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Digital: The most important new literacy for business sustainability at Chandra Asri Petrochemical

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With the expansion of the current plants as well as a new cracker complex plan on the five-year horizon, Chandra Asri Petrochemical Tbk is leaving no stone unturned to nurture its human capital for a new digital world, as Lenny Woen, HR Strategy & Management General Manager, shares. 

Q Having joined Indonesia’s largest publicly listed petrochemical company in May 2016, what has been your most memorable moment since?

I joined PT Chandra Asri Petrochemical Tbk (CAP) back in May 2016 as I saw that there was a clear direction to transform HR from administration to strategic role.

Starting with shaping our performance management process to compensation & benefits, to establishing organisation & development function, process improvements and digitalisation. I would say that the whole journey at CAP, from the beginning until today, has been challenging yet rewarding and with huge appreciation to the HR team who has been supportive and worked very hard during our transformation journey.

Q Presently equipped with a workforce that spans across Cilegon and Serang areas, what is the top business need that CAP will be tackling in 2020? What role will HR be playing in this journey?

CAP has developed business strategic direction stretching over a five-year term, which includes expansion of the current plants as well as building a new cracker complex within the next five years. For the years ahead, we will be faced with tightening competition, talent war, and technology adoption for all of our business processes.

One of the company’s mission is “to develop and nurture our human capital”. That means HR plays a critical role in terms of preparing our internal talent for the changes ahead as the company expands and implements all the changes in business processes and technologies. We will also have to make our best efforts to retain our talent.

With an objective to build a competent workforce, we are equipping our employees with technical competencies, core and leadership competencies. We are also developing career path design as a platform for our employees to grow with the company.

Q What are the pioneering HR initiatives you are proud of CAP undertaking, given that you have quite a large blue-collar workforce?

As the direction has been set to build a competent workforce, our People & Development team and the line managers have spent a great deal of time and effort to develop the technical competencies library to identify gaps and to prepare development programmes.

Not only focused on the hard skills, but we have also balanced these with soft skills by renewing our core and leadership competencies to fit into the expectations of our management for the current and future business requirements.

Throughout our BPI journey, current processes have been mapped, process waste and improvements identified, and new initiatives implemented.

Q As you’re working on a project to leverage technology for greater efficiency, tell us about the business need that led you on this digital journey. What initiatives did you implement as part of your transformation? 

Our transformation initiatives started based on the company’s business strategic direction, especially in line with the new cracker complex that’s underway. This means we’ll be doubling our workforce in the next five years. Coupled with industry 4.0, we saw an urgent need to review our process by utilising technology.

What we want to achieve is efficient, seamless and integrated HR processes to attract and engage our current and future employees, or as the current popular terminology suggests, our ‘candidate experience and employee experience’. We realised that this would be a challenging process as our HR team consists of five different generations, with years of service ranging from less than one year to more than 20 years.

To embark on our transformation journey, we introduced the HR Business Process Improvement (BPI) initiative, on the basis of Lean Six Sigma concept. Throughout our BPI journey, current processes have been mapped, process waste and improvements identified, and new initiatives implemented.

Since the adoption of technology, what best practices and innovations have you undertaken to reimagine business as well as workforce experience?

Our approach to moving from manual to automation was to start with small processes before introducing any big change. We put together a digitalisation roadmap to ensure that our technology adoption can be rolled out to achieve candidate and employee experience and our HR processes are seamless and integrated.  With the growing number of workforce and massive hiring in the near future, we want to be the employer of choice for our current employees and future candidates.

Q What challenges did you face in this process, and how did you overcome them?

Some challenges that we encountered are in terms of the eagerness to move from comfort zones to disruption mode, the willingness to have an open mindset and accept changes, and finally, the generation gaps.

With continuous support and commitment from the leaders, continuously promoting the I-CAP spirit, and BPI sharing, these barriers started to break down and diminish. We want everyone to not only accept but to embrace the change.

Q What considerations did you have in mind in the selection of a technology vendor – any tips to share with your peers in HR?

We believe that the vendor that helps us to implement any technology should not be a mere consultant but they need to be our partner. They need to own the technology and be able to share best practices and provide solutions. Changing from manual to automation can be challenging as we may need to change our work processes as well.

Moving any processes from manual to automation requires readiness from the process and also the people. Our technology selection was pretty intensive as we not only needed to consider the system capabilities which are built based on HR best practices but also to accommodate our processes.

SAP SuccessFactors (SF) was our chosen technology partner with Performance and Goal Management (PMGM) to start, which later on expanded to other modules such as LMS, Career & Development Plan, Recruitment system and Recruitment Marketing system.

What’s good about SF is that there are constant updates in line with market practices. We plan to leverage other modules in order to have an integrated HR system for our processes. Moving to more technology-based processes, change management is crucial to successfully optimise the technology.

What’s good about SF is that there are constant updates in line with market practices. We plan to leverage other modules in order to have an integrated HR system for our processes.

Q Many companies admit they are still in the early stages of their digital transformation initiatives. Your advice to them?

Any changes is always difficult but change always happens. Start with something small, do a pilot test with a smaller group of employees or users, before implementing to the whole population. Change management is extremely critical.  Digital transformation is not only about changing our work processes but also changing the behaviour and mindset of our people.


Ed’s note: Lenny Woen was recently awarded the HR Leader of the Year at the first-ever Indonesia edition of Human Resources Online’s HR Excellence Awards:

Lead photo / Provided



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