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The success of the project was not measured only by the model that we have painstakingly built or the ‘aha’ moments that the insights from the data create, says Daniel Kusmanto, Global Head, HR Analytics, ASM.
Q Was HR a natural career choice for you? If not in HR, what other career would you have chosen?
My journey to HR is an evolving one. I studied electrical engineering yet started my career in IT. As a fresh graduate, I was quite captivated with the world of programming and what it can do.
However, throughout the years, I slowly realised that my passion is for people and I longed for more people interactions instead of just computers. So I did a short stint in sales, which I loved – cold calling, introducing products, pitching. Unfortunately due to change of business strategy, I moved on.
In 2012, I got an opportunity to join HR. I jumped at that chance and have never looked back since. HR has been fascinating to me and has provided me with the avenue to touch people’s lives. By people, for people.
If not HR, maybe you would find me cold calling and selling products.
Q What was the most innovative HR campaign that you’ve worked on, and what was your biggest learning from that?
The most innovative HR campaign to me is the predictive attrition project that we embarked on during my early career in HR analytics. It was one of my first analytics projects. We spent days and weeks looking into data, cleaning data, picking relevant attributes, constructing model, and performing validation tests. In the end, we had a working predictive attrition decision tree, which I still keep the picture of as a memento.
The biggest learning for me was that the success of the project was not measured only by the model that we have painstakingly built or the ‘aha’ moments that the insights from the data create.
The most important measurement was how big an impact it creates for the organisation. Did it trigger any policy change? Did it trigger any change in behaviour? Did it impact company bottom line at the end of the day?
We were so excited on building the model that we missed the stakeholder management piece. It was quite a steep climb to convince the business to adopt the model in the end. So with that learning, I always start with the business question first before embarking on any analytics project.
Q On the other hand, what is the hardest decision you’ve had to make as a HR leader?
Any decision that impacts people negatively in the short-term (although it might turn out to be positive in the long- term) is always hard for me. Not selecting a candidate for the next interview, having that difficult performance conversation, and letting someone go due to performance are just some of the examples.
For such decisions, I would like to be very sure by getting the facts right and by seeking feedback from select people. At the end of day, decisions need to be made and action needs to be taken, but throughout the process, we need to be sincere as we are dealing with people that have their own lives outside of work.
Q Who is the one person who has inspired you the most in your career, and why?
I am a strong believer that the direct supervisor is one of the critical components of our career journey. I have been blessed with fantastic supervisors, previous and current, who taught me and helped to shape who I am today in workplace.
If I need to point out, there are three leaders who inspired me in their own ways during different stages of my journey. During my early career in IT, I had a supervisor who guided and mentored me on how to excel in IT and the workplace. I was still considered a newbie (with only two years of work experience), and to have a mentor show me the ropes really helped.
Someone else who I regard highly is my supervisor when I started my career in HR. She gave me a lot of empowerment, involved me in those high-level discussions, and showed me how a team leader should be.
Now in ASM, I am grateful for my current supervisor as he challenges my comfort zone and provides me with support and opportunities to stretch my capabilities. He inspires me to always be the better version of myself tomorrow.
Q How would you describe your leadership style?
As a leader, I do stand by three principles: inclusive, open, and transparent. As much as possible, I would like to include my team members in decision making. Some unfavourable decisions still need to be made but it goes a long way to include your team members in the process.
Being open to feedback is a must for a leader, as we are not experts in all fields and sometimes we do see things only from our angle.
The feedback from the team will make the decision much more refined. And lastly, transparency is key to building trust. I always strive to be as transparent as possible in my dealings with my team members.
Q With today’s rapidly evolving environment, what do you believe is HR’s #1 responsibility?
For the fourth industrial revolution, HR can add significant value by supporting organisations to transform themselves and get ready for the future of work. Upgrading and reskilling, designing optimised organisation structures, promoting workplace collaboration, improving employee experiences, and redefining employment terms are just some of the concrete actions that HR can take to produce sustainable a future-ready, high-performing workforce that produces business agility and drives business outcomes.
Q Is there a mindset that you believe HR professionals should do away with?
I think future looking HR professionals in this VUCA world should live by ABC of HR.
A is agile. Being agile means always improving in everything we do and adapting to change. This mindset is necessary to cultivate sustainable high performance. The business world is changing by the minute. Innovation and technology is changing the way we interact and the way we work. We need to be agile to respond to all these changes timely or risk being irrelevant.
B is business mindset. We need to understand the business and communicate in business’ language. As we are moving to strategic HR, we need to understand the business our company is in, the challenges, the opportunities, our company strength, and to stretch it further, the economy of the countries we operate in. Time and time again, this has proven to be significant knowledge for HR leaders.
C is continuous learning. As said by Albert Einstein, “once you stop learning, you start dying.” The day when we stop learning is also the day we stop growing as HR professionals. There is so much knowledge and new trends out there that might affect how HR works, such as organisational psychology, data analytics, chatbots, AI, personalisation, etc. We as HR professionals, especially leaders, need to always beef up our knowledge and keep abreast with the market, looking for opportunities to scale greater heights for HR to contribute towards business goals.
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