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Thomoas Holenia, Henkel Singapore

Henkel’s talent planning for its global supply chain hub in Singapore

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Consumer and industrial products multinational, Henkel opened its global supply chain hub in Singapore earlier this year. Marked as a major milestone following the successful set-up of the company’s global supply chain headquarters in Amsterdam, the two hubs in Amsterdam and Singapore will steer Henkel’s strategic supply chain initiatives.

Following the launch in August, Human Resources spoke Thomas Holenia, corporate vice president of global purchasing and president of Henkel Singapore, who shared his strategy on making Henkel Singapore an employer of choice.

Human Resources (HR): Congratulations on the expansion! Do share the talent-specific reasons behind choosing Singapore as a base for a global supply chain hub.

Thomas Holenia (TH): Being a leading logistics hub in Asia, Singapore offers a strong pool of world-class supply chain talent. Furthermore, the country’s universities are ranked among the top in Asia and offer excellent educational programmes that produce the region’s experts in the fields of supply chain management, logistics, and digital.

As such, we are working closely with the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) for our hiring needs. We have seen very good results. Within a short time, we have been able to hire interns from both universities as well as highly experienced managers through the career services program of the NUS Business School.

With our inclusive culture and attractive career development opportunities, we aim to be an employer of choice in Singapore.

HR: You mentioned diversity and inclusion as a priority – what is the gender-diversity ratio at the moment and your target? Do you have specific initiatives for this?

TH: At Henkel, we firmly believe that having an inclusive corporate culture drives business success and is a key factor for being an employer of choice, internally and externally. As such, within Henkel, diversity and inclusion is actively promoted particularly along three dimensions: cultural backgrounds, gender and different generations.

In terms of gender, women have become a major contributor to economic growth as a consumer, buyer and talent in the workforce. Thus, Henkel closely tracks career development for female managers. Globally, Henkel has increased its share of women in managerial positions from around 26% in 2008 to around 33% in 2015.

In Singapore, our share of women managers is 33%. Additionally, Henkel is one of BoardAgender’s 100 Champions that support the advancement of women to leadership roles. Having said that, Henkel is against a fixed female quota. Irrespective of gender, every employee is assessed and promoted based exclusively on their performance and their potential.

ALSO READ: Why women in HR are unlikely to become CEO

HR: There are immediate hiring plans for new graduates and experienced managers. Tell us more about the variety of roles you’re hiring for.

TH: From four employees initially, we now have an international and cross-functional team of around 50 employees from 14 nationalities. We are also in the process of hiring interns, new graduates and experienced managers for global and regional sourcing and supply chain responsibilities.

With our goal to develop the global supply chain hub into one of Henkel’s key global centre of excellence, we are looking for employees with a global mindset and strong leadership skills. Our goal is to build a culture of leadership where we have good managers and leaders at every level of the organisation.

HR: You mentioned you are working with NUS and NTU, what recruitment techniques will you employ for hiring?

TH: Through our collaboration with the local universities, we participate in campus career talks and offer attractive internship programmes to top students. We also leverage the career services programme of the NUS Business School to identify and hire experienced managers.

At the same time, as a global company, Henkel is keen to contribute to the upskilling of talents in Singapore. In this regard, we are collaborating with NUS to provide talented students with an immersive learning experience.

HR: Having been in the Asian market for some time, what kind of talent challenges have you observed?

TH: While there is a large talent pool in Asia, including Singapore, the competition for talent is intense. Additionally, it is difficult to find people with a mix of managerial and leadership capabilities.

With increasing globalisation, greater connectivity and a more volatile environment, there is great urgency to have good managers and leaders across the organisation, who possess the agility to adapt and innovate, manage changes and complex relationships, make decisions and inspire teams.

For our top talents, Henkel offers a leadership development concept, called “Triple Two”, which is based on job-rotation to two different roles, two countries and two business units. From these experiences, Henkel’s top talents gain an in-depth understanding about international business and sharpen their management skills by learning to balance cultural sensitivities while meeting job demands.

Photo / Henkel

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