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What’s the hardest decision you’ve made as an HR leader?

Structural changes due to mergers and acquisitions (M&A). M&A signifies a need for redesigning an organisational structure, which often leads to revisiting policies and governance, combining teams, reducing job duties and letting go staff.

We, as HR, need to strike a balance on staff costs. That involves the redeployment of jobs, staff retention or layoffs. Caring for the employee is crucial, as well as assisting them to understand and adapt to the changes, so the organisation as a whole can integrate. It’s hard because we always try to retain as many talent as we can. But sometimes, that is inevitable.

At Octopus, what HR priorities have been keeping you awake at night?

With the civil unrest in 2019, and COVID-19 this year, safety and wellbeing of our staff and their families are my biggest concern. As this is new to everyone, I need to work around the clock with leaders and teams to put together the necessary protections, safety measures and concrete guidance. We need to be creative, flexible, agile, and understandable as an employer, manager and HR leader.

What transformation are you driving now?

The digital journey. It is very important for Octopus to digitalise the majority of existing processes, policies and tools. The focus is to enhance the effectiveness between managers and employees. In the near future, I want to see managers leveraging big data and AI to make better people-centric decisions.

Apart from driving digital transformation, I am also working on ways where colleagues can work individually, and as a team. Effective collaboration is crucial, as digitalisation should complement human capabilities, not substitute for human labour.

How do you think HR will evolve after COVID-19?

HR will be an important change agent. It needs to lead the leaders to rethink the ways of engaging with employees and maintaining team cohesiveness, while influencing them to think differently and innovatively in a constrained time frame. Their solutions have to be flexible and engaging.

Can HR leaders make it to the CEO level?

Definitely. CEOs understand the business very well, and they need to know how to manage people well. HR leaders understand employees very well. They know how to motivate their talent and bring out the best of them to the business. So the critical thing for HR to move up the ranks is that they need to know how to drive revenue, move the business forward and steer teams towards common goals for the company.