As a leader, it is important to speak others’ languages — this may require us to sometimes go beyond the normal forms of communication we traditionally use in HR, which is absolutely fine, the leader believes.
Adhika Widya Sena (pictured above) has always enjoyed the art of communication - with a special interest in teaching and public speaking. Over the years, a career in HR brought him the perfect blend of both: be it in how he presents information to his stakeholders, or in understanding the languages others speak.
Armed with these skills, among many others, he has risen through the ranks since joining Procter & Gamble (P&G) in 2017. In October 2022, he took on his current role as Director - Jakarta Plant HR Leader, P&G Indonesia.
In this interview with Arina Sofiah, the leader shares his fondest learning on his journey to this new role, the ups and downs, and many more.
Q Having grown through the ranks since joining P&G in 2017, how have your previous roles prepared you to take on your current role?
I was hired in the Jakarta Plant back in 2017. I believe my early years in the Plant are one of my most valuable learning periods as an HR professional. It was the time when I personally saw the realisation of P&G’s Day 1 promise: doing something that matters, trust, and meaningful work since day one. The company let me explore and learn all HR aspects of this vast site. I am certain that plant assignments really give HR talents the opportunity to learn the end-to-end process of employee services, as well as give the pristine chance to understand the dynamic internal and external manufacturing environments.
My learning was then expanded as I took on the country responsibilities for product supply HRBP, then sales HRBP, then sales & brand HRBP where I learned how the business works in the interface with customers and consumers. The very different landscape of the organisation has also helped me to see in practice how my previously acquired skills and knowledge played out differently – helping me to be more calibrated in designing organisational programmes and interventions.
I wish to bring home the learning I got beyond the plant wall and enrich it even further together with the flourishing and energised Jakarta Plant organisation.
Q Along the same line, what is your fondest learning from your predecessors in this role?
I really learned that for HR, genuine care is the language we should be speaking throughout the organisation. I am trying to take this learning and apply it in the whole spectrum of the organisation cycle. There will definitely be bright days (e.g., celebrations, promotions, growing business) and challenging ones where HR needs to take actions/interventions, but we need to do it all on the basis of care & respect for the individuals and the organisation.
As care is so profound, we also upgraded our site-wide behaviour with the C.A.R.E. acronym as we believe that is also the right winning behaviour for our organisation.
Q What do you love most about the experiences you’ve had in your HR career, and what has been your most memorable milestone with the company?
I would say that my daily interactions with people are the routine I love most – not always the biggest things, but the mundane ones as these really are the bedrock of HR roles: the times when you can really have 1:1s and human-to-human engagements with others. In this day and age, people tend to hustle between meetings, emails, texts, and calls, leaving the most fundamental form of interaction – conversations – severely underutilised, despite the fact that we learn most about others through genuine conversations.
Second, is when I could help to shape the organisation’s direction to a better track where both the business and organisation can win together as one.
Q Could you share the most innovative HR campaign that you've worked on or been part of, and what was the most impactful result of that?
It was when I worked alongside our sales leadership team to reboot our sales organisation engagement programme after a period of hiatus. I was so delighted to see that the directors (co-)owned, drove, and levelled up the programme pillars – and really took on inputs and looped back updates to the whole organisation.
We also involved multi-functional teams in the exciting journey of pillar-activation design & execution. Over the course of two years, we achieved our diversity profiles, boosted employee organisation favourability, and ultimately increased employee retention.
Q On the other hand, what was the hardest challenge you had to deal with?
Business transformations are always the most exciting ones as they involve multiple aspects to hyper-care and run harmoniously in what usually is a stretched timeline. It is a humongous project which lets HR professionals and the multifunctional team leverage crucial skills of change and transition management, business acumen, project management, negotiation, influencing, and all other related skills.
Done rightly, business transformations will push the boundaries for both the organisation and business to level up and deliver a much better impact.
Q You’ve always been interested in teaching and public speaking – and these are indeed important skills for HR leaders too. What are some tips & tricks in these fields that your peers can look out for?
Interestingly, I can really relate a quality in HR with one in teaching – how to present something (sometimes a complex subject) to others in an easily understood and digestible/bite-size way. A watch-out for HR is we may sometimes unconsciously assume that everyone knows at least as much as we do about HR programmes or systems – this could easily create dissonance when we try to communicate our initiatives, then become our own source of frustration as we are unable to bring the organisation to the level of understanding we desire.
In regards to public speaking, it really is about how to speak others’ languages, and not about how sophisticated our dictions are or how fluent we are in speaking. It often boils down to using colloquial terms in our communications, and leveraging them even further to name and brand our programmes. This may require us to sometimes go beyond the normal forms of communication we traditionally use in HR, which is absolutely fine as long as we can serve our business and organisation better while continuing to follow the guardrails.
These two areas have been the things I have continued to learn and look forward to deep-dive even further as I come home to Jakarta Plant.
Q With today’s rapidly evolving environment, what do you believe is HR’s #1 responsibility to add value?
HR should really be the transformation agent themselves collaborating with all functions vs. just observing and gatekeeping the changes driven by business leaders and others. HR will have the ability to step up the change, while guiding the flow in the best way for business and organisation – as any upgrades, transformations, and changes will continue to be fuelled by an effective organisation.
Q To end off, what is the biggest piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring talent?
You will never know if you never try. So really, jump into any learning opportunities and experience yourself the roles, the assignments, the companies, and the learnings. This has become the best way to learn, as I have observed and experienced myself.
The more limitations and restrictions we put ourselves into, the more learning opportunities will disappear from our options. And in this skill-based and fast-changing era, we would want to learn as much as possible to stay relevant, and even thrive.
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