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Gary Lee, Soo Kee

15 minutes with Grundfos’ Gary Lee



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Gary Lee, senior project manager, talent management (global) at Grundfos, reveals how Singapore grapples with talent development challenges, and discusses whether HR has truly progressed in its quest to be a strategic business partner to firms.

How did you get started with HR?

I entered HR by chance when I was approached to join a consultancy start-up while I was still studying at university.

Starting with only five people, headquartered in Singapore, I juggled between a full-time job and studying full-time while working on end-to-end people consulting solutions. As the organisation expanded across different markets and regions, I started to specialise more in people development – specific to learning and development, leadership and HR strategy.

I was also heavily involved with recruiting, managing and developing talents within the firm across the APAC region. Having worked with corporate clients from various industries and sizes, I was able to adapt some of the best people practices and implement them within my organisation.  

What do you love most about your job?

HR is going through a transformational change for many organisations and we are only at the infancy stage.

HR is going through a transformational change for many organisations and we are only at the infancy stage.

From talent analytics to innovations in learning and development, I enjoy contributing and learning about how to increase human capital and develop talents for my organisation.

Being able to collaborate with like-minded colleagues to bring an idea to fruition and seeing how these people projects can benefit many makes my job so much more enjoyable.

What’s a typical day at work for you like?

My typical day at work is split into three main activities.

The first is focused on learning where time is dedicated towards keeping myself updated on the latest in talent development or human resources. As HR continues to evolve with the business, it is important for HR professionals to stay relevant and become a strategic advisor to management.

The second activity is invested in project management. In this area, I work on some of the global talent development projects I am involved in. Working across different cultures and time zones makes the day productive as both learning and contributions occur simultaneously.

The last activity circles around collaboration where I find opportunities to contribute in other colleagues’ HR projects as a sparring partner or a team contributor.

Given the disconnect between theory and practical application, many professionals lack the ability to become high performers.

In Singapore, what do you think is the biggest HR challenge facing most companies?

I think one of the biggest HR challenges most companies are facing in Singapore today is the challenge with talent development.

Given the disconnect between theory and practical application, many professionals lack the ability to become high performers. Investing in training alone does not guarantee that employees will become star performers.

More resources and support is required for management to equip HR with the right capabilities to build a talent development system or process to continuously nurture their employees towards higher productivity.

In your opinion, do you think HR has succeeded in becoming a strategic business partner today? Or is there room for improvement?

I think HR has had some success in evolving into a strategic business partner for organisations today.

At the same time, it does take time for management to change its mindset that HR is not just a transaction role, but a crucial element in growing the business.

Many leaders preach the mantra that people are our greatest asset and yet it has not been translated into practice.

Many leaders preach the mantra that people are our greatest asset and yet it has not been translated into practice.

HR professionals can continuously upgrade themselves professionally by building on their business acumen capabilities to become more effective strategic partners for the business.

 How do you think the HR function will evolve in the next five years?

I do think that tactically HR will move towards a shared service model where technology will help to alleviate some of the more tedious transactional HR roles resulting in a loss of headcount for HR administration.

At the same time, HR professionals will continue to evolve towards more specialised roles as centres of excellence and become a conduit of wisdom for business units to tap into to build up their talent pipelines, succession planning and staff development.

Complete the sentence: I cannot imagine HR without …

A commitment towards positive change and more resources!

Image: Provided



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