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Expert views shared by international HR professionals at the Classified Post HR Conference 2015

Published on Saturday, 24 Oct 2015
The conference’s panel discussion saw (from left) Jose Bezanilla, CEO of Great Place to Work in China, moderate a discussion on inspiration as a strategic driver with Tony Jasper, Jeff Eilertsen and Alessandro Paparelli.
Jeff Eilertsen, vice-president of global services at Up Your Service (Photos: Jordan Yim)
Alessandro Paparelli, vice-president of human resources at Kering Asia-Pacific (Photos: Jordan Yim)
Tony Jasper, principal of global employer services at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (Photos: Jordan Yim)

At last week’s Classified Post HR Conference 2015, HR specialists, talent development managers and corporate leaders were provided with cutting edge strategies for the HR industry’s most pressing current issues.

Guests at the event, held on October 16 at the JW Marriott Hotel in Admiralty, were welcomed by Elsie Cheung, chief operating officer at South China Morning Post Publishers. “Human resources is one of the most challenging corporate functions in the market place today,” she said in her opening address. “It faces a multitude of issues, including the need for staff to upscale in the digital age, increasing demands for work-life balance [and] the competition to recruit talents with a global outlook.”

Three thought-provoking speakers responded to these challenges: Jeff Eilertsen, vice president of global services at Up Your Service, Alessandro Paparelli, vice president of human resources at Kering Asia Pacific, and Tony Jasper, principal of global employer services at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.

In keynote speaker Eilertsen’s presentation on “Improving corporate culture to gain a sustainable competitive advantage” he highlighted a service model unlike the traditional notion of customer service. “Service is taking action to create value for someone else,” he said. He also made a distinction between service excellence and service culture. “Service culture is one where everybody is moving to improve in service,” he explained.

Companies need to improve their service culture to compete, Eilertsen argued, because customer expectations are always rising and “excellence is a moving target”.

Following Eilertsen and providing the audience with a case study on corporate culture, Alessandro Paparelli gave a presentation entitled “Empowering imagination: the power of an effective 360 employee engagement”. 

Central to employee engagement at the Kering group, Paparelli said, is ensuring equality and diversity, as well as community engagement. When it comes to engagement, he explained, “You have to have a balanced population to start with”. As such, Kering focuses on “engaging for diversity” by aiming to increase female leadership in senior management. They also partner with local NGOs to “promote a culture of engaging internally as well as externally”. 

Paparelli also emphasised the need for an effective engagement platform, such as the Kering group’s intranet and mobile app, where employees can “exchange ideas, read relevant news and get in contact [with each other]”.

In the third presentation of the morning, Tony Jasper addressed the growing challenge of global and virtual workforces in a presentation entitled “How to manage geographically diverse teams”. He discussed approaches to managing virtual workforces, which needs strategies unseen in traditional HR practices. 

He explained that employee relocation may soon be a thing of the past. “It’s probably a lot more likely that you will have available talent in one location and you will have available projects … on the other side of the world,” he said.

Jasper sees virtual workforces as “an inevitable step” for most companies. “You’re needing to work with teams that you have never met, and you may never meet.”

Rather than seeing virtual teams as a negative change in business practice, companies should focus on the opportunities that they present, Jasper noted. Face-to-face communication in companies is often intimidating for employees, he said, and digital communication methods “get past the hierarchies”.

Rounding off the morning’s schedule, Great Place to Work in China CEO Jose Bezanilla led a panel discussion on how inspiration drives talent teams.

Inspiration “is one of the three weakest spots [in business] … across the globe,” he said. Companies should prioritise the motivation of their employees, he argued, because inspiration “is key to unleashing potential in talent”.

When he was asked how leaders should inspire their staff, Jasper pointed out that cultivating inspiration is not formulaic. “Find the people who inspire and enable them to do more,” he said. 

Bezanilla finished off the discussion by encouraging leaders to “tap into what resonates with people” when attempting to inspire them. In order to remain competitive in today’s talent-driven business environment, Bezanilla said, employers “need committed people, engaged and aligned, bringing their best versions every day to work.”

Conference participant Uno Woo, HR manager at the Victoria Educational Organisation, said she appreciated the advice shared by the speakers. “For me, it is very important that I have some practical ideas and some practical [advice on] how to implement staff engagement.”


This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Expert eyes on HR.

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