations

HR Disrupted Lucy Adams Author and Disruptive HR Expert

Meet industry players from Singapore and the region under one roof

Shifting Mindsets in Your Organisation Embracing Change and Adapting to the New World of Work

Why Attend?

Kim Wylie Head of Customer Change and Culture Google

Building a Disruptive Innovation Culture Challenge The Status Quo

Get engaged and inspired to create a better workplace for tomorrow

Azran Osman-Rani Former CEO of AirAsia X and iflix Malaysia

Learn new skills and stay up-to-date

The Future of Work – HR 4.0 Aileen Tan Group Chief Human Resources Officer Singtel


pics designed for all levels of HR practitioner, spanning e from one of the following:





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Muhamad Azlin Ismail GRAPHIC DESIGNER







Gene Whitlock PRINTED BY

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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:

Dear HRM Magazine Asia readers,


arch marks the arrival of Spring for the northern hemisphere – not that we have real seasons here in Singapore – but it also represents the time of the year when many businesses, in all parts of the world, kick into high gear. The most notable day of the month, however, has to be March 8, on which International Women’s Day takes place each year, celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women from around the globe. But this year’s observance looks set to take on a very different meaning, in the wake of all the recent workplace harassment scandals in the US. It seems we might be heralding a new age of female empowerment. Consider this: The first Women’s March in 2017 saw some 5 million participants globally. This year’s event saw a turnout of almost 3 million people just in the US alone. This emerging consciousness has also spilled over to the Asian workplace. As logistics titan Damco’s Global COO Saskia Groen-in’t-Woud shares in this month’s Leaders Talk HR, women should actively steer clear of the shadows if they want to make their mark in business. “Get as much exposure to different elements of the business as possible,” is her advice to aspiring women leaders. “Always put your hand up for stretch assignments.” For the first time, we also bring our

regular HRM Five web series to these pages. And this month’s topic? How HR can help women to break the glass ceiling of executive leadership. Do look out for this new regular feature on page 13. It’s not just women promoting their own cause. Our cover story subject this month – HR thought leader and HR Summit & Expo Asia 2018 keynote speaker Marcus Buckingham – also offered his take on the repercussions of harassment and the #MeToo movement. “A lot of the sexual harassment stuff is about men abusing their power,” the advocate for discarding traditional conventions, including male dominance in the workplace, shares. “A lot of things have to change, but one of them is helping women know they have more power than they think, to identify where their real strengths lie independent of men.” As we wrap up the first quarter of 2018, we would like to take the opportunity to thank all of you for your continued support of the magazine, and our Daily Dispatch newsletter, which is now delivered to your inboxes every weekday. Warmly,

KELVIN ONG Senior Journalist, HRM Asia

CONTACT US: 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:


©HRM Asia Pte Ltd, 2018. All rights reserved. Republication permitted only with the approval of the Editorial Director.


MCI(P) 028/07/2017 ISSN 0219-6883

Editorial Director


Senior Journalist

MARCH 2018

YAMINI CHINNUSWAMY Journalist yamini.chinnuswamy





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From The Oprah Winfrey Show to HRM Asia’s very own HR Summit and Expo in May, Marcus Buckingham has made it his mission to inspire the top minds of the business world. In our cover story, he talks about how the best leaders have no time for so-called management “rules”

“What is still true today is that if you want to help a person contribute their very best, you have to find out what’s unique about them, and help them hone that”




Saskia Groen-in’t-Woud, Global Chief Operating Officer of Damco, talks to HRM Magazine Asia about her hands-on approach to leadership, and how it has helped her steer the company in both good times and bad

Not to be mistaken for digitisation, digitalisation is the use of technology to change an organisation’s entire business model at work – and it’s something organisations need to prioritise in these times of disruption


At pharmaceutical titan GlaxoSmithKline, it’s all about empowering individual employees and teams to take charge of their own career direction and purpose



MARCH 2018

WANT TO GET CONNECTED? Get in touch with us here


SPECIAL REPORT Learning and Development



For learning and development professionals, the emphasis must shift from training high-potentials to fill specific positions, to instead helping them develop into nimble leaders who can move wherever they are needed


Harlina Sodhi, Senior Executive Vice President of HR at IDFC Bank speaks to HRM Magazine Asia about why digital learning will be a key component of the future of work



Derrick Lim, Training and Employee Engagement Lead, Hewlett-Packard Singapore, lays out the key traits that learning and development professionals should possess in order to excel


REGULARS 04 06 13 60




HR can and should be role models to the rest of the organisation, says Mark Leong, Head of UBS’ Asia-Pacific Leadership Academy

56 57 58 59





What’s on

.com Watch - Maximising the employee experience through technology

HR in Focus returns with a new season, this time with Oracle’s Emily He and Gaurav Hirey from Teledirect Telecommerce discussing the biggest priorities for HR in the year ahead.

Your Say

Last month, we asked: Are contingent workers (e.g. contractors, freelancers) a key part of your staffing strategy for 2018? This was your response.




Yes, they form a key part of our workforce strategy

No, they do not play a role in our business

Not yet, but we plan to incorporate them in the future




Your Say

Last month, we asked: What are you HR priorities for 2018? This was your response.



Workplace and HR digitisation




Employee experience

Organisational culture



Upskilling/ retraining



MARCH 2018


Watch - Top three objectives of CHROs

Sharad Goyal, HR Director, Asia-Pacific, R/GA, shares his views on remote workers, being present at work, and the strategic role of a Chief HR Officer.


Don’t wait for the printed magazine each month – the best of HRM Asia’s news, features, and analysis are available both online and through the daily e-newsletters. Even this magazine issue can be read cover-to-cover in an electronic version from Wednesday, March 7. With fully-dynamic links to even more content, including video and archived materials, the HRM e-magazine is everything you know from the printed product, plus much, much more. Sign up at for daily email updates, and the first look at every story, opinion, guest post, and HRM TV episode. Remember to also stay updated throughout the working week by checking into on mobile, tablet, or computer. And connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to make your mark in the HR community in Asia-Pacific All combined, HRM Asia’s multiple platforms and huge variety of content give HR professionals and business leaders the world’s best view of the fastevolving HR universe, here in Asia.


Share - From the HRM Asia Forums

“To avoid organisational conflict, employee turnover, and a loss of productivity, companies must be aware of the strengths, values, motivations, and limitations that each generation brings to a workplace”

VincentWong AreaVicePresident, SalesandServicesforAsiaRegion, Citrix,stresseswhyleadersand HRarethegluethatkeepstheir companiesinharmony

venthebestHR professionalscan’tbe everywhere,documenting everything,makingperfect senseofpresentandhistorical intelligence,andmakingit presentabletokeystakeholders toactuponinreal-time”

Manoj Sharma CEO of, explains why talent optimisation solutions are the way forward for HR departments

“WITHOUT TRUST, EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT AT ITS BEST, IS SUPERFICIAL AND TEMPORAL. AT ITS WORST, IT LEADS TO FEELINGS OF HYPOCRISY AND DISAPPOINTMENT” Evelyn Kwek Managing Director, Great Place to Work Institute Singapore, on why a high-trust workplace culture will benefit businesses MARCH 2018






executives from Singapore’s Keppel Corporation’s Offshore and Marine (O&M) division have been arrested for their suspected involvement with a corruption scandal that dates back to 2001. The executives were brought in by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau for questioning about the case. Between 2001 and 2014, Keppel O&M allegedly paid US$55 million

(S$72.5 million) in bribes to Brazilian oil company Petrobas, in a bid to secure contracts. Both the bureau and Keppel O&M have said they are unable to comment on the investigations, which are still ongoing. The scandal first came to light in October 2016, and saw Keppel Corporation fined US$422 million (S$554 million) in December 2017 by law enforcement agencies in the US, Brazil and Singapore.


FUJIFILM TO TAKE OVER XEROX AND CUT 10,000 JOBS FUJIFILM WILL fold Xerox into the existing Fuji Xerox, and slash 10,000 jobs in the subsidiary by March, 2020. Fuji Xerox presently employs 46,000 people, and mainly conducts business in the Asia-Pacific region. Fujifilm presently owns three-quarters of Fuji Xerox, which was initially founded as a joint venture more than half a century ago. Fuji Xerox will buy back that stake for US$6.1 billion (S$8 billion); Fujifilm will then use these proceeds to purchase 50.1% of new Xerox shares. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The massive restructuring arrives as both companies admit to struggling in an “increasingly severe” market landscape that has seen many organisations go paperless. Fujifilm has said that the merger will deliver at least US$1.7 billion (S$2.24 billion) in total cost savings, of which US$1.2 billion (S$1.58 billion) is expected to be achieved by 2020.



MARCH 2018



HAVING ALREADY made several changes

to Taiwan’s labour legislation last year, the country’s government plans to introduce further amendments early in 2018. The latest changes to the Taiwanese Labour Standards Act, which were due to take effect on March 1, involve rest days, overtime, annual leave, and flexible working. Employers will be able to change the one mandated fixed rest day for each week, provided they have obtained the relevant approvals. Employers will also be able to reduce the rest period for shift workers, from 11 hours to eight hours. Overtime laws have also been overhauled in favour of employer flexibility. An increase in overtime hours from 46 to 54 hours per month will be permitted provided employees do not do more than 138 hours of overtime over a three month period.


US HR MANAGER FIRED FOR POOR TREATMENT OF CANDIDATE AN HR manager has been fired after his poor treatment of a job-seeker came to light. Fifty-two-year-old Vietnam-born Minh had emailed a job application to logistics service provider Dash Delivery on January 22. The experienced truck driver was requesting any work the company had available. However, the reply from the hiring manager was where the story took a turn. “Let me tell you now, if you no speak

English, I will send you home,” wrote the manager Bruce Peterson in an email to Minh. Minh’s daughter posted the mocking reply on Twitter, where it has since been retweeted more than 23,000 times, with many lambasting the company and the manager. The next day, Dash Delivery sent Minh an email, apologising for Peterson’s actions and explaining that “following our investigation he is no longer employed with the company”.


WORLDWIDE UNEMPLOYMENT TO REMAIN HIGH THE LABOUR agency of the United Nations says global unemployment remains high – though stable – at more than 192 million people, and there remains a shortage of “decent” work across both emerging and developed markets. “[The] global economy is still not creating enough jobs,” Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said. “Additional efforts need to be put in place to improve the quality of work for jobholders and to ensure that the gains of growth are shared equitably.”

The ILO also says that the global workforce will probably not grow enough during the next decade to compensate for the expanding group of retirees. It is expected that the average age of working people will rise from just under 40 in 2017, to over 41 by 2030. “The increasingly ageing workforce is likely to have a direct impact on labour markets. Ageing could lower productivity and slow down labour market adjustments following economic shocks,” Sangheon Lee, Director of Research, ILO, said.


CARREFOUR TO LAY OFF 3,600 FRENCH RETAIL giant Carrefour plans to terminate 2,400 jobs, around a quarter of the local workforce, at its head office in France. Another 1,233 jobs will be slashed in Belgium. The cuts are part of a revamp project dubbed “Carrefour 2022”, which the company hopes will save it €2 billion (S$3.3 billion) by 2020. These savings will then be invested in the online market, where Carrefour aims to triple its revenue from organic foods to €5 billion (S$8.2 billion) over the next five years. The pivot to the online market also includes a partnership with Chinese technology giant Tencent and grocer Yonghui in the Carrefour China unit, which is struggling amidst competition from rivals such as Alibaba. The company is also aiming to move away from the “hypermarket” model and instead open 2,000 new neighbourhood outlets in France. “We must revamp our model by simplifying our organisation, opening ourselves up to partnerships, and improving our operational efficiency,” said Alexandre Bompard, Carrefour’s CEO.

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FRONTLINE For Damco’s SASKIA GROEN-IN’T-WOUD, steering the logistics giant’s operations team through a climate of non-stop disruption means working side-by-side with staff at all levels. Getting one’s hands dirty – literally – is also par for the Global Chief Operating Officer’s course B Y YA M I N I C H I N N U S WA M Y


hen Saskia Groen-in’t-Woud joined Damco as its Chief Operating Officer in Asia towards the end of 2015, the international logistics business was not in the greatest shape. That year, the headlines seemed to herald only doom and gloom for the company, which had formed two years earlier when Damco Sea & Air merged with Maersk Logistics. “Maersk spending millions to keep struggling Damco afloat,” trade journal ShippingWatch declared in June, 2015, while another UK-based publication warned “more pain” was on the way. But a $490 million deficit in 2014 turned into profits from 2016 onwards, and for her role in the turnaround, Groen-in’t-Woud was recognised with the 2017 Telstra Business Woman in Asia Award. She has also levelled up within Damco, and ascended to the post of Global Chief Operating Officer at the end of last year. “It was an interesting process [being interviewed at the awards ceremony] to go back and remember all those different things that helped me to be where I am today,” she says. “You remember those big moments that stood out that were either horrendously difficult or really rewarding – or both.” Groen-in’t-Woud has had her fair share of those difficult and rewarding moments, having started out as a small business owner prior to joining the corporate world. Moving to a supply chain management and freight forwarding solutions company might seem like an incredible leap, but Groen-in’t-Woud’s



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philosophy of hands-on leadership has proved relevant in both good times and bad. “I’m not a big believer in sending out an email saying, ‘You need to do this.’ I think real change and ownership come from doing and sharing,” she says. “We have an internal Yammer site that I’m very active on. As soon as we’re doing things that we think other people can learn and benefit from, we put it on there.” These active lines of communication feed into a key point in Groen-in’t-Woud’s approach to leadership: namely, that leaders can’t lead – and produce results – without a clear understanding of the people they are leading, and what those people need to do their jobs. After all, she notes, if the employees feel supported and motivated, “you can see it in the customer accounts.”

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What does a typical day for you look like?

An average day is around touching base with my boss, and with my peers at many levels. I think one of the most powerful things you can do as a leader is make sure you’ve got touch points at many different levels in a business. These can act as sounding boards, but also help in message testing – “do I understand this the same way they understand it”?


“Hiring somebody that’s come from our competitor rarely brings us anything new because this industry is widely recognised as being commoditised. We need to do something different”



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What challenges does the logistics industry face right now?

We have to almost reinvent the industry, to a degree, around our customer needs. The only way to succeed in the logistics industry is to understand very clearly what parts of the market you are going to play, and what your value proposition is. That’s where technology and disruption are having a very big impact – that is, digitisation, automation, and especially blockchain, which is getting a lot of attention in the market. It requires a wellsynced leadership team to understand where technology is relevant, where it’s not, and how to maintain focus and at the same time, the right amount of agility to move with the times.


How does the move towards these technologies affect the workforce?

Digitisation and automation should allow us to free up a lot more time to focus on customer sensitivity. As an industry, we could be a lot more proactive in helping customers manage their shipments, and be agile in managing their needs. We are committed to retraining. We need to look at people in terms of the knowledge and depth that they have in the industry, and then understand if they are the right fit for that role or if there is somewhere else that we can better place them. The industry is so broad that there are almost always options to make things happen. I also believe that we need to look for more of the ‘soft’ skills. In customer service, for example, we need to look for people who have been trained by companies like Starbucks, which are famous for their customer service mindset. We also need to sit next to people and really understand how they do their job. Recently, I did that in Malaysia, and

when one employee answered the phone, he literally said only “Damco.” I said, “Wow, your name’s Damco?” He replied: “No, my name’s Ishmael.” “Why don’t you answer the phone and say, ‘Good morning. It’s Ishmael’,” I then suggested. It’s those conversations that, as leaders, you only know by sitting next to people. You also experience their pain points first hand.

How does workforce diversity help Damco to keep up with that changing business landscape?


There is gender diversity, but also diversity of thought. You will not get thought diversity by just hiring people with the same backgrounds and experiences. Hiring somebody that’s come from our competitor rarely brings us anything new because this industry is widely recognised as being commoditised. We need to do something different. You’re only going to do that by getting people onboard who can bring a new perspective and by creating space for your people to bring their best ideas forward.


How would you describe your philosophy towards leadership?

You’ve got to give people the space to make a contribution. Fundamentally, that is the most important thing you can do [as a leader]. But for people to make a valued contribution, they’ve got to be clear on what it is they’re doing. So, I think as a leader, my role is to set the direction, and then remove obstacles so that people can go there. I then need to spend enough time with people and understand how it is going, and whether we are resourcing it properly.


How does that work out on a day-to-day basis?

It’s a challenge, because the higher you go, the more of a compulsion it is to just say, “We’re doing this,” and then not check back in. I think you do need an element of decision mandating, because at some point, you wear out the conversation and democracy. There’s a lot of merit in making a decision. And then you’ve got to stick with a decision and see it through. There was a thing I learned many years ago called “in-process evaluation”, which is about having the right conversations

periodically to see if things are on track. I don’t think leaders do it enough – just having an honest conversation about whether something is working or are we actually reaching our milestones. And if we are not, to then think about why not, and how we need to adapt and change.

You were a part of Damco’s financial turnaround. What were your leadership priorities during that time?


Coming from the outside, I brought discipline in thinking. It was also about recognising the levers we weren’t pulling – procurement was a big one. Procurement is one of the most unsung heroes in really driving bottom line performance. I brought a great guy from India into the procurement function in Asia, and then we found that due to changes in the business, his spend under management had shrunk, and technically his target should have shrunk. But I sat down with him and said, “We’re not going to change your target because I know you can find other ways to reach it.” And he not only reached it, he went past it – by looking outside the box and starting to test his own thinking. It wouldn’t have happened if we’d just agreed to reduce his targets. When we said “this is what we need”, and gave people the space to figure out how to execute those needs, the amount of different ways people came back with how to do that was huge. That said, there’s only so far you can squeeze the lemon without starting to give people a lot more support in terms of the tools they work with, and the processes they work with.

What do you see as the essential leadership qualities for surviving and thriving in the logistics industry?


It’s about the ability to look five years down the track; how the decisions we’re making today are going to influence where we’re going to be in five years’ time. If we keep looking at exactly where we are and how we do things today - and most of the industry has this challenge as well - we’re only going to incrementally improve that.

one ON





Garden swings, and going in circles: when people just won’t make a decision MY INSPIRATION IS:

Having so many opportunities to change the way that the world works IN FIVE YEARS, I’D LIKE TO BE:

In a CEO role, that’s what I’m working towards. That, or sailing around the world!

We’re not really doing anything different. I think you have to believe in the industry, to know your customers and their needs really well, and then make decisions that will take you in the direction that their needs are going in over the next five years. Damco really has embraced this concept.


What do you look for when hiring leaders?

A very wise man taught me about five specific criteria: heart, smarts, courage, change, and character.


Realise that you have what it takes to stick it out through some of the tough times THE BEST DECISION I EVER MADE:

Coming to Damco. It was a big thing at the time, considering the company’s then-situation, but it’s worked out ONE THING PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT ME:

I love to strip and rebuild diesel engines in yachts!

You’ve got to have a passion and interest in what you’re doing; you’ve got to have a decent level of intelligence to be able to do the work; you’ve got to have integrity and courage. That one, for me, comes first – to be able to make the right decisions at the right time, and stand by them. And then the next one is adaptability. People have got to be able to change. This world is moving very, very fast. And then character is also important. Is this somebody I’d have dinner with? Is this a person that we could have a barbecue with MARCH 2018





as a team? How would they fit into the broader team dynamic?

What advice would you give to other women who aspire to leadership roles?


Get as much exposure to different elements of the business as possible. Be able to understand, even if you’re in operations or finance, or HR, how customers work, and what customers are looking for. Being able to have that insight into what’s happening into the business is key, and then to learn, learn, learn, learn, learn! Always put your hand up for stretch assignments.


What are some of the highlights of your career?

The Telstra Award was such an interesting process because it let me look back on how far I’ve come in my career. I actually started when I was 18 in a radio station writing copy! Then I went into stakeholder management and public relations for large construction projects. All this happened more by accident than by design. But I think out of anything, moving to the Philippines, and working there for three years [as the vice-president of supply chain at Holcim, prior to joining Damco], taught me the most. I learned more about myself as a leader during that time than all the years before. I think it’s very easy to get recognised and rewarded for making very rational, pragmatic decisions. But that experience taught me to lead with my heart, and challenged me on every level. I would walk the truck park at Bulacan, picking up rubbish with the truck drivers, for them to understand how important it was to do housekeeping. Because if you take pride in your workplace, then you take pride in how you drive your truck.


So leadership involves getting your hands dirty – literally?

Yes – if I sat in an office all day, I would have no clue about what’s really happening. We only have two things we need to achieve, and my team are well aware this. We need to make a better customer experience, and we need to make it better for people to come to work every day. They both feed each other.



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According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, the gender gap is widening. In fact, the data – which benchmarked 144 countries in the areas of economic participation and opportunity, education, health, and political empowerment – suggests that it will take another 217 years to achieve gender parity at the current rates. In light of this news, this year’s International Women’s Day campaign is themed around #PressForProgress, and it calls on people, businesses, and communities to be more gender inclusive. For those wishing to join the cause, here are a few ways that employing organisations can push for gender equality in their workplaces.

Promote a family-friendly workplace

More often than not, women end up leaving employment because there are no considerations in place for them to balance both work and family obligations. But in fact, family-friendly policies will benefit working mothers as well as working fathers. Companies also need to move away from the conventional model of nine-to-five fulltime work, and provide greater flexibility in how work is done – whether that means telecommuting, part-time positions, or project-based contracts. Providing childcare access and benefits will also go a great way toward mitigating the loss of valuable female employees.


Take problems seriously

Rethink the hiring process

In many countries, it is already illegal to request certain information on résumés or during job interviews. But organisations can take it one step further. HR can consider excluding candidates’ names, before passing on information to hiring managers. HR and hiring managers also need to be open-minded to the fact that many working mothers might have gaps in their employment histories because they took time off to take care of their families. If an organisation finds it isn’t getting many female applicants, it might be time to take a step back and review the different components of the hiring process – such as the outlets used to advertise positions, or the type of language in the job descriptions (words such as "strong" and "assertive" are perceived to be male-biased).


Nurture a culture of mentorship and sponsorship

A recent survey by LeanIn.Org showed that almost half of male managers are now uncomfortable participating in common work activities with women, including working alone and mentoring. But as LeanIn.Org founder Sheryl Sandberg notes, “Men vastly outnumber [women] as managers and senior leaders”. Workplaces that want to be more inclusive need to encourage mentors to expand their protégé pool beyond just those who look like them. Companies also need to consider the concept of sponsorships. While mentors provide guidance and advice, sponsors act more as advocates. By educating managers and leaders to advocate for both men and women equally, HR is better-positioned to nurture a workplace culture that means everyone is visible, and given access to the same opportunities.


If a clear policy against discrimination and harassment doesn't already exist, it’s time to implement one. It isn’t just about extreme cases like physical assault. For instance, how seriously does the organisation take repeated sexist comments? If HR doesn’t take action, or put in place a clear reporting mechanism for such incidents, it suggests that the organisation doesn’t take sexism or gender equality seriously. Be clear on what constitutes inappropriate comments or actions, so that every employee is on the same page.


Set the example

What is tolerated at an employee level is frequently determined by the people up top. It is time to get the organisation’s leadership on board, and educate them on the benefits of a workplace that is welcoming to both men and women. A CEO who swiftly and decisively cuts down an off-handed sexist comment is a more potent influence than any corporate discrimination policy. Similarly, a management team that includes a visible number of women and people from minority groups signals to the rest of the company – and everyone outside it – that this is an organisation where everyone has the opportunity to rise up and take a seat at the table.


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9 – 10 May 2018 | Suntec Singapore Exclusively curated for CxOs and CHROs, this conference brings together the most senior gathering of business and management professionals at the event, shining the spotlight on the collaboration between business strategy and human capital management. As a decision maker, how are you adapting to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and managing business risks whilst encouraging innovation, transformation and collaboration throughout the organisation? The shifting expectations of the current and future workforce are quickly reshaping how organisations operate. How is your organisation preparing for what might be? In a technology-enabled economy, the challenge is to build and grow companies that are as inspiring, inventive and social as the individuals who populate them. With a vast array of HR and management topics on offer, hear from a variety of different speakers on topical issues and trends shaping the world of work today.

Why Attend?

Exclusive access to

• • • •

Exclusive Workshops with Global Management ThoughtLeaders C-Suite and Management Thinker Presentations Hear best practices from the industry’s most progressive organisations Network with over 4,000 industry peers Dipping in and out of 7 other conference sessions throughout the two days of the event

Exclusive Master Series

• • • • •

8 Conferences (C-Suite Symposium, Transform & Redesign, Experience & Engage, Develop & Perform, Grow & Thrive Day, SME Day, Start-up Day, HR Millennials Day) 2 Hands-on Master Series Workshops with Global Management Thought Leaders C-Suite and Executive Management Presentations C-Suite VIP Luncheons & Breaks VIP Business Lounge Access Exclusive C-Suite Event Materials


Shift – The Future of Work Dr. Lynda Gratton Thinkers50, Organisational Management Thought-Leader & Professor of Management Practice London Business School How prepared is your organisation for the work and workers of tomorrow? We are now facing a revolution in the way we work. In two decades our professional lives will have been so ‘reworked’ that they are likely to be unrecognisable. In this exclusive Master Series Workshop, Dr. Lynda Gratton, will explore the 4 key drivers underpinning the current workplace mega-shifts that will drastically change the way we work over the next decade, and how we can best leverage on these for success.

Inside Amazon’s Culture for Success Nick Walton Head, ASEAN Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Rafiza Ghazali Former Senior Vice President, Group Innovation and Business Performance Management Group Strategy and Innovation Sime Darby Berhad

Building a Disruptive Innovation Culture - Challenge The Status Quo Azran OsmanRani Former CEO of AirAsia X and iflix Malaysia

Siemens HR Transformation: An Agile Operating Model to Match the Evolving Business Landscape Mike Bokina Vice President & Global Head, HR Organisational Effectiveness Siemens

Joydeep Bose President & Global Head of HR Olam International

Aileen Tan Group Chief Human Resources Officer Singtel






H R 4 . 0 – R e t h i n k T h e W a y Yo u W o r k

To register or to find out more

+65 6423 4631 | |





If there’s one thing management and HR thought leader MARCUS BUCKINGHAM is sure of, it is that the number one rule in business is to challenge and reject conventional thinking

9 th


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S MARCUHAM G BUCKIN at it m HR Sum ia A o & Exp s 0 & 1 0th May 2





est-selling author and self-help guru Marcus Buckingham has not always been the smooth orator that he is known as today. Born in the UK town of Radlett, an hour north of London, Buckingham struggled with a terrible stammer throughout his childhood. He recalls how he even had difficulty saying his name without dragging the vowels, and that the stammer would be the first and last thing he thought about each day. He eventually overcame his speech impediment, thanks to a class reading activity that forced him to confront his fears. “I did discover that the solution to being able to speak was speaking in front of a group of people. I couldn’t speak one on one, but I could speak in front of a hundred people, which is really weird,” he shares. Although Buckingham prefers to think of himself as a thought leader and researcher of best practices, his success as a professional speaker – which is somewhat surprising even to him – has meant he is continually inspiring the top minds in business.

The not-so-Golden Rule Buckingham’s professional career began at research firm Gallup Organisation, where he spent 17 years interviewing over 80,000 managers, and honing his interpersonal and management consulting skills. He would put that knowledge and expertise into his first book First, Break all the Rules, which he co-authored with fellow Gallup researcher Curt Coffman in 1999. The book was a smash, staying on the New York Times bestseller list for 93 weeks. Time Magazine also named it as one of the

“25 Most Influential Business Management Books” in 2011. First, Break all the Rules aimed to shed light on what the world’s best managers do differently. Buckingham found that good leaders treat their employees as individuals; they don’t try to fix weaknesses, but instead focus on strengths and talent; and they find ways to measure, count, and reward outcomes. Even what was once the golden rule – treat people as you would like to be treated – gets broken by the best leaders, Buckingham writes. “This thinking is well-intended but overly simplistic. The best managers instead say, treat each person as they would like to be treated”. Indeed, between First, Break All the Rules, and Buckingham’s plethora of other published works, the fundamentals have remained the same. “What is still true today is that if you want to help a person contribute their very best, you have to find out what’s unique

SEE MARCUS BUCKINGHAM AT HR SUMMIT AND EXPO ASIA 2018 IN A SPECIAL LIVE webinar at HR Summit & Expo Asia 2018, best-selling author and business management thought leader Marcus Buckingham will share how you can help to future-proof your organisation. He will cover the following topics, and more: Three trends that will redefine the new world of work



Why all HR talent data is ‘“bad data” — and the secret to producing good data instead Tools organisations need to build an agile, dynamic

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about them, and help them hone that,” he tells HRM Magazine Asia. In StandOut: The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of the Strengths Revolution, Buckingham expounds on the strengths philosophy, introducing a strengths-based assessment tool called StandOut. Over the years, StandOut, first published in 2011, has evolved into a cloud-based performance and talent management solution. It couples applications with coaching and education to give team leaders the tools, insights and data needed to turn talent into better employee performance.

A global revolution Buckingham has always stayed true to this

stance on strengths-based management. When he decided to strike out on his own in 2006 after 19 years at Gallup, setting up The Marcus Buckingham Company (TMBC), he had one goal: To start a global “strengths” revolution. Buckingham says that this was and still is a core component of his management philosophy. That’s because when people spend the majority of each day using their greatest talents and being engaged in their favourite tasks, basically doing exactly what they want to do, both they and their organisations will win. This strengths-based approach, he stresses, will continue to be the instrument that helps to future-proof organisations in the fast-changing, complex world of tomorrow.

“Companies that focus on cultivating employees’ strengths rather than simply improving on people’s weaknesses stand to dramatically increase efficiency and productivity while allowing for maximum personal growth,” says Buckingham. Individualisation is the most important thing companies can do to help develop their talent, he adds. Most organisations, however, have a tendency to homogenise their people and use the same competency-based talent management model, which “eradicates people’s uniqueness”. The best team leaders do the opposite of that. Buckingham believes the companies that “can build everything they do around the unique strengths of each person” will

dominate in the future. Like many other consultancies, TMBC started out as a training company. But Buckingham saw very early that using technology would give his concepts greater credibility. This led to the development of StandOut. “Tools always trump training, and most of the human capital tools out there were designed by financial people. “They are all enterprise resource planning systems. They are not really focused on helping team leaders activate their talent, and get the most out of them,” he explains.

Reliability, variation, and validity While the world has undergone a lot of MARCH 2018






MARCUS BUCKINGHAM Global researcher and thought leader, and Founder of The Marcus Buckingham Company

SE CLwO ith...

Based in: Beverly Hills, US Academic background: Master of Social and Political Sciences, University of Cambridge Mantra: “You are one, and we are one” What does that mean? You are unique, and yet we are still all connected. What’s the first thing you do in the morning? I snuggle with my dog. I love dogs and they’re always right there! And the last thing each day? I’m a huge Arsenal supporter and they’re not doing very well this season, so I tend to watch old games on YouTube where they played really well. Social media of choice? Instagram. It’s super easy to use and super visual. I’ve got enough complexity in my life, and I like seeing what other people are doing. By the way, follow me at @marcusbuckingham Favourite book? The Prophet by Khalil Gibrand. It’s a book of prose poetry. Biggest moment of your life thus far: The birth of my kids.

changes in the last 20 years, the fact also remains that for organisations to stay at the top, a sound management plan – in the areas of talent management, leadership development, employee engagement, and performance management – is still key. But now there is new information to chew on: In the last few years, the use of HR analytics has become commonplace and essential for businesses to make informed decisions and take the right steps. Here lies Buckingham’s challenge for HR: How much of the existing data you collect today is actually, “good data”? How much of that data is truly reliable? “People are being promoted and fired because of faulty data. That has to stop,” Buckingham warns. “Don’t be a casualty of bad data. Data fluency means knowing the difference between good and bad data.” For example, he says all performance ratings and 99% of 360-degree HR tools produce “bad data” as they do not measure the competencies that they are supposed to measure. That’s because competencies are inherently unmeasurable. In fact, Buckingham claims that all talent data is bad data. Because of this, most team leaders still do not reach for HR data willingly. Just as in management, when it comes to data, patterns have to be challenged, and eventually broken. Buckingham says to achieve this, there are three words all managers must know about data analytics: reliability, variation,



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and validity. Most HR tools fall short of at least one of these criteria – and many fall short on all three, he says. “The next time you are asked to participate in any sort of performance rating, opinion survey, 360-degree survey, or any other source of people data, ask yourself if it complies with these three standards,” Buckingham says. “Odds are, it won’t.” He goes on to explain that there are really only three ways to measure things. “You can count it (that is, how many inches


tall are you?). You can rate it (how tall do I think you are?). Or you can rank it (list the people from tallest to shortest).” Buckingham says ranking is the leasthelpful measurement tool, because rankings may explain something in one context, but will be irrelevant in any other group. HR data is all about interpersonal comparisons, and rankings can’t be compared between different sets of people. The best and most reliable way to measure anything, according to Buckingham, is to count it. That’s because counting has “inter-rater reliability”. That means that no matter who is counting, the number will always be the same. Countable people data like payroll, time, and attendance, and length of service will always be good, reliable data. “Unfortunately, when it comes to people data, many of the things we want to measure aren’t countable. We can’t count your performance or your leadership skills, your strategic thinking, or your engagement,” Buckingham explains. “So to measure these things, we have to rate them.”

Standout moments Buckingham’s works and concepts have proved so popular that it scored him a fullhour special on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2008, alongside appearances on countless other talk shows and news programmes. He singles out The Oprah Winfrey Show as one of his most memorable career experiences. “Oprah had done shows on every subject that you can imagine, but she had never done a show on women at work,” Buckingham recalls. “To have an entire show devoted to my work was really interesting, and will remain a highlight.” On the back of the StandOut tool’s growing impact, HR software company ADP acquired TMBC for over US$100 million in January 2017. Today, the platform is offered as ADP StandOut. Not too shabby for someone who once struggled to string a sentence together. “I’m surprised by how everything has worked out. I have managed to use something that strengthened me to overcome something that once weakened me. That’s a pretty good prescription for life,” says Buckingham.


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Behind the semantics



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As organisations undergo massive transformations, replacing the business models of old, HRM Magazine Asia discovers that the emphasis is now on digitalisation, something distinct from digitisation B Y K E LV I N O N G

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t a gathering of HR and business leaders in Singapore last November, one of the salient points made by a panel of speakers was the idea that technology is an enabler of digital transformation, and not a means to an end. “A lot of what drives transformation is culture,” Miguel Bernas, MediaCorp’s Vice-President of Digital Marketing told the gathering. “It is the culture that will give people a sense of purpose and this is what really drives innovation and change.” Central to digital transformation are the distinct concepts of “digitisation” and “digitalisation”. These two words have often been used interchangeably, but HR consultancies now warn that blending the ideas can lead to organisations doing neither particularly well. According to both Gartner and SAP, digitisation refers to the changing of systems from “analogue to digital form”, while digitalisation is the use of technology to change an organisation’s entire business model, leading it to be a “digital” business that meets the needs of the present-day customer.



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While digital transformation cannot happen without digitisation, experts tell HRM Magazine Asia that in these times of constant disruption, the emphasis should now be on the cultural elements of transformation. Or, in another word, digitalisation. As David Hope, Workday Asia-Pacific’s President, said at that same conference, the key is to get all the chips internally aligned first. “Technology is not the answer, it is a great enabler. Cloud is a great enabler. But transformation is an ongoing journey,” he said.

Addressing cultural barriers A new Dell Technologies survey released early this year also supports this growing consensus.

More than 60% of the over 3,800 AsiaPacific-based business leaders believed that the main barriers to their organisations becoming fully digital by 2030 would be less about technology constraints, and more about a lack of digital vision and strategy, and workforce readiness. With nearly 90% of leaders aiming to complete their organisations’ transition into a software-defined business within the next five years, Jeremy Burton, Chief Marketing Officer at Dell Technologies, says a reshuffle is now in order. “We’re entering an era of monumental change. Although business leaders harbour contrasting views of the future, they share common ground on the need to transform,” he says. “Based on the many conversations I have with customers, I believe we’re reaching a pivotal moment in time. Businesses can either grasp the mantle, transform their IT,

workforce and security, and play a defining role in the future or be left behind.” David Webster, President, Asia-Pacific of Enterprise, Dell EMC, agrees that leaders have to start addressing cultural barriers, though his views are based on a separate study, Realising 2030: The Next Era of Human-Machine Partnerships. That study, conducted by the US-based Institute for the Future in partnership with Dell, forecast that by 2030, emerging technologies will forge partnerships between humans and machines that are richer and more immersive than ever before. Business leaders across this region agree: 80% expect humans and machines will work as integrated teams within their organisation in the next five years. “Realising the future opportunity that human-machine partnerships will bring is as much about people as it is about technology. Whilst many organisations across Asia-Pacific are transforming their IT in order to enable future innovation and the best possible customer experience, business leaders will need to address cultural barriers too,” says Webster. “Organisations will have to build the right culture to collaborate, embrace change, and align on how best to prepare and succeed.” There are already companies putting this into practice. As revealed below, United Overseas Bank (UOB), Mediacorp, and Otis – three very different Singapore-based businesses – all understand this importance of having to build a firm foundation first.

Preparing for the future To support its goal of promoting a more enterprising and innovative working environment, Singapore’s UOB formed the UOB Innovation Workgroup in 2015. One of its initial priorities was to roll out an employee hackathon to inspire new ideas for real-life banking challenges. The inaugural event took place late in 2015, and has since expanded to also include employees from China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. In fact, last year’s hackathon, which started in June and ended in November, was won by a team from China. Jenny Wong, Head of Group HR, UOB, says the UOB Regional Hackathon is designed to help prepare people for the new

digital direction that the business is moving into. “Along with our other training and development programmes, it helps us to harness the entrepreneurial thinking of our people, while nurturing a culture of innovation,” says Wong, adding that UOB invested S$20 million into staff training and development last year. Throughout the programme, hackathon participants received guidance on how to design and pitch their ideas, as well as mentorship from the bank’s senior leaders on how to test ideas against business realities . In the fast-changing finance industry, Wong says being able to attract the right talent and providing opportunities for them to grow is an important part of staying competitive. The hackathon gives employees the space to flex their creativity and showcase other skillsets that might not come up in their day-to-day work. “As technology continues to shape the lives and preferences of our customers, we must ensure our employees are equipped with the relevant skillsets and agile mindsets for the future,” she says. “With broader minds and more informed thinking, they will also find their roles more fulfilling through the value they see themselves create.” The hackathon has proven very popular among employees with a problem-solving streak. “There is also another benefit to the programme in that it helps to equip our people with the business development and digital skills they will need for the jobs of the future,” she says.

Digital champions Elevator manufacturer Otis, perhaps an unlikely example of a digital change-maker, is another company celebrating its current digitalisation strategy. As part of its global service transformation programme, Otis is implementing a new digital ecosystem across multiple markets in Southeast Asia over the next two years. This new ecosystem will feature mobile applications that will provide field employees and mechanics with mobilityenabled tools to allow them to stay connected and communicate. They will be MARCH 2018








able to access vital technical information anytime, anywhere. The apps will also help mechanics assess an elevator’s ride quality, provide instant access to diagnostic information and a library of codes for self-directed upgrading, and even order in spare parts from distant locations. More than 31,000 employees globally will benefit from this initiative when completed – including over 160 service employees at Otis’ Singapore Service Department. But like UOB, the digital transformation did not happen overnight. Greg Nagle, Managing Director, Otis Elevator Company, Singapore, tells HRM Magazine Asia that the design process was painstaking. “We listened to our customers and our employees to identify the right tools and processes to address their needs,” says Nagle. “When it comes to digital, we always start with our people and our customers, and lead from the bottom up.” As a first step, the company established a Champions Network: an internal network made up of a select group of Otis service engineers and leaders. Their role has been to act as ambassadors of the Service Transformation effort, and provide a stream of continuous feedback around the new tools and apps.



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These champions also serve as go-to sources for their peers who may have questions about the new tools. Nagle says this peer-to-peer learning approach has enabled the company to prepare its people within a short space of time. At present, there are over 1,000 staff members involved in the programme.

Rooted in conversation Since July 2017, Singapore broadcaster MediaCorp has given full control of its official Twitter handle to a different employee each week. They are allowed to post anything they want with no mandated content or schedule, and no form of management screening. Marco Sparmberg, Assistant Lead, Social Media at MediaCorp, says this hands-off approach is possible only because of the digital training and capability-building that has been taking place for more than a year previously. During that stage, employees were educated on what content is deemed appropriate. The Twitter initiative falls under the social media literacy pillar that is part of the company’s wider effort to drive a deeper digital culture. Sparmberg says the digital team, alongside HR and learning and development, started the Embedded Trainee Programme in 2016. This programme sees staff from other divisions join Sparmberg’s team for a period of time, during which they are gradually trained to become certified digital champions. They then return to their respective business units to build their own digital teams. “We also started to change how we hire. We started hiring specific community managers, specific social media managers – job titles which didn’t exist before,” Sparmberg adds. The result of those efforts is that today, there are dedicated teams focused on digital marketing. Team managers have also become more engaged with driving innovation. But Sparmberg says it wasn’t always a smooth journey. He explains that the process of changing mindsets requires a lot of persistence. “It’s more challenging to get someone who has already been trained before to undergo further training. The key is: How do

you create an environment that encourages participation?” he says. “Everything is rooted in conversation, whether it’s internal or external. If you don’t have an avenue for dialogue, then even the best processes will not be sufficient.”

Special Report MARCH 2018



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Special Report


oth HR and Learning and Development specialists are facing an uphill battle in the current business environment of disruption and volatility. Across all industries, there is increasing pressure to transform workforces in order for them to remain relevant and competitive. One skill or role is no longer enough for any individual – in this new world of work, agility, versatility, and digital savvy are the kingmakers. And it is up to corporate learning specialists to build those skills among workforces whose training has previously been predominantly taskfocused. HRM Magazine Asia’s Special Report into Learning and Development explores this complex new imperative that corporate training specialists are now facing. With case studies and interviews from across the Asia-Pacific region, it considers the issues from all angles across the following 14 pages. The opening analysis highlights the way the learning and development function is taking over succession planning (see: page 28 to 31); while our regular Field Notes interview considers the need for digital learning solutions (see: page 32-33). This month’s guest contributor sets out eight rules for learning and development teams operating in the new world of work (see: page 34 to 36), and HR consultant Jack Nakamura shares his viewpoint about the value that an effective corporate philosophy can also bring to the learning function (see: page 38-39). The report offers a timely preview to HRM Asia’s upcoming Learning and Development Conference 2018, taking place in Singapore over July 3 and 4 this year. With more than 30 speakers sharing their insights on innovation and new best practices in the corporate learning space, this two-day event will be jam-packed with content, centred on the theme: Re-Skilling and Up-Skilling Talent through 21st Century Learning Tools and Strategies. Don’t miss out on this vital source of networking and intelligence for HR in this field.



HRM Magazine Asia’s comprehensive report into the fast-evolving Learning and Development function in Asia-Pacific


Learning and Development specialists are moving into the succession planning arena, with their ability to build agile leaders capable of filling a broad range of roles


Harlina Sodhi, from IDFC Bank, says digital learning should now be a critical element of any modern organisation’s training blueprint


HP Singapore’s Derrick Lim outlines eight key rules for learning and development professionals working in Asia-Pacific today


HR consultant Jack Nakamura says learning and development strategies work best in tandem with a well-articulated corporate philosophy


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Nurturing the management pipeline is a priority for any forward-looking business. But with technological advancements rapidly changing the very nature of work, it is difficult to see what’s ahead next year, much less five years down the road. Learning and Development professionals need to shift the focus from grooming successors for specific roles, to instead developing leaders who are agile and broad-based in their experience B Y YA M I N I C H I N N U S WA M Y

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isruption” is a word frequently thrown around in business – but it is not an example of needless hype. Many hallmarks of day-to-day living in 2018, such as WhatsApp, would have been unfathomable to most people just ten years ago, and it’s very likely that the lifestyle constants of 2030 will seem equally unfathomable to us now. In this volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) environment, the nature of work itself is undergoing a revolution. Roles that exist today will either be obsolete tomorrow, or radically changed: a recent Jobs of the Future report by technology firm Cognizant mentions that “Genetic Diversity Officer”, “Digital Tailor”, and “Man-Machine Teaming Manager” will be some of the job titles emerging in the next decade. But the changes are not isolated to singular jobs. They are occurring at a systemic level: whole organisational structures are now shifting away from hierarchies, and into complex matrices. Even as organisations try to navigate the evolution of work, many are pre-emptively pivoting in their approach to grooming their leaders of tomorrow. They realise that traditional models of succession planning are fast becoming obsolete. Many experts suggest it is being taken over by specialist leadership and learning and development teams. “For many organisations, succession planning is still a tick in a box,” says Arthur Lam, People and Organisation Lead for Asia-Pacific at Syngenta. “People often put in names of their buddies or those who will be close to them – they don’t look beyond or across their functional teams. “All this is due to how we identify potentials to begin with. Leaders are afraid of taking risk in investing time developing successors into positions for fear of identifying the wrong employee.” Succession planning is very much tagged to a specific position. “We don’t know if next year, that position will still exist, not to mention three to five years later,” Lam says. “Even if an organisation is conscientious in choosing the right person for the job, the question is whether that position will still be available.” The answer, then, is in building a leadership talent pipeline, rather than having successors to particular positions. “If you have someone who understands broad-based business across different functions, this person can be developed into




a leader,” Lam adds. In the past, and perhaps even sometimes in the present, promotions were very much based on hierarchy and years of experience. But Cynthia Lee Mai, Head of Talent and Learning, Asia-Pacific at HP Inc, says organisations which cling to that model, instead of identifying high potential talent based on agility, are likely to lose out. “We can’t predict what’s going to happen in the next two years, much less four or five, so it is important for our high-potential talent to be able to learn and adapt to changes,” she told HRM Asia’s Leadership Development Congress last year. “If we can help them now to build their resilience and to handle stress and the fast pace of disruption, they’ll be

equipped to take on whatever challenges are thrown at them in the future.”

Kung Fu fighting In an era of exponentially accelerating change, the question of succession planning then becomes one of how to best nurture leaders who are agile and adaptable. Harlina Sodhi, Senior Executive Vice President of HR, IDFC Bank, says she is close to discarding the succession planning function altogether. “It’s not about building up ‘successors’, but about having leaders who are agile and able to cross into any function – and who are able to evolve and adapt to changes really quickly,” she tells HRM Magazine Asia. “We believe we can get anyone to do anything if they understand the art and science of experiences.” This is about customer and employee experience specifically. “Netflix understands the experience it must give to its viewers. Amazon understands the experiences people must have when they come on their platform,” Sodhi notes. Lam says preparing leaders requires a two-pronged approach of functional competencies and experiences. Ultimately, a future leader should be able to easily slot into a variety of positions depending on what the company needs at any given time. “You want to help them understand the

CASE STUDY: ACCOR HOTELS French hospitality group AccorHotels, which has 250,000 employees in 95 countries, has taken a unique, reverse mentoring-inspired approach to the learning and development of its high potential talent. Michael Vaz, Director of Learning and Development for the company’s Luxury Brands division in Asia-Pacific, says the organisation saw a need to keep in better touch with the new generation of potential leadership. “Our global CEO in Paris, Sébastien MARCH 2018

Bazin, was asked: How are you going to make decisions if your whole executive committee is over the age of 40,” he says. Two weeks later, the “Shadow Comex”, a millennial shadow board, was convened. The group features six men and six women aged between 25 and 35 from across the group’s 4,000 hotels. For the duration of their oneyear term, they work with management to keep the business relevant and modern even as millennials become

the biggest employee and customer demographic. “They shadow the actual Board of Directors to run projects and research about what millennial guests and employees want,” explains Vaz, adding that a key factor to the programme’s success is the buy-in from leadership. “Any effective learning strategy has to start at the top. Leaders in the organisation have to drive it and be passionate about it. If not, they will never be able to impact change.”




business as a whole; how it functions as a living system,” he says. Practically speaking, this means oneyear or half-year stints in changing functions like sales, business development, HR, finance – or even shadowing experiences where they sit by colleagues for the first two hours of every day to understand what those colleagues do and the challenges they face. He cautions that HR must be modern and dynamic in how it approaches the

learning and development pathways of such high-potential talent. Traditional workshops are of little value on their own. Instead, a key aspect of development should involve coaching and mentoring from management. “If you watch Chinese kung fu movies, there’s often a young rookie with a few kung fu masters surrounding him, imparting each of their skills. Similarly, senior leadership needs to have joint ownership in developing high-potential talent by imparting each

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of their unique skills, competencies, and expertise,” Lam says. But at the end of the day, the focus should be on identifying, within the talent, the factors that underpin learning agility: the ability to question the status quo (that is, innovate), pick up news skills quickly, be selfaware, and take progressive risks. As Sodhi says, “I don’t care about knowledge or domain as much these days. Such gaps can be bridged. “What I need them to have is learning agility, so they can quickly learn and adopt, and move on to do the next level role.” By pivoting from grooming successors for specific positions, to instead nurturing leaders who are more versatile and adaptable, businesses will be armed with talent who can keep up with whatever the future brings. After all, in a time of disruption, the only constant is the organisation’s own ability to navigate and keep ahead of change.






Shaping a digital learning culture HARLINA SODHI, Senior Executive Vice President of HR at IDFC Bank, talks about the challenges and priorities for learning specialists in 2018, including how digital learning will become increasingly dominant




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hat are your Learning and Development priorities for 2018?

They’re all working under the umbrella of the future of work. There will be more technology integration into everything that we do: the Internet of Things, robots, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and all of these things are going to be at play. Given that backdrop, my number one priority for 2018 is to integrate “digital” into every piece of learning that we do. There are two reasons for this. One is that the entire ecosystem of the organisation will need to work digitally, whether it’s through digital products that we take into market, the way we’re communicating with our customers, or the experiences we’re trying to create for our employees. So, if everything else is going to be digital, learning has to be digital also. In fact, it has to lead the way. The other reason is that technology today is much more affordable. When I buy an application, simulation, gamification platform, or learning management system today, it gives me scale and standardisation, and it is much more reasonably priced than it ever was before.

What skills should learning and development professionals themselves look to nurture to keep up with the increasingly digital landscape? The skills that HR and learning professionals need now and tomorrow are: system and design thinking; coaching and emotional intelligence; and a very high appreciation of technology. When I say technology, I don’t necessarily mean the internet. What I mean is if a person is working in the banking industry, they must understand how, for example, bitcoin and cryptocurrency are going to change the business. If they’re working in the telecoms industry, they should understand how bandwidth, cabling, and fibre optics are going to change the landscape. If they’re working in retail or e-Commerce, they must know or understand what Amazon and Flipkart are doing, and be able to impact their own businesses accordingly. The fourth thing that HR needs is social skills. That means being more open and more transparent in their communication

Reskilling for the new economy HARLINA SODHI, Senior Executive Vice President

of HR at IDFC Bank, will be speaking at the much-


Learning and 3-4 Development 2J 0u1l y8 Conference Singapore

Re-Skilling and Up-Skilling Talent through 21st Century Learning Tools and Strategies

with people. Be available on all online social media, whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn, so that people can talk to you and your customers can reach out.

What are the limitations of digital learning? That’s another reason why one of the skills I mentioned at the beginning was system and design thinking. Through this entire learning process, HR must know what the moments of truth are – when human intervention is important, and when they can blend in technology. With design and system thinking, that can get processed or mapped out. The other key skill for all managers – not just HR but all managers, as led by the learning and development team – has to be in making sure that there is a culture of coaching in the company. If I’m a manager and I have a team of great people, I must know that there are specific transition phases in my employees’ lives: when they get hired,

“Through this entire learning process, HR must know what the moments of truth are – when human intervention is important, and when they can blend in technology.” – HARLINA SODHI , SENIOR EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT – HR, IDFC BANK

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anticipated Learning and Development Conference 2018. Held in Singapore on July 3 and 4, the event will equip HR and learning leaders with the latest tools and concepts to reskill and upskill talent in the modern business environment.

when they get promoted, when they move to another assignment, if they go overseas, or if there’s a problem at home. I must be able to coach and mentor my employee through these. That absolutely requires a human touch – I can’t just send an email and expect that to happen by itself.

Thanks to disruption, the very nature of work is changing. How can training leaders incorporate that issue into their learning programmes? What we’re all trying to figure out when we say “future of work” is, what are the skills of tomorrow? What do our people need to know? A lot of the existing skills are going to go away as things become increasingly digital in the next two to five years. Many of us are convinced of one thing: that the human has to be at the centre, while technology revolves around them. Having said that, the training interventions that I’ll be bringing to my people will be of two kinds. One is in getting them to understand technology better, and build a better mindset of adoption so that they can work with the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and so on. The other skill that I’m getting them to build are the social skills that I talked about – more emotional empathy and coaching, basically.

How would you sum up your strategy towards Learning and Development in 2018? If one can master the art and science of learning agility, they can sail through the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous times and surge towards the future of work with aplomb.







Eight rules for the learning team




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A robust learning and development function is the basis of a well-equipped workforce. DERRICK LIM, Training and Employee Engagement Lead, HP Inc, APJ Sales Operations, offers eight tips for practitioners to be effective at their jobs


ay you want to to train someone to run in a marathon, or maybe to swim in an Olympic Games. The task for you as a trainer or coach is always a tall order. Of course, this load can be lessened by importing ready-made talent, and many a sports team has done exactly that. But even in this case, the differentiating factor lies in the ability of an effective coach or trainer. For experienced learning and development professionals, this is the ability to create pathways for success. The learning and development practitioner who understands the strengths and weaknesses of talent, designs a robust curriculum, carries out the training diligently, and motivates well beyond the self, is the training leader who can deliver the most impact. Below are eight traits that learning and development professionals should possess in order to do their jobs, not just well, but with excellence.

Make it measurable You can’t be certain how successful you are until you are able to quantify your impact. Make sure there is a clear, measurable goal that is linked to success. Whether it is for behaviour change or a specific result, it must be clearly stated from the outset. Some ratings can be considered as well. These offer meaningful and realistic expectations as to how much change or progress has been made, and if any adjustment is needed. Having said that, goals can be inspirational as much as they are measurable. It all depends on how they are being translated.

Have a growth mindset A growth mindset is the ability to see beyond what is usual. For a learning and development professional, it means enabling others to think likewise, to help people go beyond and challenge the limit. This either breaks or disrupts the usual cycle that may otherwise hinder growth.

For example, flipped classroom, activity-based learning, and self-discovery coaching become increasingly important for sustained performance. Moving toward a growth mindset culture requires intelligent questions and a “strive” mindset culture.

Check the unconscious bias Many of us are unaware of how we look at a person or judge a situation. By being conscious of the unconscious bias we have, we mitigate the risk of misjudging the potential of talent. Do not rely on just one profiling tool or just your personal experience to gauge someone. They may not be parallel with potential.

Leverage on emotional intelligence In all aspects, emotional intelligence is the norm. It doesn’t change through time, work or place. It only matters when you know how to apply it effectively in varied situations. It is not just

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about empathising with the feelings of others – it is also about being honest about your own weaknesses and not being afraid to share them with others. Being vulnerable at times is a great way to build trust. You are more authentic, relatable, and credible. This will also empower others to try harder and work toward success, knowing that failures and weaknesses at times can set us back.

Bring energy and enthusiasm Infectiousness is the key. Both energy and enthusiasm are equally important to a learning and development professional. It is not about age, but rather the manner and the way things are done that can be changed with your energy – and with persistence. It also reflects a believable model for others to follow.

Have a great support network Create an environment where you can tap on the support of others easily, whether it is with your peers, colleagues, or people outside of work. Attend forums that may not necessarily pertain to learning and development. This will help you develop an ability to link concepts and ideas beyond existing frameworks, which may be important for future successes. At the same time, getting yourself out of the comfort zone in an area that you are not familiar with always produces a different level of thinking which can make the difference between success and failure. As Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”.

Ensure good facilitation and coaching skills I can’t stress enough that a great



A growth mindset is the ability to see beyond what is usual. As a learning and development professional, it means enabling others to think likewise, to help people go beyond and challenge the limit learning and development professional should have these two key skills. Coaching ability is important for both the groups and individuals you work with almost every day. It enables the best to be able to coach someone without having them even feeling that they are being coached. Facilitation skills can be used in a variety of situations, including in meetings, training, and engagement activities. As we mature, things can get a lot more serious, desk-bound, and goal-


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oriented. Facilitation skills bring out the best in others using various techniques and approaches, much like coaching, which is on a more personal basis.

Automate routine tasks Do not sweat the small stuff, but still remain detail-oriented. Use tools to your advantage: to save time, cut costs, and automate routine tasks. For example, use macros on Excel to automate tasks such as attendance tracking, and other bigger tools like Power BI to visualise data into useful insights. They

are important for tracking progress and provide you the clarity to introduce appropriate learning interventions where the gaps are.

About the Author DERRICK LIM is the Training and Employee Engagement Lead for HP Inc, APJ Sales Operations



How corporate philosophy drives business T HR consultant JACK NAKAMURA argues that the key to effective learning and development strategies is to have a unifying corporate philosophy to inspire, engage, and draw out the passions of staff at all levels of the organisation




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hroughout my career as a HR consultant for over 10 years, I have been engaged in many projects, in Tokyo, Singapore and Thailand, working with many executives from various industries. From this experience I have become a strong believer in the importance of defining a corporate philosophy and utilising it as a driving force for business development: and it seems that the importance is increasing more and more these days. Corporate philosophy defines “why” your company needs to exist. Amazon is striving to create a world where users can find everything online. Google’s philosophy is “to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. You can’t be certain how successful you are until you are able to measure your impact. Make sure there is a clear, measurable goal that is linked to success. Whether it is for behaviour change or a specific result you want to see, it must be clearly stated from the outset. A philosophy clearly defines the identity of the company. It contributes to engaging staff and guiding them on how they should behave, and also attracts future candidates. Back in my home country of Japan, I observed many visionary companies as well. Honda emphasised the importance of “chasing dreams” by creating a nonconventional motorcycle, while Uniqlo is changing the conventional wisdom of clothes.

4. Walk the walk; Talk the talk

By being influenced by those companies that made invisible things visible, I am working now to enhance the competitiveness of Asian organizations, as an Asian citizen. Corporate philosophy, however, is intangible and sometimes too conceptual. This makes it is difficult to link with daily work. This often results in the philosophy simply being hung on the wall or posted on the website, and not much more. But successful companies are managing it well as a weapon for creating competitiveness of the business. In this article I will introduce four key points in managing corporate philosophy for your organisation.

1. Sharing the origin of the company I started my career at Nestle, a global food company originating from Switzerland. During the training session for newcomers, there was a lecture about how Nestle started its business. Henri Nestle, the founder, made powdered milk for infants to tackle high mortality rates. The meaning of the corporate logo of Nestle, a bird taking care of the babies in the nest, represents his passion and this has been inherited even after more than 100 years. Knowing the origin of the company is essential for sharing the corporate philosophy with employees, leading to higher engagement when successfully communicated.

2. Vision statements that ignite passion Myanmar Brewery, one of the most successful beer-making companies in Asia, is a case of the powerful connection between corporate philosophy and business success. They have a vision called “3P”: People, Pride, and Product. In the statement about pride, the

Asian Identity’s HR consulting team company declares “to be a proud representative of Myanmar internationally”. The employees are proud of this statement and work hard to make their company more internationally reputable, and to make their country the same as well. Sometimes we, as executives, tend to focus on numerical goals too much and devote ourselves to drive the workforce in that one, single direction. But few people get excited only with numbers. If you want to truly inspire people, you must have statements that can evoke passions in them, and in doing so, withdraw higher commitment to the organisation.

3. Using unique local words In global companies, corporate philosophy statements are typically written in English. However, sometimes it is also effective to use non-English words with specific intentions. Shiseido, a Japanese cosmetic company, has Omotenashi principles. These are based on a concept of Japanese hospitality,

but the company deliberately kept the philosophy in Japanese language in order to show it as unique and untranslatable. This is one interesting approach of making corporate identity more unique and clear. In his book In Other Words, Linguist CJ Moore points out that we tend to think our experiences are common all over the world, and can therefore be translatable into other languages. But, in fact, they cannot. Sometimes a notion in a certain language cannot be explained because the concept itself is peculiar to the culture. Using local words as they are is one way of conveying a concept beyond cultures and languages.

Last of all, let’s think about how we can best implement a corporate philosophy into an organisation from scratch. Even if we exhibit a beautiful philosophy statement, it will be meaningless if leaders of the company don’t set good examples. Needless to say, leaders are the main conveyer of the messages of the company, so people in leading positions have to be responsible for truly embodying the philosophy. What HR should do is design key processes to link them with the corporate philosophy: recruiting criteria, evaluation processes, and promotion rules. All these processes need to be understood not only by HR, but also by managers in business functions – they will be the key players when it comes to implementation. The most important thing for a HR manager is to always reflect on their own behavior and ensure they are a positive ambassador for the company’s corporate philosophy. Our business environment is becoming more and more globalized, so that we need to unite and drive our people beyond culture and languages. Like a great movie or piece of music that can easily cross borders, a powerful philosophy can move people even in different cultures. I recommend leaders to check their corporate philosophy once again and leverage it as a key tool for success.

About the Author JACK NAKAMURA is a professional HR consultant, facilitator and speaker in leadership and management. He is the Founder and CEO of Asian Identity, which is a Bangkok-based HR consultancy specialising in the HR management of multicultural environments. Born and raised in Japan, Nakamura is currently based in Thailand with his family.

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WHEN IT COMES to HR, training, and organisational development in Asia-Pacific, one size most definitely does not fit all. This widely diverse and multicultural region demands bespoke solutions for organisations looking to get the most out of their workforces across multiple markets. Asian Identity is a Thailand-based HR and organisational development company. We work with top executives and managers from Asian companies across Southeast Asia (and Japan) to help them improve their organisational performance to meet their ever-higher goals and targets. The company prides itself on its strong “Asia is One” philosophy, and offers its clients a unique “Asianised” style of management development. It produces its own tools and resources to reflect the region’s unique business landscape and challenges, including the hugely popular Su Su Pim cartoon series, a Japanese Manga-style textbook for business education in Thai language. Asian identity’s clients include several organisations working across multiple markets

in the region. Honda, for example, has been working with Asian Identity for two years on a management development programme that has been integrated across several different offices across the region. To offer even further value to these multiple market organisations, Asian Identity has recently launched its pan-Southeast Asia services in Singapore. Founder Katsuhiro (Jack) Nakamura, an experienced consultant who has been working internationally in improving the performance of both companies and individual leaders, says this will provide clients with even more breadth and expertise in developing multicultural work environments.

Asian Identity +66 2 392 3288

More than a learning and development partner AT THE BRITISH COUNCIL, our vision is that the future for the UK depends on people of all cultures living and working together on foundations of education, mutual understanding, respect and trust. Our mission is to create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. Our work is driven by our strong belief in internationalism, valuing people, a commitment to professionalism, and an enthusiasm for creativity. We hold ourselves to the highest possible standards of integrity. We believe that cultural relations can help individuals and the world community to thrive. The British Council has been in Singapore over 70 years and the Professional Development Centre has been operating for over 30 years. In this time, we have provided hundreds of thousands of people in Singapore with training in areas such as leadership, communication, customer service, creativity and team work.

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At a time when learning and development practitioners are under more pressure to show a return on investment, our tools and programmes help hundreds of organisations a year show real results. These can range from performance improvements, 360-degree feedback, scores or increase to an organisation’s bottom line. We also have offices on the ground in most countries in Asia and have established dedicated training centres in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, and Manila allowing us to both understand local markets and be a truly regional learning partner for our clients.

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Learning and Development Conference

Re-Skilling and Up-Skilling Talent through 21st Century Learning Tools and Strategies 3-4 July 2018 | Singapore

Join us at the 2018 Learning and Development Congress, where we’ll explore the latest learning trends in four core areas including: science and research, design and development, management and implementation and tools and technologies for modern workplace learning.

ur o y n it i W! k r a M ry NO dia

This 2-day conference has been tailored to provide you with: Practical insights into 21st-century learning tools and strategies that drive improved business performance An understanding of how to create a culture of continuous and selfdirected learning Tools for effectively measuring L&D impact and outcomes How-to’s for getting buy-in for new learning and development initiatives

Topics to be explored include: Future technology and learning Practical neuroscience for learning professionals

Successfully introducing micro-learning within your organisation

Aligning learning to the needs of your organisation

Adopting a growth mindset to drive learning agility

Transforming the learner experience with big data

How to gamify your learning to make it more impactful

Transitioning from face-to-face to digital learning

Creating a culture of continuous and self-directed learning

Enjoy launch rate savings up to S$600! Register for S$1395 Only REGISTER TODAY! Tel: (65) 6423 4631 | Email: |




Organisational Development, Asia


Global Talent, Consumer Healthcare



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Regional Talent Management, Asia


Head HR, Consumer Healthcare Asia-Pacific


Vice President, HR, Pharmaceutical International


Head HR, Global Manufacturing & Supply Chain, Consumer Healthcare Asia-Pacific

AN EFFECTIVE CURE There is no magic potion when it comes to talent management, but UK pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has discovered the solution to keeping employees engaged: give them a sense of purpose B Y K E LV I N O N G

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or a company as broad and complex as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) – with three main business units and 34,000 employees across Asia alone – having a clear HR framework is how the pharmaceutical giant keeps its employees motivated, which in turn keeps its complex operations running smoothly. Speaking with Bonita Lee, GSK’s Vice President of HR for Pharmaceutical International, this is not immediately apparent, particularly because there are so many staff engagement and development programmes and initiatives available across an entity of this size. But it soon becomes evident that there is a systematic method to all of that activity. All the different moving parts come together at the end to help the organisation achieve its three main objectives of engaging and developing people, creating a more flexible organisational culture, and building a resilient workforce. Lee explains how these goals, first introduced three years ago, were largely influenced by the blurring of work and life, the overwhelming millennial factor, and the digitisation of work. “We can’t afford to ignore these trends. We need to develop an environment that’s modern, inclusive, enriching, and purposedriven. So a lot of activities are dove-tailed to these areas in order to attract and retain the best people,” says Lee.

Rebuilding culture The catalyst for change, she notes, has been “GSK Asia House”, the company’s new AsiaPacific headquarters in Singapore that was officially unveiled in October last year. The premises, which made HRM Magazine Asia’s inaugural “Most Effective Workspaces” list, brought together several teams that had been previously based in different parts of Singapore and the region. “It was not until we physically came together that we felt the changes and the buzz of all the things we’ve been doing. There are a lot of elements in here that allow collaboration,” she shares, adding that HR had a huge part to play in the conceptualisation of the space. But the one element that brings everything together, Lee stresses, is culture. “The basics are already there. But if people don’t access those tools, then it still doesn’t get us where we want to be,” she explains.



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This is why culture-building has become one of HR’s key priorities and it has been particularly evident in how the organisation has approached learning and development. GSK uses the 70-20-10 learning and development model, but Lee says that for this to be truly effective, it is important that managers and their teams have regular, open dialogues. Individual employees also need to be proactive and take charge of their own career development. In November last year, HR ran Grow @ GSK Asia, a one-day event that helped educate employees on the importance of leading their own development paths. The informational event also showcased how staff can engage their managers regularly to have conversations about their growth within the company. It was also about breaking existing beliefs surrounding career development, and

broadening individuals’ understanding of what a career looks like in 2018. “In the East Asian context, people have the belief that ‘careers’ are built only if you are promoted,” says Lee. “But we’re trying to help people rewire their thinking that career building and development is about acquiring new experiences and not just about getting a better-sounding title.”

Sense of purpose This focus on rebuilding culture can also be seen in how the drug manufacturer marries its corporate mission with its external activities. As the sixth largest pharmaceutical organisation in the world, GSK prides itself on making its products available to as many people across the world as possible, regardless of their socio-economic status. Lee says the company is well-aware of the industry’s controversial reputation among the general public, which is why being an accessible healthcare brand is one of GSK’s core missions today. “Anyone who is a part of GSK has to believe in this mission. It’s very central to our DNA,” says Lee. Providing this sense of purpose is also particularly key when it comes to engaging and retaining millennial employees, who the company has found respond best to having a cause. In fact, the number one reason why most people join and stay with GSK, according to annual employee engagement surveys, is because they feel proud to be associated with a company that gives back to society.

AT A GLANCE Number of employees (Asia-Pacific)

34,000 60

Key HR Focus Areas

Corporate social responsibility Leadership development

Size of HR Team

Learning and development Culture-building

Health and wellness

“We’re trying to help people rewire their thinking that career building and development is about acquiring new experiences, and not just about getting a bettersounding title”



Unsurprisingly, corporate social responsibility has become a key component of the overall organisational culture. Two unique but equally impactful initiatives – Pulse and Orange Day – show how the company uses purpose-driven activities not only to give back to society, but also to engage and develop individuals within its workforce. Pulse is a global, organisation-wide skills-based volunteering programme, where selected employees are paid to work with a

non-profit organisation of their choice using their job expertise for a period of between three to six months. Lee says there have been multiple benefits. Not only do the communities receive much-needed assistance, the individuals also improve their own capabilities in the process. Typically working with an organisation that operates on a bare minimum of resources, they often then return to GSK with ideas for how to simplify processes.

“It changes the employees. To spend three to six months in a developing country, and with an organisation that is very stripped down – they get enriching experiences they have never had before, and come back very changed,” says Lee. In Asia alone, there have been over 700 employees attached to some 120 charitable entities across 60 countries, since the Pulse programme started in 2008. Lee hopes even more employees will sign up in the future. “It started with a lot of participation from the west, but in the last five to six years, more of us from Asia-Pacific have joined,” she says. Orange Day, another philanthropic effort, is a day solely dedicated to giving back to the local community. All employees can choose one day in a year to support a cause. This could range from food distribution to the poor, or spending a day with the intellectually disabled. The company also encourages employees to go beyond those two activities. Lee shares the example of one Singapore employee who committed to scaling Mount Kenya alongside 39 other colleagues from around the world, in a bid to raise money for MARCH 2018





THE HEIGHT OF PHILANTHROPY IN MARCH LAST YEAR, Alena Koshcheeva, Brand Manager for Adult Vaccines Portfolio at GSK Singapore (pictured), along with 39 other GSK employees, went on a mountain trekking mission to help raise money for underprivileged Kenyan children. The initiative, organised

in support of the Save the Children foundation, saw the volunteers scale up Mount Kenya in freezing weather. It raised over S$500,000 in total. Koshcheeva says this was the perfect opportunity for her to contribute to a good cause. “This partnership is both an inspiration and an important example of the way

the Save the Children partner foundation. The employee was given a month’s paid leave to participate in the expedition. “There are lots of opportunities like that at GSK,” Lee says. “They enable people to do more and bring that learning back to GSK so that they can become better themselves.”

Market exposure with a cause Another HR priority has been that of leadership development. But what GSK does differently is that it deliberately integrates leadership development with its corporate social responsibility and purpose-driven culture. Lee says the decision to rethink its regional leadership development approach also happened largely in tandem with the development of the GSK Asia House. One of the first things the HR team



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the private and NGO sectors can collaborate for the benefit of the poorest people in the world,” she said. “It is amazing to look back and see all the positive changes that have happened thanks to the people around me who have supported me with this initiative for a good cause.”

did was to interview managers both inside and outside the company, so as to figure out what its leadership strengths and weaknesses are. Four broad areas for improvement emerged: Building cultural intelligence for a diverse region like Asia; managing complexities and ambiguities; being willing to take risks; and engaging stakeholders. There was also the issue of giving individuals with limited market exposure and experience the opportunity to take on more senior roles. In line with these findings, the Asia HR team introduced the Asian Leadership Programme for Emerging Leaders Forum. As part of the programme, the general managers of each market sponsor around 30 mid-career talents from between 12 and 15 countries every year. Each business head

has to sponsor at least one individual from a different market. Each of the selected employees is then given a challenge from a non-profit or non-governmental organisation, for which they have to come up with solutions and recommendations. In 2016, the challenge was to increase awareness for bone marrow disease, while last year the programme supported the Special Olympics. The role of the general managers is to coach the individuals through the team challenges, including on how to craft the content of their presentations, how to link their ideas together, and how to make good recommendations. As a result of the programme, Lee says talent mobility across the different markets has increased. “When you move talent, it’s very expensive because you don’t know if that talent speaks your language or understands your culture, so you will naturally think twice about paying to bring someone across,” she explains. “But when you have coached the person and believe in them, it’s so much easier.” All parties involved also become more culturally intelligent, while the talent themselves gain the market experience they need to get to the next level. “It’s a risky move for some of these individuals, but it’s the ultimate career accelerator,” says Lee. But the biggest win is still with regards to how the company has been able to meaningfully help the communities in need at such a massive scale. “The core component of that programme essentially is these organisations having a problem, and they don’t have anyone to turn to. These 30-odd talented individuals come together and think about how we can solve their problems. “It has nothing to do with GSK and is completely purpose-driven,” says Lee. The programme has been so successful that other regions are looking to replicate it, a feat in itself. “The scope of this programme is likely to be widened because it has worked in Asia and the other parts of the world have seen how it has worked. It’s very rare for a programme to be pushed out from Asia to the rest of the world,” says Lee.

26-27 June Singapore

Navigating the Future of HR Transformation, Strategy, Workforce Analytics and Organisational Development HRM Asia brings you the HR XLR8 Summit 2018 to unleash challenges and opportunities in HR Strategy, HR Transformation, Workforce and HR Analytics and Organisational Development. We have extensively researched the most pressing challenges around HR today, to equip you with the right tools and strategies to drive business results and become a strategic business partner.

International Keynote Speaker

Key Topics:

Ross Sparkman Head of Strategic Workforce Planning Facebook (USA)

Other Featured Speakers:

Nandini Jayaram HRBP Lead Google

Gaurav Sharma HR Director Coca cola

Corrie Linares HR Lead South East Asia Unilever

Stephane Michaud Senior Director - HR&OD Mitsubishi Corporation

Laura Cole Head of HR Transformation Standard Chartered Bank

Nikhil Dhawan Regional HR Lead Dell Technologies

Christian Chao Senior Vice President, Corporate Learning and Development UOB

JPS Choudhary HR Head - Asia, APAC, Africa & Middle East Vodafone

Tackling HR transformation with the right technology, skills, capabilities, culture, and gaining organisational buy-in Understanding and using data to drive business decisions and plan for current and future trends Addressing the skills and capabilities an HR leader needs to have to become a strategic business partner Executing an HR strategy and driving the organisation towards the future Developing organisational capabilities to grow leaders and inspire organisational growth Changing mind-sets and empowering a culture of change and innovation Aligning strategy, people and processes

SAVE THE DATE! 26-27 JUNE 2018

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UPPER HAND Today’s shortage of talents has made many organisations rethink their entire talent management models. HRM Magazine Asia reveals how companies are now adopting an integrated approach to stay ahead of the pack

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vo Delfgaauw, CEO of global training organisation Newfield Asia, remembers a unique talent management strategy that came up from a CEO he was coaching. Delfgaauw had asked the leader how he engaged with his talents and the response struck an immediate chord. “Every quarter, he invites new recruits to his house where he cooks them a meal,” says Delfgaauw. While this method is certainly unorthodox, it represents a growing trend of organisations turning to creative methods to engage their staff. In today’s disruptive, complex, and ultra-competitive working world, organisations are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain employees, in what is already a shrinking pool of global talent.

The previously tried-and-tested methods of talent management in which recruitment, learning and development, and engagement each function as an individual block, are now far less likely to succeed. Rather, organisations are fusing all these components into one fluid and dynamic talent management blueprint, in the knowledge that the combination of all these efforts is potentially worth far more than the sum of the individual parts. Hence, even something seemingly eccentric as a leader inviting new joiners for a cooked meal is now part of a carefullycalibrated talent management framework that also involves outputs such as onboarding and engagement.






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An integrated approach According to Delfgaauw, future-proof talent management strategies acknowledge three defining attributes that top talents are looking for in today’s workplace: being purpose-driven, and meeting the need for social responsibility; being relentlessly performance-oriented; and having strong principles so they feel part of a bigger family that shares common values. One organisation that has engaged in such an approach is digital media and marketing solutions firm Adobe. Adobe famously did away with its annual performance review in 2012, replacing it with a new “Check-In” approach that encompassed a comprehensive talent management plan for each individual employee. “We’ve eliminated this approach of doing an annual performance review, drawing up a typical bell curve, and ranking employees,” says V.R. Srivatsan, Managing Director, Adobe Southeast Asia. Instead, conversations are now undertaken between employees and managers at whatever frequency is appropriate for the two. Srivatsan shares that the Check In process has empowered staff to spearhead their own careers. Another organisation that has adopted a thorough and wide-ranging talent management blueprint is technology solutions provider JTH Group. The organisation’s framework encompasses a wide range of aspects, and what it dubs as its “Three Cs” approach. Freddy Lee, Managing Director for

Southeast Asia, says the company became “super-aggressive” in hiring. For instance, it will deploy its most senior managers to recruit candidates, even for junior to mid-level positions. Senior-ranked figures, including both Lee and his Head of HR for Southeast Asia Lynn Pua, would interview candidates and convince them of the company’s vision. They urge them to be part of “the bigger storyline” of building the firm’s enterprise security framework. JTH Group’s “Three Cs” approach refers to compensation – paying employees fair and competitive wages – career progression, and culture. Lee shares the rationale behind the focus on career progression. “There is not a lot of benefit when a person tenders (their resignation) and you then tell them you were actually planning to promote them next year. It doesn’t work that way because the moment the person tenders, the trust is lost,” says Lee. Instead, the firm identifies high-potential employees and plots a three-to-five year career development plan for each of them. It maps out the necessary training programmes they need to undertake to further hone their skillsets. The final “C” is about fostering a culture which enables employees to perform to the best of their abilities. Seng Hua Hng Foodstuff, producer of the globally-established Camel brand of peanuts, has also pressed on with an integrated talent management model, which includes recruitment, training, and crafting an inclusive culture to enhance employee engagement. The firm has been undertaking a vigorous social recruitment drive through Facebook to source talent for predominantly blue-collared positions. In addition, Seng Hua Hng Foodstuff has been working with Workforce Singapore and the national Jobs Bank portal to build a “core” of specifically local talent, and partners with the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises to also hire ex-offenders. After extensive consultation with a seasoned HR professional who assessed the company’s HR framework and mentored the organisation’s managers and supervisors, the

for relevant staff. Health and wellness is a key aspect of its engagement initiatives, with employees – both young and old – organising their own badminton, cycling, and jogging sessions with other staff. The company has further facilitated open engagement and dialogue with its older employees to discuss their performance and career goals. With organisations such as Adobe, JTH Group and Seng Hua Hng Foodstuff already on board, Delfgaauw stresses that the need for a strategic and integrated approach to talent management is even more important in today’s context. “Organisations where management distances itself from HR strategy and execution are losing the war for talent,” he warns.

Accountability is vital

firm has now drawn out specific on-the-job training plans for employees, particularly those who are involved in its production processes. “Employees know what they will be trained on every day and within a week, each will be ready for other roles, even though the roles do not differ drastically,” says Jan Goh, the company’s Group HR and Administration Manager, “We also map out training goals for

younger employees on a weekly basis.” The company has further partnered with national SME agency Spring Singapore to adopt machinery and technology into its daily production operations. With more than 40 of the organisation’s employees above the age of 50, Seng Hua Hng Foodstuff looks after the needs of its veteran workforce specifically. For instance, the company conducts regular health talks, screenings, and coaching

While integrated talent management models are crafted to help organisations hire, train and retain staff, it is imperative for line managers to be held accountable for the development of talents and the next generation of leaders in their respective companies. “We all see the necessity to upgrade the coaching skills of our managers and leaders; but this is also where managers tend to be lazy,” says Delfgaauw. He says some organisations Newfield Asia works with have put an incentive on the number of talents they have coached during the year, both within and outside their respective departments. Delfgaauw also identifies several challenges HR departments face when overseeing an integrated talent management framework for staff. “We see effective talent strategies balancing several ambiguities: a global strategy with local execution, a collective culture with individual rewards, and policies that are enduring yet constantly open to change,” he explains. “Perhaps the biggest challenge that this causes is the change in leadership mindset, attitude and competencies required by HR professional themselves within their organisation; from being in service to leading with flexibility.” MARCH 2018




CALENDAR Second quarter of 2018



Asia’s biggest workforce management show is back with a stellar line up of thought leaders, business heads, and senior HR practitioners. With eight conference streams and a huge HR-focused expo, this is a not-to-be missed event for anyone looking to get the most out of their workforce in this disruptive economy.


In these turbulent and disruptive times, employing organisations need to be fully aware and up to date with their rights and responsibilities toward their staff. The Asia Employment Law Congress 2018 will provide a comprehensive overview of the evolving employment law landscape in key Asian markets, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, and Taiwan.


Strategy, Analytics, Transformation, and Design: the new world of HR demands a new, holistic approach to workforce management utilising all four of these concepts. For the first time in Asia-Pacific, this multi-stream conference will provide a new perspective on the traditional HR function and inspire delegates to seize the many opportunities for innovation that abound.

3-4 JUL

LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE 2018 The 2018 Learning and Development Conference will explore the latest learning trends for modern workplaces across four core areas: science and research, design and development, management and implementation, and tools and technologies. Delegates will gain critical insights from companies and thought leaders who are re-skilling and up-skilling their talent in this disruptive business environment.

Do you have an upcoming event to share with the HR community in Singapore? Email with the details.



MARCH 2018



“We need to improve, the efficiency of our processes in order to solve complex issues”



Head, Leadership Academy Asia-Pacific UBS

MARCH 2018





When HR leads by example, the rest of the organisation typically follows suit. MARK LEONG, Head of UBS’ Asia-Pacific Leadership Academy, shares how talent managers can be the change they want to see


ever underestimate the challenge that the HR function has when it comes to preparing staff for the exponential changes we are now facing in the modern workplace. The rate at which these changes are taking place just lends further to the complexity of the current situation. As HR professionals, most of us are wellversed across the topics of future-proofing the workforce, digitalisation, and agile working. But what can we also do to be an enabler in this journey?

Compelling end goal One of the keys in navigating these priorities is to acknowledge that it is indeed a change journey. This allows you to leverage on an effective change methodology to guide you and the organisation. I would encourage leaders to take the time to craft and communicate a compelling vision of the end goal, and to ensure that this is firmly embedded and interwoven into the corporate culture. This will mean taking the time to ensure that the majority of the business leaders within the firm understand, accept, speak, and act in favour of the new shift toward digital transformation. When mastered, these values also transcend into the world or product that connects with customers. There are many great examples of firms that have built their own internal culture and brought this over to their products and customers, like Dove’s now famous “Real Beauty” campaign. As HR professionals, we can take a lead role in ensuring we facilitate senior leaders’ discussion and partner on this critical aspect of the change.



MARCH 2018

HR can also be a role model by going digital with its own processes, and use big data, analytics, and artificial intelligence to model quicker, more effective, and more efficient people services.

Create awareness Creating awareness and educating the workforce is also an important part of the digital transformation journey – and one that HR specifically can take a lead role in. We are able to help staff to understand the macro-economic trends being faced, as well as the direct implications on the organisation. We can explain exactly what “going digital” means for the organisation, and what it does not. And we can bust some of the myths around overused terms and help leaders and employees understand the benefits of the digital transformation. This will aid in gaining acceptance and buy in of people to not just come on this journey, but also be a part of fueling that change. HR teams can also organise workshops for digital champions to learn the tricks to driving the transformation forward, or develop learning journeys to witness cutting-edge best practices from other industries. This will help augment the change process, and the adoption of best-in-class digital practices. We need to improve the efficiency of our processes in order to solve complex issues. But this should not be at the expense of the human factor, which is, namely, our employees and customers. Adopting agile working policies allow an organisation to become truly global and cut across time zones – hence increasing efficiencies and engagement in the way we work and communicate with our employees.

People, people, and people Perhaps the most overlooked portion of this journey, and one that cannot be over emphasised – is to keep in mind the “human” element as we go into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. How do we ensure the voice of reason (or of the people) is listened to as we embark on this journey? How do we ensure that the pursuit of automation and technology does not

override the need for human interaction? Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, says that any transformation journey comes down to people and values. “We need to shape a future that works for all of us by putting people first and empowering them,” he wrote in Foreign Affairs in 2016. “In its most pessimistic, dehumanised

form, the Fourth Industrial Revolution may indeed have the potential to ‘robotise’ humanity and thus to deprive us of our heart and soul. But as a complement to the best parts of human nature—creativity, empathy, stewardship—it can also lift humanity into a new collective and moral consciousness based on a shared sense of destiny. “It is incumbent on us all to make sure the latter prevails.”

About the author Mark Leong is the Head of UBS’ Leadership Academy for Asia-Pacific. He joined UBS in 2012 as the AsiaPacific Business University lead for Leadership, Talent and Professional Development. MARCH 2018





Culture guardian angels

As “culture guardians” of their organisations, HR can effect change by shaping better employee experiences


Head of Talent,People and Culture, MoneySmart

MY FIRST FORAY into HR started almost 10 years ago in South Korea. I worked at an international conference organiser where I oversaw recruitment and operational training. But it was not till 2009 that I moved to Singapore to pursue an international HR career. After three years with a recruitment agency, I was appointed as the talent engagement lead at eBay and drove strategic talent sourcing initiatives, university recruitment, and vendor management. This role also provided me with the opportunity to localise global talent acquisition initiatives in South Korea, India, and China. In 2012, I was hired by INSEAD Business School to build recruitment partnerships with key companies in the technology, media, entertainment, and startup sectors. In my pursuit of a new work challenge, I decided to leave INSEAD to assess an opportunity with MoneySmart where I’m now not just the Head of the People and Culture team, but also a “culture guardian”. As a culture guardian, I am responsible for cultivating a work environment that fosters great employee experiences and hence, enhance organisational impact. The key ingredients required for such a work environment include a mission statement, a set of values, as well as mutual trust and respect. Using my understanding of systems



MARCH 2018

and methodologies from my previous multinational corporation stints to add value to MoneySmart (from reshaping the hiring process to be more inclusive, to ensuring objectivity and fairness in all hiring decisions) has been nothing short of an enriching experience. It is also extremely rewarding as the People and Culture team is actively involved in creating its own positive legacy for the company. For example, new employees are provided with a detailed onboarding framework well before their official first day. That way they can take some time

to familiarise themselves with the wider MoneySmart team and our operations, so their first day or week becomes less daunting or overwhelming. This is usually typical of multinationals, and something that People teams at startup companies can replicate or adapt. Similarly, there are other learnings from that big corporate world that can be applied to the rest of the HR process chain – from hiring and assimilation, to retention and development. At MoneySmart, we take career progression very seriously. We have worked with the C-suite team to develop a transparent and detailed framework through which employees can chart their progress. Part of the process includes a twoway feedback session, so they can obtain a fair assessment and evaluation of their performance, and understand the areas that need improvement. Above all, it’s crucial for the HR function to closely collaborate with the C-suite team. An organisation’s commitment to employees’ careers and their wellbeing, regardless of the size of the company, needs to be driven from the top. Otherwise, it will lack authenticity. To help upskill the department heads on how to be better managers, our CEO, Vinod Nair, recently conducted a series of interactive training sessions based on the concepts in Radical Candour, written by Kim Scott. As the company’s culture guardian, HR certainly wields the power to effect change. Serving as a conduit for employee voices to be heard and acted upon, the People and Culture team can consequently shape better employee experiences. It’s fulfilling that I’m able to play a part in influencing where MoneySmart goes as a business.

ASK OUR HR EXPERTS Email your questions to


Stephanie Onie Chief of Staff PT Brilio Ventura Indonesia


ho is Stephanie Onie, and how would you describe her?

An idealistic introverted extrovert and closet perfectionist who strives to find joy in small things and is passionate about living life to the fullest.

As Chief of Staff, what do you do on a day-to-day basis? My role is to support the CEO and ensure that his vision for the company is understood and executed by all employees. On a day-to-day, this means a lot of research and data analysis, giving recommendations on the direction of the editorial content, managing relationships with business partners, and supervising the HR department.

How do you view HR? HR is the core of every business and is built on a foundation of trust and respect. It requires both knowledge and wisdom to balance the aspirations of employees with the needs of the company. When you treat your employees fairly and have their best interests at heart then they will reward you with their loyalty and best work.



There has never been or will ever be anyone like you. There is something special inside of you that no one has, so don’t compare yourself to others or try to be someone else What’s the best part of your job? The best part of my job would be its unpredictable nature – not knowing for sure what new projects and challenges I will have to face every day. As Chief of Staff, I have to be ready to learn on the fly and juggle multiple hats at the same time.

What’s the worst part? Administrative work! I’ve never been great at this, but I am lucky enough to be surrounded by detail-oriented perfectionists who make sure I have my I’s dotted and my T’s crossed!

Highlight of your career so far: Moving from a safe and stable corporate job to a newly-formed startup company in a completely different industry. It was the most challenging thing I’ve done professionally, but it has also been the most rewarding as I have been able to push myself further than I ever thought possible.

Guilty pleasures? Long walks. Going to Ikea. Listening to podcasts. Good food. Netflix, and Instagram.

One person you would most like to trade places with for a day: Lisa Bevere. Strong, intelligent, and fearless – someone I aspire to be like. MARCH 2018




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 HRM Asia’s team of career advisors.


I HAVE BEEN working with a large global media company as part of its leadership development team for the past four years. It has given me great experience and, most recently, a new ambition to take on a leadership role myself. I am still flying “under the radar” in this respect – how can I highlight my potential to the organisation’s leaders without openly grandstanding? Humble leader, Malaysia


I HAVE BEEN with my first HR role, as a generalist, for just over six months, but am already keen to take on a new challenge. In particular, I’d I think I am most interested in specialising in employee development. How early or late did you choose the HR path that would carry for the majority of your career thereafter? In search of a speciality, Singapore


I think there are a couple of steps here. One is to voluntarily step forward, and take on special projects or any initiatives that are being launched – demonstrate that you are proactive and can take a leadership role on projects that matter. Secondly, I’d have a frank conversation with my boss about how much you enjoy leadership development, and how you feel you’d be even more impactful if you had line management experience, or skills in running a business from a team leader or other leadership position. I’d ask their advice on how to get that experience, since it’s highly probable that they would, of course, agree. Thirdly, I would think about the leaders who had been through your programme in the past year, and I’d go and ask their advice also. You can even say to them that you’re particularly keen to take on a leadership position: would they either coach you, or give you a chance in one of their open positions in their own teams?


There are a couple of interesting points to make here. Firstly, I don’t think you should be specialising after only six months as a generalist. I think it’s good to get more experience in that role – a year or two at least. But by all means, start volunteering for projects involving employee engagement and development, or ask if you can “double-hat” and continue your role as a generalist but also take on additional responsibilities with the Learning and Development team. The other point I’d make is I think that the days of deciding early in your career what your long-term journey is going to look like are well and truly over. Increasingly these days, people are looking for different challenges



MARCH 2018

every couple of years. And organisations are also looking for those that can be flexible. They are looking for people who can be good generalists, then step into a specialist role for a couple of years, and then transition back into a generalist role or even into line management. Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, talks about the most critical new skill being that of an “infinite learner”: the idea that you should always be learning new things. So keep learning, and operating as a generalist. Start to learn more about the specialist area that you are interested in. If in six or nine months there is a chance to move into that area by all means do so. But don’t see that as your last move. See it as another learning opportunity, and a stepping stone to a different challenge again in two to three years.


Is the Head of Asia to SmartUp. io. 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 Learning and Development for DBS Bank.

Opportunities for Life Regional Talent Acquisition Specialist

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

HR Business Partner

• European MNC • SEA Coverage

• Asian technology player • Highly visible, hands-on and an exciting role

Our client, an European MNC has created an exciting new role for a Regional Talent Acquisition Specialist.

Technology player with global footprint, our client has an immediate need for an energetic and highly hands-on HR Business Partner to lead people agenda for assigned business groups.

This newly created role is responsible for the end-to-end recruitment function, reporting to the Head of HR and dotted line to the Global Head of Talent Acquisition. The ideal candidate should be able to bring innovative and creative ways to attract and search for talent on behalf of the business. An individual contributor in a highly matrix environment, you will be expected to work closely with country HR teams and develop recruitment solutions to attract the appropriate level and quality of employees. You will also be responsible for developing programs within the areas of employer branding and on-boarding, as well as maintain and analyze statistical reports relating to these hiring. To be considered for this role, you should be a graduate with strong end-to-end technical recruitment experience and at least 7 years experience in a similar role (inhouse or search companies) within a progressive environment in the engineering or oil & gas industries. Strong analytical and project management skills, being handon with excellent communication skills are essential.

Reporting to HR Business Partnering Leader, you will partner with business leaders to advise and provide HR solutions relating to all employee matters; develop and implement HR strategies in areas of recruitment, learning & development, compensation & benefits, talent management and employee engagement; take a lead role in collating manpower statistics and analytics at corporate level for business review and planning purposes. As a key member of HR division, you will participate and may lead HR projects from time to time. Degree-qualified in HR or Business Administration, you have 6 years HR Management experience including 4 years in HR advisory ideally in technology sector. Excellent operational HR experience and working knowledge of Singapore labor law coupled with strong analytical and project management skills are mandatory; a team player, meticulous, hands-on, task-oriented, and possess excellent interpersonal and communication skills. Regional exposure and flexibility on business travels are preferred.

To submit your application, please email your resume in word format to Li Li Kang at or Audrey Chong at

To submit your application, please email your resume in word format to Maureen Ho at or Audrey Chong at

EA Personnel Registration No. R1108467 & R1105147

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$14 million annual net sales in annual revenue. For more than 56 years, RGF 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 48 locations across 27 cities in 11 countries and markets in Asia with in-country specialist consultants. Best Recruitment Firm in Accounting, Banking, Finance; The Executive Search Company of the Year; The HR Recruitment Company of the Year; Best Recruitment Firm, Non-Management Roles and Best Recruitment Firm, RPO. HRM ASIA, RI ASIA, Human Resources magazine




With a reach of more than 40,000 relevant professionals across online, print, and weekly newsletter, job listings can connect you directly with your next big thing in workforce management

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only is Asia’s urce o mediatsed to HR dedicfaessional pro opment devel

MARCH 2018




Compassion’s the word PLEASE EXCUSE my somewhat solemn tone this month – but there’s something on my mind. We’re barely through the first quarter of 2018, and at least five prolific retrenchment exercises have been announced or already taken place. Consider the list of companies involved: Kimberly- Clark, Xerox, Coca-Cola, General Electric, and Carrefour, just to name the biggest reorganisers. The reasons for all the restructuring are mostly the same: falling revenues amid growing competition and a volatile market. Xerox’s CEO said the drastic move comes at a time when the paper company is struggling in an “increasingly severe” market landscape that has seen many of its biggest customers take on a paperless strategy. Meanwhile, Kimberly-Clark has had to resort to slashing 15% of its workforce, or some 5,500 workers, because falling birth rates had driven sales for its once-highly-lucrative diaper business down. In these unpleasant and uncertain times, it is HR once again that finds itself right in the middle of the upheaval. These are the moments when HR’s soft skills are truly put to the test. The textbook strategy of open communication and compassion – as obvious, simple, and repetitive as it sounds – has become more crucial than ever. Yet, it remains something that many HR departments still struggle to master. Just take a look at the way Singapore real estate firm Surbana Jurong and Indian IT giant Tech Mahindra handled employee exits in 2017. The former allegedly sought to dress up retrenchments as voluntary exits in order to avoid employee entitlements, while the latter gave excess staff a heartless “resign or be sacked with no compensation” ultimatum. When the volume of cuts to be made gets high, it is understandable for the business to approach the exercise as efficiently as possible. But HR leaders should also remember that people’s livelihoods and feelings are involved in the process. So rather than delivering the news in a curt manner, communicate clearly and openly. Even if the facts are harsh, being candid will actually help the affected parties more than beating around the bush. Of course, speaking forthrightly does not mean telling employees they have to pack up their belongings and be out the door within the next hour. Rather, good communication, as Technip India’s HR Director Nikhil Shahane told me last



MARCH 2018

month, means giving each individual a proper explanation of the business’ decision to reduce headcount. It also means providing them a listening ear so that they can voice out whatever concerns they might have. It might even mean you having to play shrink, comforting staff and helping them to re-find their path. Fortunately, I have never been on either side of the conversation. But I imagine being laid off would be like a break up – something I am a little


more familiar with. And the golden rule on breakups is that you need to provide a proper explanation. No text messages or, worse, silent deleting of social media accounts. No one likes to be left hanging, particularly when it concerns the end of a relationship – personal or professional. Everyone deserves a closure, even when the end is bitter, and never sweet.




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HRM March 2018 Breaking All The Rules  
HRM March 2018 Breaking All The Rules  

In this issue, HR author and thought leader Marcus Buckingham shares why the best managers are rule-breakers; We look at three companies tha...