Driving change from human resources to human development
In the realm of human resources, many would consider human development (HD) as the next step: adopting a people-centric approach to building a sustainable workforce. With a focus on fair and inclusive development of employees and stakeholders, as well as the community around them, HD is often an investment in people to create better opportunities for themselves in the future by reskilling and upskilling them.
This is one of the reasons why the ASEAN Human Development Organisation (AHDO) Summit is continuously looking to create opportunities for employees in South-East Asia, and rewarding organisations that are aligned with this objective. At HR Fest Awards 2023, AHDO, in collaboration with HRM Asia, introduced the Best ASEAN Human Development award, which recognises the best organisation that has pushed for fair and inclusive development of employees and stakeholders in at least two ASEAN countries.
Winning the award was Mewah International, a company listed on the mainboard of the Singapore Stock Exchange. It is one of the largest global edible oils and fats companies with distribution offices in countries such as Australia, Africa, Turkey, Malaysia, China, and Singapore. With such a large network, it becomes imperative to develop and equip their human resources especially those with localised knowledge so as to create the best strategies for the respective regions.
Speaking with HRM Magazine Asia, Bianca Cheo, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Mewah International, said, “We are honoured to receive this award as it confirms that Mewah International is heading in the right direction in terms of HD for our workforce. This award belongs to everyone in Mewah International and acknowledges the dedication and effort of our leaders and staff in contributing to their career and skills development. Mewah International will continue to drive positive change and nurture our greatest asset – our people.”
The group transformation from a HR administration-centric organisation to a people development-centric organisation is one that took considerable time and many debates on strategy to develop, Cheo disclosed. It started with rebranding Mewah International’s HR department to one that focuses on People, Development and Innovation, and with half-yearly leadership meetings to ensure implementation and buy-in.
“In the leadership meetings, we will focus on discussions regarding our common goals, talent management and identify the key competencies of our people. We also discuss opportunities for job rotation & career growth,” she shared. Leaders would communicate the key discussion points to their people managers and team members and work together to upskill and reskill the people under their care. With these discussions, leaders and employees can work together to figure out the opportunities the organisation can provide in their career development plans.
The key to success HD within Mewah International is a lack of gatekeeping when it comes to information sharing, as Cheo explained, “We are grateful that leaders in Mewah International are unselfish in sharing their knowledge and growing their people. With that in mind, we can continuously help our people to progress in their skills and in their careers.”
Organisations, she elaborated, should focus on developing a robust talent pool so that they are not solely dependent on any individual leader or people manager. Leaders, as well, need to better understand new HR frameworks or solutions, with an open mind to review new ideas that could help them lead, inspire, and develop their team. Collaboration and knowledge sharing is something that Mewah International deeply values, offering diverse learning opportunities such as providing a range of learning opportunities that cater to different learning needs, styles, and preferences. This can include formal training programmes, online courses, coaching, mentoring and informal learning opportunities through on-the job training, job rotations, and crossfunctional or entities projects.
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Lastly, the HD aspects of an organisation should always be in tandem with a safe dynamic working space that empowers employees. Mewah International always tries to encourage knowledge sharing and mentorship, pushing employees to not only upskill and grow, but to use those skills to collectively contribute to the overall success of the organisation.