HR Leadership Role Trends in Hong Kong and Singapore

It’s worth noting that there have been a growing number of Regional Asia/APAC HR leadership positions based out of Singapore compared to Hong Kong (where the opposite trend appears to be occurring).

In analysing current HR leadership positions in Hong Kong, we notice that 80% of HR Director positions based in Hong Kong had a Hong Kong only focus or an Asia/Greater China remit. There was an even split between Head of HR Hong Kong roles to Head of HR Greater China /North Asia positions. Astonishingly there were only 20% of roles with an Asia or APAC regional mandate based out of Hong Kong. Obviously the financial services sector has been hard hit which has played a key part in this trend.

This compares to Singapore where we see 40% of HR leadership positions having an APAC or Asia remit, 20% of HR leadership roles having a Singapore only focus, 20% of HR leadership opportunities having a South East Asia mandate and interestingly, the other 20% of HR leadership roles having a global or at least international remit. The latter trend is a growing one. We are seeing more international operations centre themselves in Singapore as a launching pad for the growing Asia market. We are seeing European companies in particular, have at least some part of their global operations based out of Singapore. Of the 40% of Asia or APAC regional mandates, it must be said that a portion of these roles have an HR operational or HR shared services focus.

Based on these trends, we are seeing a growing, strong regional HR leadership talent pool in Hong Kong with limited opportunities. Foreign talent has been the hardest hit particularly in the banking sector. For the 80% of HR leadership roles focused on Hong Kong or Greater China, the trend with hiring managers is to look for local or mandarin speakers when hiring for such opportunities. There are good opportunities at present for bilingual / bicultural Hong Kong Chinese who can work with local operations yet are able to deal with international reporting lines. As such, there is a shortage of strong local Hong Kong HR leadership talent. Looking at the next level down i.e. mid manager HR leadership talent there is a tremendous shortage of local quality HRBP’s.

Singapore has been a better hunting ground for foreign talent in terms of finding good opportunities, due to the fact there are more regional Asia/APAC roles based in Singapore. Local hiring is certainly still the ideal for most companies due to long term succession planning. This continues to put pressure on the available talent pool of strong local HR leadership talent. Like Hong Kong, the next level down i.e. local HR mid manager talent is still difficult to find in numbers. Perhaps not quite to the extent of the candidate shortages we find in Hong Kong.


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