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Up the ranks: Damien Cummings exits StanChart, sets up HR venture



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Digital transformation specialist and marketer Damien Cummings has parted ways with Standard Chartered Bank, where he was global head of digital marketing, to set up Peoplewave, a HR technology / SaaS company with the vision of transforming talent acquisition and people management processes.

Prior to Standard Chartered, he was chief marketing officer at Philips APAC, and has also worked at brands such as Samsung, Dell, Ogilvy & Mather, Citibank, Coca-Cola, NRMA, and McKinsey & Company.

He announced his foray into entrepreneurship in a blog post:

“2016 ended poorly. After joining a Bank (something I promised myself I would never do) because of a number of seemingly-too-good-to-be-true promises during the interview process these promises turned out, surprisingly, to be too-good-to-be-true. So in January my role was made redundant (again!). The wonderful tip of the hat to a less than awesome time at Standard Chartered Bank.”

He added:

“So, with that off my chest it’s time for a new beginning. The job layoff is only fuel for a new fire that has been lit inside me. I made the decision, based on it being now or never, to jump into my own business. This fire is about changing things. Making the world better. Helping people in the workforce overcome incompetent managers and apathetic HR teams. I’m on day one of a new adventure – to reinvent HR and people management in the workforce through data-driven transparency and a new way of hiring, managing and engaging employees. HR has been ripe for disruption for a while. My new business, Peoplewave, is that catalyst.”

Cummings continues to be based in Singapore, where he has been settled since January 2008, after moving over from Sydney where he was working with Citibank Australia.

[UPDATED] We spoke to Damien Cummings to find out more.

1. Having just set up Peoplewave in Singapore, how would you describe your point of differentiation?

After over 20 years of working in large corporations, the biggest problem I’ve experienced has been effectively managing people. The usual way to manage people is through a very painful annual performance review that is plagued by subjectively, and really comes down to how much your boss likes you.

I am taking my experience in digital transformation and relooking at this – taking the subjectively out of people management by asking customers to review performance. Also by making it more frequent and using new metrics that measure likeability, soft skills, hard skills and suitability for the role, in additional to pure performance.

I’m also planning to bring the same view to creating an amazing new employee onboarding process (the first 100 days), which is currently highly subjective and poorly managed.

Last, I plan to bring fairness to the last 100 days – the respectful exiting of employees that don’t fit the culture.

Q. With you spearheading the venture, what are the immediate hiring plans?

After raising investor funds and building the technology, the first priority is building a Singapore-based tech team to enhance and perfect the HR software tools. I will also need to recruit a strong commercial team who can sell in the benefits of using the software to retain or quickly exit staff to HR leaders.

After this, the focus in year two and beyond is opening another office in the USA, which is traditionally the HQ of many multinationals but is also the world’s largest HR software-as-a-service market.

Q. What are the reasons behind selecting Singapore as your HQ?

Singapore is the easiest place in the world to do business. The Singapore government is generous and supportive in growing start-ups. And personally, Singapore is my home, so it’s the logical place to start.

Q. In your experience so far, what’s the HR market looking like?

The HR market and the HR software market is ripe for disruption. With up to 70% of employees being unhappy in their jobs and markets like Singapore experiencing 15.6% annual staff turnover rate something has to change. I’ve had so much support from HR leaders who are looking to be seen as better drivers of change in their companies but who lack the right tools to review their entire organisation and lack systematic customer feedback on what’s going right and wrong. It’s going to be a wild ride!

Photo / Marketing magazine



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