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Tips on meeting the talent challenge with Esquel Group’s Bessie Chong

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Talent management tips from industry insider, Bessie Chong, director, group training and talent development at Esquel Group

What’s the #1 talent challenge that your sector is facing?
As a pioneer in textiles and apparels that champions innovation, we adopt a people strategy that is quite different from our peers. We groom people from within and is actively looking for agile leader who can transform the industry and lead in the digital economy.

Our challenge is to pick the right people who have the potential to be leaders and develop a coherent strategy to groom them to become leaders of tomorrow who are both committed and capable to drive up productivity and create values. We often get talents who have not worked, or had no plans to work, for this industry.

As an industry insider, can you share some of you challenges?
The fast-changing landscape in digital economy, Industry 4.0 and globalisation all accelerate the impact of different influencers, such as changing people attitudes, societal changes, demographics, hyper competition and changing customer expectations.

People’s expectations change along with the advancement of technology. New generations are more inclined to a working environment with transparency, equality, quality and instant response/feedback. We need to be aware of those expectations and be open in addressing them.

What are some strategies that have worked best?
Building an organisation that allows talented people to find and adopt technology and innovation is of the utmost important. Technology allows people to share and access information (including data). We need to provide convenience for talents to make use of these technologies and help them make decisions in more flexible and agile conditions.

Enabling skills/abilities such as critical thinking, agile thinking, analytical skills, communication and relationship skills, and global mindset are getting more important. Beyond that they should also develop other enabling skills such as the ability to consider the needs of other people, prepare for multiple scenarios, manage paradoxes and balance opposing views, innovate and co-create, and brainstorm.

What’s next big priority for HR pros at Esquel?
Our wellness initiative. We believe for long-term people sustainability and employees’ wellbeing will soon become one of HR’s big issues. Workplace wellbeing includes physical, mental, and social aspects. We stress the importance of the need for work-life balance and a better quality of life.

Various programmes have been implemented to support this initiative, such as training health ambassadors, promoting a healthy diet and dining habits, providing recreational activities and mindfulness practices and organising wellness challenges.

During turbulent times, the social and business environment is getting more severe and challenging, we better equip our colleagues to manage those stresses and unpredictable scenarios. We cannot stop the waves, but we can learn to surf, no matter how tough it is.

How are you proactively preparing for the future workplace?
‘Grooming people from within’ is one of Esquel’s core people strategies as we are committed to invest in our people and nurture talents, including frontline operators. We continuously upgrade the education level of our frontline operators by sponsoring colleagues to pursue diploma qualifications. Since 2015, over 1200 colleagues have enrolled in the scheme provided by the China Open University and are fulfilling their dreams to pursue higher education.

Want to know more about talent management initiatives? Check out all the details for Hong Kong’s upcoming Talent Management Asia event here.

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