Two jam-packed days of learning, case studies and networking – here’s your guide to all the action from the annual recruitment conference, reported by Jerene Ang.

Keynote presentations with perspectives on recruitment from the top HR minds and MDs, as well as case studies of various aspects of talent acquisition - from employer branding, to candidate sourcing, selection, and onboarding - were the highlights of Recruitment Asia 2016, Singapore, the region’s biggest recruitment and talent acquisition strategy conference.

Organised by Human Resources and held at Shangri-La Singapore on 01-02 November, 2016, this is the fourth year this conference has been produced - this year by Evon Yew. And, it's the first time we bring the event to you in new two-day format that ensures all your queries are addressed sufficiently, as opposed to just one day.

Kicking start day one of the conference was a conversation on local versus international talent – and the key considerations in recruitment of either one, moderated by Brandon Lew, vice-president, human resources, T-Systems.

Joining him were the panellists, Freddie Chow (chief talent officer, APAC, Sanofi); Adele Png (head of talent acquisition, ASEAN, Philips Electronics); Rachel Fitton (head of talent acquisition, APAC, HP); and Jenny Chong (head of talent acquisition, HP).

Chow from Sanofi summed up the issue facing employers: “From the government’s perspective, there is a need to create opportunities for local talent. That is why they set up policies that limit the number of foreigners to a quota, as well as also raise the salary bar.”

However, from the company’s point of view, he pointed out employers need to expose their HQ talent to Asia to learn about emerging markets, especially for senior management to understand the opportunities in emerging market. “So the question is how we as a company can balance our needs and yet meet the market expectations of the government.”

RA D1 panel 1


Up next was Colin Beames, managing director, Advanced Workforce Strategies, who focused on adopting a strategic approach towards identifying talent as well as developing EVP in his keynote presentation.

Beames brought out the importance of identifying the critical roles while building a strategic workforce plan – i.e. the roles that contribute more to business outcome. “The misidentification of critical roles will either result in poor performance, or loss of revenue.”

Having said that, he points out just because a role is hard to fill doesn’t mean that it is critical. “It’s important to be able to differentiate hard-to-fill roles and critical,” he said.

Check out the photos from the conference here.

Following that, delegates were treated to a keynote by Daniel Wasik, head of talent and outreach programme, Google, who gave his expert take on graduate recruiting programmes, and the whole marketing, planning and career pathing that goes behind it.

Next up was Rachel Fitton, head of talent acquisition, APAC, HP, who took attendees through a case study on designing a proactive candidate-sourcing strategy.

“Don’t let a lack of dollars and tech stop you,” Fitton said on designing a proactive candidate sourcing strategy. “If you’re going to creating a sourcing platform, just do it. Keep trying different ways of doing things.”



After a well-deserved lunch break, delegates dived into the second panel discussion of the day - around fostering a successful partnership with external recruiting specialists - moderated by Colin Beames, MD of Advanced Workforce Strategies.

Joining him were the panellists Rachael Pogson (VP, global talent acquisition and HR central, Seagate); Jean-Michel Wu (chief talent officer, Asia Pacific, McCann Worldgroup); and Jay Chan (senior vice-president, talent acquisition, group human resources, United Overseas Bank).

Check out more photos from the conference here.

The panel was followed by a unique presentation with two speakers - Rose Colledge (managing director, international) and Neil Chowings (managing director, APAC) both from Work Group - who revealed helpful tips and tricks to digitising the employer brand for better attraction and engagement.

Wrapping up day one of the conference was Ken Hoskin, head of APAC talent, Airbnb who shared a case study about Airbnb’s success story in developing a comprehensive employee experience that attracts talent.

RA D1 Airbnb


Day two saw an opening speech by Lyn Lee, Global vice-president of human resources, Shell Business Operations, who presented a case study on implementing a structured selection process to maximise limited talent pools.

Lee narrated the story of staffing Shell's in-house global information technology centre set up in Bangalore, India 15 months ago, and how she and her team created a burning platform in order to deliver staffing targets on time.

In a brilliant keynote, she addressed all aspects of the challenge - working with local versus international vendors, making the selection process more efficient, and cultural sensitivity, among others.

See the photos from the conference here.

Next up, continuing the theme of selection excellence and expanding it to the need for upskilling the in-house HR team on new trends, delegates moved into a panel discussion moderated by Joan Soong, head of global executive recruitment, Schneider Electric.

Joining her were panellists Vandna Ramchandani (head of recruitment, philanthropy and engagement, Asia, Bloomberg), Jon-paul Pritchard (head of executive talent acquisition, APAC, Cisco Systems). Tiffany See (executive director, HR global commercial sales and enterprise solutions, Dell), and Eric Wong (head of talent acquisition, APAC, Fitbit).

Ramchandani talked about the importance of identifying culture fit during recruitment through an example: "We conduct a lot of surveys, one of which is the one conducted 120 days after a new hire, asking - will you hire this person again? We found, people who fail with us fail only because they are not a culture fit. Culture previously used to be a matter of gut, now it is based on data."

RA D2 panel 1


Following that, Suzie Custerson, head of talent acquisition, Asia, Manulife, pooled her 13 years of experience in the banking and financial services industry for her presentation on leveraging digital and social tools for recruitment.

Custerson demonstrated considerations for the optimum social and digital strategy from the HR point of view, explaining that any content shared has to be meaningful and create an emotional connection with current and potential employees. "It requires discipline and control, you don’t want to just put it in the hands of everyone, you want to have a schedule and people who know what platform is best for the type of message sent and for the region."

See more photos from the conference here.

Up next was Tiffany See, executive director, HR global commercial sales and enterprise solutions, Dell, who explained in a case study how Dell communicates effectively with its Millennial candidate population.

Sharing details research data on Millennials, See said: "79% of Millennials will think about quitting their jobs and starting their own companies. This whole idea of careers, the Millennials see it very differently as compared to how we see it."

RA D2 Dell


After a well-deserved lunch break, Philip Steggals, managing director, Kadence International, who is experienced with quantitative and qualitative research methods, presented award-winning ideas for onboarding programmes, that not only help ramp up productivity of new hires, but also improve retention rates.

Steggals pointed out that for a great onboarding experience, Kadence starts correspondence for a new hire as soon as they sign the contract. "We know what projects they will be on so we help to set the pace before they start. It also helps them start thinking of ideas for the project."

For more photos from the conference, click here.

From that take on new employee orientation, we expanded the conversation to include career planning, retention and motivation, in the next panel discussion moderated by Satyakam Mishra, head of human resources, Bata.

Joining him for this discussion were Cindy Dermawan (head of talent and learning management, diversity and inclusion, Citi); Tricia Duran (HR director, Unilever Asia); and Imre Vadasz (regional director, human resources, AMEA, Sony Electronics).

Duran spoke about employer branding at Unilever: "We consider our company multi-national and local. One example is how we activate the company brand. It is different in each country, but one thing that we don't change is what the company stands for because that is the same globally."

RA D2 panel 2


Wrapping up day two of the conference was Jon-paul Pritchard, head of executive talent acquisition, APAC, Cisco Systems who delved into his vast experience to bring forth a case study on optimising your internal recruitment strategy.

Pritchard referred to the adage that you don’t get promoted unless you do the job you are going to be promoted to, explaining, "We have a marketplace where employees can find stretch assignments that are related to the roles that they want to apply for, to grow and stretch their skills."

See all the photos from the conference here. 

Human Resources would like to thank all sponsors and partners that contributed to the success of Recruitment Asia 2016, Singapore:

  • Gold sponsor: Work Group
  • Exhibitors: ServiceDott | Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) | Sonru | Verity Intelligence
  • Event partner: TMP Worldwide