Learning & Development Asia 2024
Susie Bates, CPO, Weber Shandwick affirms what worked pre-pandemic for talent, simply doesn’t work today

Susie Bates, CPO, Weber Shandwick affirms what worked pre-pandemic for talent, simply doesn’t work today


Organisations that choose or try to go back to the 'norm' are failing simply because they have not truly embraced this fundamental concept.

Meet Susie Bates, Chief People Officer for the Weber Shandwick Collective in Asia, who has been living and working across the Asia Pacific region for over 25 years, holding people and HR leadership roles in multinational organisations.

Based in Hong Kong, Susie has been a part of the IPG network since April 2013 having worked across multiple brands during her tenure, overseeing People initiatives across China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and India. In addition to her HR responsibilities, Susie actively developed Weber Shandwick’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Asia Pacific strategy and has been leading the initiative for the region since early 2021.

At HRO's Talent Management Asia conference, taking place in Hong Kong on 7 June 2023, you can look forward to hearing Susie moderate a panel discussion on the topic 'From probabilities to possibilities: The mandatory mindset shifts to transform people experience'.

Ahead of the conference, HRO's Zoe Auclair-Boissonnat catches up with her to find out the biggest change that needs to take place in HR in 2023.

Q How, in your view, are the top talent challenges and opportunities in your sector and remit evolving?

Talent across the globe have different needs and expectations in today’s world; following the global pandemic, the world changed. That means everything else changed as well – what worked pre-pandemic for talent, simply doesn’t work today. Organisations that choose or try to go back to the 'norm' are failing simply because they have not truly embraced this fundamental concept.

Q What do you see as the keys to managing talent as the world is reopening and rebounding?

During the pandemic, an emotional bond was formed between employees and employers, where there was a massive level of trust that had never before been needed to the same degree.

Suddenly employees were trusted by their employers, trusted to continue their commitment to their work, trusted to deliver on their promise in their roles; again I see many organisations talking about the 'return to normal' and 'normal' seems to look like 'return to office' or what 'normal' was pre-pandemic– essentially what this messages out to employees is that the trust that was given to them during the pandemic is being somehow retracted …… and yet organisations scratch their heads wondering why people are resigning!

Q Talent and manpower shortages are prevailing concerns in Asia. Do you prefer a build, buy, or borrow strategy to tackle these pipeline issues?

At the end of the day I truly believe that employee/employer relationships must be a solid two-way partnership; neither employer nor employee have the upper hand. Both come into the partnership on an equal basis – both needing to respect and support each other on an equal basis. My strategy has always, and will always, be to continue to support those partnerships, understanding that we are all human beings, we all have good days and not-so-good days, and there are commitments on either side to fulfil – people engineering is something that we have to do in today’s world – there’s no ‘one size fits all’ on managing the workforce – at the end of the day, in my view, it’s about finding win-wins across both sides of the equation.

Q What are you looking forward to at Talent Management Asia (TMA) Hong Kong, and what can HR practitioners expect from your sharing at TMA?

I think for me, I always enjoy hearing different perspectives and different points of view – I look forward to that! From my own part, I feel that I continue to have somewhat of a unique perspective on managing the workforce – and I hope that I can maybe share a little bit about how sometimes looking at things differently, or through a different lens can be fun and hopefully enlightening!

Human Resources Online is pleased to announce the return of our annual flagship conference, Talent Management Asia, as an in-person one-day event. Back after three years of pandemic, this is Hong Kong’s must-attend event to reimagine your talent strategies with authenticity and resilience, as well as enjoy the learning and networking opportunities among your peers in HR.

Contact us for group discounts or download the event brochure for more details.

Photo / Provided (featuring Susie Bates)

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