Sean Goh, regional head of human resources (Asia & Oceania Department) at Mizuho Bank; on how he really feels the finance sector will do this coming year in terms of job market – and the prospects seem bright.
With the new year rolling in, what are some of your priorities for 2017?
To accelerate the globalisation of businesses and their talent as well as transform HR in the region would be my top two priorities for the year.
Over the past five years, we have not just grown stronger financially, but also expanded significantly in our geographical coverage and employee demographics. With a multi-generational workforce, my key focus will be on accelerating globalisation through diversity and inclusion as well as connectivity across regions this coming year.
As a global bank, I would like to step up development of future talent and leaders in various global and regional roles regardless of their nationalities, ethnicity or gender.
In the HR space, there are vast opportunities to leverage on technology and our people’s skills to redesign and transform how HR and business units can collaborate and be more operationally efficient as well as customer centric.
How do you think the finance sector will fare this year in the job market?
I believe there is still an active job market for talent who can innovate in the data, design and digital space. Corporate bankers who have built strong client credibility and deep expertise, and who are able to help businesses navigate and thrive in uncertain markets, will continue to be in high demand.
There will be an increasing talent flow between finance and non-finance industries; also across borders where talent will need to find new ways to work together to embrace digital disruption and innovation in different markets.
Being part of a global organisation, what is the biggest challenge of your role and how do you overcome it?
That would be instilling the urgency and need to change. As for how I overcome such challenges, it’s with a great deal of humour and patience: through practising empathy, clarity in vision, fostering collaboration and delivering beyond expectations.
What would you say is the most innovative hr campaign you’ve worked on, and what has that taught you?
Modelled after stanford d.School, the design thinking workshop saw more than 250 employees go through an in-house design thinking workshop where we created more than 100 prototype mobile applications and 20 process-improvement workflows in just two months – driving customer centricity and operational excellence.
Through this campaign, I learnt that we all have the potential to “imagine” and “draw” our ideas once we remove some of our inhibitions or inadequacies, such as the fear of failure or learning new things.
What would you say is the most rewarding part of your role?
Being able to drive change and see real positive growth in our employees and businesses. Working with like-minded colleagues who believe and share in each others’ successes.
We all have the potential to ‘imagine’ and ‘draw’ our ideas once we remove some of our inhibitions or inadequacies.
Overseeing the Asia and Oceania region, how closely do you work with other departments to lead projects?
I work closely with senior business leaders and country hr heads where we adopt an open and collaborative working culture to drive these projects.
Despite your busy schedule, how do you achieve work-life balance and how do you encourage your employees to attain that?
We empower what we believe. Personally, having a great daily workout, family and community time is as important to me as delivering great work with my colleagues at the office. That means starting the day as early as 5.30am and making the best of the remaining waking hours.
Despite regional business travels, I also plan for quarterly overseas breaks to refresh and learn more about other cultures and places. I also sign up for biathlon or triathlon races to stay focused and motivated on a goal. Whenever possible, I offer my time to mentor youths and future leaders – hoping that will encourage my team and colleagues to do likewise according to their personal interests.
What drew you to HR in the first place?
I started as a management trainee in a bank and was exposed to many business functions in the front and mid office. In those early years, while managing investments, products, strategy, process, merger and acquisition projects, I was privileged to be involved in organisational and change management.
The early exposure and curiosity subsequently stirred my interest to explore further and move into management and hr consulting where I could adapt multi-skill sets to impact global companies in other industries as well.
What do you think hr should do more of?
Instead of saying “it can’t be done”, let’s replace it with “sure, let’s do it!”
If you could describe HR in one word, what is it?
Photo / Provided