Paul Gallagher is director – professional services for the finance & accountancy, HR and legal divisions at Kelly Services Hong Kong.
How do I shift from traditional HR to employee engagement technology?
As an HR director, I’m partly responsible for auditing our internal systems and developing new methods for employee engagement. Having recently introduced some apps and online games to do so, I’ve realised I’m more interested in developing such tools, and would like to work for a company that does so. Considering many of these are tech or software companies, however, I’m not sure my skills are transferable. Are there development companies that need HR experts on their teams? Or do I need to gain some extra skills before making the move?
In Hong Kong, the fear of diverting from a full-time job with a full-time income has stopped many people from exploring their own interests and passion. I give you my full respect in your career vision.
According to Deloitte’s “Global Human Capital Trends 2016” report, fewer than 20 per cent of companies deploy their HR to work on mobile apps, despite 74 per cent of company executives identifying digital HR as a major focus in 2016. Apparently, your area of interest is of demand.
With the rise of this promising trend, it’s inevitable that certain IT vendors and consultants will be interested in expanding their teams that are focused on driving HR solutions.
There are also plenty of HR consultancies that develop HR systems, and many of the traditional Big Four CPA firms are developing around HR consulting. These businesses revolve around assessing clients’ HR transformation needs, existing technology, operations and project management, and providing solutions for them.
Many of these IT vendors and consultants may find your knowledge in HR an invaluable asset. In such companies, you may consider roles like business analyst of HR solutions, who serves as a bridge between clients and the technical team, providing user insights and requirements to the latter. You can ease into the field using your professional HR knowledge, while ramping up your technical skills in due course.
Depending on your strengths and interests, you may also consider joining a digital HR solutions provider as an account handler for existing clients, or as sales personnel taking care of new businesses.
As an HR director, you may also consider driving your existing company to develop avant-garde digital HR solutions. The products your company drives will give you a good opportunity to build credentials in the digital HR field. This may in turn help you develop your passion into entrepreneurship in years to come.
Whichever direction you decide to take, you may need to be prepared to make short-term sacrifices to achieve your goal in mid- to long term. I wish you every success in venturing into a career that you are truly passionate about.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Shifting from traditional HR to engagement technology.