The Next Group - HR Postcards from Abroad

We are delighted to share some insights from Karen Pink who is a Human Resource professional with significant experience across a wide range of fast moving commercial industries delivering strategic through to operational HR service delivery. As a people & culture professional, Karen has operated across Australia, New Zealand, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, China and Hong Kong.


Karen recently joined JLL as Head HR, IFM based in Singapore.  A Fortune 500 company, JLL is one the world’s top 3 Property organisations and has close to 300 corporate offices, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of nearly 80,000.

We are grateful to Karen for generously setting some time aside to converse with us about her personal experience of HR across the Asia Pacific markets. 

What are the challenges of the business environment you are operating in?

Karen began by sharing that as global business environments are in a state of constant change, JLL are also focused on change and in particular the future of work which for them has 5 key components to it including:
  • Human experience and enhancing user experience
  • Financial performance
  • Digital drive 
  • Continuous innovation
  • Operational excellence
“So, for us at JLL we’ve maintained an outward focus to ensure alignment with global changes and trends.  The cascading effect this has on HR includes how we deal with differences between the Asian countries, the differing cultures and the shifting landscapes that require us to be agile, nimble and flexible to cope with change over the next decade”. 

What are your key observations around HR trends that are playing out in your marketplace?

“JLL is really mirroring what is happening globally, specifically around the search for talent as the competition for talent is really intense in our markets. There are challenges in recruiting, resourcing, acquiring and developing talent. Our HR strategy is very focused on talent acquisition and learning and development”. 
“There are of course differences from an individual country perspective, for example in some countries in Asia, we have changing employment requirements and we need to respect these from a sovereignty perspective of course. These countries are looking to develop the capability of their local workforce and encourage local employment”. 
“This is evident in a number of jurisdictions and so they are relatively closed employment markets. However India is a different story and has a very mobile talent pool, many of which are millennials who are willing and able to move from one job to another.  China is different again, it’s also competitive, the Tiger market has grown exponentially and so we have to work out where to place ourselves in the market in the “war” for talent”.

What are some of the differences in the HR landscape offshore when comparing to Australia?

“Just as a practitioner, in the first instance, the level of professional support is more evident in Australia, organisations such as AHRI are not available here, however that is changing and there are HR support bodies starting to emerge.  I also think that HR networks are more difficult to identify, especially when you are spread across fifteen or more countries.”
Obviously, the cultural overlay is the main difference. I spent 18 years with Coles Myer and with over 140,000 employees at its peak, it was a great springboard for my career however to gain international exposure, I had to move on and into an organisation that was across the APAC region.  You get to understand so much more, such as how things operate in different cultures and if you can put that into context, you develop agility around it”.

What you have benefited from as a HR professional in stepping out of an Australian only role and into foreign markets?

“Actually I wish I had done it sooner. I first landed in Singapore in 2008 (prior to GFC) for a stint and then moved back to Melbourne to take up a management role across Asia Pacific. For me personally, I don’t think being located in Melbourne, responsible for Asia Pac worked well as I felt I needed to be on the ground and based where the main body of our work was. It can be very problematic running an APAC environment from Australia. It is doable but you don’t really have a proper work-life balance and you spend so much of your time on a plane going to and from various Asian countries”.
“I feel more connected to Asia by being here, I have a better understanding, especially with the cultural differences and nuances from country to country. It’s easier to navigate my way and connect with my colleagues here in Asia and you get a better view of the world as Australia can be quite insular.  Relocating to Asia, contributed to me being a more robust HR professional and on a personal level it added value and gave me new insights into myself and how I operate in the world”.

What advice would you offer to someone seeking to go abroad into new markets?

“When you first arrive, make developing new HR networks a high priority, and it’s definitely worthwhile to maintain your networks back in Australia, it’s always good to keep abreast with what’s happening in the world of HR back home!"
So simply;
  1. Network, make new connections but also keep connected to your local networks back in Australia
  2. Establish value in each of those networks, so aim for quality not quantity. 
“Be prepared to spend time creating the vision around what it’s like to be away from family and home.  Consider looking at it through a travel perspective, spend six weeks in the first instance and seek connections there. It’s more powerful from an employment basis to be in the country you want to live in. Of course with employment laws, many countries are strict on employment passes and how long you can stay on a visa. Get to understand the market and organisations that are looking for people and work at mapping yourself to these organisations”.
“In conclusion, I would say, my family and I took risks to be here, we wouldn’t have changed that. The main thing for a HR person, who is considering a move overseas is to back yourself. Remember, as an Australian HR professional, you have a lot to offer, so don’t be afraid to take a risk and get outside your comfort zone. Be open to cultural engagement and all the wonderful things about the Asian countries and what they can offer”.
“For young HR professionals who are keen to relocate to Asia, if you get an opportunity take it – don’t procrastinate. There are a lot of roadblocks to Asia and the HR professional bar has been raised, therefore there is greater competition on a local level, so seize the moment and you won’t have regrets”.
“I’ve had three fantastic opportunities to work outside Australia, back in 2008, 2016 and my current role. It is a little trickier than it used to be and corporates are tightening up on the funding from a global mobility aspect, it’s not as financially attractive as it was then, and though relocation packages are not as common, the tax offset from 45% to 16% is a real advantage”. 
Alan Clare - The Next Group partner with organisations who seek to BUY, BORROW or BUILD Capability.

Views: 61

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of HR Daily Community to add comments!

Join HR Daily Community

© 2018   Created by Jo Knox.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service