The State of the HR Profession in 2017: HR challenges in 2017

In the third part of our State of the HR Profession in 2017 report, senior HR leaders share some of the key challenges they expect to encounter this year.

Eric Wong

Head of Talent Acquisition, Asia-Pacific


Data analysis remains an interesting challenge for HR, specifically the way we apply analysis and interpretation.

Collecting and analysing data is an integral part of organisations today. We’ve gotten very good at capturing and measuring data, but we still have a long way to go in making that data work for us.

For example, in talent acquisition we measure time-to-fill. However, a faster time to fill does not mean you’ve got a better hire nor does it mean you’ve got a better process. It simply means that you can fill a position fast. So, why measure it?

We still want to measure it so that we can better manage recruitment operations. A correlation between the recruitment load, time to fill and cost per hire can help us understand how much hiring we can take, how fast we can turn the position around, and with what cost.

It is important to keep in mind the end goal, because without it, you will end up embarking on interventions that do not help the business.


Josephine Chua

Director of HR and Quality

Ramada and Days Hotels Singapore

Good talent is hard to find; and very hard to keep – particularly in the hospitality industry. With strict quotas restricting the number of foreign staff we can employ, Ramada and Days Hotels Singapore At Zhongshan Park has had to work creatively to reduce turnover at every level of the organisation.

We have a continous focus on career development by utilising a combination of ongoing training, succession planning, and talent management programmes to achieve better than benchmark rates.

For example, eligible staff can join the Master of Experience traineeship programme, which provides full training and a career development plan, covering a range of different hospitality functions. 70% of the associates on the programme have made progression in their careers, most moving from the traineeship into full-time executive roles. A few graduates have gone on to reach Duty Manager roles within the group.


Sharyn Porter

HR Executive – Southeast Asia

Banking and Finance Industry

In banking and finance, and the fintech sector, the talent crunch is hitting hard. Our companies were once the destination of choice for top talent but we are now competing with the technology giants that have grown so dramatically.

For Bank of America Merrill Lynch, two key focus areas are centred on women and junior talent. We have undertaken a significant culture change since the Global Financial Crisis and have developed a far more diverse workforce in Asia-Pacific. Maintaining gender diversity in particular is a vital part of our recruitment goals and we need to be continually breaking down the stereotype that finance and fintech can only be male-dominated domains.

At the same time, we need to understand Generation Y and how to be attractive as employers to them. This new generation has the passion and technology skills that banks need to take the industry forward. We need to offer great jobs and a flexible, encouraging culture.


Adele Png

Head of Talent Acquisition,
ASEAN and Pacific region


There is a critical talent shortage for local leaders in emerging economies.

This rapidly changing environment has led to organisations focusing on shorter time frames, and reacting to immediate talent needs. There hasn’t been a compelling drive for organisations to invest into building local leadership. This takes more time to develop, and many have chosen to instead import foreign talent into emerging markets.

Our mandate at Philips is to develop local talent so that they are ready to take on those positions.

In areas where we see gaps in talent, we make conscious decisions to place expatriates in that market, but usually with a view for that expatriate to develop local succession planning as a priority. Overall, while I think some organisations have gotten it right, I think corporates need to be more focused and invest not only in “buying” talent but also developing talent, so that it is more balanced.

Analysing the Workday advantage

Sandeep Aggarwal, Chief Financial Officer of Aon-Hewitt Asia-Pacific, shares his thoughts on the Workday finance and HR analytics platform. He says the cloud-based system is intuitive and easy-to-use, but still provides powerful insights across the functions.

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