From identifying potential skill gaps that need to be filled, to collaborating training, HR plays a crucial role, affirms Leonard Cheong, Managing Director, AdNovum Singapore, in an interview with Jerene Ang.

Q Talk us through your journey at AdNovum. What changes have you overseen?

My predecessors, great leaders in their own right, were tasked with market discovery and set-up. When I joined the organisation early last year, my mandate was focused to grow the business here.

My first priority was to examine how we’re set up in Singapore, and what changes were needed for us to thrive in the region through my experience as an IT engineer. I focused on promoting our strengths that differentiate us in the market and how they matched against market needs, all while trying to hire the right people and getting them to collaborate in a unified environment.

Our success in these past two years speaks for itself. Today, we are a driver of change for the global business, taking on challenges and building up new core competencies which were previously not found in or experimented at our headquarters in Zurich such as robotic process automation.

Q In your opinion, what are the critical skills that leaders need to thrive in the industry?

There are two key attributes every business leader must have – the ability to predict future trends; and soft skills. First, we must be able to predict where the industry will head towards to prepare for the changes that are abounding. Second, we increasingly need strong soft skills to elevate ourselves as key decision makers.

The nature of the game for us, as technology professionals, has changed. We now have to nurture business leads and give our all in servicing our clients. This requires us to acquire and polish our soft skills such as interpersonal communication, public presentation, negotiation, collaboration, innovation and even mentoring.

The development of these soft skills have been neglected by technology professionals in the past, and we must facilitate the training of these and build capabilities to use them to stay relevant in a rapidly changing landscape. To thrive, we need to establish this balance of having both IQ and EQ among the future generations of tech professionals.

Q I understand AdNovum is building up its regional presence. How does HR help to facilitate cross-collaboration across offices?

HR plays a crucial role, particularly when we have newcomers. We track the progress of our new hires closely, keeping the business leads updated on how well they have been integrated into the operations, and identifying potential gaps that need to be filled. HR also assists us in helping to co-ordinate training initiatives to keep our staff up to date on industry trends, which are led by our chief technology officer. We also have technical exchange programmes across our global network, through which we second our staff to other regional offices to gain more experiences that can be transferred back to the different local offices.

Q What advice do you have for HR leaders to keep pace with technological changes?

HR leaders need to be sensitive when managing talent through new hires – especially important in today’s multi-generational workplace. One way to achieve this is through tailoring outreach to the different groups, speaking their language and addressing their concerns.

HR leaders must think and act like business leaders and embrace technology to help them achieve their goals. This has a two-fold effect – reaching greater target audiences to find the right hire for the office, as well as better engaging existing employees to gather feedback and improve employee retention. HR is not just another business function – it is the crucial cog in the well-oiled engine running the business.

Q Ending on a personal note, how do you unwind?

My wife and I exercise regularly, and we enjoy going for body combat sessions. These activities go a long way in energising us physically and mentally. At home, I like to spend time housekeeping, as it helps me to relax, while keeping my house looking great. At the same time, it gives me that much-needed quiet time to structure my thoughts and plan out my action points on them.

Photo / provided