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Case study: How Axiata Group delivers customised development for successors



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One of Asia’s leading telecommunications groups with about 350 million subscribers in 11 countries, Malaysia-headquartered Axiata Group is endeavouring to be a digital champion by 2020.

Powering this journey are the components of innovation, connectivity and talent, and Datin Badrunnisa Mohd Yasin Khan is a key enabler in the talent piece as group chief talent officer for Axiata Group.

One of the most interesting initiatives at Axiata Group has been the ongoing building of a leadership talent pipeline consisting of about 120 senior talent as future successors across the group’s C-suite. This programme is built on Axiata’s new strategy of building a triple core, where besides the core telecommunications business, it is diversifying into adjacent digital businesses and building an infrastructure business. Thus, the need to reassess the talent pipeline to have better insights into staff ’s future capabilities is more important than ever to drive the new strategy.

“We have now run the Axiata Development Centre for slightly more than 100 senior talent with the balance being planned soon, since not everyone was able to meet the first date,” Datin Badrunnisa says. “What we hope to achieve with these insights is the ability to customise their development plans to better suit their potential, hence, leveraging everyone’s strengths appropriately and effectively.”

As such, the next step is to take these insights to all the Axiata businesses to get them to help support the talent’s development interventions, and with their support, the plan is to debrief the talent and their leaders.

In parallel, the team has made some key observations. “Our biggest learnings are in the area of managing talents’ expectations as well as managing the expectation of the management from the different businesses, that is, our two biggest stakeholders!”

Both these stakeholders not only need to understand how these insights have been constructed, but more importantly how they will be useful for talent development. “The insights provide a lot more colour on the capabilities of these talents, but if they are not used properly, then it will be a wasted opportunity.”

I don’t believe there is any short-term metric; it will be based on the deployment of talent into more appropriate assignments and how effective these are for their progression.

As of now, the Axiata team has not set up any metrics for this initiative, as the priority is still on getting various businesses to understand the data construct and be comfortable in using it to their advantage.

“Once we are more settled with the acceptance of the data insights, we can establish metrics around rate of progression for the different categories of talent. However, I don’t believe there is any short-term metric; it will be based on the deployment of talent into more appropriate assignments and how effective these assignments are for their progression over the mid to longer term.”

During this journey to execution, Axiata has chosen to partner with a leadership development vendor, Accendo. Datin Badrunnisa lists the must-dos for any such partnership – experience and referrals in executing such projects for other trusted brands and a willingness to enter into a long-term partnership rather than treating it as a one-off exercise.

She provides advice for HR solution providers across the spectrum: “Vendors should try to work even more closely with organisations to understand more about their work culture, and how that translates to traits that would be most necessary for talent to perform.”

She says this will help to get rid of the “noise” and really focus on the few traits that are necessary for each talent to win in this particular organisation (as this would differ from other organisations). “This can sharpen the process of assessment and the insights derived from it.”

READ THE FULL FEATURE: Keeping the leadership carousel running smoothly

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