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MAY 2017

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Building the smart workforce of tomorrow

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Employee Health & Wellness Congress 2017 24 - 25 May 2017 | Singapore

Creating a Sustainable and Healthy Workforce

Featured Speakers:

Gary Lee Chief HR Specialist, Global Talent Development, Group Organisational Development GRUNDFOS

Alexander Yap Global Rewards Director UTAC

Gan Sow Chat Asia Pacific Benefits Director Honeywell

Chetna Singh APJ Head of Total Rewards SAP

Sandeep Girotra Head of HR – APAC DaVita Healthcare

Dushyant Ajwani Director, Compensation and Benefits – Asia American Express

Molly Ang Executive Director, Compensation & Benefits Seagate

Jamie Read Regional Director, Healthcare Sector Edelman

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Creating A Culture Of Wellness To Encourage Health Accountability Among The Workforce, And Gain Buy-In From All Stakeholders Increasing Engagement And Productivity, And Lowering Medical Costs And Absenteeism Through Health And Wellness Program Exploring Best Practices and Trends to Ensure the Implementation of Meaningful and Impactful Programs that Drive Business Results

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Dear HRM Asia readers,

EDITOR Sham Majid




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MAY 2017

ou saw him live at HR Summit 2014, where he gave an exclusive masterclass on how business leaders could deliver sustained business results by partnering with their HR functions. Three years on, Dave Ulrich, the “father of modern HR”, is coming back – this time as the headline inspiration for Smart Workforce Summit 2017. Ahead of that September event, HRM Asia has again caught up with one of the globe’s most esteemed HR thought leaders. In this exclusive chat, Ulrich charts the continuing evolution of HR, predicting that tomorrow’s HR will shift away from the ongoing “war for talent” to a goal of “victory through organisation”. In an age where disruption is the only constant, Ulrich also shares how HR needs to step up its own game, and move from being a “trusted advisor” to a “credible activist”. Staying on the theme of disruption, HRM Asia also takes a closer look at how recruitment and onboarding practices have evolved in this region. The emergence of recruitment through automation tools is certainly changing the talent acquisition function, so will traditional third party recruitment agencies soon be out of a job themselves? HRM Asia also charts the growing adoption of “e-onboarding” tools to complement traditional new hire welcome strategies, and explains how such efforts are helping to increase employee engagement at all levels of service. And how does a single HR team of 73 manage nearly 10,000 employees? In this edition’s HR Insider, Marina Bay Sands, one of the world’s pre-eminent resort properties, shares how employee engagement is key to ensuring that the integrated resort consistently runs like clockwork.

Best Regards,

Sham Majid Editor, HRM Asia CONTACT US:

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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:

MAY 2017



CONTENTS COVER STORY 16 Dave Ulrich: Building the smart workforce of tomorrow As technology and market conditions continue disrupting businesses, world-renowned management guru Dave Ulrich says it is high time HR steps up to the plate, to lead their organisations to greater heights.




Patience is virtue


Full-speed development


On-the-ball onboarding

From running one of Asia’s leading building development and infrastructure firms to exploring the unique world of butterflies, patience is certainly a key virtue for Khew Sin Khoon, President and Group CEO of CPG Corporation.

A focus on education is helping to build the Philippines workforce up, but the battle to attract and retain talent is still making life tough for HR there.

In a bid to quickly engage and connect with new hires even before they set foot in the office, organisations are crafting customised onboarding initiatives in the online space. HRM Asia reveals more.

32 The resort that never sleeps

Managing one of the world’s largest resort properties and its 10,000 employees is no small task. Marina Bay Sand’s Senior Vice President of HR Chan Yit Foon shares just how her team keeps things running smoothly 365 days a year. 2

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40 36

Man vs machine

The cost-savings and efficiencies provided by recruitment automation programmes are understandably leaving some recruiters worried about their futures. But as practitioners tell HRM Asia, these technological innovations should be seen as “partners”, not “threats”.


Engineered evolution

Today, most of Siemens’ entry-level hires in Southeast Asia are made through its Engineering Graduate Programme, an immersive training initiative that prepares fresh graduates for a fulfilling career with the global organisation.


Part of the storyline

Technology solutions provider JTH Group is pressing ahead with its employer branding efforts. It hopes to build a compelling story in order to attract and retain talents in a hyper-competitive field.



Leaders on Leadership

47 An HRD Speaks 47 HR Clinic 50 HRM Asia Congress Insights 53 Up Close and Personal 54 Reader Advice

Behind the noise

Disrupting workplace culture can be critical to introducing change. Callum Laing, Partner and Head of Asia with Unity Group, says HR needs to be clear on the bigger picture behind any change in order to manage its impact on the workforce. MAY 2017






WELCOME TO “GRANDPARENTHOOD” Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) has introduced a new three-day “Grandparenthood Leave” for employees who have become new grandparents. This scheme kicked off on April 1 and is open to all Hong Kong-based employees. The company says all that is needed is a family photo of the three generations together. “At HKBN, our ethos is that life takes priority over work, which is why we uphold ‘LIFE-work priority’ rather than ‘worklife balance’. We believe when our talent is empowered with higher flexibility to pursue purposeful personal and family lives, they come to work far more motivated resulting in far increased efficiency and productivity,” said CY Chan, Associate Director of Talent Management and Organisation Development. “Our aim is for more companies to adopt similar measures to care for their talent, and join HKBN to ‘Make our Hong Kong a better place to live’,” In recent years, HKBN has also unveiled a range of work-lifebalance policies that have shortened employment hours, such as reduced nine-to-five work days, half-days-off on important festive occasions, and monthly half-days of on Fridays.




PET POLICY SETS TONGUES, AND TAILS WAGGING HarperCollins Publishers India (HCI) is set to afford “pawternity leave” to staff who are adopting pets. According to the Huffington Post, employees will be entitled to five days of paid leave if they have just adopted a pet, in order to cultivate responsible pet owner habits. On top of “pawternity leave”, HCI will allow employees to bring their pets to the workplace, with a designated space set aside for animals. “At HarperCollins we want the very best of work-life balance for our colleagues, and that includes being mindful about their family needs,” said Ananth Padmanabhan, CEO of HCI. “Pet children need as much attention [as human children], if not more. We don’t want colleagues to worry about the [amount] of leave they have before deciding to start a family.” A spokesperson for HarperCollins UK said the company has no plans in place to adopt this policy in the UK.


MAY 2017


Garuda Indonesia has promoted a female pilot to the rank of captain, a first for the national carrier. Ida Fiqriah broke the glass ceiling to lead Boeing B737-800 NG planes, a narrow body-style aircraft, after recording 10,585 flight hours. Garuda Indonesia is hoping that Ida can become the first female pilot captain for wide-body aircraft in the future. The airline’s operational director Novianto Harupratomo personally pinned the Boeing B737-800 Bar Captain rating emblem on Fiqriah’s uniform in a ceremony in April. “This moment clearly shows that Garuda Indonesia gives equal opportunities to anyone who shows top work performance in their profession,” he said. Fiqriah has been with Garuda longer than any of the organisation’s other female pilots, having now flown for the airline for about 18 years. Of Garuda Indonesia’s 1,380 pilots, only 30 are women. “We hope the induction of Ida Fiqriah as a pilot captain can motivate all female pilots in this company,” said Novianto.




FOOTBALL STAFF BOOTED The Crown Prince of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, has begun his tenure as Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president by terminating the services of 20 employees in the organisation. “The objective is to manage and control the association’s finances,” FAM secretary-general Hamidin Amin said. “20 administration and technical staff will be terminated of their services to ensure the organisation meets its direction,” said The retrenched employees were paid three months’ salary in full. “Every unit and branch in FAM will be uniform and combined, based on the set organisation,” he added. Tunku Ismail had earlier declared his intention to shed the workforce of Malaysia’s national football body when he was unveiled as its new President on March 25.


SHOCK STAFF ASSAULT FOR OPTICAL BRAND Optical retailer Owndays says it is seeking legal advice after two of its employees were brazenly assaulted on April 3. Speaking to HRM Asia, a spokesperson said the wellbeing and safety of every member of its team would always be its top priority. The store manager also said the two employees were shaken from the incident, and were given a few days off to recover. On April 3, a video was taken of two Singapore Owndays store staff being repeatedly physically assaulted by a patron. The patron also hurled racial insults at them. The two staff, however, did not react to her. Instead, they signalled a security guard who was stationed near the shop, for help. By the end of the video, the assailant still appeared agitated and even had to be held down by another stranger.


A cashier from Wenzhou in eastern China has confessed to embezzling more than CNY 2 million (S$406,482) from her company to purchase lipstick, perfume and clothes. According to the Qianjiang Evening News, the 26-year-old did not actually use the majority of the purchased goods. Rather, her goal was to show off the items on her social media accounts. Police discovered nearly 1,000 lipsticks, perfumes, handbags and clothes at her home. Most of the items were unused, and still had the price tags still attached. The woman discovered accounting loopholes after she joined the organisation four years ago, allowing her to steal the cash. She was able to embezzle CNY 890,000 (S$181,475) over the last year alone. It is understood she surrendered herself to police after realising she would never be able to pay the money back.

MAY 2017






STRICTER RULES FOR FOREIGN HIRES The US Government is tightening its control on the H-1B visa programme that provides thousands of skilled foreign talent each year to technology companies. The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in “specialty occupations”, including software engineering. However, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) last month ruled that entry-level computer programming roles would no longer automatically qualify as a “specialty occupation” within the programme. Additionally, companies applying for the visa will have to present more concrete evidence that the potential foreign hire’s job scope falls under the “specialty occupation” category. The Department of Justice then followed the USCIS’ ruling with a warning to all US employers about not discriminating against American workers. For US technology firms, this could potentially be a huge blow to their talent pipelines, as most of their present computer programmers are hires from India and China.



FUZZY ROAD AHEAD A new, detailed report from the UK’s Office for National Statistics has found that an estimated 2.2 million workers, or almost 10% of the UK labour market, are European Union (EU) nationals. The wholesale and retail trade, as well as hotels and restaurants sector, hired the most number of EU nationals, with over half a million working in this industry. EU workers also made up some 11% of the manufacturing sector, with most of that demographic coming from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Anna Bodey, a migration analyst at the Office for National Statistics, said the analysis shows the significant impact that international migration has on UK’s labour market, and the challenges employers will face as the British government enters negotiations to exit the EU.


MAY 2017


BIG BONUS FOR PORSCHE STAFF On the back of record sales, German luxury carmaker Porsche is rewarding every single one of its 21,000 employees with a generous bonus of €9,111 (S$13,700). From factory workers and janitors to senior corporate executives, all employees will receive the same bonus amount, also a cheeky reference to the famous Porsche 911 car model. In 2016, the company recorded revenue of S$33.6 billion, up 4% from the year before. “For Porsche, 2016 was an eventful, emotional and, above all, highly successful year. This was thanks to our employees”, said Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG. This is not the first time Porsche has given out across-the-board bonuses. Last year, the company gave all German employees €8,911 in bonuses.






EMPLOYEES TURN CYBORGS A Swedish firm has reportedly been injecting microchips into employees since January 2015. The company, Epicenter, revealed that some 150 workers, and counting, are now implanted with the device. Staff who agree to be “chipped”, receive an injection in between their thumb and index finger during group sessions. Epicenter CEO Patrick Mesterton says the microchips provide convenience, allowing employees to open doors, operate printers, and even purchase items through simply waving their hands. But detractors say the technology can compromise the privacy and security of employees. They warn employers could use it to track workers’ locations, purchasing habits, daily activities, and other details they a reasonable person may wish to keep private

United Airlines has gone into crisis mode following a viral video of a man being forcibly removed from his seat on a domestic flight. Since then, the carrier has implemented a new rule, requiring all staff, including off-duty crew flying to another location for work, to check in at least one hour before a flight’s scheduled departure. This will prevent customers being “bumped” from flights at the last possible minute. United said in an internal memo there would be no deviation from the policy, and that “no ‘must-ride’ crew member can displace a customer who has boarded an aircraft”. The airline admitted that the passenger in the now-viral video, 69-year-old David Dao, was ejected to make space for additional crew on the overbooked flight. United had also raised the compensation amount that on-duty supervisors can offer to displaced passengers from US$1,350 to US$10,000, as a result of the fiasco that saw its market capitalisation plummet by US$800 million.


PAID “PERIOD LEAVE”? Italy could soon be the first country in the Western hemisphere to offer women paid menstrual leave. The Italian Parliament’s lower house was last month debating the feasibility of a law that would give all female employees three days’ paid leave each month for menstrual symptoms. While China, Japan and South Korea have similar laws, some women from these countries told The Guardian last year they were afraid or embarrassed to take up the leave offer. Daniela Piazzalunga, an economist at The Research Institute for the Evaluation of Public Policies, said there is a possibility that the new Italian law, if passed, could lead to lower demand for female professionals, and further penalise them both in terms of salary and career advancement.


UBER DRIVERS RULED AS EMPLOYEES A judge in Sao Paulo has ruled any driver using ride-hailing app Uber should be treated as an employee of the company. Judge Eduardo Rockenbach Pires ordered the company to pay the driver involved in the landmark labour law case 80,000 Brazilian reals (S$35,500) in compensation for holidays and contribution to a severance fund. Uber was also instructed to pay the driver a further 50,000 reals (S$22,000) for “moral damages” that he suffered as a result of the app’s competitive pricing model. The San Francisco-based company said it would appeal the decision in due course.

MAY 2017




Winning the battle for talent Recruiting and retaining talents continue to be a major bugbear for organisations in Singapore and Asia-Pacific. HRM Asia shares some insights from Willis Towers Watson’s Global Talent Management and Reward, and Global Workforce Studies reports

Difficulties in attracting »» »» »»

Critical-skill employees   66% Top performers  74% High potential employees  69%


Difficulties in retaining »» »» »»

Only 25% of employees in Singapore are highly engaged

Fair Pay  61%

Opportunities to learn new skills  42% 8

MAY 2017


Job security  41%

39% ­ 

feel the company’s leaders have a sincere interest in employees’ wellbeing () 38% ­  said their immediate manager or supervisor helped employees with career planning and decisions () 44% ­  said their immediate manager or supervisor coached them to improve their performance () 50% ­  of employees feel their managers are effective at developing talent and leading change ()

Most important reasons to join a company in Singapore

Critical-skill employees   28% Top performers  56% High potential employees  52%



How can leaders foster more diversity in the workplace?

eaders have to do everything they can to encourage diversity: it is an ongoing journey and never a goal that is complete. I always have in mind to build and work with as diverse a team as possible, and I know focusing on this ultimately benefits my organisation in many ways. Right now, we have a good balance at ShoreTel Asia-Pacific with a 50-50 gender ratio. We are strong advocates in having equal gender representation at all levels, and more so at levels of impact. In fact, our Global Senior Vice President of Solutions, who leads hundreds of research and development engineers, Eugenia Corrales, is female. However, the ratios associated with diversity are always changing and is a work in progress for any business. That challenge is one that leaders should accept as being part of their role, along

with long-term responsibility and the need to retain a conscious effort. A big step in achieving this is awareness and leading by example. This has to be felt in your day-to-day leadership, and during crucial times such as when hiring and creating teams. It has to be an instinctive part of the hiring process and leaders should encourage hiring managers to develop the same mindset. For organisations that operate across multiple markets globally, and especially across AsiaPacific, the key is understanding the cultures and maximising the opportunities this presents. By making sure you have a well-represented team, it drives a deeper understanding of the markets you operate in. A good leader does not just embrace diversity, but actively empowers it.


JAIRO FERNANDEZ Senior Vice President, HR, SAP Asia-Pacific (including Japan)

he workplace is becoming increasingly complex, as companies face generational turnover, cultural evolution, widespread immigration, emerging markets, and advancing technology. In this demanding digital economy, diversity and inclusion are critical to competitiveness. It is imperative that diversity is integrated into all parts of the organisation, making it a lens for looking at, identifying, developing, and advancing talent. The technology industry is home to the world’s innovators, which is why diversity is of special importance to us. SAP is the first multinational technology company to be awarded the worldwide Economic Dividends for Gender Equality certificate, recognising our global commitments and actions in achieving and sustaining gender diversity and equality in the workplace. As a global organisation with employees from more than 150

FRÉDÉRIC GILLANT Vice-President and Managing Director, Asia-Pacific, Shoretel

nationalities and five generations in our workforce, we value every individual for what they have to contribute. We embrace and encourage different perspectives and we are made stronger by our unique combination of culture, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, or ability. The technology industry is notorious for its gender inequality, and to exercise our duty of care for women and leadership, we address four elements: hiring, training, policies, and programmes. To promote women in leadership, we have made a global commitment to reach 25% women in management by the end of 2017. Beyond gender identity, another unique initiative we have is the Autism at Work programme, to integrate people with Autism Spectrum Disorder into the workforce. Globally, we have around 100 employees with autism, taking up roles such as data analytics, marketing associates, and software development.

MAY 2017




10 MAY 2017



Patience is From running a business to engaging in his passion for butterflies, patience is certainly a key virtue for Khew Sin Khoon, President and Group CEO of CPG Corporation, one of Asia’s leading building development and infrastructure firms Sham Majid


re you using a Nikon or Canon?” Khew Sin Khoon, President and Group CEO of CPG Corporation, asked the photographer before the start of our interview. The leader of the infrastructure development and management services business has a passion for nature photography, and is one of the country’s most respected experts on butterflies. In his day job, Khew leads a nearly 2,000-strong workforce in developing and managing some of Singapore’s most iconic landmarks. Changi Airport, Singapore Racecourse, the National Gallery, Gardens by the Bay, and the National University of Singapore campus are just some of the facilities CPG Corporation has been involved with. During the course of the interview, it quickly becomes apparent that Khew’s passions for photography and butterflies are continuously intertwined in his leadership style and the business. From inspecting the flora and fauna of Singapore’s

Istana presidential palace, to his small group chats with random employees, Khew says passion is at the heart of everything he gets involved with.


Tell us how you have reached your career up to this point

I was a Malaysian and was offered a scholarship to study in Singapore. I came here in 1979. I studied architecture at National University of Singapore (NUS) for five years and I joined the then Public Works Department in 1984, serving an eight-year bond. Today, when you tell people you served an eight-year bond, they ask, “Are you mad?” But people of my era didn’t think too much about being bonded for six, eight, or even 12 years. In 1985, Singapore faced it’s first-ever recession after independence. Those were pretty

MAY 2017



LEADERS TALK HR traumatic times for people looking for jobs and many of my classmates went without work for a couple of years. During my time at the Public Works Department I did all the social infrastructure projects, from schools to polyclinics to hospitals. Those were exciting nation-building years. You feel a sense of pride in the 80s and 90s in Singapore because I guess we weren’t that rich yet and we were trying to escalate the nation into a different era.


How would you describe your leadership style?

I tend to be a bit more consultative. That stems from my love of nature. I prefer a more collaborative environment where people work together and are more cordial and respectful of each other. We are a knowledgebased organisation; we shouldn’t have one man individually monopolising the entire company.


How would your staff describe you?

I think they see me as stern, but approachable. I put a lot of premium on quality and I think my staff know that I’m generally no-nonsense when it comes to delivering a product. At the same time, I do have a softer side and I try to reach out to all levels of staff once a month, or fortnightly if I have the time. These sessions are with groups of eight randomly picked employees. I ask them what they do in their free time. This question allows them to open up and I prefer this to them speaking about work to me. The sessions have been very effective because after a while, staff share their inner thoughts about the company as well as their aspirations.


What are some key HR challenges in your organisation?

Being a multi-disciplinary company, the challenges are many-fold. The top challenge is talent retention. In a company which depends heavily on brainwork and knowledge, people tend to want to have self-actualisation. They want to develop themselves, rather than talk about money or the projects they do. Hence, it’s a self-development kind of HR challenge. When a person finishes an exciting project, they get what they call a “cliff-hanger”. What do they look forward to in their next project? What do they want to achieve, for example, after they have finished designing Gardens by the Bay? These are issues that we struggle to deal with because we have to look for projects that challenge our people and enhance their ability to

ME MYSELF I I love: A good trek in the forest where I am alone, but yet, not lonely. I dislike: People who are late for appointments and meetings. My inspiration is: Mother Nature’s creations - all things bright and beautiful; all creatures great and small. My biggest weakness is: I procrastinate too much when it comes to my own exercise regime. In five years’ time, I’d like to: See the next generation of leaders in CPG taking it to new heights. After which, I can take on a role as a mentor and advisor. Favourite quote: “If there’s a will, there’s always a way.”

12 MAY 2017


LEADERS TALK HR contribute to the profession and company. The second challenge we face is that Singapore is going global. You can’t, for example, run your business in Dubai from Singapore. Clients want your people to be there and there needs to be constant and responsive interaction. The challenge of developing our people with that global mindset is always on our minds. I think younger Singaporeans don’t like to travel as much, and don’t want to be away from their family. We have two-year international postings so we tell our employees that they will have to be away from their family. Yes, they have return arrangements but they will largely be away from Singapore. We try to sell the idea of personal career development for employees. Singaporeans are pretty sheltered and they should get out there, see the real world, and learn about new cultures and new ways of doing things.


What’s the best way to deal with the current slowdown in the building and infrastructure sectors?

Being in this industry, we’re not immune from what is going around us, both in Singapore and in the region. Whenever we face these cyclical downturns, I focus on training because as a multinational, we need to generate knowledge within our people. That is what distinguishes us from everyone else in a very complex world. People always have to be armed with knowledge. Learning doesn’t stop after you finish your university education. The other strategy is based around diversity, both geographical diversity and building typology diversity. Because of our background in institutional aspects of infrastructure development, we are less impacted by the residential market. We generally focus on our core competencies in aviation, infrastructure, healthcare, education, and security projects.


How would you describe the culture at CPG Corporation?

It’s collaborative and there’s very little backstabbing or employees trying to get ahead of each other. It’s more of a family environment and being generally more caring. It can be a challenge to create a family atmosphere when you have around 2,000 employees but you create it by building microcultures. If the heads of different divisions share the same values and philosophy that the company culture drives, you then get a lot more communication at the sector levels. We also have numerous family days, including a recent one on Sentosa Island to celebrate our 18th anniversary after being corporatised from the Public Works Department. We also foster this atmosphere by encouraging a healthy lifestyle among staff. For example, we have a CPG marathon team, a badminton team, and other casual sport groups where

we engage in activities together.


You are an enthusiastic student of butterflies? How did that start?


You’ve also written books on butterflies. Is that right?


The writing was easy as I have run a blog and for

I started learning about butterflies as a kid. My biology teacher, who I regard as a good mentor, encouraged me to take up the hobby and interest beyond simply collecting butterflies. That’s how it sparked my interest in understanding the taxonomy and classifying butterflies. It still is a hobby to this day. At different parts of my life, I also became interested in gadgets, particularly cameras. I remember my first camera was a Russian model and I paid the princely sum of MYR 35. I had to save up nearly a year for it. Practically every weekend, I head out and engage in my passion for photography, nature, and butterflies. It’s my own impetus and motivation to get out there and go on hikes.

Yes, and also a book on caterpillars! These came at a time when I had accumulated lots of knowledge of butterflies and had taken lots of pictures. In the early 2000s, someone suggested that I write a book. I met with local publishers and raised the idea of writing but with such a limited audience, they didn’t think it would be sellable. One morning, the late Mrs Lee Kuan Yew, wife of Singapore’s first Prime Minister, came out to the grounds of the Istana. She told her staff that while the plants were beautiful, she asked what had happened to the birds and butterflies. The National Parks Board called in experts, and I was roped in as well. I said that while the plants were lush and beautiful, they had all been heavily covered with pesticides. You couldn’t see a single leaf being eaten. When you remove the food for the insects, there’s no food for the birds. The caterpillars that feed on the plants perish, so how do you expect to see butterflies there? It was during this journey that I met Madam Ho Ching, the wife of current Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. She asked me how to attract butterflies in her own house and then agreed to sponsor the book on the spot. She subsequently also sponsored the second edition. I wrote two books on butterflies and a third book on caterpillars which was co-authored. Plans are afoot for another book to be published at the global level. I’m also an Honorary Research Associate of the National Parks Board and the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

What was the writing process like?

MAY 2017



the last seven years, I’ve been writing a weekly article about butterflies, the science and biology behind them, and ongoing education. It took me around three months to write a book during my spare time. The challenge was getting the photos of butterflies. I personally photographed about 75% of the book’s pictures. Somebody asked me where do I find the time to do all this? The best answer is that I don’t play golf!


Does this passion impact the way you lead the business?

It builds patience. Trying to chase and photograph butterflies requires patience. You can’t ask butterflies to pose like human beings; nature is unpredictable. It builds my resilience towards unpredictable situations and teaches me patience. As the head of an organisation, people will jump onto what you say. When you’re out in the nature, butterflies don’t do that. That’s quite enlightening for me because it serves as a counterbalance to what my work-life is.

14 MAY 2017



What is your biggest regret?

I would say it’s a bittersweet regret. While I was studying in Penang, Malaysia, my school was bilingual. Mandarin was an option that we had as remedial lessons on Saturday mornings. I was strongly bilingual in English and Malay but my biggest regret is that I didn’t pay attention to Mandarin. In the current business environment, you have to engage in business with China and while I can speak Mandarin at a social level, I am not at a level where I can participate adequately in business transactions. I call it a bittersweet regret because I spent my Saturdays chasing butterflies instead of going for Chinese classes.


What is your top tip for aspiring leaders?

Set yourself goals and do everything with enthusiasm and passion. Nothing good ever comes out of something you’re not passionate about.

19 - 22 SEPT

Ten years ago, Facebook didn’t exist. Ten years before that, we didn’t have the Web. So who knows what jobs will be born a decade from now? Time

Technology is disrupting all aspects of business, creating a smart, digital, mobile, hyper-connected and agile world of work where the lines between work and life are increasingly blurred. What does this technology-led future mean for your organisation and business? Smart Workforce Summit 2017 will explore the impacts of disruptions both present and emerging such as: • AI (Artificial Intelligence) • Contingent workforces • Wearables in the workplace • Transformation • Automation • Globalisation and much more, while demonstrating the existing and start-up technologies that are revolutionising the way we work.

Keynote Session & Exclusive Workshop with:

Prof. Dave Ulrich Management Expert & HR Guru

Launch Promo Pricing Available • Conference (19 & 20th Sept) • Exclusive Workshop with Prof. Dave Ulrich (21th Sept) • Company Site Tours (22nd Sept) (Only available for conference or workshop attendees) Package experiences also available upon request

Organised by

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Contact for more information



Building the smart workforce o As technology and market conditions continue disrupting businesses, worldrenowned management guru Dave Ulrich says it is high time HR steps up to the plate, to lead their organisations to greater heights Kelvin Ong


n 2012, Dave Ulrich was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from US-based HR Magazine for his role as the “father of modern HR”. It was one of the highlights of a remarkable career, but the Professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business says he is both embarrassed and honoured by the title. He prefers to share the honour with the many other thought leaders whose own ideas he says, have shaped how HR professionals today think, act, and deliver key outcomes more than his own.

16 MAY 2017



ULRICH of tomorrow

MAY 2017



COVER STORY “I am honoured to be considered one of those thought leaders, but clearly HR insights come from many great colleagues who shape the profession,” he says.

Redefining HR forever The author of some 30 business titles may like to downplay his achievements, but his résumé speaks for itself. He arguably redefined the HR function to become what the world knows it as today. So influential is Ulrich in the management and HR thought leadership space that Business Week crowned him the year’s top management educator and “guru” in 2001. One of the 64-year-old’s greatest and most lasting contributions is perhaps the concept of the HR business partner. It was Ulrich who first introduced

the HR Business Partner model to the business world in his 1997 book Human Resource Champions. Today, the HR business partner is a key role present in any organisation that views the talent management function as a crucial component of their leadership chart, enabling their businesses and policies to succeed. Ulrich, who is also a founding partner at organisational consulting and development firm RBL Group, first created the model to methodically guide HR in its transformation from being an administrative cost-centre to becoming a strategic part of the organisation. Ulrich’s idea was that HR business partners would serve as the bridge linking a company’s overall business objectives with the line managers who sit across different departments.

This way, HR would act as an indispensable advisor to both leadership and that line management level. According to Ulrich’s model, there are four main roles that talent managers have to play. They have to act as strategic HR advisors to senior management; take on the role of change agents who are catalysts for continued business performance; be administrative experts who are skilled at operational HR; and, finally, be employee champions who understand the needs of employees and speak up for them.

Lifelong commitment to learning But for all the contributions Ulrich has made and continues to make in HR, he is quick to place his three children and eight grandchildren at the top of his proudest

Getting to know... Dave Ulrich What does “smart workforce” mean to you? A smart workforce is when exceptional people work even better together, and when the organisation’s culture turns individual talent into value-added capabilities. What is your management mantra? I often ask three questions of leaders I coach: what do I want (my values, strengths, passions); who do I serve (a philosophy of giving back and helping), and how do I build (institutionalise my goals into an organisation that outlasts me). What is your life philosophy? I find personal meaning from many sources, including family, faith, and work. I often find it challenging to manage these multiple stakeholders. As a celebrated management guru, what is the secret to your career success? I am passionate about learning by anticipating, and creating a better future by having ideas with impact. Besides the Smart Workforce Summit, what else are you looking forward to doing in Singapore in September? I enjoy visiting Singapore to feel the vitality of those I meet from both Singapore and other countries in the region. I enjoy my early morning walks around the harbour, along Orchard Road, and through the parks and streets.

18 MAY 2017


COVER STORY life achievements. He views his professional life philosophically, crediting his legacy to his own endless curiosity of people, organisations, and how they interact. “I am often surprised when my personal (learning) journey has helped others find their unique insights that will help them on their own journey of impact”, he tells HRM Asia. Ulrich says there is a “true commitment” to learning at the core of his being. In fact, he is so driven to gaining knowledge that he aims to discover “25 to 30” new ideas every 18 to 24 months. Ulrich admits that this is “incredibly demanding”. That’s because his process of discovering original workforce concepts requires many hours of keen observation, deep reading, thorough writing, and intense thought. The last, and most vital step in Ulrich’s research, is the corroboration of a

hypothesis with findings from other management academics. “Then, I get to research the ideas, almost always with incredible colleagues who have unique insights and often with big datasets full of structured information,” he says. “I like to couple these statistical insights with personal observations and unstructured information.”

HR transformation True to his affinity for reinvention, Ulrich is the first to agree that management, like any other discipline, has to evolve in order to remain relevant and, ultimately, valuable to the business. He cautions that HR transformation is not about simply “reorganising” the HR department within any given organisation. “Real HR transformation requires a much broader view,” he explains. “This focuses on why HR exists, what HR delivers in terms of value, and how HR

delivers that value.” As technological disruptions and market conditions continue to shape commerce, HR needs to remind itself that it exists primarily to deliver value to stakeholders inside and outside the organisation, Ulrich says. The function then needs to tailor its execution accordingly. Ulrich’s newest book – his 30th – is titled Victory Through Organisation and is co-authored with his son Mike Ulrich and fellow academics David Kryscynski and Wayne Brockbank. It explains not just the how and why HR models should develop. “In all of our work and our latest research, the ideas of ‘from X to Y’ need to be replaced with ‘and-also’ ideas,” Ulrich shares. “This means that old models for HR were great for their time and place, but as the overall world and business in particular changes, HR must also change.”

Tomorrow’s HR – it’s the organisation that counts For the past two decades, business leaders and HR professionals have been consumed with the war for talent, investing vast sums of money to bring in and manage people. Ground-breaking research from Dave Ulrich, David Kryscynski, Mike Ulrich and Wayne Brockbank is unveiled in Victory Through Organisation, which reveals that winning the war for talent requires more than simply managing people. Rather, it requires an organisation that turns individual people into “organisational capabilities”. The methods laid out in this book are based on the culmination of 30 years of research. Victory Through Organisation is ideal for business and HR executives charged with building a more effective HR department and HR practices. It provides an essential guide for any HR professional committed to creating value in the new age of

disruption and agility. Filled with fact-based insights and field-tested strategies, Victory Through Organisation shows HR professionals: ● How they can ensure that organisations creates greater value than the sum of individual talent parts ● How to create more integrated HR solutions for business results across multiple stakeholders ● How their departments can better create a comprehensive information advantage ● How they can master the competencies that have greatest impact on their personal effectiveness, key inside and outside stakeholders, and business results

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COVER STORY From “trusted advisors” to “credible activists” While Victory Through Organisation acknowledges the success of Ulrich’s past models at making HR a “trusted advisor” to business, his latest research has found this will not be enough in tomorrow’s workplace. Using data from 32,000 survey respondents across 1,400 organisations, Ulrich shows that the single biggest predictor for HR to get a “seat at the table” in 2017 and beyond lies in being a “credible activist”. So what exactly does this label mean? And what qualities help to build it?” Ulrich’s further probing found two separate sets of specific skills and actions HR professionals should take to be seen as “credible” in their organisations and to become “activists”. The first requires individuals to build trust with internal and external stakeholders alike, deliver outcomes as promised, and keep confidence across the business high. Having a point of view, taking a stance and challenging ideas, will further put HR professionals a step closer to becoming “activists”. “It is the combination of credibility and activism that allows HR professionals to establish trusting relationships with those they support, as well as their HR colleagues,” Ulrich explains. Credible individuals who are not activists may be respected for their insights or expertise, but have relatively little impact. Activists who are not credible may have good ideas, but may find it difficult to get others in the business to pay attention to them.

“Credible activists are (both) respected and proactive,” Ulrich says.

Value paradox But Ulrich adds that a paradox actually arises here. That’s because while being a credible activist secures HR a seat at the table and gets it involved in key business dialogues, it does not really add value to stakeholders. To add value and deliver actual business results, HR professionals have to progress to the next competency level of “strategic positioners”. The essence of being a strategic positioner, Ulrich says, is that HR professionals must be able to move beyond “knowing the business” to positioning the business to win in its marketplace. To be able to drive the business forward and position itself as a strategic department, it is key that HR first master another area of business - since its work tends to cross disciplines and functions. It is most advisable to gain knowledge of finance, but Ulrich says any category central to the business’ success, whether it is marketing or information technology, would also suffice. Beyond this, strategic talent managers also need to know how the business makes money and the key differentiators between it and its competitors. Ulrich adds that strategic decision-making, infrastructure design, and culture management are among the specific key competencies required at this level. The final and most important tool true HR strategists should possess is a deep understanding of the company’s external

“The quality of the organisation has four times the impact as the compentencies of the individuals” 20 MAY 2017


stakeholders, including customers, competitors, suppliers, investors and regulators. “HR needs to know who they are, how to build relationships with them, and utilise them to set criteria for effective people management,” says Ulrich. Understanding external environments and contexts also allows practitioners to anticipate business trends and design strategies accordingly. For example, recruiters can hire candidates who display good customer service qualities, based on their understanding of the business’s specific customer expectations. HR can also plan promotion structures around how well individuals communicate with customers and vendors, which will help the organisation retain its best talent.

Organisation matters most Ulrich says one of Victory Through Organisation’s most ground-breaking insights, which he will further detail at HRM Asia’s Smart Workforce Summit 2017 in September, is that the workplace of tomorrow will be one where “talent matters, but organisation matters more”. That is because a smart workforce requires a great workplace with superior organisation. “We found out that the quality of the organisation had four times the impact on business results as the competencies of the individuals,” Ulrich says. He explains that “organisation” is not about structure or alignment of the various parts within an entity, but about building capabilities that allow the entire body to succeed and win in the given market. Some of these capabilities include: managing information, managing change, facilitating culture change, customer service, and creating a collaborative environment. “When HR professionals can work with general managers to create these capabilities, the war for talent morphs into a victory through organisation,” Ulrich says.

COVER STORY Catch Dave Ulrich live at Smart Workforce Summit 2017 The future of work is already here. Find out how you can also be a part of it. Today’s workplace already looks vastly different than that from five years ago. With Generation Z about to enter the workforce, disruptive innovations creating new business models and destroying old ones, and revolutionary market forces continually shaping organisational strategies, what will the future look like for employers and workers alike? And, perhaps more importantly, what role will HR play to future-proof the workplace and ensure their organisations are prepared to move into the future? HRM Asia’s Smart Workforce Summit aims to answer these questions

19 - 22 SEPT Ten years ago, Facebook didn’t exist. Ten years before that, we didn’t have the Web. So who knows what jobs will be born a decade from now? Time Ten years ago, Facebook didn’t exist. Ten years

before that, we didn’t have the Web. So who knows and more for Asia’s forward-thinking HR community. what jobs will be born a decade from now? Award-winning management guru Dave UlrichTimewill share key insights of how the HR function will be disrupted, and what HR professionals need to know in order to tackle the changes. “For HR, disruption denotes new ways to think about and solve problems. HR disruption is about delivery of HR services, but also about the logic behind that delivery,” he says.

MAY 2017





The Philippines economy stands unique in Southeast Asia and across the region. On the one hand, a focus on education and training is building its workforce to a developed nation standard, but the battle to attract and retain talent is still making life tough for HR across the archipelago Paul Howell

22 MAY 2017



here was a time when the junior ranks of knowledgebased businesses in the cities of the Philippines were notoriously harsh environments. Most labour, even skilled talent, was easily replaceable in a market overflowing with young and eager job seekers, and employers were able to leverage that to keep wages and conditions relatively low.


That extended supply is still a feature of the Filipino labour market today, but it has been balanced out – and now overtaken – by skyrocketing demand for talent across the country. Businesses are clamouring for labour of all skill levels at the same time as the millennial generation – with all of its demands and preferences – enters the workforce en masse. Sustainable talent attraction, recruitment, and retention policies are now high on HR’s agenda. Whether it is in the financial centre of Makati or the tourism-focused regions of Cebu and Boracay, all three will be needed if businesses are to keep up with the surging national economy.

Southeast Asia’s fastest-growing cub “Surging” may in fact be an

understatement. Even within the fast-developing “tiger cub” region of Southeast Asia, the Philippines economy is growing at relatively break-neck speed. Last year, it recorded a 7.1% increase in GDP, it’s strongest growth in three years and the best among the region. A Bloomberg survey of global economists predicts that trend will continue during 2017 and 2018 to make the Philippines the fastest-growing economy on the planet. It is a mix of both low- and hightechnology industries pushing the Philippines forward. A relatively free and open economy has enabled the country to become a key centre of many global supply chains, with businesses in Manila doing assembly work for many electronics and semi-conductor brands. Business process outsourcing


continues to be a key focus in the cities, but traditional activities such as ship building, petroleum refining, tourism, and even fishing and agriculture also still figure high among the Philippines’ chief exports.

Talent in demand All of these industries come with a huge reliance on human talent – which is proving both an enabler of development in the Philippines, and its own challenge for HR professionals there. “There are a lot of companies entering the Philippines now,” says Louie Ocampo, Managing Director of the Manila-based Divergence HR Consulting. “Employees have a lot of options, and that makes talent acquisition and retention an important goal for HR.” Bea Bartolome, Practice leader

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and Programme Manager with The Birches Group in its global data centre in Manila, acknowledges that talent scarcity is a problem throughout the emerging markets at the moment. But she says there are some factors that make it particularly pronounced in the Philippines. Chief among these is the fact that the millennial generation now makes up the biggest part of the national workforce. These workers (aged in the mid-20s on average) are known to be more fickle and less loyal than any of the employees that came before them. “There is a lot of job-hopping now,” Bartolome says. “It’s not just moving across to competitors – young workers are also moving between sectors and industries.” Geography is also no barrier to this incredibly flexible and mobile demographic. Young Filipinos are happy to move across the country if it means more interesting work or more opportunity for career development. And international positions – with the significantly higher salaries on offer in Singapore and Hong Kong – are also putting a strain on staff retention strategies. Bartolome says providing a positive employee value proposition becomes vital in this situation. That should start with ensuring a competitive total compensation package that is benchmarked against a range of roles with comparable or transferrable skills. “Employers need comprehensive and reliable labour market reports to ensure they are offering a full perspective of the market across different sectors with sustainable compensation,” she says.

Retention strategies Of course, getting staff on board is just the initial challenge. As Ocampo points out, holding on to employees in this kind of environment is complex and fraught. “We have a number of clients facing this specific issue,” he says. As a consultant working with the Business Process Outsourcing sector, Ocampo advises clients to invest in training and 24 MAY 2017


career development as a key retention strategy. “Gone are the days when you just focused on your commercial brand,” he says. “Now, companies need to focus on their employer brand at every touchpoint. Even SMEs have to build strategies around managing retention.” Bartolome agrees that taking a “build” approach to talent, rather than trying to “buy” it through the fast-changing labour markets, helps to address both the acquisition and retention challenges for HR in the Philippines. “Companies have to make their jobs interesting. Employees aren’t just looking for high salaries, but opportunities for growth and ways to integrate their work and personal lives,” she says. With this in mind, many organisations are fast-tracking their flexible working options for staff. This is proving particularly popular in Manila-based workplaces, where the city’s infamous traffic congestion can take an enormous toll on workers’ professional lives. “A five-kilometre distance can entail up to two hours of commuting,”

Bartolome says without exaggeration. “So a lot of companies have started to have flexible start times or work-fromhome options.” Her own company is one such example. The Birches Group, which offers research-backed HR consultancy for every market in the region, has seen an increase in both retention and productivity since introducing flexible working options last year. Ocampo warns employers that whatever strategy they undertake, they also need to be realistic in their retention goals. “In reality, you have to accept that turnover will be higher than businesses may be used to,” he says. “That is the environment we are in.”

Regulators getting tough Ronaldo Turla, Managing Director of Manila consultancy Talent Reach (see: essay on page 26), says labour markets in the Philippines have been subject to close to the same set of basic employment regulations since the 1970s. “The Labor Code of 1974 both protected employees’ rights, as well as emphasised the rights of employers,” he says.

By the numbers • Labour Force: 45,209,580   Agriculture 29%   Industry: 16%   Services: 55% • Unemployment rate: 6.6% • Gross National Income per capita: US$8,940* • Enrolment ratio for tertiary education: 35.75%^ of eligible population • Ease of doing business ranking: 103 out of 189 world economies

All data covers 2016 calendar year, except *(2015) and ^(2014) Sources: World Bank, CIA World Factbook

THE PHILIPPINES The balance may have been right on paper, but many less scrupled employers have taken advantage of loopholes and ineffective enforcement regimes over the years since. Turia says that is something the national government is now looking to overcome. “The Department of Labor and Employment has been actively responding to the times and needs of the current workforce,” Turia says. “One of the noticeable differences has been the strict implementation of the minimum wage law for most growing enterprises.” As well as continuing efforts to enforce minimum wage rules across the country, authorities under new President Rodrigo Duturte have announced plans to crack down on employers who use short-term

contracts to avoid hiring staff on full time wages and benefits. The new rules explicitly ban the socalled “5-5-5” amd “endo” schemes, where employers continually issue new contracts for staff after every five months of work. This means those employees never actually qualify for the statutory benefits given to regular workers after six months’ service. But the crackdown will also target recruitment agencies operating in the Philippines. Some of these have been perceived as helping employers to skirt the rules. “The core idea and objectives of this regulation have been integrated into the Philippine labour law in previous years,” Ocampo says, adding that the crackdown


will start to regulate the practices of third-party contractors in the country. “We can no longer offer shortterm contracts, but project-based opportunities will still be available, as long as these are legitimate projects with definite start and end dates, as defined by the law.” Still, there are concerns among other HR service providers that their key service is set to be unnecessarily curtailed, including through plans to remove the 10% minimum service fee that contractors can charge. It is understood that key industry bodies are seeking a meeting with Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello to discuss how the reforms will impact service providers who have been operating in good faith.

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T H E H R PAT H A H E A D The Philippines is now focusing on increasing the productivity of its workforce. Ronaldo Turla, Managing Director of Talent Reach, shares the evolution of HR in this growing economy, and predicts some future trends

We can see that looking back at the history of the Philippines, dating back since the Pre-Spanish era, the idea of HR was non-existent. There were no management and labour groups, and no personnel management system. Instead, the barter system was the basic channel of trade. In the American Era, which followed on from the Spanish-American war, employment conditions were considerably more liberal than had been under the previous governing regime. The US also oversaw an increased focus on education, with development of new schools a priority. After the second world war period, the economy picked up in both size and complexity, and the Philippines was able to propel its own commercial interests forward.

The birth of Filipino HR Management In September, 1956, 37 local business leaders held the first meeting what would become known as the Personnel Management Association of the Philippines. Representing a range of industrial and business establishments in Manila, they believed the association would need to directly address its members’ needs, and also respond to individuals and the institution. Another landmark event that influenced the practice of HR management in the Philippines was the introduction of the Labor Code. This was enacted on May 1, 1974, and set out clear rules for hiring and firing private employees. It also prescribed the conditions of work, including standard hours, and benefits such as holiday 26 MAY 2017


allowances and thirteenth-month pay.

Current trends The following trends outline the development of the HR management practice in the Philippines today: New legislation The Department of Labor and Employment has been actively responding to the times and needs of the current workforce. One of the noticeable difference in the past few years has been the stricter implementation of the minimum wage law for most growing enterprises. Growth of HR associations While it still remains the premier institution for HR professionals, the PMAP is not the only representative organisation. The Philippine Society of Training and Development and the Philippine Industrial Relations Society, among several other bodies, also provide advocacy and community for their respective specialisations. HR education The academic sector has also followed the path of quality education and focused on the study of people

management. Several schools from Manila and the provincial regions have adopted specialised curriculum on HR management, giving students the option of targeting this career from the outset.

Looking ahead Leadership development remains a pressing issue for the Philippines. The need to accelerate corporate learning has led many organisations to seek newer and more innovative training strategies. And traditional performance management is also being replaced with more innovative performance solutions. Agile performance management has arrived, and will become a core component for focus on engagement, development and leadership. Constantly update themselves with more innovative practices in the workplace. One of the most challenging perspectives is the mix of different generations in the modern Filipino organisation. The need for flexibility and agility is needed more than ever.

About the author Ronaldo Turla is a certified HR professional with over 10 years’ experience in HR management and organisational development. He runs his own management consultancy services company, Talent Reach, in Manila.



In a bid to quickly engage and connect with new hires even before they set foot in the office, organisations are crafting customised onboarding initiatives in the online space. HRM Asia reveals more Sham Majid


n the first day of their job, new recruits at DBS enjoy a 360-degree virtual reality experience, showcasing the bank’s offices across Singapore. Another initiative designed for new employees is known as DBS Power Up. This is a mobile app for new hires to access information, and to work and connect with colleagues on the go. The app is also used to conduct surveys and solicit regular feedback from new hires.

The bank is also working on a microsite which will serve as a one-stop shop to help new recruits navigate through the bank’s internal resources online. This interactive platform ensures line managers have the necessary resources and information to support new hires efficiently. US-based online retail giant Zappos uses a learning management system by the name of Litmos to help house its online training tutorials and interactive practices. These tools offer a supplemental learning environment to give new employees a chance to have hands-on practice in their respective job duties. “All the information is discussed in class in a lecture form, but we feel that if they are able to practice going through the processes, the information is retained at a higher rate,” Megan Petrini, training supervisor at Zappos Family of Companies tells HRM Asia. Meanwhile, new hires at luxury tea brand TWG Tea can tap onto the internal mobile app to learn about the business’ extensive product list. With easy- to-use predefined filters, trainees are able to recognise and sell the right tea to the MAY 2017


HR TECHNOLOGY right customer, based on their inputs and preferences. Maranda Barnes, co-founder and Business Development Director of TWG Tea Company, says a strong on-boarding tool is imperative to the company’s success. With an extensive product range, a fast-changing workforce with diverse knowledge of tea initially, and the high expectations of customers, recruits need to take in a high base level of understanding from their first days on the job. “For our employees, the app is very much like having a TWG Tea Handbook at all times, but is discrete enough to fit in the palm of the hand,” Barnes says. “This helps the employee onboarding process as it gives them quick access to tea knowledge at any point in time.”

Why e-onboard? The importance of a structured and comprehensive onboarding programme for new employees has long been advocated among HR professionals. According to a report by consulting firm Allegis Group, a quality onboarding experience helps to facilitate time-toproductivity, with high-performing recruitment organisations taking 44% less time to have a new hire hit a “productive” level of output. The use of “e-onboarding” tools specifically can help improve efficiency, create more customised employee onboarding experiences, and cultivate better relationships between new hires and their organisation. Sylvia Lai, Executive Director, Group HR, DBS Bank, says e-onboarding tools are great platforms to digitally engage with new recruits and allow them to virtually experience the company’s culture. “We recognise that a strong onboarding process is crucial to increasing engagement from their (new hires) first day and preventing employee attrition within the first six months. With this in mind, we redesigned the process to eliminate pain points and to improve the overall journey,” says Lai. These tools have enhanced the employee experience from the point new recruits accept their offers with DBS, increasing engagement with them even before they begin their first day of work. Gareth Davies, Vice President of Sales at Enboarder, a technology developer which aims to optimise employee engagement, believes that by fostering a personalised and engaging onboarding experience, new hires become more connected with their colleagues, more engaged in their work, and much more likely to stay for the long term. Enboarder designs customised workflows for different occupations, delivers a consistent and personalised experience for new hires and managers, and simplifies HR processes by creating, testing and deploying engaging workflows without the need for sophisticated information technology apparatus. According to Davies, onboarding typically focuses on processes rather than people. 28 MAY 2017


“At Enboarder we are helping companies create a consistent onboarding experience for everyone, coaching managers on making new hires feel like they belong, and guiding new hires every step of the way so they feel they’ve made the right decision,” he says. “The focus is on establishing connections and engaging with your new employees before they’ve even started.”

Rapid learning Traditional onboarding at TWG Tea used to involve trainers going through specific sets of teas, highlighting their different characteristics to new recruits of all job-types. With the introduction of the mobile app, new employees can access the entire product range with a tap of a finger. They can then read much further on the specific product, in order to understand the tea, as well as associated gourmet products and tea accessories. Barnes says this allows employees to take control of their learning and explore the world of TWG Tea at their own pace. “Our employees enjoy using the TWG Tea mobile app as it greatly enhances their tea knowledge during their training and beyond. The application is quite functional and intuitive,” she shares. Barnes says TWG customers will ask a series of varied questions to find their perfect product. “Developing the ability to automatically have the right topof-mind responses to these questions can take from six months to many years; so a tool that employees can consult makes them more confident more quickly when facing customers.” Zappos says giving new employees the opportunity to practice customer service in a safe environment builds up their comfort levels. New hires are then more likely to have a higher sense of confidence when they are assisting customers. “It also gives them a chance to learn the back-end systems at their own pace,” says Petrini.

Tangible benefits Through DBS Bank’s Taleo applicant tracking system, new hires are introduced to the onboarding website where they can find out more about the working culture at DBS, and update themselves on the latest internal developments. An email is sent to new hires 10 days before their commencement date to welcome them and guide them through what to expect on their first day of work. At the same time, automated notifications are sent to the hiring managers to remind them to prepare the necessary tools and resources for the arrival of the new colleague. Managers are also reminded to appoint a buddy for each new hire to help them assimilate into the DBS environment. Lai says this enhanced system has been very well received. “Almost 90% of our survey respondents have given positive feedback. Most of have said the system was easy to use, and was an innovative approach to onboarding new hires,” she shares.

HR TECHNOLOGY The organisation has also reduced early attrition levels over the past few years. Less than 7% of new employees left the organisation in their first six months, compared to 9% in 2014. Zappos has also witnessed a higher retention rate as a result of its enhanced e-onboarding measures. “It engages different learning styles and helps with comprehension,” says Petrini.

Retaining traditional platforms Although e-onboarding platforms play a vital role in today’s recruitment and engagement landscape, traditional techniques for welcoming new hires are not obsolete. Lai says these are now working in tandem. “While we leverage digital tools to enhance the onboarding experience, we recognise the value and importance of human interaction to create a holistic experience,” she says. Hence, DBS continues to have orientation sessions for new hires on their first day, alongside networking sessions, and other face-to-face meetings.

TWG Tea also continues to incorporate traditional onboarding methods. Indeed, the organisation has also enhanced these techniques by analysing traditional classroom methods and developing new ones to make live training experiences more engaging. “We only adopt these new techniques once we have proven that trainees have a 80% retention rate or higher,” says Barnes. “At the end of the day, retention and application of information is the objective, no matter what method is used,” says Barnes. Zappos also utilises online tools to supplement its traditional learning techniques and practices for new hires. “Our onboarding training experience is a face-to-face, interactive, and family-like environment. We provide them with a physical manual, notebook, along with online tools,” says Petrini. “We have class discussions and teambuilding activities built into our daily schedule to help engage and bond with our newest team members.”

☎ 65944151| ✉ | ⌨ MAY 2017


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A WELL-ROUNDED EXPERIENCE The Bachelor of Science (Honours) Management (Human Resources) programme offered by The University of Manchester is one of the most comprehensive courses for those seeking a career in HR. One current student, completing the programme through SIM Global Education, shares how it is preparing her for an impactful career

Shieromie Anuusha Dias, Senior Associate (Staffing for Nurses, Patient Care Assistants), Singapore General Hospital (SGH)

Why did you decide to pursue the Bachelor of Science (Honours) Management (Human Resources) course offered by The University of Manchester, UK? Since my Polytechnic days, I already knew what I was going to do after graduation. I wanted to continue in the HR field and at the same time, get ample work experience. Hence, I already knew about the course way before and it met all my objectives in terms of pursuing a good degree. Furthermore, given that The University of Manchester is one of the great overseas universities, I made my decision with ease.

What lessons from the course have you managed to practically apply in your workplace? It has definitely changed the way I look at tasks given at work and has enabled me to think more critically which is important in the HR field. I have still yet to learn the full spectrum of the course and that’s something that excites me.

How has undertaking this course benefitted your career?

opportunities and career progression. However, this course has given me more in-depth knowledge and has equipped me with the right skills that I can use in my daily work.

What are three things you hope to get from your HR career?

Firstly, as I am just starting out my HR career, I would appreciate being offered the right platforms to learn and develop more in-depth knowledge about the various functions of HR. Secondly, I feel it is important for me to be given the opportunity to expand beyond the normal HR roles. I would like to amalgamate my knowledge of general business and marketing into HR procedures, in order to meet future challenges which may include multi-tasking in various employment conditions. Most importantly, I aim to further my knowledge on HR policies and develop my career path, while excelling in my field.

Course details The Bachelor of Science (Honours) Management (Human Resources) programme is a must-have qualification for both aspiring HR professionals and seasoned practitioners. SIM Global Education (SIM GE) has partnered with The University of Manchester, which has developed and awarded this academic programme. Offered through SIM GE, the programme entails an intensive part-time two-year direct honours and degrees are of the same standing and standard as that awarded for full-time study in the UK. The certificates that students will get upon graduation are awarded by the university.

The programme concentrates on broad HR themes including HR management, employment policy and practice, industrial relations, organisational psychology and organisational analysis. It is designed to encourage students to gain a critical awareness of how people are managed in organisations. Lectures are delivered by faculty members of the Manchester Business School, along with local inputs provided by experienced seminar leaders. There are two intakes per year (March and September), and the application closing date for the September 2017 intake is July 3.

Obviously, it will open doors to more

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32 MAY 2017


HR INSIDER Managing one of the world’s largest resort properties and its 10,000 employees is certainly no small task. Marina Bay Sands’ Senior Vice President of HR Chan Yit Foon shares just how her team keeps things running smoothly 365 days a year Kelvin Ong


n one episode of the 2012 original docu-series titled Marina Bay Sands 24/7, thousands of staff are seen attending to the biggest dinner ever held at the property – a 5,000 person, eight-course, fine-dining banquet extravaganza. That evening, the head of banquet operations was tasked to manage some 600 waiters; valet services had to park 2,500 cars within an hour; and the 400-person culinary team was under immense pressure to deliver meals promptly and seamlessly. This is a fairly typical Saturday at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands integrated resort. Whether it is across the food and beverage department, in the hotel, the shopping mall, museum, or casino, there is always something big going on. With over 2,500 guest rooms, a 120,000-square-metre convention centre, a 74,000-square-metre shopping arcade, a 21-gallery museum, two large theatres, world-class “celebrity chef” restaurants, and the world’s biggest atrium casino with 500 tables, every part of this gigantic machine has to stay well-oiled around the clock.

Well-defined roles As MBS’ Senior Vice President of HR Chan Yit Foon shares, the talent management team – all 73 of them working across 100 departments – face the challenge of providing for the entity’s human capital needs, and supporting its business goals. With so many departments and nearly 10,000 employees in all, Chan says having the right structure has been the key driver of her team’s ability to tackle the sheer scale of MBS’ workforce.

“We organise ourselves in welldefined ways that enable us to support all the different departments,” she says. Chan explains that MBS divides HR into three main functions: HR partners, design, and delivery. The role of HR partners is to interact directly with the various departments, from front office all the way to backend operations. They will find out what each department’s people needs are, as well as help ensure that all staff understand the various HR policies, programmes, and standard operating procedures. “They are very knowledgeable in all HR policies and business functions, and are advisors to the different business units,” says Chan. These partners will then explain to the design team about the unique requirements of each department. This design team is made up of specialists who are well-versed in niche HR

AT A GLANCE Number of employees: - 9,500 Size of the HR Team: - 73 Key HR Focus Area: - Recruitment - Learning and development - Career growth - Employee engagement and retention

MAY 2017


HR INSIDER specialisations like recruitment specifically through school outreach, and compensation and benefits. With the information, the specialists will develop programmes and policies to meet those needs. Once the policies have been formulated, it is the delivery team that ensures smooth implementation across the team involved, or the entire organisation if required. While their roles are different, the three functions often collaborate closely on policy formulation and implementation. Chan says succession planning is one area where tight collaboration is regularly needed. For business units that tend to experience high attrition rates, for example, HR partners will identify the roles that are constantly facing shortages. From there, they will draw up a plan for consistent pipelines to keep those operations running. During this succession planning

process, programmes and schemes often have to be created, so the partners will work with the design team before introducing the solutions back at the individual units.

One MBS For an organisation as big as MBS with so many distinct parts, Chan says it is pivotal that all 10,000 employees adopt the “one MBS” mindset, and feel as if they are part of a family. To instil this principle, along with other key corporate values like integrity, passion, and teamwork from the outset, the property conducts perhaps one of the most comprehensive, wide-scale onboarding programmes in the region. Every new hire, from ground staff all the way to senior executives, attend the same two-day orientation programme. They participate in activities designed to train them on being team players and building “one MBS” together. The most important outcome is that

A game of Snakes and Ladders at the annual dinner and dance

34 MAY 2017


Rita Trehan

employees learn about the company’s vision and mission of being a diverse and inclusive organisation that “transcends all borders”, says Chan. This helps ensure that every team member is working in sync towards achieving the same goals of making MBS “the best resort in the world”. “Our guests don’t see that you are working for the hotel or the casino. It’s very important that all staff represent the brand as a whole.”

Structured recruitment But even before reaching this stage, Chan stresses the importance of hiring the right people. Working for Singapore’s largest resort property is certainly not for the faint-hearted, she says. With over 2,000 roles hired each year for a wide range of business divisions, recruitment is inherently one of the HR team’s top priorities. The talent acquisition team, through a structured recruitment process, puts job candidates through thorough pre-screening assessments to identify those who exhibit the values of MBS and attributes needed for each specific role. “What I mean by ‘structured’ is that we have set several benchmarks for the selection process,” says Chan. “So if applicants exceed the first set of requirements, then they’re cleared for the next round, but this is just the initial stage.” In its online written tests, questions are subtly phrased to test candidates on traits such as service excellence and how passionate they are about their work and interests. Their answers provide insight to the recruiters to discern who the ideal candidates are. With a significant number of its hires being for customer-facing roles, Chan says service excellence is one of the key characteristics MBS looks for in its potential recruits. “As an integrated resort, in everything that we do, our mission is to bring

HR INSIDER people to our property and create unforgettable memories and the best experiences for them,” says Chan. “Giving them each amazing touchpoint is very important, and those are things you can test and find out from applicants.”

Committed to local hiring MBS has been committed to hiring and developing Singaporeans since it opened in 2010. Today, locals make up 60% of the tourist attraction’s workforce. “We put in a lot of effort to work with various local government agencies and groups to hire locals,” says Chan, adding that the organisation participates regularly in career fairs, and also seeks out Singapore Armed Forces personnel who are transitioning between careers. The company has perhaps unsurprisingly been a big participant in the Singapore Government’s SkillsFuture initiative; hospitality diploma graduates are employed by hotels and resorts to learn on the job for four days out of the week. They then return to their schools for classroom learning one day a week. MBS hired six Republic Polytechnic students through this programme in May last year and Chan says the company is very pleased with their progress and contributions.

Dynamic pipelines The property has also had to resort to alternative staffing approaches in order to meet its diverse and dynamic pipeline needs, Chan shares. Instead of just recruiting for roles via the traditional route, MBS has introduced schemes aimed at developing competencies of incoming candidates who might not possess the skills needed for their hired role, but have the capability to progress toward that level. “Typically, you would go out and buy the skills needed. But there’s such a tight labour market in Singapore today, so instead of buying the skills, we build the skills,” Chan explains.

One example is the Security Officers Traineeship Scheme. To cover the entire property, Chan says MBS requires nearly 500 security officers on its schedule throughout the year. Instead of hiring 500 experienced security officers, MBS brought on board hundreds of individuals without experience in the security field. Over a 90-day period, they were trained internally for the job, and then put through an accredited Singapore Workforce Skills Qualification training course where they were certified and greenlit to be officially deployed on the floor.

Best of the best Keeping a resort the size of MBS running smoothly also requires keeping employees consistently happy and motivated to perform at their best. This is why the company puts a lot of effort into staff engagement, says Chan. Some of MBS’ key engagement practices include the quarterly One MBS Achiever. This reward and recognition programme celebrates exceptional contributions in line with the company’s corporate values of respect, integrity, passion, teamwork, and creativity. Winners receive a $200 cash prize. The “Best of Best” awards, on the other hand, are a much grander affair, that Chan says is akin to the Oscars. As part of the annual awards, a gala dinner takes place every March, bringing together some 300 nominated employees for being their respective team’s most outstanding member. Some 50 employees will ultimately receive a trophy as recognition of their hard work, and an all-expenses paid trip to MBS’ sister property in Macau. “The beauty of this place is we let every team member appreciate who their high-performing colleagues are, and inspire them to do their best as well,” says Chan. MBS’ annual dinner and dance party is another momentous event executed with the utmost thought and attention

to detail. There are two sessions each year, attended by some 5,000 employees who have to dress according to the chosen theme. In 2015 for example, the various halls were designed based on the different eras of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Chan believes that going all out on the annual dinner and dance-even bringing in some of the celebrity chefs on site to handle the catering-is something that makes employees feel like it is a “privilege” to work for the company, rather than an “entitlement”.

Daily experience While Chan admits that these awards and parties are good motivational tools, she says it is the day-to-day experience and wellbeing of team members that counts for more. The employee experience is particularly evident in what is known as the “Heart of House”, a massive employee care centre located at the property’s basement level. Workers can visit the doctor if they are feeling unwell, or get their uniform laundry done, complete with alteration services. But the most noteworthy thing about this “underground city” is its dining room, where all 10,000 employees have their meals every day, prepared by a culinary team dedicated to cooking meals only for staff. At least nine choices are served in a buffet line, along with drinks and dessert. This dining room provides a space for all team members to gather and interact on a more personal basis. These efforts have well and truly paid off for MBS, says Chan, as internal survey scores reveal a very high level of engagement and satisfaction among employees. “The scale of our workforce is a big challenge here. So it’s important that we do what we can to become an employer of choice here in Singapore, and make everyone feel proud that they work for ‘one MBS’”.

MAY 2017




arlier this year, 10 US recruiters took part in the 2017 Sourcecon Sourcing Grandmaster Competition, a talent sourcing contest organised by Randstad Sourceright. It aimed to deterimine who would be the most effective and quickest at identifying job candidates based on a set of criteria. But there was also an 11th, non-human contestant, an artificial intelligence (AI)based talent recruitment software named Brilent. This high-tech tool placed third overall against the field of human sourcers and recruiters. While the human contestants took between four and 25 hours to research and submit their entries, Brilent required only 3.2 seconds to deliver its results. Randstad Sourceright’s Global Head of Technology and Analytics, says speed was not the machine’s only advantage; it was even able to provide reasons for why its selected candidates were a good fit for the given role within that near-instant timeframe.

Are the chatbots taking over? This is just one of many anecdotes showing how the talent acquisition industry cannot ignore the growing presence of AI tools. They have the 36 MAY 2017


potential to perform even complex recruitment tasks faster and with greater accuracy than their human counterparts. Larger recruiting departments, for example, typically have tens of thousands to millions of applicants within their tracking systems, but few effective methods for prioritising the best candidates for specific jobs. Through automation programmes like Brilent, the manual portions of a hirer’s job are minimised, or even removed altogether. Recruitment chatbots, programmes that are able to respond to thousands of job applicants in real-time, provide another example of a technology that is changing the recruitment industry rapidly. By responding to applicants almost immediately, these chatbots address two of the main frustrations that candidates have with job seeking: slow response times and lack of feedback. In some cases, chatbots can even ask some initial interview questions. Others connect companies with candidates over messaging apps such as WeChat or Facebook Messenger. Talkpush, a technology developer with a presence in Hong Kong, The

The cost-savings and efficiencies provided by recruitment automation programmes would understandably leave some recruiters worried about their futures. But as practitioners tell HRM Asia, these machines should be seen as “partners”, not “threats” Kelvin Ong Philippines, and India, has a recruitment chatbot called “Stanley” which it says interviewed over 100,000 candidates in 2016. This large scale is possible because “Stanley” is able to conduct multiple interviews at the same time. It also captures candidate information, and makes it available for review by recruitment teams in an interface built for speed. By spending only a minute or two per candidate, human recruiters are then able to process hundreds of shortlisted candidates effectively, without leaving anyone in the dark. Indeed, data shows recruitment through social media has picked up significantly in the last two years. In 2015, there were three times as many job applications received via recognised job portals, as opposed to social media channels including LinkedIn. Today, that ratio has been reversed. More than half of recruiters across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong noted recently that social recruitment allowed them to fill vacancies faster, while over four in 10 highlighted that it helped reduce their overall cost per hire.

RECRUITMENT Mobile disruptions The proliferation of mobile job-matching applications has also been quietly disrupting the recruitment industry. Matchimi, founded in Singapore in 2013, is one such platform using algorithms to match job seekers with both full-time and part-time roles. The newly-launched Mywork app, on the other hand, caters more to the freelancer economy. It allows businesses to directly contact job seekers and invites them to take up one-off tasks, by simply dropping a nudge on their profiles. These mobile apps hope to connect businesses to local labour markets via a single, fuss-free channel, thereby minimising recruitment outsourcing costs. “We want to fill the gaps in the recruitment industry,” a spokesperson for Matchimi told Tech in Asia. “What Matchimi offers can improve the current recruitment experience and effectiveness, and is not captured by the incumbents.” Meanwhile, the Mywork app has a function to ensure the reliability of the jobseekers matched with its employer clients. Businesses can give each worker a

rating after every shift, which allows for immediate feedback on their performance. Businesses can also add a more detailed review whenever freelancers are given low ratings. Those with lower ratings can subsequently improve their ratings by attending courses organised by Mywork and its partners. Workers who do not show up for the course are then suspended from the platform. “We believe that the way forward is in collaborating with associations and industry bodies to co-create the future of the gig economy, whose growth has been stifled by a traditional eco-system,” says Rachael Chiu, chief operating officer of MyWork Global, the start-up behind MyWork.

“Long gone are the days when people turn to newspapers for job postings, and MyWork Global is all about reinventing the way jobs are sourced, structured and managed.”

The human factor Are all these technology-based disruptions pushing the traditional recruiter further and further out of the picture? After all, if recruiters are now able to review more than 100 applications a day, up from 10 a day in the near past, surely that will translate into fewer practicing recruiters in the market. Not quite, says Feon Ang, Vice President, Talent and Learning Solutions, Asia-Pacific, LinkedIn. Ang tells HRM Asia

MAY 2017


RECRUITMENT automation and more targeted candidate search solutions should be perceived as partners to recruiters, not threats. While social media and AI increases efficiency and improves timing for candidate outreach, human interaction remains at the heart of recruiting. Ang stresses that this human factor is “here to stay”. “As AI takes away the mundane, administrative work, recruiters have more time to focus on fostering relationships with candidates and building the employer brand for the client,” she adds. In fact, more than half of successful recruiters these days actually stay connected with applicants via social media throughout the entire hiring cycle. This allows them to get feedback and discuss with clients, and perhaps adjust their recruitment approach accordingly.

Ang also believes the human element is emphasised even further with the use of data analytics, which are unable to detect softer skills and distinct qualities in potential candidates’ characters. “Data and analytics can help us cut through the crowd easily to locate suitable hires based on hard factors such as skills and experience, but if you want to consistently recruit or refer quality hires, you’ll have to rely on more than just data tools,” she explains. Peggy Koh, a specialist recruiter who leads the Banking and Technical team at recruitment firm Adecco Personnel (Singapore), is not worried about the future of her job. She says certain roles will always be harder to fill, and specialist recruiters with the relevant network of contacts and industry knowledge will remain highly valued.

Furthermore, she says the “traditional” recruitment model has already begun embracing digital networks, evolving into hybrid recruitment styles that utilise both regular job portals and social media. The increased level of automation helps reduce repetitive tasks for recruiters, such as screening, assessment and sourcing, leaving them with more time to enhance their soft skills and strengthen their rapport with clients and candidates. But the biggest advantage that talent acquisition professionals still have over digital tools is their ability to network with passive candidates and build relationships and trust. “We work with many job seekers who are not actively looking for jobs and may not answer to a call from an unknown source,” says Koh.

RECRUITMENT SPOTLIGHT: ADECCO The Adecco Group, based in Zurich, Switzerland, is the world’s leading workforce solutions provider with over 33,000 passionate full-time colleagues globally and 700,000 associates worldwide. Established in Singapore since 1985, we specialise in a range of disciplines from banking, information technology, accountancy and finance, administration, engineering and technical to sales and marketing, supply chain, procurement, and logistics. These specialisations are supplemented with expertise across permanent recruitment, staffing services, outsourcing solutions, HR consulting, and workforce management. Chat with us today to find out how we can help you. Tel: +65 6835 3400

RECRUITMENT SPOTLIGHT: TRAININGGEARASIA TrainingGearAsia is an award-winning talent development and behavioural consulting house in Asia. We believe that developing talent is about developing the behaviour for success. To achieve peak performance requires us to constantly challenge and push the boundary to ignite new blueprint of performance. To date, TrainingGearAsia has had the privilege of working with many amazing organisations, including Fortune500 companies and our expertise is frequently showcased in notable media and national papers. Tel: +65 9325 2858 Email: 38 MAY 2017



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Today, most of Siemens’ entry-level hires in Southeast Asia are made through its Engineering Graduate Programme, an immersive training initiative that prepares fresh graduates for a fulfilling career with the global organisation

Kelvin Ong


ith over 350,000 employees across 190 countries, Siemens is one of the world’s largest employers today. The German manufacturing and electronics conglomerate operates nine business divisions globally, including energy management, power and gas, automation, building technologies and transportation. Such a huge operation, coupled with the highly technical and industrial nature of Siemens’ business, means the organisation is always in search of the best engineers. “Our engineers are tasked with developing solutions for the world’s most pressing issues, for a better and more sustainable future,” Lothar Herrmann, CEO of Siemens China, said a few years ago. “To find these answers, we need people who are bright, inquisitive, creative, and committed to tackling the challenges of our time and beyond.”

Localised for Southeast Asia To meet these specialised workforce needs, the Southeast Asia office launched its own graduate recruitment and training initiative in March, 2011. The Engineering Graduate Programme (EGP) aims to build a consistent and relevant talent pipeline for the region, says Winnie Chik, Head of Talent Acquisition for Southeast Asia and Pacific. The EGP is an 18-month programme that places between 15 and 25 candidates across each of Siemens’ nine business divisions. Participants then rotate between three different business functions (each lasting six months) within the same division, including one overseas assignment.

Once candidates have been accepted into a particular division, they can start off at the sales department, for example, before moving, perhaps, to project management, and then finally customer service. This year’s March intake is the programme’s fifth batch since its introduction. Applicants come from Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and South Korea. Chik says that although there is already a global Siemens Graduate Programme, the Southeast Asia HR team realised there was a need to create “something uniquely” tailored for the local markets, where the organisation employs 5,500 people overall. “We wanted to have a more structured approach to fresh graduate hire.” So the local HR team championed and drove the EGP, and came up with the overall framework. Before each batch of graduates is hired, HR will have close and thorough conversations with each business division on how many candidates they would like to work with, says Chik. Each division must demonstrate that they are able to meet the business objectives of the programme, as well as provide customised, relevant and beneficial training for the graduates. These conversations are also important because the divisions themselves determine the tasks and goals for their EGP participants. But while candidates can state their preferred divisions, where they end up at still depends on whether the divisions have the headcount.

Beyond engineering MAY 2017


At the end of each six-month assignment period, programme candidates also come together for one week, where they go “beyond engineering”. This involves further offsite training in softer skills such as teamwork and negotiation, as well as technical topics like project management. Due to the demanding nature of the programme, candidates must have at least a Bachelor Degree in Engineering, with outstanding academic results and less than a year of professional working experience. An excellent track record in leadership skills and non-academic activities such as internships or part-time work is also expected. Applicants also need to be fluent in both spoken and written English, since they are required to communicate and interact with different cultures. They must be adaptable to changing environments during their assignment rotations. “Some of these applicants are from countries where English is not their first language. I actually go to the various countries to interview candidates and ensure they are competent at English,” says Chik.

Worthy investment One key feature of EGP is that candidates are considered employees from the get-

42 MAY 2017


go, and not trainees. “They come in and contribute to their respective divisions right away. In the 18 months, they actually have targets to meet and sometimes are even involved with bidding and tendering,” says Chik. “So they do get their hands dirty.” The overseas assignment is another of the EGP’s unique features, she adds. This allows fresh graduates to work and live abroad for six months as one of their assignments – and all this within the first two years of their careers. They can be assigned to any operation in the world, not just those within Southeast Asia. Although the programme is more costly than traditional recruitment channels, Chik says it has been a worthy investment because candidates are more motivated and committed to their roles. That’s because unlike regular hires who start their job “cold”, EGP candidates can take comfort in the fact that this is an 18-month programme with a clear learning and development path specially designed for them. “If they do well, they secure their future with the division they are enrolled in,” says Chik. Moreover, with hands-on experience across three different functions, candidates are equipped with a variety of skills that the company can tap on. For these reasons, Chik says Siemens

Southeast Asia actually hires more fresh graduates today through the EGP than any other recruitment channel. Indeed, there has been an upward trend in demand for EGP graduates from the various business divisions since 2011, due to the success of previous batches. Participants themselves credit the programme for the head start it has given them. Indonesian national Hendra Tjioe, who was part of the EGP from March 2014 to September 2015, says the programme has expanded his skill sets. “When I first graduated from university, I thought I would just be an engineer doing technical roles. But this programme is so much more than just engineering,” says Tjioe, who rotated between the sales, bidding, and project management functions during the programme. “Not only did I get a chance to gain more technical knowledge, I also got to see how Siemens runs the business,” he adds. Today, Tjioe is a sales representative with Siemens based in Singapore. Chik says success stories like Tjioe’s are common, but it ultimately boils down to the individual themselves. “Those who have done well have progressed well in their careers. But how fast they move depends on them,” she says.

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SME SPOTLIGHT Technology solutions provider JTH Group is pressing ahead with its employer branding efforts. It hopes to build a compelling story in order to attract and retain talents in a hyper-competitive field Sham Majid


hen Freddy Lee joined JTH Group from parent company Jardine Matheson in 2014, he was tasked by shareholders to grow the conglomerate’s technology business. The Managing Director for Southeast Asia says JTH Group was a big company in its own right, having attained about S$2 billion dollars in annual sales across the group, and comprising of both a technology distribution business and a consultancy specialising in systems integration. However, he quickly discovered a pressing issue. “We found that we were not investing as much in our business as we should have been doing, given how quickly technology was moving,” he says. “We existed in a fast-moving environment, but we may not have been moving fast enough.” What followed next was a complex restructuring, in which JTH Group split the two businesses to ensure they each had their own management team and strategy.

“Super-aggressive” hiring Following the restructure, the organisation brought in international consultants to help outline its strategy for the next five years. One core strategy entailed building new competencies, in areas such as cloud computing, big data, and enterprise security, which has seen the company grow its headcount by 20% since 2014. Lynn Pua, Head of HR, Southeast Asia, JTH Group, says the niche skills were not available through traditional recruitment channels. “We have had to tap on certain recruiters who are specialised in these technology fields,” she says. “Some of our internal senior managers also had contacts with business partners who then referred potential candidates to us. “This is how our internal recruiters try

to get in touch with candidates.” Lee offers a simple panacea to its recruitment woes. “Frankly, we just became superaggressive in hiring,” he says. “With our systems integrator consulting work (Jardine One Solutions), we had never done enterprise security before. So we had to think why enterprise security talents would want to join Jardine One.” The organisation took an uncompromising and assertive recruitment approach. For instance, it would deploy its most senior managers to recruit candidates, even for junior to mid-level positions. Senior-ranked figures such as Lee and Pua, and even Lee’s bosses would interview candidates and convince them of the company’s vision, urging them to be part of “the bigger storyline” of building the firm’s enterprise security framework. “That was the toughest part in the very beginning,” says Lee. “The enterprise security team had a headcount of zero in January, 2014 and we built it into a team of 20 by the start of 2015. “That took a lot of aggression and there was no traditional way of hiring them.”

Innovation awards JTH Group is also reaching out to the next generation of technology talent. The organisation kickstarted the “JOS Innovation Awards” in Hong Kong last year, with the scheme now also extended to Singapore. The awards aim to recognise young talent and also entice them to join Jardine One Solutions at the entry level. “We are among the first organisations to ‘grab’ these undergraduate talents and sell our company vision to them so that before they graduate, they already know that there is such an organisation called

JOS which is recruiting candidates like themselves,” says Pua. Open to university and polytechnic students, the JOS Innovation Awards are centred on talent and innovation. Innovation revolves around five industry areas: transportation, retail, hospitality, waste management, and healthcare. Teams of up to five are tasked with crafting a new, technology-based, disruptive idea that is feasible and applicable in the chosen industries. Each project in the first year of the awards underwent several gruelling rounds of judging, which included presentations to a panel that included Lee, Pua and several technical employees within JTH Group. The entire process concluded in late March. During this six-month timeframe, JTH Group kept in contact with all participants and regularly interacted with them on matters relating to the competition. “There are a lot of competitions in the market for university and polytechnic students. But I think what’s different about this is that it’s coming from the industry,” says Lee. “They also get the opportunity to interact with our Head of the Internet of Things (IoT), who has been involved in tonnes of IoT projects.” The nine finalist teams were even afforded rare opportunities to visit the JTH Group’s office, where they spent two hours sharpening their ideas with senior heads from the business. Members from the winning group earned a cash reward and an invaluable six-month internship with the company. Lee says this competition gave him the chance to witness the modus operandi of millennial talent. “We keep hearing flak about the millennial generation. However, they are just different and less structured than MAY 2017


SME SPOTLIGHT how Generation X and Y employees are. The great thing about them is that they are go-getters,” he shares. “As our economy evolves, we really need a lot of these guys who focus on opportunities, instead of problems.”

Three Cs Just as JTH Group aggressively hires its talent, the organisation also takes a noholds-barred approach to keeping them. The technology industry is hypercompetitive, and Lee says JTH Group – like any other business in this space – is prone to losing employees to other firms. He says retention always starts from the bottom. “What we need to focus on is the junior staff, not the Managing Director or senior managers. “It’s often the junior guys who leave,” he says. Hence, the organisation is always on the lookout for signs of disengaged employees, and tries to act before they

decide to leave the business. “Instead of waiting for employees to hand us their resignation letters, we want to pre-empt why employees are not happy,” says Pua. JTH Group has adopted what it calls the “Three Cs” approach. Firstly, it’s about compensation and paying employees a fair wage. The second aspect entails 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 highpotential employees and plots a threeto-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. “This is so important. What’s in store for them? Otherwise, the employee

will leave for just an extra $200 or $300 dollars a month,” says Lee. “If you tell employee that in three years’ time, they are going to be in charge of a big project and they can move on from there, then I think the person will think twice at least.” The final “C” is about fostering a culture which enables employees to perform to the best of their abilities. During the company’s earlier engagement surveys, employees reported misgivings about the working environment at their previous 16-yearold office and that it was difficult to collaborate in the enclosed space. With few renovation options, senior heads decided to relocate to a new office just a stone’s throw away from its old headquarters. “It’s certainly a major change from the old office and we have received very positive feedback from employees,” says Pua.

Coffee chats

One way JTH Group fosters inter-department interaction between employees is through its “coffee chats” initiative. The organisation struck an agreement with a commercial café in the lobby to enable employees from different departments to chat over a cup of freshly-brewed coffee. “We wanted to create a platform where people can have a very casual session,” says Lynn Pua,

46 MAY 2017


Head of HR, Southeast Asia, JTH Group. “We noticed that employees were simply making their own coffee and going back to their desks. Hence, we believe that having a coffee session will foster better working relationships. When you leave the office, you are less restricted,” she says. Freddy Lee, Managing Director of Southeast Asia for JTH Group, says these coffee chats

simulate better interaction across departments. “There are lots of inter-department conversations in the office. For example, my finance team may know everyone in their department but may not know the names of their colleagues from the enterprise application team,” he shares. “Therefore, one of the criteria for this session is that it needs to be inter-departmental.”


What should a well-designed onboarding programme entail?


re you taking inductions of new joiners seriously or are they another tick-the-box exercise? Solid, well-planned and tailored onboarding programmes have significant value for both the new employee and the employer. Imagine showing up on your first day at work, getting a lot of nice but shallow introductions to hundreds of colleagues, a bucket of flowers and whatever equipment you need to do your job, and that’s it. From that point on, you are on your own. This could be the start of a very bad journey for both the hire and employer. That can add significant risks to the success of inducting the newly-hired talent. Should you leave it here and trust that the newlyhired talent will figure it all out? I don’t think that is a good idea. We have all been new, but we want to see that the employer takes the onboarding process seriously. We want attention and support, but

foremost we want to be equipped as best as possible to perform well in our new job. As important as teaching the technicalities of the job is, depending on the role and industry, there are a lot of soft topics that also need to be covered. A solid induction programme will also include sessions where the new joiner can feel safe to address concerns, or things they might find difficult in the new work relationship. As an employer, you really want to find out these things before they go too far. Receiving a resignation letter from your new joiner close to the end of probation is a lost opportunity, and a loss of talent, money and time.

Lars Christian Mathiesen

Vice President of Onshore HR, BW Offshore

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Keeping the human element in mind


rganisations today are operating in an unprecedented period of change. The Brexit vote in the UK, and the US Presidential election are just two recent events resulting in upheaval in global markets. In addition, we have new market entrants disrupting the established order; technology automating jobs; manufacturing moving from more established economies to developing economies and workforces with the capability and technology to ‘telecommute’. Tensions continue in the Middle East and immigration issues dominate the news. Amongst all this, HR

professionals are increasingly asked to take on the burden of this uncertainty and navigate positive outcomes, usually with few resources and low budgets. I have a love/hate relationship with the term “HR”. I hate it because it suggests people are just resources to be used by companies at their will. It doesn’t recognise the unique contribution each person can bring to their job. I love the term because I love the word “human”. I like that the companies that recognise and champion the human element are the ones that will always do well in times of uncertainty. We are asked to be and do many

things. From being a business partner that truly understands the overall business; to setting the people strategy and delivering on it. From dealing with risk and compliance issues; to keeping our organisations out of the labour courts; and then dealing with everything that the current uncertain market throws at us. But while all of this is happening, we can sometimes forget to advocate for humans. We must keep at the heart of what we do the recognition that being human is the most important role we have. Because if we are not advocating for the people in our organisations, who is?

MAY 2017

Lisa Mulligan Experienced HR Director





Disrupting workplace culture can be critical to introducing change. Callum Laing, Partner and Head of Asia with Unity Group, says HR needs to be clear on the bigger picture behind any change in order to manage its impact on the workforce



ne of my first consultancy gigs in my mid-twenties was at a big telecommunications company in Ireland. We tried rolling out Video over Internet in the year 2000 – a big and ambitious project (and ultimately too far ahead of its time). My consultancy alone was billing hundreds of thousands of dollars every month and that was a fraction of what consultancies such as Anderson, McKinsey, and others were charging for similar work. Towards the end of the project, a new Chief Financial Officer joined the client company. On his second day of work, he sent an email dictating that tea and coffee would no longer be free to employees, due to budget constraints. If you ever want to hear a lot of noise and complaints, removing access to free caffeine is a very effective method! There was outrage and there were petitions. Work ground to a halt as everyone complained vocally – before updating their résumés and registering on job sites. I too could not resist the opportunity to join in; this was lunacy in all its glory. My daily rate alone could provide tea and coffee for these workers for a year. If the telco was going to cut costs, why didn’t they look at some of their suppliers or (the other) overpaid consultants? One day after work, another consultant took me for a beer to explain. He told me that in financial officer circles, the “tea and coffee trick” was well known. No one in their right minds genuinely believes the company will save any money by removing access to free tea and coffee. However, it sends a powerful message and engages all employees in a conversation about cost-cutting in a way that would be impossible otherwise.   It was never about the tea and coffee. If you look past the noise, the intention was to signal that those heady dot-com days were no longer sustainable, and it was time for a change.

The rationale behind noise Noise like this regularly fills our newsfeeds. I remember a few years

ago when Marissa Mayer joined Yahoo and stopped employees from working remotely. Oh – the horror! Thousands of articles talked about the value of working remotely, noted that women were most likely to suffer, and suggested that Marissa Mayer didn’t understand how knowledge work now functioned. Now, I don’t want to assume intent, but Marissa Mayer is no fool. She fully understood the value of working from home, but she also had to take action against a workforce and company culture that was clearly in decline, something impossible to do if your staff are not physically there. Her decision was the sign of a new direction. Noise is very compelling and is also incredibly easy to amplify. A headline that voices outrage is guaranteed clickbait. It draws us in, and it takes none of our cognitive resources to think about or try and understand it. A comment is as easy as a click of a button, amplifying the message even further, and no doubt inspiring others to chime in with their own emotional responses.

What’s the intent? What was it that last raised you to comment with indignation? Something in politics? An irritating note from office administration? Or maybe a pesky

client? It may be satisfying to rant and rave about the latest annoying decision someone has made, but is it possible that you are focusing on the noise, and missing the intent? Could it be that the real fool in this scenario is you – the person engaging with the noise without stopping to examine the objectives behind it? We owe it to ourselves and future generations to hold leadership accountable for their actions, but that doesn’t come from immediately dismissing ideas that are not understood, or by shouting even louder than the last guy. It comes from trying to understand the intent in decision making, being willing to learn, and being open to discussing new ways of looking at the world. It was more than 20 years ago now that I was first introduced to this concept. A couple of months after the Tea and Coffee trick, the Video over Internet project was cancelled, and for me, the lesson really sank in. Listening to the noise is easy, but it blinds us from seeing the deeper and more important things that are happening all around. Next time you think about adding your comments to the noise, take a second look, you might be surprised by what you see.

About the Author Callum Laing is is the Head of Asia for the Unity Group, a private equity and advisory firm specialising in supporting entrepreneurs and small medium enterprises (SMEs). Through the Unity Group, Laing advises business owners in Asia on how to build their assets, leverage strategic alliances and expand or exit through acquisitions. Aside from his role at the Unity Group, Laing also holds the post as the Chief Executive Officer of Entrevo Asia. Entrevo helps entrepreneurs and leaders to craft their competitive advantage and build global SMEs. MAY 2017




DISRUPTION Ahead of HRM Asia’s 2nd Annual CHRO Series Congress, Kiranmai Pendyala, Chief Vice President – HR for Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific (including Greater China) at integrated circuit maker AMD, explains how organisations can fully embrace the disruption taking place across the business world

Please describe your role at AMD I spent a good many years playing the hat of a Regional Chief HR Officer (CHRO) and Regional HR Business Partner for AMD, championing and driving the talent strategy in the vast region outside the Americas. Since April this year, I have been the Corporate Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of HR at AMD. In my current role, I champion and drive a global organisation focused on HR analytics, employee relations, compliance, operations and services, tools and technology, and processes and policies. This aims to create a seamless and modern HR infrastructure and a set of best practices that enhance the employee experience for “AMDers” across our sites.

50 MAY 2017


The theme of “disruption” is widespread in business these days. But in what ways can HR embrace the notion? HR has to embrace disruption to keep pace with the changing demographic and psychographic of the millennial workforce. We have to look at innovative ways to source, develop, and reward talent. The interventions have to be on two fronts. Firstly, deploy digital tools to create a seamless HR experience for employees, and secondly, perhaps more importantly, as HR leaders, we ourselves have to undergo a mindset change. We have to rethink the established notions of productivity and loyalty by studying and understanding the aspirations of the modern workforce, which is embracing the gig economy and crowdsourced freelancers as a new way of life.

HRM ASIA CONGRESS INSIGHTS Should organisations still embrace disruption even if they are currently operating at a successful level? HR has to constantly evolve to keep pace with the changing market realities and the notions of what a workplace actually is. Take for example, performance management. For the longest time, the bell curve was seen as a successful strategy. But over time, it has run out of favour with most companies as relative ranking forced them to put a set of employees in the bottom rung even if their performance had been good. So while it was deemed a good measure, over time, it proved to be detrimental for the team spirit and productivity of an organisation. It is important to accept disruptions, from an HR perspective, as opportunities to build high performance cultures” and organisations that not only survive in the new world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, but excel in it.

How has your organisation’s HR department driven a culture of innovation? AMD’s HR team has successfully cultivated an environment that encourages employees to think outside the box, hone creative skills, grow talent, and maintain the company’s standards of innovation through the following ways: • Dual Career Ladder – A ‘dual career ladder’ offers choice-points along the career path for employees to choose individual contributor positions or organisational and managerial positions, based on their interests, competencies, and the business need. At AMD, this is a core value, and helps create organic growth of the workforce. • Scientific hiring process – AMD follows an extremely empirical policy while hiring talent at all levels, to meet the diverse needs of the organisation. AMD takes care to redact all irrelevant

or intrusive personal information, like race, sex, language, and socioeconomic background, to enhance the openness of hiring managers and keep them focused on the individual’s skillset and abilities. • Work-life integration – Offering policies such as flexi-time and telecommuting options, as well as encouraging annual vacations ensures employees are able to attain requisite work-life integration. An on-site gym, indoor games, Zumba sessions, a shuttle court, annual sports competitions among various functional teams, as well as regular team outings and celebrations, also add to the fun at the workplace. • HR Analytics – HR analytics is the key engine that fuels effective decision making and supports talent strategy initiatives. The core HR functions at AMD: acquisition, workforce optimisation, compensation and benefits, and the development of the workforce can all be enhanced by analytics. At AMD, HR Analytics derives insights which directly connect with employee needs. The HR team uses analytics to delve deep into business scenarios and guide business managers to solve their workforce challenges. • Authentic Work Environment – AMD believes transparency is one of the core ingredients to the long-term success of a company. All employees across the globe, irrespective of the hierarchy, are connected on our internal ‘AMD Connect’ platform, which allows people to tell their personal and professional stories via photos and blogs.

What will you be focusing on in your presentation to the CHRO Series Congress 2017? My presentation will be about Building a Culture of Innovation in the Age of Disruption.

This comprises of: • Understanding the impact of macroeconomic trends and technology on talent management; • Embracing disruption as an opportunity, and not as a threat, by implementing innovative measures to cope with business demand; • Recognising the role of HR in creating a conducive environment to foster that culture of innovation; • Establishing a rewards and recognition policy to ensure the culture is sustainable over time

What practical insights are you hoping to gain from the event yourself? I’m hoping to pick up best practices on leveraging data and analytics in HR, and creating an agile workforce by reimagining talent and recruitment.

ELEVATING THE ROLE OF HR The 2nd Annual CHRO Series Congress, on June 28 and 29, will gather both HR leaders and inspiring Chief HR Officers in the region to discuss the latest trends in HR and workforce management. The two-day immersion provides insights and best practices through sessions with thought-provoking speakers, interactive panel discussions, and case studies focused on strategic themes. The key topics include creating a holistic HR culture and mindset for effective transition to a more strategic HR role, and cultivating best quality data and analytics practices in the HR landscape. The congress will help delegates understand the implications of a blended workforce to their organisation and craft the right strategies to cope with a diversified workforce, and ensure a smooth HR transformation through effective HR culture cultivation. 2nd Annual

CHRO SERIES 2017 Th e F u t u r e C H R O fo r t h e Ag e o f D i s r u p t i o n

MAY 2017

28 29

June 2017 Singapore




he HR business partner role, like other HR functions, has already embarked on a strategic transformation journey. As several HR leaders shared at HRM Asia’s recent HR Business Partner Congress series, several factors are shaping the function’s evolution. Eugene Lam, Regional HR Director at consumer goods manufacturer Kimberly Clark, says one factor is the existing VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) market environment, caused in part by constantly changing business priorities. Today, talent management has become a “numbers game” centred on the use of big data and analytics, says Lam. Quoting statistics from consultancy

firm CEB, he adds that 78% of HR business partners, in fact, reported an increase in the use of data and information in the past three years. Furthermore, HR business partners stated that 33% of their time at work is spent working with data. Narasimhan S L, Regional Head of Talent and HR Consulting at financial services company State Street, agrees

That’s because being just “business enablers” is no longer sufficient, says Narasimhan. HR business partners now have to drive business strategies and lead large-scale transformation programmes. Despite the new job scopes, Ajit Iyer, Chief Talent Officer at food producer Sinarmas Agribusiness and Food, affirms that, ultimately, the HR business partner’s main role does not change.

that the use of data is increasingly important, especially since business partners today are expected to communicate and deliver business priorities. They are even expected to contribute directly to the business by providing clients with insightful statistics and external market trends.

Iyer explains that business partners have to continue balancing the needs of the business and its leaders, with the needs of the individual functions and line managers, while still ensuring policies are well-executed and objectives are met. “Good business partners connect the dots,” he says. “They bring life to abstract concepts.”


What brought you to the HR Business Partner Congress? The HR Business Partner model is getting more prominent as more organisations realise the value of HR being a partner to the business, rather than a purely administrative function. I wanted to know more about the challenges some organisations face when they move towards such a model and how they overcame them. I was also interested to learn whether the HR business partner model would work in all types of organisations.

How did the content relate to your work?

Hidir Jamal

HR and Administration Manager, GAC (Singapore)

Can you describe your role at GAC (Singapore)? As a HR and Administration Manager, I head the HR department and am responsible for the HR functions, ensuring GAC is able to attract, develop, and retain talented employees. My role also involves promulgating strategies and initiatives to ensure a highly engaged workforce. 52 MAY 2017


In my current role, I provide advice and work with the business on HR needs. The content on becoming a more effective business partner and being a more strategic player in the business is definitely related to my work.

What was your biggest takeaway from the last two days? The biggest takeaway was the Q&A after every talk. This was where best practices were shared and there were frank discussions on the challenges HR face when they try to be a more strategic partner. It was good to know that these organisations managed to overcome these challenges, despite some having taken years to reach the HR model they are in.


Juliana Ong Director of HR Royal Plaza on Scotts

Who is Juliana Ong, and what defines her?  The relationships I build with the people around me really define me as a person. What would you be doing if you were not in HR?  Would you believe me if I said I would want to teach HR? The areas I would like to specialise in are employee engagement and culture building. So HR was always on the cards?  Yes! When I was doing my diploma I already knew I wanted to be in HR. I actually wrote in to Royal Plaza on Scotts when I was still in school to seek an internship, and to my surprise, they accepted me. Complete this sentence. HR is... 

all about the people. If you take care of your people, the business will also be taken care of.

What is the best part of your job? 

I get a lot of satisfaction from making a difference in employees’ lives.

What is the worst part of your job? 

When something cannot be

done, and I have to say “no”.

How do you spend your free time?  I spend time with my pets, chat with friends about nothing in particular, go to spas, and travel.. If you could pick the brain of someone living or dead, who would it be?  Lee Kuan Yew. He had a very good vision of what Singapore had the potential to be. He was able to use limited people resources and develop us to where we are today. That’s a good use of human capital, isn’t it?

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? 

Never assume

anything. Do it yourself, see it for for yourself.

“Never assume anything. Do it yourself, and see it for yourself”

Social media of choice? 

Instagram, because to me it’s less pretentious. It’s also very uplifting, unlike Facebook where people sometimes post negative things.

MAY 2017


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

Dear Laurence, My 21-year old son wants to follow in his mother’s footsteps and begin a career in HR. I have advised him to tackle a general business degree first, but several schools are now recommending specialist HRfocused programmes. I know the profession is much more popular now, but do aspiring HR professionals really need more than a basic understanding of people management before starting their first jobs?

MBA or business degree with a focus on HR, or people development, or organisational development would be much more advantegous. I think the future will be about competent HR people who have strategic awareness and are strong at navigating the ambiguities of business strategy and organisations. And it’s not just entry level recruits that should be taking stock of their skillsets in these areas.

Family business, Singapore There are two schools of thought. Increasingly we see Chief HR Officers being selected from outside HR. That’s a global phenomenon and the logic behind it seems to be that too many HR leaders – while administratively efficient – are lacking the strategic vision skills, the business savvy, and also the credible activist capability to influence within the organisation. Having said that, the other school of thought says that grooming HR professionals through development programmes, masters, and bachelor degrees does give them a stronger capability to execute HR strategies within their employers’ teams and organisations. On reflection, a good HR programme should have a strong focus on that business savvy that is required at every level. If it doesn’t, and is purely focused on HR administration, don’t advise your son to go down that path. A generalist

Dear Laurence, I joined a multinational FMCG supplier seven months ago as an assistant manager to the local four-person recruitment team. I believe I have done some very good work and would be qualified for the manager position that has now become vacant, but the company says I am not being considered for it. I know the team will likely unravel without my leadership – particularly over the next few months as they seek an external replacement – but am not sure how to leverage this to get the company to realise its mistake. Or should I look for a company that will realise my true value? Unappreciated, Singapore Do you have an understanding of why you are not being considered for the manager role? Or why the last person has left? It could be that your company is

enlarging the position, or is looking for a very different strategy moving forward. It may be something about the role rather than something about you. In any case, it is likely there will be new or at least different responsibilities for you to tackle as the team adjusts. Moving on after only seven months is not going to be a good strategy. You will likely end up starting from a very similar position in a new organisation and, with such a short time in your previous role, it will have very little impact on any promotion decisions. You will almost certainly be better placed to stick around and learn what you can from the new manager. But it is also a good time to ask what you would have to do to be considered for that particular management role – or something similar to it – in the future, and then to build a strategy around taking you to that level. This will show your organisation that you have ambitions in that direction, and that you can adapt and develop yourself according to its changing business needs. Of course, the assessment of your leadership abilities will start with immediate effect. So definitely do work hard to manage the interim period between managers as effectively and as forward-thinking as possible. That experience will stand you in a far better long-term position than any attempt to leverage the situation to your short-term advantage.

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

54 MAY 2017


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RECRUITING HR EXPERTS ENHANCING HR CAREERS Talent Acquisition Specialist (Education)

Regional HR Business Partner (Life Sciences)

A world leader in the education sector is looking for a Talent Acquisition specialist to join the team.

A global European biotechnology business has created a new role based in Singapore for a Regional HR Business Partner looking after the SEA region.

You will provide full spectrum support and advisory services in all areas of Talent Acquisition. Main responsibilities include but are not limited to the full end-to-end recruitment for all corporate roles. Degree educated, with a minimum of 4 years relevant TA experience gained within working within a multi-cultural environment. An engaging and driven individual who has the ability to interact and foster relationships with people of varying levels. Contact Sophie Baker (Reg ID. R1658732) at or call +65 6303 0721.

HR Director (Lighting) A unique and newly created opportunity has arisen for an HR Director to run the ASEAN cluster for a multinational organisation within the lighting industry that will be expanding across the region. As this is effectively a start-up function, you will be responsible for providing the full spectrum of HR support as well as the continuous improvement of the HR framework, making sure global initiatives are rolled out across 5 countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia and Hong Kong. Contact Ash Russell (Reg ID. R1109296) at or call +65 6303 0721.

EA License Number: 07C3924

56 MAY 2017


Reporting into the Regional VP HR, you will be a strategic business partner to the MDs of two key businesses providing HR leadership and direction to the function. You will continually review, develop, and implement HR strategies, policies, and plans to provide, promote and sustain an employee-oriented and high performance culture. Contact Ash Russell (Reg ID. R1109296) at or call +65 6303 0721.

Senior HR Manager (Telco) Based in Singapore, this company is seeking an experienced HR Manager. Covering the full spectrum of HR, you will be a strategic part of the team and work closely with senior management to enable the business to meet its objectives. Key to the success in this role will be your excellent communication skills, strong stakeholder management experience and your ability to function well in a fast-paced environment. Contact Sophie Baker (Reg ID. R1658732) at

Opportunities for Life

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

Learning & Development Partner

HR Business Partner (based in Shanghai, China)

• Highly challenging and compelling role • Regional exposure

• Leading Consumer MNC • Hands-on, strategic and challenging role

Our client is well-recognized within the industrial sector. They are now hiring a Learning and Development Partner for the regional COE L&D team.

A renowned consumer brand, our client has an established presence internationally with wide presence in China. It now seeks a dynamic and consummate HR Business Partner to play an integral role in their China growing business.

In this exciting role, you will be required to be a trusted advisor and internal consultant to the business supporting SEA countries. This is a single contributor role, reports to the L&D Lead and requires close partnerships with HR Business Partners in various countries. You will develop, manage and drive all learning programs/projects/initiatives with the view to create a competency-based learning culture and motivated workforce. You will identify gaps in terms of training and development needs and work with L&D COE to align all training policies and procedures. You will be a graduate in OD or relevant field and at least 8+ years of L&D experience with sound knowledge of learning strategies. Flexibility combined with strong drive and the desire to make a difference is also important. You need to be independent, hands-on in this role and have an excellent track record in building and maintaining relationships at all levels within a business.

To submit your application, please email your resume in word format to Li Li Kang at or Audrey Chong at EA Personnel Registration No. R1108467 & R1105147

Reporting to Head of Business HR, you will partner closely with divisional heads as an advisor to ensure HR goals are aligned with the organizational plan for the assigned China regions. You are part of the China HR team responsible for the development and application of HR policies and programs in full spectrum HR including talent acquisition, development and management, compensation & benefits, performance management, employee relations, and HR operations. The successful candidate is degree qualified with minimum 10 years’ experience as a HR generalist including minimum 6 years in HR business partnering. Preference will be given to those experienced working in MNCs with diverse culture environment and partnering with commercial team and retail. You are highly hands-on, possess excellent interpersonal, communication, influencing and leadership skills to operate in a highly matrix and fast-paced environment. To submit your application, please email your resume in word format to Maureen Ho at or Audrey Chong at EA Personnel Registration No. R1105976 & R1105147

RGF is the global brand of Recruit Holdings, the world’s fourth largest HR and recruitment services company and the largest in Japan, generating over US$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


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RECRUITING HR EXPERTS ENHANCING HR CAREERS Talent Acquisition Specialist Regionalsince HR Business Partner Headquartered in Singapore (Education) (Life Sciences) 2003, Kerry Consulting isA global Singapore’s A world leader in the education sector is European biotechnology business has looking for a Talent Acquisition specialist to created a new role based in Singapore for a join the team.Search & Selection Regional HR Business Partner looking after the leading firm. SEA region. You will provide full spectrum support Our consulting team most and advisory services in all areas of Talent is the Reporting into the Regional VP HR, you will be Acquisition. Main responsibilities include a strategic business partner to the MDs of two experienced, and amongst the largest, but are not limited to the full end-to-end key businesses providing HR leadership and recruitment for all corporate roles. direction to the function. You will continually review, develop, and implement HR strategies, in Degree theeducated, ASEAN region. with a minimum of 4 years relevant TA experience gained within working within a multi-cultural environment. An engaging and driven individual who has the ability to interact and foster relationships with people of varying levels.

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

We offer positions in the HR Director following (Lighting) sectors:

A unique and newly created opportunity has

arisen for an Director to run the ASEAN Banking & HR Financial Services

cluster for a multinational organisation within

the lighting industry that will be expanding Commerce Finance across the region.

Energy Commodities As this is& effectively a start-up function,

you will be responsible for providing the full spectrum of & HRSupply support as Chain well as Engineering the continuous improvement of the HR framework, making sure Sciences global initiatives Healthcare & Life are rolled out across 5 countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia and Human Resources Hong Kong. Contact Ash Russell (Reg ID. R1109296) at Legal or call

+65 6303 0721. Sales & Marketing


EA License Number: 07C3924

policies, and plans to provide, promote and sustain an employee-oriented and high performance culture. Contact Ash Russell (Reg ID. R1109296) at or call +65 6303 0721.

Senior HR Manager (Telco)

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R a t a a s s e p g a d

I e i m m p a p h p i o

T j r s


Based in Singapore, this company is seeking an experienced HR Manager. Covering the full spectrum of HR, you will be a strategic part of the team and work closely with senior management to enable the business to meet its objectives. Key to the success in this role will be your excellent communication skills, strong stakeholder management experience and your ability to function well in a fast-paced environment. Contact Sophie Baker (Reg ID. R1658732) at

O K M h m a s r

T S t s T e Y t

W c o r a b s a b

T ďŹ r s


58 MAY 2017

HRMASIA.COM | Returning the Human to Resourcing

C&B Manager, SEA

Talent Acquisition Manager, SEA

C&B Assistant Manager, APAC

FMCG leader Fast-paced & Start Up Environment

SEA Region Newly created position Drive Talent Acquisition initiatives

Newly created position Integration & Harmonisation Experience Required APAC Region

Our client is a leading modern luxury company and has created a new position for a Talent Acquisition Manager to support their Talent Acquisition and Development function in the South East Asia region. Reporting directly to the Head of Talent Acquisition, you will be responsible as a Talent Advisor. You will partner with hiring managers to build effective sourcing, assessment, and closing approaches with an ability to manage expectations. You will be instrumental to standardize the recruitment process and work closely with the business leaders on recruitment strategies, employee branding and retention. You will be driving employer branding activities including participating in career fairs with esteem institutes and key local universities.

We represent our client who is a leading multi-national within the Consulting & Professional Services industries. This is a newly created position reporting to the Regional HR Director for APAC. You will play a pivotal part to integrate and harmonise benefits across the business entities in the region. A hands-on mind-set and approached is required for this position. You will analyse competitive trends in compensation and benefits such as to lead and conduct salary review exercise, salary benchmarking, annual performance and rewards exercise. Develop, implement and review administrative procedures to monitor and review salary policy, guidelines and streamlining work processes. Perform job analysis and evaluation for each job position and prepare data and participate in surveys and reviews of data.

SEA Region Our client is a leading multi-national within the FMCG industry. They are looking for a C&B Manager to support their business within the SEA region. Due to their business exponential growth, this role will require the candidate with prior working experience in a fast paced environment. Reporting to the Regional HR Director, SEA, you will play a pivotal part to align and set up the C&B structure across the business entities in the region. A hands-on mind-set and approached is required for this position. You will analyse competitive trends in compensation and benefits such as to lead and conduct salary review exercise, salary benchmarking, annual performance and rewards exercise. Develop, implement and review administrative procedures to monitor and review salary policy, guidelines and streamlining work processes. Perform job analysis and evaluation for each job position and prepare data and participate in surveys and reviews of data. Ideally you will have a minimum of 12 years of C&B experience with a good track record in harmonisation and implementation. With proven influencing and relationship management skills, you will have experience in project management and execution of rewards policies and processes. To be successful in this role, you must have the ability to adapt quickly to change, be able to work in a fast paced environment and have prior experience in harmonisation. Ability to design and implementation C&B programs, making positive changes and process improvements are the focus areas of this role and to roll out these programs for the region. To apply, please submit your resume to Joy Seow at, quoting the job title and the reference number of JS11898. We regret that only successfully shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Reg No: R1107886

Regional HR Operations Manager Reputable European MNC with strong growth track record Team lead Excellent career platform On behalf of a very well-known European MNC, Kerry Consulting is looking for a dynamic HR Operations Manager. This is a fast-growing organisation, and Singapore has been established the regional office for emerging markets. To support recent growth, the company is seeking a qualified and highly experienced HR Lead who can lay a strong foundation for HR Operations for the Singapore and regional offices. This role will report to the Regional HR Director based in Singapore. You will be responsible for HR service delivery in the Singapore office and will work closely with senior stakeholders which consist of locals and foreigners. The expectation is that you will be the go-to person to ensure that HR Operations run like a well-oiled machine. You will also work with the tax, payroll and other vendors to ensure smooth delivery of their services. We are looking for a very experienced HR Manager who is conversant and highly knowledgeable in running HR operations for Singapore. You will have a strong track record of delivering HR services, managing vendors and advising colleagues & management on employment and benefits related questions including local labour laws, salary and tax matters. As a team lead, you will need to be agile and able to work in an ambiguous environment, so being a self-starter is critical. To apply, please submit your resume to Finian Toh at, quoting the job title and reference number. We regret that only successfully shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Reg No: 16S8060

You will be an experienced HR Professional with a minimum of 8 to 10 years of demonstrated successful recruiting experience for a variety of positions across all functions including commercial and corporate. You will have experience in managing the full recruiting cycle and have a proven track record of working within a matrix organisation. The ideal candidate must be able to work at strategic level as well as being hands-on and operational in execution. In addition, you will have experience using Applicant Tracking System (ATS) such as Taleo or Success Factor. Ideally, you would have past success leveraging social media platforms to build candidate pipelines. You will be degree qualified in Human Resource or relevant discipline with a minimum of 12 years of HR generalist background. You will have strong interpersonal skills to build rapport across all levels, demonstrate leadership abilities, and display a partnering mentality. Experience working in a MNC organisation within the FMCG or Retail industries will be an advantage. To apply, please submit your resume to Joy Seow at, quoting the job title and the reference number of JS10977. We regret that only successfully shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Reg No: R1107886

Ideally you will have a minimum of 8 years of C&B experience with a good track record in harmonisation and implementation. With proven influencing and relationship management skills, you will have experience in project management and execution of rewards policies and processes. To be successful in this role, you must have the ability to adapt quickly to change, be able to work in a fast paced environment and have prior experience in harmonisation. Ability to design and implementation C&B programs, making positive changes and process improvements are the focus areas of this role and to roll out these programs for the region. To apply, please submit your resume to Joy Seow at, quoting the job title and the reference number of JS11584. We regret that only successfully shortlisted applicants will be contacted. License No: R1107886

Group Compensation Manager (AVP Level) - Banking Industry

Learning & Talent Development Manager – Financial Services

Prominent Asian Banking Institution Newly Created Role Dynamic work environment

Established financial institution Excellent career platform High Visibility

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

Regarded as one of the top employer of choice, this financial institution has a focus in Asia Pacific. There is now an exciting opportunity to join as Learning & Talent Development manager.

This a newly created role which will report to and work closely with the Group Head of C&B, to lead, design, develop and implement the rewards and performance management strategy across the Bank. As it’s a newly created role, there will be significant opportunity to help shape the C&B function across the region while partnering closely with the in-country HR leads. You will be responsible for all C&B and performance management matters across the Asia Pacific region.

Reporting to the Head of Learning & Talent Development, this role involves developing talent through various learning and talent initiatives in line with business needs and driving improvements in capability development at all levels. You will work closely with HR and business leaders to establish comprehensive leadership development platforms and implement learning solutions and programs. This will includes leading the Performance Management process and formulate initiatives to build and sustain a performance-driven culture. You will facilitate the Employee Engagement Survey, and coordinate the follow-through of Employee Engagement Action Plans and develop e-learning strategies to facilitate knowledge transfer from online learning into workplace application. Degree qualified, you will possess at least 5 to 7 years of L&D experience within the financial services industry. A self-starter who works well independently, you are able to articulate to all business levels and build strong rapport with internal clients. You possess strong communication and interpersonal skills, drive for excellence and are flexible and driven in your approach. To apply, please submit your resume to Finian Toh at, quoting the job title and reference number FT11666

You will have a strong foundation of Compensation in the Asia Pacific region. You will lead, design, develop and implement the Compensation strategy, philosophy, policies and programs across the Group. We are looking for an experienced and driven individual with strong stakeholder management skills. You should have worked in fast-paced environments and need to be prepared to ‘roll up your sleeves’ while being able to advise on strategies to drive business growth. The successful candidate should have the gravitas to influence the business in a commercial sense. To apply, please submit your resume to Finian Toh at, quoting the job title and reference number FT110911. We regret that only successfully shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Reg No: 16S8060

Reg No: R16S8060

MAY 2017


60 MAY 2017


MAY 2017



HR Vendor




TIMES PAYHR , TP 8 Casual,

Software as a Service

E-Payroll, E-Leave, E-HR

Payroll Outsourcing

User Friendly

E-Payslip, E-Timesheet

Regular Updates

Web-based Solutions

E-Appraisal, E-Training

HRIS / GL Interface

E-Travel Request, E-Claim

Customizations &

E-Recruit, E-Casual Labour



More than 5000


Active Clients

Enabling true employee empowerment and HR automation

Reliable Customer Care & Technical Support

2006 - 2016



is the developer and distributor for TIMES products

10, Jalan Besar, #14-01, Sim Lim Tower, Singapore 208787. Web-site: For sales enquiry, please e-mail to or call (65) 6295 1998

HRM May 2017 Dave Ulrich  

Dave Ulrich Building the Smart workforce of tomorrow

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