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Rethinking human capital to accelerate digital transformation

In a compelling conversation at the HCLI’s Asian Human Capital & Leadership Symposium 2018 in Singapore, Sara Cheng, CEO, Fuji Xerox Singapore, Dato Hamidah Naziadin, Group Chief People Officer, CIMB Bank, and Desmond Kuek, Founder Genium & Co, discuss the changing business landscape in the climate of digital transformation.

Human Capital is defined as “the measure of skills, education capacity, and attributes of labor that determine their productive capacity and earning potential”. It is, therefore, a measure of potential that in turn affects economy and sustainability. But how are organizations rethinking and transforming their human capital strategies in the climate of digital transformation? 

Here, we take a look at how a few organizations are doing things differently.

Disrupting recruitment, training, and onboarding: CIMB Bank

The Malaysian banking group, CIMB, is the fifth largest banking group with over 37,000 staff in 15 countries across ASEAN and beyond. Dato Hamidah Naziadin, Group Chief People Officer, CIMB Bank shares that “In today’s context, competition is not about banks anymore; our competitors are coming from outside of the banking industry today.” That is the case both in terms of business and talent which means that organizations need to look at ways of working differently. 

Naziadin shares the journey of setting up the CIMB Future of Work Center to focus on reskilling employees across levels. She states that “We did an inventory on what was needed for the business and we came up with the “3D Academy” ‒ Digital Mindset, Data, and Disruption to provide mandatory training to our employees.” At the same time, due to automation many jobs in banking are becoming redundant. The effort is to transition people into different jobs, both internally when possible or externally. “At CIMB”, shares Naziadin, “we need to protect our people even if we cannot protect their work. Skilling is very important.” 

The bank has also transformed how they look at recruitment and onboarding: “CIMB looks at cognitive skills, especially when it wants to recruit fresh talent and assess if they can navigate complexity.” CIMB has redesigned their new joinee program and from having mostly banking functional focus, the bank has now introduced rotations in startups and diverse projects that allow graduate hires to expand their mindsets.

Redefining employer-employee relations: Genium & Co.

“With increasing automation at the workplace, leaders need to manage sentiments, anxieties, aspirations, and needs as they continue,” shares Desmond Kuek, Founder Genium & Co. Additionally, leaders need to navigate through the generational divide that is increasingly creating more tension in collaboration and teamwork. Kuek suggests that organizations need to look at going beyond the silo structures and think “networks.” By breaking the boundaries of structures, people can take ownership of building their networks to get the work done. 

For HR leaders, there is a need to redefine engagement too, “The new workforce wants purpose and wants to contribute to society. Money is not the only factor.” At the same time, for organizations and leaders, Desmond states that “talent is not enough; what matters is not how much talent you have but how much capacity one has to learn.” 

Flattened organizations: Fuji Xerox

Sara Cheng, CEO, Fuji Xerox Singapore shares the organization’s transformation journey and a shift of focus to solutions and not only products. “Growing digital capability through human intelligence and machine intelligence is critical and at the same time drive culture transformation and employee engagement,” shares Cheng. Change management is about moving the needle on mindset and answering the questions –“What does it mean to me? Why are we doing this? Why are we changing?” Human strength lies in critical thinking and lateral thinking abilities to solve complex problems, and it all starts with curiosity. Cheng defines curiosity as “an impulse (and not a skill) to seek new information, new experience, new solutions; and that’s what makes human different.” 

For leaders, Cheng suggests that openness, accessibility is very important and she encourages CEOs to talk to people across the organization. She remarks, “Everyone has a different sensor of the future. I talk to everyone at all levels in one-to-one meetings. As a CEO I need to talk to employees at all levels.”

Excerpts from the panel discussion at HCLI’s Asian Human Capital & Leadership Symposium 2018 in Singapore. 


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