Category Archives: HR Conference

ASTD-STADA Asia Pacific Conference (Day 3 of 3)

Qualcomm's Tamer Elkeles and Nam Cho speaking on Designing Learning in the New Workplace

Today is the final day of the inaugural ASTD/STADA Asia Pacific Conference.  I will focus on the topic of Asian Leadership

Asia Leadership Research

The Human Capital Leadership Institute was set up by the Ministry of Manpower, the Singapore Economic Development Board and the Singapore Management University is focused on research on global leaders with a strong understanding of leading in Asia.  In this talk, Kwan Chee Wei shared the following:

  • From an Asia context, the average age of China CEO is 10 years younger than their US counterpart.  What are the implications on leadership?
  • Asian companies are operating globally but do they have a global mindset?  The bosses often have expectations of their staff to do as instructed.  How does this impact empowerment as they expand beyond the Asia borders?
  • For example, in HCLI’s research collaboration with a Chinese and Indonesia university on management, they found that the Chinese expect a more authoritarian style manager while the Indonesian employee expect a paternalistic approach to management.  This has implications on how companies expand and manage intra-Asia teams.
  • HCLI suggests that successful Asian leadership requires:
    • Shift from a performance to learning perspective
    • Create ecosystem that supports development and allow for failure
    • Build leaders who are able coach employees

Change Management at a Chinese Company

Christine Shih, Director of Learning & Development at Li-Ning Sports spoke on organization change and transition management at this Chinese company.  Li-Ning started initially as a family-owned company and later hired professional managers to run the company.  She shared on how Li-Ning restructured their Sales organization.

  • The sales leadership team was originally centralized at the HQ office.  They found that they were not as responsive to the market development situations and need to shift to a regional sales model.
  • The organization change and transition framework she utilized was same model those as found in Western MNCs.
    • The obvious question is whether there was a “Chinese” approach to change and transition management.
    • According to Shih, communication style and organization culture was the biggest determinant to implementing change.  Otherwise, in her experience, the typical change framework is applicable.
  • Developing expat leaders to grow the biz outside of China was another important area for Li-Ning.  They take a long-term approach to leadership development.
    • They initially sent a HiPo out on short-term assignments to the US for an project and later moved him to another country.  After successful completion of assignments, he was assigned as country head.
  • Li-Ning also hires foreigners into their organization in China.  The most successful ones are those who are open-minded and able to communicate, even if it is through body language.

In the opening day’s concurrent session, Stephen Krempl’s talked about Asian leaders working in Western MNCs need to adapt to the employers’ business culture.

All the concurrent session speakers agree that there are values differences between local and western managers.  They also agree that successful leaders (Asian or not) have the following two qualities:

  1. Communication with impact
  2. Leadership across geographic boundaries

Final Super Session

The last super session of the day, Qualcomm’s Chief Learning Officer, Tamar Elkeles and APAC Senior Manager, Nam Cho talked about Designing Learning in the New Workplace.

Elkeles stressed that in today’s environment employees are creating their own learning tools by going out to social media and internet search sites.  They are creating their own learning network through Facebook or LinkedIn.  Learning professionals can’t control where employees learn or who they ask.

Learning professionals can however, create the learning culture and a safe environment where employees learn and experiment where failure is part of the learning process.

Qualcomm uses a “braided” learning approach where a combination of classroom, online/social and in-person coaching with peers and managers are tightly woven together to reinforce learning outcome.


ASTD and STADA announced that the ASAP Conference will be
returning to Singapore in 2012 (Q4)

ASTD-STADA Asia Pacific Conference (Day 2 of 3)

Kevin Oakes of i4cp on Linking Learning and Development with Talent Management

Another exciting day at the ASTD/STADA Human Capitals Conference.  Today’s blog focuses on two topics, social media and talent management.

Social Learning

Tony Bingham, president and CEO of the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD), kicked-off the day on the topic of social media and it’s role in learning and development.

  • Using the iceberg analogy, only 10% of knowledge is derived through formal learning. Yet, most of us learning professionals spend the most time here. Learning professional have to start focusing on informal learning.
  • According a Cisco study, new grads and young professionals will not accept a job if the company policy bans social media.  Moreover, one-third of prospective applicants will prioritize social freedom over salary. Value contribution not time spent.
  • In an IBM study, the rapid escalation of “complexity” is the biggest challenge for organizations.  While, creativity most important leadership competency needed.

While the social media is a hot topic it may still be too early to derive conclusive ROI.  However, we do know that this is how many of us obtain information and is fast coming the new normal for how people learn.

eLearning vs. Social Learning

Julie Clow of Google talked about leadership development in the cloud. She posed the question of how this is different between e-learning and social learning?

  • Traditional eLearning method is takes content and repackaged it for training.  In social learning, it is not about simply aggregating or creating high-cost simulations out of existing content.
  • Creating and implementing learning modules faster is better than slower.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.
  • Just as learning is an iterative process, it is perfectly OK to tweak your content along the way.
  • All social media by nature is based on user generated content.  Why not let your employees generate their own learning content?
  • Lastly, Interaction increases engagement and ownership in organizations.

Integrated Talent Management

In the session delivered by Kevin Oakes, CEO and founder of the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), led the discussion on an integrated approach to learning and development with talent management.

  • He suggests that he L&D function can be the glue that unites traditional HR silos.
  • Research have consistently shown that a highly engaged workforce hires for attitude and trains for skills.
  • For example, in the recruiting process, while the recruiting function hires talent for long-term culture fit, L&D can build integrated training plans.
  • Both L&D and recruiting teams can partner to develop long-range workforce plans.
  • Leaders like to see data about their org and comparison to competitors or industry. Putting the right data in front of organization leaders can raise the bar and value of talent management.  Difficult to do but, necessary.

Leadership Pipeline

The last session today is Building Leadership Pipeline panel super discussion.  For many, this is the reason we are all here at this conference.

  • David Chin is HR Head-Neptune Orient Lines (NOL).  His company facilitates world trade and he manages talent that is truly globally dispersed.  Chin reminded us that he can’t simply walk down the hall to identify HiPo’s.
    • Moreover, most of his employee base are not on a ships.
    • His employees need to be skilled with data analysis and planning.  NOL must be able to track each metal box (the containers), what is inside it, and where it is headed.
  • Mohana Mohariff is General Manager of the Leadership and Talent Management group at Telecom Malaysia.  Her business transformed from fixed wired-lines to mobile wireless and is now borderless. For her, managing talent has changed.
    • She used an illustration where employees are beginning to understand that one has to be a talent before getting promoted.
    • Now, her task is to educate managers how to identify talent and, not just for the sake of getting team members promoted.
  • Victor Magdaraog is VP at DDI Philippines.  He suggests that the key to value creation is knowledge and talent.
    • Thus, talent management in of itself should not follow a strategy.  But, talent is your strategy.  You can either acquire, development or retain your most talent people.  Without talent, you don’t have a strategy.
    • Leadership is also not a democracy. Only a select few can become your organization leaders.  However, leaders cannot work without strong followers.  Thus, an organization cannot simply focus on just its HiPo’s but also the core group for development.

Thus, today’s focus is about creating environment where talent can thrive in an organization.  We know that organizations who want a highly engaged workforce cannot work in silo HR functions.

Creating cross-collaboration work environments will help its players and as a team excel.  Social learning are best approaches to maximize cross-functional and global learning opportunities.

I’m looking forward to the third and final day of conference tomorrow. Continue to watch out for live tweets at #asap2011

ASTD-STADA Asia Pacific Conference (Day 1 of 3)

Richard Wellins on the Future of Leadership

Today was the start of a 3-day conference organized by the ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) and STADA (Singapore Training and Development Association).  This is the first time that ASTD is holding a conference outside of the US.

According to the organizers, there were 800 participants from 24 countries and 87 speakers from 13 countries.  Good show.

Cultural Leadership

Fons Trompenaars led the keynote of the day with a discussion cultural leadership. According to Trompenaars:

  • Most leadership books are culturally biased.  Thus, what books does one read read in a culturally diverse setting?
  • It is not about having a Centralized or Localized organization build a Transnational organization, factoring in cultural best practices.
  • Culturally-balanced team work: reward teams for individual creativity & reward individuals for team work.
  • Servant leadership in multi-cultural situations. Have more authority at the end. Consider the parent and child relationship.

Cheryl Chung, an economist who draws, make a sketchnote of Trompenaars’ presentation.  Very cool!

Asia Leadership

I thought Stephen Krempl’s topic on bridging cultural differences between Western and Asian management expectations might be interesting.  He talks about Global Executive Mindset.

  • Your personal self image affects your performance, ultimately impacting your results.  However you see yourself has a huge impact on your performance.
  • In most organization, one have to be performing the function (Do) of a director (Be) before you are given the title (Have).  The concept of Do – Be – Have.  Most people get it wrong, where the expectation is to be given the title before the do the next-level role.
  • Krempl also talks about playing by the rules of the game.  Using a sports analogy, you can’t use cricket rules in a baseball game and vice versa.  But a good athlete can play multiple sports.  Thus, to strive ahead in a Western MNC, Asians need to be more adaptable to western culture practices by 5%.

I’ve written on topics of Asia leadership challenges and bridging the cultural divide.

Future of Leadership

Richard Wellins of Development Dimensions International was the Super Session speaker on the Future of Leadership.

  • Pulling data from DDI surveys, he noted that only 24% of China respondents had strong pipeline of leadership supply to critical roles. That means the other 75% have a critical gap in leadership planning and development.
  • Wellins showed another survey where 73% say formal classroom training is best method to train leaders.  Shocking!  Most of the audience members would not have placed classroom training high on the list.
  • Younger leaders value coaching from the boss is higher rated (71%) vs from a mentor (54%).

All in all, a good first day.  Continue to watch out for live tweets at #asap2011.

AmCham China HR Conference 2011

AmCham HR China Conference 2011The American Chamber of Commerce China held its 12 annual conference in Beijing on Friday, Nov 4.  Below is a summary (maybe no so brief) of key presentation and discussion topics.

Worrisome Climate

Companies are in China because of the large market opportunities.  This country has been a drive of top-line growth for many companies.  However, the tides are turning.  China has seen a slow-down in GDP.  Inflationary pressures has been an issue.  Some have been forecasting a burst in the real estate bubble and the ripple affect that will have.  The recently announced Social Security reform is creating another “tax” on expatriate staff.  All this is leading to more uncertainty in China in the upcoming year.

Employee Engagement Challenge

Employee attraction, engagement and retention is a perennial issue in China for as long as I can remember.   According to Jim Leininger, Principal Consultant at Towers Watson and Co-Chair of the AmCham China HR Forum, China employee has the lowest level of employee engagement, 78% engagement level vs 81% (US) and 85% (Global).  While 39% of employees will entertain new career opportunities vs 20% of US employees.

Talent War Volatility

Data provided by MRI China’s Chris Watkins showed that 64% of job seekers had received at least 1 offer in the last 8 months.  46% of those indicated that they received offers of at least a 30% increase.

Furthermore, from MRI’s survey data, one-third of job seekers took counter-offers.  Fortunately, a spot survey of the Conference participants fared a bit better:  47% of conference participants had a <10% offer reject due to counter-offers; 38% had 10-20% offer rejects; and 13% had reject rates of 20% and above.

The volatility of the talent market in China is significant when you consider the employee engagement (employees who are continually looking for new career opportunities) and talent attraction (having multiple offers in hand).

Strategic HR Effectiveness

When you compare the top of mind concerns for CEO’s (China and global economic downturn, protectionism and labor costs) and those of HR heads (delivering consistent HR policies, employee engagement, streamlining HR), one can see that HR is not entirely aligned to business head priorities.

David Mitchell, GM of Kronos China, observe that HR in China is “building up HR effectiveness but HR is not operationally effective.”

In today’s environment, David summarizes that workforce population requires #1) Instant Engagement – consider the proliferation of SMS, microblogs and other social media.  Employees are fast becoming used to instant engagement.  #2)  Guided Decisions – HR need to be analytical and use data to guide the decision making process.  #3) Mobile Management – Everyone is carrying a mobile phone in China.  HR communications via mobile devices is a necessity and bi-directional communication is required.

Final Thoughts

China continues to offer significant opportunities for companies doing business in China.  However, it takes very skillful business heads and strong HR leadership to maneuver through the challenging landscape.  HR need continue to operate effectively, develop and engage talent, and lead the business through valleys to the peak of success.

An Interview with Robert Yeo, Executive Director and CEO of STADA

The upcoming joint human resources development conference with ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) and STADA (Singapore Training & Development Association) is just slightly over 2 months away.  I had an opportunity to exchange email dialogue with STADA’s Executive Director and CEO, Robert Yeo.

Here is what he had to say about the HRD Asia Pacific conference:

Q.  The upcoming ASTD STADA Asia Pacific Conference is a hallmark event for both organizations.  What led up to organizing this conference in Singapore? How did ASTD and STADA initially conceived of the idea?
A.  We started in 2009 when STADA’s 

President Lim Khia Tat and I went to Washington DC to meet ASTD’s management and shared the importance of bringing the West and the East to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience. We opened up to ASTD the idea of building a partnership with STADA and holding an inaugural conference in Singapore.


Q.  Do you anticipate that this will become an annual event?
A.  Yes, if the HR community embraces this Conference.

Q.  What does it take to organize such an international conference on a regional and global scale?  When did the initial planning take place?
A.  The initial planning process started as early as mid-2008.

Q.  How did you and the conference team determine what topics and speakers to select?
A.  The Program Subcommittee together with the Steering committee and ASTD discussed and decided on the relevant speakers to be invited in this inaugural Conference. It is meant to be a sharing of experience from practitioners who has been there and done it.

Q.  How many people are involved?
A.  We would like to embrace as many volunteers as we can within the professional community to be part of this Conference.

Q.  The STADA is a leadership organization in human resources development.  What are the 3 key HRD issues facing organizations in Singapore and in the Asia Pacific region?
A.  We have nine tracks in the ASAP Conference to cover a wide spectrum for workplace learning professionals. They are:

  1. Public and private sector training
  2. Innovation
  3. Productivity
  4. HCD Industry – Trends and Insights
  5. Multi-cultural, multi-generational training for employability
  6. Training for Small and Medium enterprises
  7. Blended Learning and learning technology
  8. Training techniques and processes for adult learning
  9. ix. Leadership development and talent management
  10. The tracks we planned are suitable for C-suite, senior management and practitioners.

Q.  What can HRD leaders and practitioners do to help organizations develop it human capital potential?
A.  HRD leaders and practitioners can help organizations develop their human capital potential by ensuring that they are current with their knowledge that is available in the field therefore ASAP Conference is one of the platform where they can come to hear and learn from the best practitioners in the field of HCD.

Q.  Why should HR and organizational leaders attend the 2011 ASTD STADA Asia Pacific Conference?
A.  HR and organizational leaders should attend the ASTD-STADA Asia Pacific Conference for the following reasons:

  • Thought-Leadership: experts from the West and the East to share their global insights and cutting-edge tools for human capital advancement in Asia Pacific
  • Conference Tracks: unique and compelling workshops on Innovation, Blended Learning & Technology and Multi-cultural Diversity
  • Exhibition: showcasing the latest local and regional new technologies and learning modules to help take learning and development in new directions
  • Network: meet and learn from the best minds in HCD to exchange key management solutions to evolving challenges. Also opens up business opportunities for the attendees and delegates.