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Suite Talk: Toshiba APAC's MD on the qualities of an ideal CHRO

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Ryuji Maruyama, Corporate Representative – Asia, Toshiba Corporation; (also the Managing Director, Toshiba Asia Pacific), sheds light on how he works with HR, and describes his ideal CHRO, in an exclusive interview with Jerene Ang.

Q You’ve been with Toshiba for 30 years now, what keeps you so passionate and driven?

Two things continue to fuel my passion for what I do – the company's mission and the people.

Innovation has always been at the very core of Toshiba’s existence, with an aim to solve problems through technology since the founding of the company more than 140 years ago. From electric incandescent light bulbs and induction motors to today’s modern technologies serving the energy, infrastructure, storage and electronic devices and IoT sectors, Toshiba continues to contribute to the evolution of daily life and social development. I’m very heartened to be working in a company that positively impacts the communities around us.

Having worked across multiple business units, I have had the pleasure of working with many brilliant and passionate like-minded individuals who are in tandem with the company’s goals. As we move towards becoming a cyber-physical systems technology company, we have a strong and unified team which makes work productive and enjoyable.

Q What do you believe are the top qualities of a good leader?

A leader is someone who is visionary, inspires others to contribute to the vision and allows the team to move together towards a shared view of the future. Leaders should not only lead by example, but they should also be attuned to feedback and opinions from the people around them.

Honesty and integrity are key. Leaders who place importance on these will inspire the right attitude in employees. Leaders should delegate tasks for growth – it not only helps empower employees, but also connects them to the bigger picture. To me, what makes a great leader is someone with these qualities, but also leads with “heart” – authenticity, transparency and humility.

Q What is your view of HR as a business function? How closely do you work with your HR head?

To me, human resources serves as the heart of an organisation. No longer seen as just an administrative function, HR has evolved to become a strategic function that deploys the right talent strategy to attract and retain the best talent, giving companies a competitive advantage against their competitors.

In my role, I work closely with my human resources team to evaluate broad-based strategies for hiring, retention and training, as well as performance evaluation and indicators.

With the shift in workplace demographics and hiring trends, our strategies need to constantly change to respond to the needs of the talent pool.

We also talk about improving the current performance evaluation indicators to be more well-rounded and inclusive rather than based solely on work performance. With a more robust evaluation, it will help us to identify, develop and train the potential leaders of tomorrow.

We also recognise that training impacts human capital and competency building. So we invest in relevant development programmes to raise productivity and promote continuous learning.

Q Describe your ideal CHRO.

My ideal CHRO should be fair, data-centred and forward-thinking. A CHRO should promote an employee-conscious environment which respects fair practices and transparency, which helps to build trust and improve overall employee satisfaction.

Further, the modern CHRO should understand and be comfortable to work with data, using it to pick out trends and improve decision-making. It is also no longer enough to do operational reviews looking at past performance, but one needs to be predictive and forward-looking and tackle issues such as people-related failures or missed opportunities.

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