Winning Secrets: BAT Indonesia

British American Tobacco (BAT) Indonesia took home two awards at the HR Excellence Awards 2021, Indonesia, namely: the silver award in Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion, and the bronze award in Excellence in Graduate Recruitment and Development.

In this interview, we speak to Jonathan Sembiring, Head of Talent Attraction & Capability Development, BAT Indonesia, who tells us how people-focused the organisation is, as it embraces and supports the diverse talent pool it has through various talent development programmes, as well as through employee support and welfare groups - especially during the pandemic season.

Q Tell us a little bit about your journey reaching here – how did you get here and what was most important to you during this process?

As an international organisation, we believe in the power of diversity & inclusion. Our organisation comprises people from different cultures and backgrounds, each bringing their own uniqueness. These differences come together and make up our strength.

We have a strong commitment to diversity & inclusion. Globally, we aim to achieve 40% of women representation in leadership roles by 2025 (higher than the standard set by World Bank, of 38%). To go there, we have been developing a set of programmes that will accelerate talent development and leadership capability building, especially for our female talent.

Our competitive management trainee programme, the Global Graduate Programme, is one of the powerful platforms we have to prepare future leaders, providing an opportunity for those young graduates to develop potentials through world-class training, and collaborate with peers and senior colleagues from across the globe.

As evidence of our commitment, despite the massive organisational transformation we had in 2021, we have exported 12 Indonesian talents to different countries for an international assignment, and promoted our best talents into higher managerial positions. So, the HR Excellence awards we have received are perfectly a testament to what we have done internally in the area of diversity & inclusion, and talent development.

Q What would you list as your company’s most meaningful contribution to employees in the last 12-18 months?

This prolonged pandemic has really changed the game and tested many organisations' agility in maintaining business sustainability. For us at BAT Indonesia, we put our people front-and-centre, and our main priority these past two years has been to ensure our employees’ health, safety, and wellbeing.

We have made several efforts to ensure such support is in place. We established a COVID-19 task force who has been working 24/7 to help employees with the most-needed medical assistance, from doctors, to hospitals, medicines, to self-isolation support. We have also worked with the government to drive vaccination in the company, and established an intensive daily and weekly communication on COVID-19 – all aimed at protecting our most important assets, our people.

On top of that, we have also been committed to protecting employees’ welfare by maintaining the full salary, allowance, and bonuses receipt.

With the pandemic far from being over, our commitment to protecting our people will just get stronger. We are in this together, and we are stronger together.

Q What are some challenges you've had to overcome, both as a CHRO and as a people leader, and how did you get past them? What was your biggest learning?

These past years, we have been faced with a series of organisational transformations, all aimed at creating a simpler and smarter organisation. The biggest challenge was definitely to get employees on board with these transformations, and energise the entire organisation to not only believe in the company’s strategy, but also deliver the transformations together. We had to be agile in the way we worked and find creative ways to as much as possible simplify a lot of processes and reduce complexities.

This has been a big milestone for us at BAT Indonesia, and I want to attribute this success to everyone in the organisation. For me, the biggest learning was to see the huge level of empowerment across the organisation, and how that has massively helped us deliver our transformation.

Q Onwards and upwards! Can you share some highlights of your year ahead in 2022, and what your workforce can look forward to?

The year 2022 will see a new chapter for BAT Indonesia as we are joining the diverse and dynamic Asia Pacific area. This integration will unlock more opportunities for more cross-country collaborations, and talent development. It is going to be an exciting year where we’ll also strengthen our capability in the digital space, improve our talent journey from multiple touchpoints, and accelerate our talent branding, and employee experience. What’s more? We are also taking our learning culture to the next level.

Q Bring out your crystal ball - 10 years down the line, where do you see the future of HR?

Having future-fit talent is highly important for a business to thrive in this digital era. With digitalisation coming into play, HR has also been evolving at a rapid pace and is playing in the front row to ensure that the business has the right and capable talent to win the ever-increasing competition.

With the fast development in technology and the game-changing COVID-19, strategic talent management will play a bigger role in the future of HR. 10 years from now, we might see jobs we have never seen or imagined today. From flexible work practices, to employee experience, data & AI, and cybersecurity, HR will have to establish constantly-evolving innovative practices to adapt to the industry and competition requirements.


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