Ilja Rijnen has joined Beam Suntory in December 2017 as HR Director as part of the Emerging Asia Leadership Team and functionally reporting into the Regional President based in Singapore and the VP of International Human Resources based in Madrid, Spain.
Priorities - in his role Ilja has HR oversight and management for the Emerging Asia region which covers Greater China, Taiwan, and South East Asia with significant interaction with Suntory Japan. Priorities are around: establishing our culture as Japanese-American Company in Asia, driving the right HR strategy and people priorities in our fast growing region, aligning HR across the region and to the one global HR strategy, senior leadership, eCommerce and commercial capabilities, EVP to attract and retain the right talent in high growth markets (China, SEA), strategic workforce planning.
2. Would you continue to be based in Singapore? Which markets would you cater to?
Ilja lives in Singapore and is married to Andrea and is enjoying fatherhood of his twins Sasha and Jessie.
Markets: all of Asia, outside of Japan and India.
3. How big is your HR team? And who do you report in to?
Excluding HR Ops, around 5, spread out over the region. Total HR team, including Ops side is around 10.
Managing a team of HR professionals, the role currently has oversight for c. 250 staff across the region, which is growing in line with business growth at a rapid pace.
4. Anything else you wish to add, please let us know. Outside of work Ilja has a big passion for understanding people motivations and behaviours, he loves different cultures and travelling, inventing new wine and food combinations and improvising jazz music on his piano. Beam Suntory is the world’s 3rd largest premium spirits company. Its flagship brands include Jim Beam bourbon and Yamazaki Japanese whisky, as well as world renown premium brands such as Maker’s Mark and Knob Creek bourbons, Hakushu and Hibiki Japanese whiskies, Teacher’s, Laphroaig, and Bowmore Scotch whiskies, Canadian Club whisky, Courvoisier cognac, Sauza tequila, Pinnacle vodka, and Midori liqueur. Background on Ilja: Prior to joining Beam Suntory Ilja has gained significant HR experience through Edrington Asia Pacific and Diageo in South East Asia as Director and Head of HR. Ilja also brings a wealth of Organisation Design background which is being applied in building up the Training and Development activity in the region and launched as the lead region The Edrington Academy and Sales Academy. Prior to his roles in Asia, Ilja was the HR BP for Diageo’s Red Stripe Lager, Guinness & spirits business in Jamaica and Latin America and started his HR career as L& D Manager for the IKEA Supply Chain in the Benelux and Great-Britain. These varied roles have given him wide international business exposure and importantly experience of managing in change programmes in large organisations from varied cultures.