Navigating Digital Transformation: Insights from Malaysia HR Tech Conference and Expo 2024 (Part 2)

Apr 28, 2024 8 Min Read
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Day 2 of the Malaysia HR Tech Conference & Expo 2024 (“HR Tech Expo”) continued with key insight reinforcement of day 1 sharing by Lisa Wong, HR leaders perspective on adoption of technology, digital transformation and panel discussions amongst esteemed leaders in the HR ecosystem. The HR Tech Expo 2024, organised by Leaderonomics and Malaysia HR Forum, took place at a moment of utmost significance, recognising the paramount importance of digital transformations for the survival and growth of organisations. This article encapsulates a selection of highlights from day 2 of the expo.

Read this first: Navigating Digital Transformation: Insights From Malaysia HR Tech Conference and Expo 2024 (Part 1)

The CHRO perspective on Digital HR and Transformation

Maybank’s Datuk Dr. Nora Manaf's, insights provided a thought-provoking reflection on the evolving landscape of HR in the digital era. She delved into the profound transformations occurring in talent acquisition, employee development, and organisational sustainability. Here are some key takeaways from her sharing.

  • Talent Acquisition Evolution: Datuk Nora highlighted the shift in talent acquisition strategies over time, urging attendees to not only acknowledge the changes in search profiles but also to assess how technology is being leveraged. She emphasised the need for purpose-driven technology adoption, cautioning against relying solely on digital tools without aligning them with organisational goals. 
  • Accountability in Employee Development: Central to Datuk Nora's sharing was the accountability of HR professionals in fostering employee growth and performance. She challenged attendees to evaluate how many individuals they have genuinely helped to thrive within their organisations. Datuk Nora stressed the importance of creating win-win situations for employees, shareholders, and society, aligning with ESG principles. She advocated for holistic approaches to employee development beyond traditional job transitions, emphasising solutions that ensure financial well-being and sustainability.
  • Continuous Learning and Sustainable Organisations: Datuk Nora emphasised the necessity of continuously evolving learning programs to meet the demands of a rapidly changing digital landscape. Additionally, she underscored the urgency of building sustainable organisations that prioritise human well-being, highlighting the emergence of new roles such as certified mental health providers in Maybank. Her insights provided attendees with a roadmap for fostering a culture of continuous learning, accountability, and sustainability in the workplace.

The Digital Cultural Transformation Journey at Microsoft

CEO of Microsoft Malaysia, K. Raman’s address illuminated the company's transition from a focus on office productivity to a culture of relentless innovation and customer-centricity. Here are the key points from Raman's sharing:

Cultural Transformation

Raman recounted Microsoft's early mission to place a PC in every home and office, a vision that evolved as technology advanced, particularly with the rise of powerful smartphones. This necessitated a re-evaluation of Microsoft's mission, leading to a new focus on empowering every person and organisation on the planet. This shift emphasised Microsoft's role in enabling its customers' success, rather than solely promoting its own products.

Raman recounted the pivotal moment in 2014 when Satya Nadella became CEO and spearheaded a cultural transformation within Microsoft. Nadella championed a shift towards a growth mindset, moving away from the fixed mindset that previously dominated the company's approach. This cultural shift fostered an environment of innovation and adaptability, crucial for staying competitive in a rapidly changing industry landscape.

Customer Obsession and Inclusivity

Raman highlighted Microsoft's transition to a customer-obsessed culture, where listening to and understanding customer needs became paramount. This shift included a focus on diversity and inclusivity, recognising that a diverse workforce fosters innovation and better serves a global customer base.

He underscored Microsoft's commitment to making a positive difference in the community and addressing sustainability challenges such as climate change. The company's endeavours extend beyond technological innovation to initiatives aimed at social and environmental impact, reflecting its broader societal responsibilities.

Empowering Employees and Delivering Value

Raman emphasised the importance of equipping Microsoft employees with the right tools and capabilities to serve customers effectively. This approach spans country, regional, and global levels, ensuring that employees can deliver value faster and remain competitive amidst evolving market dynamics and increasing competition.

With these transformative changes over the past decade, Microsoft's stock value has seen significant enhancement, reflecting the company's strengthened position in the market and its ability to adapt to changing industry trends while maintaining a focus on social impact and customer satisfaction.

As Microsoft celebrates its 50th anniversary, its commitment to innovation, adaptability, and making a positive impact positions it for continued success in the dynamic tech landscape, driving value for both customers and shareholders alike.

Bouncing Back in This New World

Andrew Matthews, esteemed author of "Bouncing Back," took the stage at the HR Tech Expo to deliver profound insights on resilience and happiness. He posed thought-provoking questions to the audience, eliciting nods of recognition from many who had encountered similar struggles. Here are some key insights shared by Andrew Matthews:

Embracing Life's Challenges: Mathews emphasised the inevitability of facing challenges in life, ranging from financial setbacks to health crises and professional disappointments. He underscored the notion that while challenges may initially seem daunting, they often serve as opportunities for personal growth and development.

Illustrative Story: Mathews shared an anecdote about his encounter with a profound realisation at the age of 25 when he discovered that some of the happiest people he knew had faced significant hardships, much worse than his. This realisation challenged the conventional belief that a life devoid of problems equates to happiness, highlighting the resilience and joy found in overcoming adversity.

Choosing Happiness and Gratitude: Amidst life's trials, Mathews advocated for the conscious choice of happiness. He emphasised the importance of gratitude and focusing on what one has, rather than dwelling on what is lacking. This perspective shift, he argued, enables individuals to navigate challenges with greater resilience and optimism.

Illustrative Story: Mathews recounted the inspiring journey of Julie, whose son faced a severe brain injury in a car accident. Despite the devastating prognosis, Julie chose to focus on her son's strength and resilience, finding gratitude in the moments they shared. Her unwavering determination and acceptance epitomised the power of choosing happiness amidst adversity.

Daily Resilience and Mindset: Building on the theme of resilience, Mathews encouraged adopting a mindset of resilience in daily life. He emphasised the significance of managing challenges one day at a time and reframing negative thoughts into opportunities for growth.

Illustrative Story: Mathews likened negative thoughts to "rats," proliferating rapidly if left unchecked. He underscored the importance of focusing on what one can control and finding at least one positive aspect in every situation, reinforcing the idea that resilience is a daily practice.

Persistence and Seizing Opportunities: Reflecting on his own experiences, Mathews highlighted the role of persistence in overcoming setbacks and seizing opportunities for growth. He dispelled the notion of "special people," asserting that success often stems from unwavering determination and resilience.

Illustrative Story: Mathews shared anecdotes of Katy Perry and Jack Ma, who transformed adversity into triumph, emphasising that failure is not the end but a stepping stone towards success. He encouraged the audience to embrace failure as part of the journey and to persist in pursuing their goals.

Visualisation and Creating Happiness: Concluding his discourse, Mathews emphasised the power of visualisation in manifesting happiness and success. He encouraged individuals to envision their desired outcomes and to cultivate a positive mindset, as every improvement in life begins as an idea in the mind.

Illustrative Story: Mathews underscored the importance of seeing things before they happen, asserting that happiness is not merely found but created through intentional actions and positive thinking.

A summary of all seven steps from Bouncing Back (published book in 48 languages) shared at the Expo are:-

  • Find purpose in whatever happens,
  • Accept What You Can’t Change,
  • Look for good things every day,
  • Live one day at a time 
  • When you Fall, get back up,
  • Set a target, and 
  • Find a better life. Happiness is not something you just find it's something that you create.

Andrew Mathews's insights on resilience and happiness provided attendees with valuable tools for navigating life's challenges with optimism and determination.

The Psychology of the Digital Revolution: Developing the Mindsets and Culture That Will Enable Transformation by Dr. Goh Chee Leong

Psychologist, Dr. Goh shared pearls of wisdom, crucial for navigating the tumultuous waters of digital transformation. Dr. Goh shared poignant anecdotes from his experiences aiding communities devastated by the 2004 tsunami. Amidst the wreckage, he witnessed first-hand how some communities grappled with a loss of control over their circumstances. Yet, amidst the despair, they found solace in recognising what they could control. Dr. Goh drew a parallel to the academic realm, where students facing daunting exams may feel overwhelmed by the lack of control over the content. However, by shifting focus to what they can control—preparation and mindset—they can navigate these challenges with resilience. The same applies to digital transformation.

In addition to lack of control and mindset, Dr. Goh also delved into the root cause of resistance to digital transformation or any organisational change: fear. He emphasised that education plays a pivotal role in change management, particularly in shifting mindsets from powerlessness to agency. Contrary to popular belief, age, he stressed, is not a barrier to learning. By understanding the basics and progressing gradually, individuals can build confidence and competence. He advocates for any learning to begin with the foundation. Starting at a high bar sets individuals up for failure.

Building on the foundation mentioned above, Dr. Goh explored the concept of learning cycles as a means to cultivate confidence. He reiterated that breaking down complex concepts into manageable pieces and providing hands-on experiences are essential steps in this process. By starting with short learning cycles, individuals can gradually build their understanding and skills, ultimately empowering them to confront challenges with confidence and agency.

The participants at HR Tech Expo on both days also had the opportunity to listen to various panel discussions on technology adoption and digital transformation in the HR space by key leaders in the ecosystem such as Khim Tan, Vineet Koka (Disprz), Christine Sterk (Pulsifi), Nadiah Tan (SP Setia), Yuh Yng Chook (SEEK Asia), Patrick Hew (Paywatch Global),  Wilson Tan (Coursera), Sashe Kanapathi (Leaderonomics), Bala Murali, Ian Lee (JCorp Berhad), Izham Wahab (BSN), Mohd Imran Kunalan (Westport), Lye Ling Wong (Gamuda), Vinesh Naidu (PWC Malaysia) moderated by Arulkumar Singaraveloo (Malaysia HR Forum), Sam Baxendale (Kinetik) and Roshan Thiran (Leaderonomics) respectively.

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Lead Editor

Kiran Tuljaram, the Lead Editor at Leaderonomics, brings a wealth of experience to her role. With a background as a trained lawyer, she dedicated nearly a decade to the banking industry before embarking on her entrepreneurial journey. Following her tenure as a Legal Manager at a bank, Kiran founded and successfully ran multiple businesses, including the establishment of her own fashion accessories label. Balancing her entrepreneurial endeavours, Kiran is also a devoted mother to three girls. Her varied background in banking, motherhood, employment, occasional social work, and managing director in her business has provided her with invaluable insights and a unique perspective on the critical importance of leadership within organisations.


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