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Decoding the people and culture aspect of HR transformation

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IBM’s recent event, CHRO Executive Roundtable, in partnership with Human Resources, provided insights into the tech giant’s latest C-suite study, covering emerging trends in HR transformation, and how the C-suite views the implications of the technological revolution on HR.

Held on 23 May 2018 at the IBM Studios workspace at Singapore’s Marina Bay Financial Centre, the event saw more than 30 HR practitioners converging to discuss the people and culture aspect of HR transformation.

Welcoming the guests were Chionh Yi Ling (pictured below), country HR director, IBM Singapore, and Aditi Sharma Kalra, regional editor, Human Resources, who set the pace for the day’s agenda.

yi ling IBM


Following them was Arun Biswas, country managing partner, IBM Services, IBM Singapore, who unveiled the findings from the IBM study, Incumbents Strike Back.

The report features views from more than 2,000 CHROs, uncovering three archetypes of organisations – the Reinventors, the Practitioners and the Aspirationals, on the basis of the stage of digital reinvention they stand on. The most interesting trend here was that the lead in disruption is not being taken by digital giants, standing at 34% (such as Apple or Google), or smaller companies or startups (22% of responses), but rather by innovative industry incumbents, featuring in 72% of responses.

Biswas’ presentation was followed by Samuel Ho, ASEAN HCM practice leader, IBM, who took the audience through IBM’s own HR transformation story. The session provided a view into using cognitive technologies to make employee functions and processes more inclusive, making recruitment more targeted, and learning more experiential.

Next on the agenda was a panel discussion, featuring (left-right) Pallavi Srivastava – Asia Pacific and GCG talent leader, IBM Global Technology Services; Cynthia Chan – principal people business partner, APJ at Workday Singapore; Jayesh Menon – HR leader and director with regional and global responsibility, LVMH; and moderated by Arun Biswas.

The panelists (pictured below) dwelled into the future of HR function, and the impact of disruption via emerging technologies.

panel discussion


As part of a large, multinational luxury retail, Menon provided insights on how HR can prepare their companies for transformation. “Being a large and dencentralised organisation, one of the things HR does at LVMH is lead from the front. For example, learning best practices from others, hiring based on certain competencies useful for future disruption, and more,” he said.

However, a key challenge is “willingness to change,” as pointed out by Chan, in terms of what’s most difficult about today’s times. To this, Srivastava provided a solution: “Learning has to be continuous. Employee, manager and HR included – self-learning is the most important.”

Another point she highlighted is the importance of access to tools for remote learning. “The more we leverage technology for learning, we should have organisational systems and culture that support this,” she pointed out.

Rounding off the day, the audience took home ideas and possible solutions around how to change the mindset of leadership to embrace change, how technology shift may shrink HR as a function, and use cases of cognitive technologies in industries like banking and healthcare.

Photos / IBM

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