Being mobile is one of the cornerstones of our talent strategy

It’s no wonder that employees at BMW can move across groups based on their interests, development needs, and business needs.

Based in Singapore, Vaishali Ahuja designs, defines, and develops talent management concepts, guidelines, and initiatives for her pan-continental remit. Starting her career in the automotive industry with the world’s largest two-wheeler company in 2000, she then joined BMW in 2006, and was Country HR Director for Japan in Tokyo before taking up her current role in January 2022.

She will be speaking at the upcoming Accelerate HR 2023 conference titled ‘Shifting from designing recognition programs to building mindsets’.

In conversation with of HRO Lara Samson, Ahuja talks about the talent strategy that embraces diversity in all parts of the business worldwide, ensuring that employees feel right at home at any BMW location around the world.

Excerpts from the interview below:

Q What do you think are the key challenges and opportunities for HR leadership in your sector and remit?

My role includes leading HR in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA). As you can imagine, the field is very diverse. The mix of work cultures combined with evolving employee expectations, especially in the new world of hybrid working, makes the whole people issue much more complex. However, the common thread is that we are all part of the BMW Group.

With the world of work changing at an unprecedented pace, coupled with external global factors, all of us in HR are living in interesting times, which pose both challenges and opportunities.

Q With most organizations looking to recover and rebound, where do you find the headcount your team needs, and how are you coping with the talent shortage?

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Finding and nurturing talent is a bigger challenge than ever, and we need to be innovative to stay ahead of the curve.

For us, it’s about working externally and developing our own talent, which is key to our business strategy. For example, over the past year, we have rotated existing employees into new roles and transferred those with specialized skills to markets in APAC and globally.

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Q Brain drain is a real concern in Asia right now. In this time of manpower shortage, how are you and the team preparing to manage these talent-related challenges?

As a global company, being mobile is one of the cornerstones of our talent strategy. Employees move into groups based on their interests, development needs, and our business needs. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, how old you are, or what you love, we embrace diversity in all parts of the business around the world, and our talent strategy ensures this. With a culture like this – you’re at home at any BMW location around the world.

Q Looking ahead to 2023, what do you think is the biggest change that needs to happen in HR?

While our efforts to find the best talent around the world will continue to be a challenge, an even more important challenge is handling the psychological safety of our existing employees.

In the past, the full focus was on performance, mental health was almost an afterthought. In a post-pandemic world, regardless of the country’s culture, it’s important for HR to keep their ears and eyes open when it comes to the health and well-being of employees.

HR will need to ensure that leaders at all levels within the organization understand the issue, embrace it, and support employees rather than using it as a basis for non-performance.


Back, Bigger and Better – Accelerate HR brought to you by Human Resources Online is a major HR event you can’t afford to miss. Over 30 deep-dive sessions by leading workplace trailblazers and HR innovators through informative keynotes and case study-driven breakout sessions, interactive panels and debates, fireside chats, and high-value discussions with over 250 people leaders in the field. Contact us for group discounts or download the event brochure for more details.

Photo / HRO

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