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Magdalena Poulin, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, APAC, AIG, calls out critical thinking skills, adaptability, cultural and situational sensitivities, emotional intelligence and intuition as core HR competencies.
Q What is one way AIG stands out from others when it comes to attracting talent?
Inclusive environment. I interviewed for my role when I was eight months pregnant, hence, I did not have high expectations (my pregnancy seemed to be a barrier for some employers). When I received the job offer a day after my son was born, I had solid confirmation of the inclusive environment at AIG. As the diversity and inclusion practitioner, equity and inclusion are an important part of the company culture, therefore, I felt this was a great validation of the AIG values, and accepting this offer was a no-brainer for me.
Q Research often cites HR is slow to take on change and technology. Do you agree with this?
I disagree. HR has become a very strategic function that looks after people and helps build top-tier organisations through attraction, development and retention of talent. In an environment of constant change and transformation, HR adjusts processes and practices to ensure we are able to support the business and company growth.
Technology adoption is often dependent on the overall company direction and budgets; however, HR quickly adopts any new tools and ensures people are familiar with any new technology. Do we always have the best tools and analytics available? That’s not always the case, but we know how to make the best use of the technology we have to drive business growth and talent management plans to stay competitive in the marketplace.
Automation helps collect data and analysis of the workforce, benefits and performance, but we still need experienced staff to decide what to do with this data.
Q What is the one thing about HR that can never be replaced by computers?
The HR profession benefits greatly from the automation of specific tasks such as repetitive, analytical and administrative areas of HR. However, it is highly unlikely for the HR function to be fully automated or replaced by technology in the future. Automation helps collect data and analysis of the workforce, benefits and performance, but we still need experienced staff to decide what to do with this data: how to propose improvements, update or change policies and handle special individual cases.
HR engages in complex social interactions with people at all levels within the organisation as well as with external talent and clients.
HR professionals involve critical thinking skills, adaptability, cultural and situational sensitivities, emotional intelligence and intuition while working with other people. Hence, we need people to make decisions, propose innovative solutions and create organisational alignment. These are areas no chatbot or algorithm can ever replace.
Vital stats: Magdalena Poulin has more than 14 years of diversified and multinational work experience across Asia Pacific and EMEA. At AIG, she oversees the strategy and implementation of the D&I strategy in APAC. She also promotes gender equality through her leadership at PrimeTime Business and Professional Women’s Association where she designed and launched a two way mentoring programme.
This interview is part of our CHRO 4.0 special edition where we we introduce you to Human Resources’ Advisory Panel 2019, and pick their brains on the burning questions the function is facing.
Read more here: CHRO 4.0: Decoding the HR skills of the future
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