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HRUnplugged: Why the CEO and CPO must work hand-in-hand for the greater good

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Evangeline Chua, Chief People Officer for Government Technology Agency of Singapore, gets across her point on the various interpretations of a workforce transformation project and the need for a common vision.

Q How important is digital transformation for businesses today?

Digital transformation is an imperative for all businesses, but many say it and yet don’t get on with it. Some ride on the tidal waves, while others drift and are swept away. In the past decade, we’ve seen an emergence of technology companies in the Fortune 100 who are breaking the traditional brick-and-mortar business models.

In HR, we are learning from the best and constantly innovating our HR practices. We are expected to change the way we operate in more ways than one. The once-upon-a-time personnel management has evolved to human resource management, but it is not just a change in the nomenclature, it is an elevation of our role and the expectations of HR.

Q What’s the best way to describe your leadership style?

I am authentic, approachable and have a no-fuss style. Some people call me a fixer. My style has morphed over the years. It used to frustrate me when I did not see instant results or outcomes.

Perhaps I have mellowed or learnt to be more agile; breaking solutions or interventions into small steps to test programmes or solutions. When challenged with a differing opinion, I will pause and initiate discussion, as it may well be a better solution.

So be receptive and be open to collaborate. Be aware. People want to be heard. The collective strengths and diversity of views and opinions are important for a progressive organisation.

How does HR create the “burning” platform for people to harmonise their fears and partner management to address them?

Q In what way, or on what projects, do you as a HR leader work closely with your CEO?

A strong partnership with the CEO and management team is critical. We are embarking on workforce transformation, and this programme has many interpretations. To the organisation, it is survival. To the workforce, it is job security, equipping and continuous learning, practising and upskilling. In fact, both angles are aligned.

How does HR create the “burning” platform for people to harmonise their fears and partner management to address them? Otherwise it will be a vicious cycle if businesses do not adopt the right operating model and the workforce is unwilling to change with the times or is unable to transform fast enough, which will in turn, affect the organisation’s survival. When the organisation folds, it affects the livelihood of the employees.

Hence, it is absolutely critical for management and the workforce to share and work together towards the common vision.

Q What are the top career mistakes CHROs make and how should they avoid them?

There are no mistakes in life if we learn from them. There is always room for trial-and-error and one-size may not necessarily fit all situations. Repeating our success is bound to fail us someday. Be agile, be bold!


Vital stats: At GovTech, Evangeline Chua’s key drivers are people, passion and performance through inculcating values and culture, and investing in people to drive results collectively. Previously, she was the Managing Director of Organisation & People for Temasek International, responsible for the full spectrum of HR practices across nine cities, prior to which she was with Citi Singapore for a total of 12 years. She has more than 20 years of diverse regional experience in human resource management.


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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