Total Rewards Asia Summit 2024 Singapore
Winning Secrets: How Central Retail cultivates a thriving employee community across its 15 business units

Winning Secrets: How Central Retail cultivates a thriving employee community across its 15 business units

Here's how gold award-winning HR leader of the year, Panchalee Weeratammawat, CPO, Central Retail Corporation gains insights into the tangible and intangible vital aspects of the organisation.

With the vision and mission to be "the best, sustainable and most admired customer-centric omnichannel retailer wherever we operate", people are at the heart of everything Central Retail does.

At the third annual edition of HR Excellence Awards - Thailand in 2023, Central Retail Corporation won several awards, namely:

  • Bronze for 'Employer of the Year'
  • Bronze for 'Best HR Team (MNC)'
  • Bronze for 'Excellence in Learning and Development'
  • Gold for 'HR Leader of the Year'
  • Gold for 'Excellence in Graduate Recruitment and Development'
  • Gold for 'Excellence in Leadership Development'

To celebrate these milestones, we catch up with the gold award-winning HR leader of the year, Panchalee Weeratammawat, Chief People Officer, Central Retail Corporation (pictured above) on the people philosophy that dives deep into the nuances of understanding its multigenerational and multidisciplinary talent landscape, in creating a 'great place to work'.  

Q Congratulations on your top performance at the HR Excellence Awards! How has your HR and people strategy contributed to your success this year?

Central Retail’s success this year can be attributed largely to our dedicated HR and people strategy. We have been steadfast in our vision of creating a 'great place to work', which goes hand-in-hand with our main HR objective of nurturing 'a winning team'. By implementing a comprehensive people strategy, we have ensured that our workforce of almost 60,000 employees across over 300 locations feels empowered, motivated, and committed to collective goals.

We are proud of our diverse team of high-performing individuals, fully equipped with skills and capabilities to drive organisational objectives and face industry challenges. Our initiatives, ranging from best-in-class learning and development resources, challenging and rewarding career opportunities to highly engaging culture and holistic employee wellness programmes coupled with our strong commitment to sustainability as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion, have significantly contributed to our success and affirmed our industry-leading approach and its tangible outcomes.

central retail hr team

Q Looking back at your achievements, what aspect of your HR initiatives are you most proud of and why?

Our true success lies in the thriving community we have cultivated. Reflecting upon our milestones, what truly warms our hearts is the depth of our commitment to learning & development.

Central Retail Academy, with its tailored repertoire of 126 varied courses, is a vivid illustration of our dedication to fortifying our ‘winning team'. Each course is thoughtfully curated, ensuring that all team members are not only adept at tackling present-day challenges but are also prepared for future innovations and the evolving landscape of the retail business.

Our leadership development initiative, which humbly received the gold award, emphasises our belief in shaping the next generation of leaders. These awards resonate with the genuine efforts we pour into empowering our workforce and into cherishing the journey of continuous learning and growth we are fostering within Central Retail.

Q During your HR journey, what were some significant obstacles you faced, and how did you overcome them to achieve excellence?

Harmonising the diverse and multigenerational landscape of our expansive, multinational workforce, especially within a diversified business portfolio spanning 15 distinct business units, posed intricate challenges. Each sector, in addition to its own cultural, linguistic, and regional intricacies, necessitated specific skill-sets suited to its nuances.

Navigating these differences, while maintaining a cohesive organisational culture, demanded both innovation and adaptability. Balancing the requirements of different generations and ensuring a cohesive organisational ethos amidst such complexity demanded relentless engagement, iterative feedback, and learning and development strategies bespoke to each business sector.

Concurrently, our 'Management Associate Programme' has been pivotal in identifying and nurturing emerging leaders, enabling us to be ever-evolving with sustainable leadership pipeline for future growth. The gold award for 'Graduate Recruitment and Development' is a humbling acknowledgment of our persistent efforts to grow and continuously nurture every member of Central Retail.

Q How does your organisation measure the success and impact of your HR initiatives?

Measuring success at Central Retail is a blend of quantitative and qualitative evaluations. Conventional metrics, such as employee retention rates and quantifiable skill growth, are undoubtedly essential indicators to paint a quantitative picture of our HR initiatives' efficacy. Yet, our evaluation doesn't stop at numbers. With a diversified business portfolio across 15 business units, our approach dives deep into the nuances of each area, understanding the multigenerational and multidisciplinary challenges inherent to each.

Through employee surveys, regular feedback sessions, and in-depth career dialogues, we gain invaluable insights into the less tangible, yet equally vital aspects of our organisation — team dynamics, inter-departmental collaboration, morale, and the holistic wellbeing of our teams. When our teams innovate collaboratively, support one another, and reflect the “ONE CRC” spirit of unity, it reinforces the profound impact of our HR approach.

Q In what direction do you see the HR/people function evolving in the future, considering the emerging trends?

The future trajectory of our HR operations is set to undergo a transformative journey, influenced by the emerging global and retail trends.

As retail scenarios transition to an omnichannel framework, embedding a digital-first mindset is paramount. Our HR initiatives will intensify focus on digital upskilling to ensure our teams remain skilled at harnessing new tools and platforms. Also, with our diversified business portfolio spanning 15 business units, the need for specialised skills is more pronounced than ever, making bespoke training modules essential.

Simultaneously, as global boundaries blur, there will be a renewed focus on championing a workforce that is diverse, inclusive, and culturally sensitive. Prioritising mental wellbeing will also emerge as a cornerstone of our HR initiatives. Going forward, we will continue to invest in sculpting a workplace culture that resonates meaningfully with our employees, making them feel valued and empowered.


Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section!


Photos / Provided by Central Retail (featuring the interviewee)

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