Organised by Human Resources, Recruitment Asia 2016, Malaysia, saw keynote presentations on recruitment from the brightest HR minds, as well as case studies on various aspects of talent acquisition – from employer branding, to candidate sourcing, selection, and onboarding.

Held on 15-16 November 2016, the conference is in its 4th year running and was produced by Sammi Zhang. As the region’s biggest talent acquisition strategy conference, it was attended by more than 100 delegates, speakers and sponsors. It was also the first time the event was presented in a new two-day format to ensure all delegate queries are addressed sufficiently, as opposed to just one day.

The conference kick-started with a keynote by Claudia Cadena, chief human resources officer of Malaysia Airlines where she discussed the importance of why recruitment plans have to be aligned to the company’s business plans. She noted how when HR leaders understand their role is not to be popular, they make better decisions.

“What we’re doing is protecting our organisation from impending disasters,” she added.

Further expanding on impending disasters, the next speaker, Tishal Rai, chief operating operator of Accendo shared her insights on the future of the talent market in Asia - there is no cookie-cutter solution across the different industry and skills.

"Realism in assessment might be expensive, but will differentiate a company from its competitors," she highlighted. “It is also important to find out what really motivates your employees to successfully retain them,” she encouraged.

delegates networking


The conference was then fired up by an exciting panel discussion on something most HR professionals could relate to - the struggles of recruitment. Moderated by Martin Hayden, chief commerical officer, SEEK Asia, the panel was joined by Etsuko Eto, GM, HR division, AEON; Sunil Kumar, senior director of talent management, AIG; Victoria Creamer, APAC regional director, Cazar; and Lai Tak Ming, group chief human capital officer, GAMUDA.

When asked about recruiting in an environment with low headcount, Kumar mentioned how “we (AIG) don’t have a linear career path, but instead (we) believe in developing career experiences to fit multiple roles" as a solution to better staff retention.

Check out photos from the conference here.

After a quick break, Yvonne Teng, HR director at Ericsson shared regional approaches on attracting young talent.

When it comes to attracting graduates, “it’s not all about the money, but also being able to contribute socially for the millennials,” she highlighted. As for selecting the right candidate, she noted how it goes beyond the CGPA with the young talent. It should be based on the candidate’s “interaction, energy level and enthusiasm”.

Delegates at RA MY 2016


Still on the hot topic of graduate talent recruitment, Karin Clarke, APAC director, global solutions of KellyOCG, shares her expertise on building a successful recruitment programme.

According to her, some of the most successful graduate programmes she’s seen are usually the ones that have been designed internally. It is highly important for companies to “energise (its) brand in a way that is attractive to (its) target audience - which is young people.”

One of the key takeaways when it comes to job matching young talent, “people perform differently in different environments. You need to give them (graduates) more than one opportunity to demonstrate competency”, she concluded.

VIEW: Photos from the conference

Coming back from a well-deserved lunch break, Salika Suksuwan, executive director, human capital, of PwC touched on the growing popularity of social media recruitment. In her engaging presentation, she shared real campaigns done that were not only effective but cost close to nothing.

“Size does not matter, it’s about the engagement,” she highlighted. To get the most creative ideas, her hiring mantra is to “always, always, always have a diverse team”. Not only would companies get to bring various strengths to the table, it also expands the team’s capability to execute campaigns internally.

The conference then moved to the topic of RPO with a presentation by Fonterra’s HR director, Andrew Ng. He explained how RPO not only increases employee referrals, but also improves candidate experience.

To truly maximise candidate experience, he said that since “RPO teams are the ones that are engaging the most with the candidates, treat them as part of the organisation” rather than a separate unit.

Panel Discussion at RA MY 2016


The next speaker, Animesh Mukerjee, head, HR centre of expertise at Digi, discussed how you could build and launch an effective employer brand in just 90 days. Leading by example, he shared how employees at Digi get to experience radical democratic learning as part of their “freedom to learn”.

“When you have freedom, you have a purpose (to inspire the next),” he said. He also noted how Digi does not do rankings and awards, but relied more on outcome-based measurements. He concluded his presentation with a thought-provoking idea to attendees - “how can we make talent fall in love with us, before they even know they’ll fall in love with us?”

Going further on the topic of successful employer branding, Anj Vera, chief executive officer of TalentView shared her SOW approach  - Start with social, Own the employee experience and Work with metrics.

She emphasised how important it is that whatever “they (employee) see on the billboard has to come through, as they come through the door.” She then concluded the first day of Recruitment Asia 2016 on an inspiring note, “there’s no forever employees, but there’s forever alliances”.

Check out photos from the conference here.

Day two saw an opening presentation by Sharmeel Kaur, head of HR, Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia on enhancing the overall selection strategy. She highlighted how “it is about selecting the best fit, rather than selecting the best” as part of a top-notch selection process.

“If you have the budget, it’s good to invest in different platforms of assessment - but you can also do it internally,” she suggested. After all, “the best managers are the best matchmakers,” she concluded.

Delegates at RA MY 2016


Following that, Bandhana Rai, talent acquisition director of Dell expanded on an effective recruitment process. Starting off with an accounting background, she is a firm believer of measurements.

“Without measurements, they (staff) would conjure up their own set of goals in their heads,” she said. She also urges managers to always have an open discussion on KPIs. “The dollar (budget) doesn’t grow, you just need to reinvest it in different places,” she as to why metrics are important.

After a quick coffee break, delegates were engaged in a rapid-fire session on the future of talent acquisition in the the digital age.

The session was kick-started by Jo-Ann Low, head of recruitment people and organisation at Maxis. “Technology can better how we live and how we work - such as holding a digital interview,” as she shared the Maxis’ way of improving the candidate experience.

Following that, Don Tran, APAC recruiting director of Kelly Services Korea shared the hiring trends in Korea. He brought to light how “one of the biggest concerns when hiring foreign talent, is if they would even turn up on the first day of work”. Additionally, “language, culture and society are some of the barriers of a successful APAC HR strategy” that would need to be worked through.

Lai Tak Ming, director of group HR and administration at GAMUDA wrapped up the session with a different takeaway. He believes that in this digital age, it is “relationship, and not technology, that is still key to hiring young talent”.

After a delicious lunch, the conference saw Peter Law, assistant vice-president, head of L&D, human capital from Great Eastern Life Assurance (Malaysia) sharing his personal experience on implementing an effective onboarding process, and maximising the candidate experience - one of which is “indulging new employees with food”.

The five key takeaways from his presentation are to define your employer and employee value proposition, engage leaders to buy-in, always listen, review programme annually, and refine for continuous improvement.

Panel Discussion at RA MY 2016


Up next was a vibrant panel discussion moderated by Foo Chek Wee, group HR director (SEA and Hong Kong) of Zalora. The panelists included Yeo Sai Yew, head of people development from AirAsiaX; Gaurav Sharma, HR director of Coca Cola Bottles (Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei); Azah Othman, GM of global HR, L&D of Scomi Group; and Nicholas Dhillon, HR business partner for commercial business, Nestlé Malaysia and Singapore.

The sharing session was a vibrant mix of opinions on driving business excellence through effective talent retention strategies.

At Scomi Group, Othman believed that it takes more than just to engage staff of different cultures. When it comes to a culturally-diverse team, it is important to “understand what’s truly important to them.” She shared how what would be beneficial for Indian employees might be completely different from Dubai employees.

On the other hand, Dhillon noted how “while it is important to understand and embrace cultural diversity, you should also stay true to corporate values.”

Adding on, Sharma reiterates that “HR needs to be aware of the business facts and results before having a conversation with business leaders”.

As a leader himself, Yeo “encourages staff to move around (between departments) to keep talent excited.” at AirAsiaX. As Foo mentioned, “what is bigger than recruitment, for us as HR professionals, is talent management.”

Check out photos from the conference here.

Marcela Mihanovich, CHRO of Citi Malaysia joined the stage after a quick refreshment break. As an advocate of hiring from within, she firmly believes “a self-developing mindset is the heart of a strong grow your own timber culture.” She shared how at Citi Malaysia, it harnesses a learning culture with 3Es - experience, exposure and education.

“Employees want seniors to talk to them about development. When this doesn’t happen, this is when they jump,” she said.

Delegates at RA MY 2016


Next up, Foo Chek Wee, group HR director (SEA and Hong Kong) of Zalora returned on stage with a presentation on hiring the right cultural fit.

He shared his four key aspects on the process - branding, sourcing, interviewing and closing.  Interviewing is key when it comes to identifying the right fit. The process should cover values, efficiency and experience. Additionally, he urges HR leaders to get involved in developing the right culture.

“You cannot lead from the ivory tower. You need to roll up your sleeves,” he concludes - wrapping up the conference on an inspirational note.

See photos from the conference here.

Human Resources would like to thank all sponsors and partners that contributed to the success of Recruitment Asia 2016, Malaysia:

Gold sponsors 1. Accendo 2. KellyOCG 3. TalentView

Silver sponsors 1. Cazar 2. SEEK Asia

Exhibitors 1. myQuickHR 2. ServiceDott

Association partner 1. International Professional Managers Association

Media partners 1. Centre of Executive Education 2. CLO-ME 3. Clocate 4. 5. EIN Presswire 6. HR Monk 7. Leaderonomics