‘Change or be changed’ was the catch-cry at a recent ChapmanCG HR leaders panel event in Singapore, which focused on how HR leaders need to adapt to an emerging cross-cultural, agile and multi-generational workforce.

Leesa Rawlings, APAC Head of Talent Engagement at Diageo, ChapmanCG led the panel discussion with Kamali Rajesh, APAC HR Head at Syngenta and Lim Zhi Rong, APAC HR Head at Twitter.

Back to Basics

HR needs to adapt itself to cope with shifting technologies and novel business models. As an important functional entity that impacts every single stakeholder in the organisation, HR plays a significant role in a company’s transformation.

Over time, firms with structural inertia tend to lose their operational efficiency and service orientation as they grow bigger. It becomes more critical, and inevitable, for HR to return to basics and position people at the centre of every endeavour. Most monitoring and measurement tools don’t speak to each other, so it’s critical that HR consolidates these tools in order to produce better data analytics and better solutions.

For HR to be the driver of business outcomes, practitioners need to drive balanced, evidence-based decisions. HR can build a strong chain of systematic and disciplined decision-making by:

  • gathering the necessary information
  • making the right inferences
  • drawing actionable insights
  • using the findings to influence accordingly
  • then finally moving into an initiative.

Forward to the Future

HR’s transformation journey towards being more value-driven will result in significant changes to the organisation too. Practitioners need to incubate creativity externally and innovate internally within the business.

In the past, HR has been more focused on upskilling organisational capabilities and technological readiness for the sake of flawless execution. In the future, it will be just as important for HR functions to be externally focused and constantly redefine relationships within the business to ensure relevance.

This change cannot be a one-off HR assignment, but instead must be a continuous systemic flow of business sponsorship. It requires a mindset of change and must be a corporate mission in getting the many moving parts of the business aligned. To embark on this HR journey, practitioners need to ensure their future leaders are well-equipped with the right experience and exposure to best add value to the business.

Four Flavours of HR Leaders

The discussion addressed the various career paths that a new generation of HR talent could consider for their own personal development in becoming future-ready HR leaders. Zhi Rong, APAC HR Head at Twitter, shared what he considers to be the different flavours of regional HR leaders:

  • Business Consigliere – a commercially savvy business leader who has transitioned to become a HR practitioner
  • Global Nomad – a practitioner with an international profile who has lived and worked across multiple jurisdictions
  • Local Guru – an HR subject-matter expert with deep country/regional market knowledge
  • Maverick – external HR consultants who have become corporate practitioners.

With Asia being a huge growth engine, there has been a greater focus on evolving a more globally-competent Asian talent pool. Practitioners need to learn from each other to maximise cross-cultural interactions and leverage on synergies. Being globally-ready also involves being self-aware and appreciative of different styles of working.

The consensus of the group was that success requires a combination of different factors plugged in at the right level of an individual’s career. The mental agility and technical ability to deal with impending challenges is just as critical. Ultimately, possessing the five E’s of good education, experience, exposure, environment and enterprise-enabling activities will shape an HR practitioner’s capability and competency, and in turn boost their confidence as a future-ready HR leader.