Sharing Success

Winners of the HRO Today Forum APAC Awards discuss their greatest achievements.
By Belinda Sharr

HRO Today recognises the best and brightest HR professionals -we annually honour those who have helped blaze new trails with best practices for the HR industry to follow. Winners were announced in five categories at the HRO Today Services and Technology Association Awards Gala during the HRO Today Forum APAC on 15 June, 2016 in Singapore. They spoke with us about their exciting win and revealed why HR is so important to them.

Thought Leadership Award Winner

Wendy Tan
Founding partner
Flame Centre

Flame Centre is a consulting firm that has worked to innovate psychology and technology for learning advantage. Its learning architecture model provides training and development professionals with technology to design effective and efficient learning solutions that align with organisation practices.

Flame Centre’s work helps organisations make sense of the myriad of technology based solutions -e-learning, mobile games, gamification, and virtual reality -so HR leaders can develop programmes that help employees in four key areas:

• Understand the “what” and “why”;

• Practice the “how”;

• Apply the “how” in context; and

• Reflect on the “what” more

The combination of these efforts improves training effectiveness and efficiency; enables consistency in customer service and operations; offers scalability; and creates a more confident and productive workforce Flame Centre’s founder Wendy Tan believes HR’s greatest accomplishment is “bringing the ingenuity of the human spirit to solve the world’s challenges, so that we lead more meaningful lives and make the world a better place for our children.”

Being honoured with the Thought Leadership Award is proof that the company is heading in the right direction, says Tan. “At a personal level, winning this award is a recognition of our ideas, and it’s immensely satisfying to know we are on the right track,” she says. “It also symbolizes a new era in the learning and development field which is disrupted by technology that can help us learn more efficiently and effectively, as we respond to a rapidly changing world.”

Excellence in Business Partnership Winner

HCL Infosystems and PeopleStrong

PeopleStrong, an India-based HR technology and solutions company, delivers its services through an on-demand offering titled PeopleStrong Alt. Also based In India, HCL Infosystems Ltd is a distribution and IT services and solutions company that provides value-added distribution for partners.

The partnership between PeopleStrong and HCL Infosystem began in 2013 with the aim of managing a diverse workforce and complex operations spread across many regions, and to simplify the work life for all the users.

HR has a great impact at PeopleStrong, and the industry is expanding as technology moves forward.

“HR, for the past two decades, has been pushed to centre stage in more than one way -talent management obviously comes to mind, but HR is a new line function,” says Shelly Singh, co-founder and chief business officer of PeopleStrong. “Talent agenda is in the CEO’s top three list -growth and risk being other two central themes. HR truly is impacting the bottom line and risk with the right tools for productivity and the right talent at the right time. HR technology and tools have never been so much at the centre stage as now as we move to a smart digital workforce.”

And it’s today’s tech tools that will allow HR to make a pivotal shift. “HR’s greatest accomplishment as an industry would be matching the level of predictability that other business segments like marketing, sales, and finance have been able to bring. By the shifting of intuition-driven decision-making to data-driven decision-making, HR will be the power centre of the next decade,” she says. “HR needs to take a lead in defining the next level HR frameworks to enable better quality of work and the changes in the workforce patterns and choices. With the choices people are making related to careers and nature of contract of employment, HR would need to enable much more simplified, DIY organisation systems and policies.”

Recruitment Team of the Year Winner


Manulife Financial Corporation is a 129-year-old international financial services group that provides financial advice, insurance, and wealth and asset management solutions.

Manulife recently faced the challenge of managing two major growth opportunities: the launch of its Asian operations and a landmark strategic partnership with DBS Bank. Having a hub in APAC called for HR transformation: Manulife needed to automate hiring process, improve communication across office locations, and increase their sourcing ability. Add to that the engagement with DBS which required an increase of internal Singapore staff by nearly 50 percent. The solution? Teaming up with recruitment process outsourcing firm Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS), to help secure a strong talent pipeline. Moving to a new model required HR leaders to work very closely together whilst focusing on its goal.

“We are working to create a culture that is unified, innovative, and achieves world-class employee engagement levels,” says Suzie Custerson, head of talent acquisition, Asia, at Manulife. “We believe this will ensure Manulife achieves its strategic ambition to expand services, enter new markets, and attract and develop new customer relationships.”

Manulife is proud to win this award, which signifies achieving excellence and being an effective leader in recruitment.

“Winning the award represents several things,” Custerso says. “Namely [it represents] industry and peer recognition of the team’s effort to make a valuable contribution; that the ongoing work we’re doing at Manulife across HR to automate more of our operational aspects enhance the employee experience and develop stronger talent pipelines really resonates; and, finally, it’s another endorsement that we’ve got a great employee value proposition story to tell.”

Excellence in Engagement Strategy Winner

Public Service Division (PSD) of the Prime Minister’s Office Singapore Government

The Public Service Division (PSD) of the Prime Minister’s Office of the Singapore Government is a division with the objective to provide public services to its residents. Human resources is part of these services.

PSD gives its officers with the tools they need to helpfully serve others. The recruitment team has executed several significant initiatives including a successful pre-boarding and onboarding system that offers new officers training to help them adapt quickly to the workplace; a structured career development framework and individual development plan; and a mentoring programme. PSD addresses learning and development through its ‘Middle Managers’ Connect’ platform where team leaders can come together to share best practices and learn from a senior officers and annual clinics, where team leaders get training on PSD’s performance management and career development systems.

People are the most important assets to PSD, and the division considers the win a tribute to its HR efforts.

“PSD is the central people agency of the Singapore Public Service and one of our core values is ‘People, Our Pride,”‘ says Lim Puay-Sze, director of human capital at Public Service Division. “We are heartened by [winning] this vote of confidence. The award is a wonderful encouragement to us as we continue in our effort to make PSD a great place to work.”

“As the central HR for the Public Service, all of us at PSD play a key role in developing and engaging some 143,000 public officers,” she says. “We are inspired by their dedication and passion to serve Singapore and Singaporeans. And we want to create a conducive environment for them to excel in.”

Innovation in HR Technology Winner

Neeyamo Enterprise Solutions

Neeyamo Enterprise Solutions is an HR outsourcing organisation with a global payroll solution that delivers a single-source data model, allowing the management of processes from within a single platform.

Neeyamo created a simplified solution for multinational payroll requirements. PayNComp is the company’s proprietary global payroll platform that has a suite of technology and service offerings, bringing together an organisation’s global payroll strategy. Companies in more than 100 countries use this service.

Neeyamo has also established a payroll “Centre of Excellence,” which is comprised of subject-matter experts to address the complexities of varied payroll transactions. The payroll services are delivered by certified payroll specialists and are supported by local partners to ensure compliance requirements.

Samuel Isaac, vice president of strategy at Neeyamo, explains how HR is evolving and what it can achieve -and the importance of technology in this process.

“The role of HR is changing -it is moving from the sidelines to the core of any organisation,” he says. “The expectation businesses have for HR is also changing. HR needs to be more relevant to the business, and there is no room for HR to have a busy, transactional calendar anymore. Technologies are exponentially empowering HR, and there aren’t many challenges that still don’t have a solution anymore.”

Talking Points

Lessons learned and a look at emerging themes at the HRO Today Forum APAC 2016.

By The Editors

Human resource strategies are always changing, and there is always something new to learn. The future of HR looks bright -and the HRO Today Forum APAC focused on the hot topics that successful HR executive need to know in order to succeed in the talent cloud. Below are some of the top things learned by attendees at the forum, and the overarching themes as observed by HRO Today staff.

Trend #1: Differences Between the Home and Local Office

APAC is not just one region -there are more than 40 countries with separate languages and cultures. The complexity to manage this falls on the shoulders of HR. Now, HR’s home office at headquarters is not assuming they know what is best -they are asking the local APAC HR teams what they need, rather than telling them what they should need.

Trend #2: Retention of Talent Management

Recruitment is important and driven by retention efforts. HR leaders are dealing with high turnover -and one way to accomplish this is by effectively retaining talent. Training plays an important role in this, as well are increasing time to productivity.

Trend #3: Getting Future Ready

Lau Yin Cheng, cluster director/chief of HR & OD at Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, discussed innovation in a top session and advised HR leaders to be open to what’s next.

Tech is shaping the workplace, says Cheng. The change in capabilities and scale of smart technologies is happening so rapidly that it’s already heralding a paradigm shift in the way we work. There are implications to the future workforce and organisations because of the fast pace of change – but the most important thing is to have an open mindset. The change of everything is exponential, so savvy executives need to sense change early, and respond decisively.

Trend #4: New Developments in Talent Acquisition

Andrew Grant, vice president, APAC and RPO global services, at Allegis Global Solutions, discussed the top trends in talent acquisition. There is an increase in the need for branding, a recruitment approach that reflects consumerism, and customising talent acquisition solutions to Millennial preferences.

Automation is becoming a major trend -jobs will be eliminated, sourcing will be automated and recruiting will once again be telephone driven.

Grant said if organisations don’t keep up with the new trends, they will lose their edge.

Trend #5: Employment Branding

Pip Eastman, managing director, ASEAN, at Korn Ferry Futurestep, said one of the main factors to success employer branding is consistent message – and hiring managers need to be the brand ambassador and sell the concept.

Leveraging tools and technologies globally can drive efficiency and consistency across recruitment processes and regions. Organisations today can’t get ahead with a “one-size-fits-all approach” -the key to success is the right balance of remaining locally relevant whilst operating globally. This applies to not only tools and technology, but the candidate experience, employer brand messaging, and sourcing strategies.

Trend #6: Metrics and Technology

Danny Zhang, senior director of operations, Asia, at PeopleScout, discussed how the recruitment industry is undergoing a period of globalisation. He talked about recruiting trends, technology, and strategies for remaining competitive in the global market -many which correspond to the main theme of this year’s forum. The Talent Cloud.

Tools and technology are necessary to communicate the employment brand. Zhang said that organisations can leverage different mobile channels and social media to help do this, like Wechat (a cross-platform instant messaging and calling app) and Weibo (a microblogging website) in China. Zhang recommends developing an interactive relationship protocol with the talent pool.

Zhang also suggests using gamification as a tool to attract younger candidates -this method is working in the APAC region.

Tags: global-summer-2016

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