Overusing the word "strategic" in HR

Ng Ying Yuan from the Singapore Economic Development Board shares why HR needs to be more specific when talking about being strategic.

Ng Ying Yuan

Executive Director, HR and Organisation Development Division

Singapore Economic Development Board


Please describe your role in EDB

I oversee the HR and Organisation Development Division at EDB.

We often hear that HR needs to be more strategic. What does it mean to be more strategic from a CHRO’s perspective?

I think the word strategic has been overused, so it is indeed helpful to be more specific. 

In every winning organisation, the business agenda and the people&organisation agenda should go hand in hand. The CHRO needs to understand the business intimately so as determine how the peopleand organisation agenda should be shaped and implemented in order to ensure overall coherence. 

The CHRO also needs to have a solid handle of both the current and the future of the people and organisation agenda, and not just focus on the here and now.

With EDB being the chief economic entity of Singapore, is it easier or harder to engage in strategic HR initiatives?

HR and OD have always been high impact organisation levers for the EDB. Over the past many years, we have been very deliberate in training all our leaders to be not just excellent team leaders but also strong organisation builders.

As such, there is constantly top-level permission and tremendous scope for EDB’s HROD team to shape how EDB should grow as an organisation.

Are there stark differences in engaging in strategic HR between private and public sector entities such as EDB?

I don’t think there is a difference specifically the between public and private sector. Whether an organisation views HR as an important function to influence the organisation’s direction depends very much on the mindset of the CEO, and the capability of the HR team to bring value. 

What are some examples of strategic HR currently within EDB?

EDB is currently going through an organisation transformation in support of our enhanced business strategy. We have refreshed our talent management and leadership development philosophy, adjusted our organisation structure and redesigned our jobs at different levels.

We have also redesigned our leadership development interventions and constant-beta learning approaches to support our employees in their new roles. As part of this organisation transformation, we have planned and are implementing a holistic way to shape new behaviours among our employees through training, processes, policy and culture, so as to support our new way of work.

What will you be focusing on as a panellist during the CHRO Series Congress 2017?

We usually focus a lot on what the CHRO and the HR team can do for the organisation to create value. I would like to spend some time discussing and learning from everyone on how the CHRO should invest in himself or herself  to ensure that he or she can serve the role well.

Elevating the role of HR

The 2nd Annual CHRO Series Congress, on June 28 and 29, will gather both HR leaders and inspiring Chief HR Officers in the region to discuss the latest trends in HR and workforce management. The two-day immersion provides insights and best practices through sessions with thought-provoking speakers, interactive panel discussions, and case studies focused on strategic themes.

The key topics include creating a holistic HR culture and mindset for effective transition to a more strategic HR role, and cultivating best quality data and analytics practices in the HR landscape.

The congress will help delegates understand the implications of a blended workforce to their organisation and craft the right strategies to cope with a diversified workforce, and ensure a smooth HR transformation through effective HR culture cultivation.

Click here for more information.


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