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HRUnplugged: Why you should focus on human intelligence in the digital economy

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Felicia Tan, General Manager, Human Resources, Fuji Xerox Malaysia, affirms that as technology automates routine tasks, human intelligence becomes more important in the digital economy. 

Q In the past year, were there any particular milestones in the company that stood out to you?

Fuji Xerox has been in Malaysia for almost 60 years. We are the manufacturer of hardware and in the last few years, we have been on a transformation journey to include software and solution in our business.

The company’s corporate direction to move to the next stage means we must keep up with the speed of the business and technology.  Fundamentally, we are re-examining our past values and assumptions to create new work styles. To meet the company’s strategic directions, I was tasked to bring in new talents from the technology space as we expand and grow our solution business.

Our approach in talent acquisition is very dynamic. We not only fill current roles, we also search to bring in the right talents for future roles and those who are hungry to join us in our transformation journey. At the same time, we are building a high performance team, as well as embedding our core values and competencies in Fuji Xerox.

Q What is one common misconception people have about HR?

HR has been perceived as the administrative role and was treated as problem solving machine, police, and gate keepers. Human issues were usually HR issues – and this misconception must change as each of our leaders take ownership and care for their people.

Q What are some skills you think are important today, but may be outdated in the next five years and vice-versa?

Some important skills today – for example, analytical skills – will be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI) in no time. To mention a few others, automation can easily replace machine operation function and fast food preparation skills.

At the same time, the collecting and processing of data are another two other categories of activities that are increasingly done better and faster with machines – this will affect those involved in paralegal work, accounting, and back-office transaction processing.

In the meantime, emotional intelligence (EI) is increasingly important and the way to go as AI rises.

Q What is your advice to organisations in developing talent for a future-ready workforce?

Organisations should first ask: “what should we do to redefine work around human capabilities?” This simply means shifting employees’ time, efforts, and attention from executing routine, tightly defined tasks, to identifying and addressing unseen problems and opportunities.

Focusing on the unseen means imagining solutions that don’t yet exist for needs that haven’t yet emerged, as well as solving non-routine problems and seeking fresh opportunities.

As technology automates routine tasks, human intelligence becomes more important in the digital economy.

Hence, more companies will find that success comes from people who offer curiosity, imagination, empathy, creativity, intuition, social, and emotional intelligence. These skills are increasingly critical for humans to master and for organisations to develop.

As the pace and scale of change continue to increase, the most critical traits for employees to possess are learning agility and adaptability.

Q What is one skill HR leaders need to possess in order to remain relevant in the future of HR?

Every HR leader must be tech-savvy and a lifelong learner who embraces every opportunity to cultivate new skills, are able to adapt in real time, and have the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn.


Vital stats: Felicia Tan is an experienced HR leader, who has shaped high performing cultures at multinational companies with major growth brands. She does this by employing leading human capital practices that enhances employer branding to attract and retain high potential talents. She is also known for developing and executing people strategy that motivates the team individually and supports the overall corporate objectives in an ever dynamic market environment. Prior to joining Fuji Xerox Malaysia in January this year, she has been the Head of HR for other MNCs such as Fossil, Bayer, and Cemex.


This interview is a continuation 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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