Wong Sze Keed, CEO, AIA Singapore

AIA Singapore took home the award for the 'Most People-Focused CEO' at the HR Excellence Awards 2021, Singapore.

In this interview, award winner Wong Sze Keed, Chief Executive Officer, AIA Singapore, shares her affirmation towards a people-first mandate, which drives her and all of the organisation to lead by example and helps employees live healthier, longer, and better lives. 

Q What is your organisation’s winning HR strategy, and what are some milestones you’ve accomplished along this journey?

At AIA Singapore, our HR strategy is all about a people-first culture. We have always endeavoured to be more than an insurer, in good times and bad, we want to be a partner to our customers through their life’s journey. That promise starts with our employees. They are our biggest asset; they define our culture and are the driving force of our organisation.

Our brand promise of enabling healthier, longer, better lives for everyone starts from prioritising the health and wellness of our people.

Our people-first mandate is all about nurturing a healthier workplace, fostering an inclusive work environment, and creating a safe and empowering space for people to reach their fullest potential.

Q How has this strategy helped you achieve your HR priorities, and what role has the leadership played in helping make this initiative a reality?

Our people-first mandate enables us to double down on AIA’s brand promise. To do this right, we need to lead by example and ensure that our employees are also living healthier, longer, better lives at work and in life.

We have always believed in leveraging diverse experiences and backgrounds to drive change and progress within Singapore’s life insurance industry. This shone through strongly during the endemic, with every single team member of our AIA family being empowered to make a positive change in their lives and the lives of others.

Q Unexpected roadblocks are part and parcel of executing any initiative. What were some of the barriers that you and your team experienced while rolling this out, and how did you successfully get past them?

There’s still a lot of education required to demonstrate the true value of insurance. Insurance traditionally played a payor role, processing claims when our customers needed us. Today, we have evolved from this passive role to become a more proactive partner in our customers’ lives. As a leading life insurer, we believe that it is our duty to make a positive impact in the communities we serve.

Amid the endemic COVID-19 reality, we took a step further by empowering our staff and AIA insurance representatives to become agents of positive change – helping our customers and the community cope with and overcome COVID 19 challenges.

We introduced '#EmbracingNewNorms', an integrated movement to educate, uplift, and empower them to live their best and healthiest now and in the long term through fun and engaging ways.

This was a timely response reminding people that they are not alone through this jarring transition. By encouraging, educating, and helping people make sense of and embrace the new normal every step of the way, we have and will continue to live up to our brand promise of enabling people to live healthier, longer, better lives, even as the world around us is changing.

The campaign rolled out drumbeats of initiatives that stayed sensitive to consumer needs at different stages of the evolving COVID-19 situation. Such as, leveraging on our social media channels by pushing timely content which included practical lifestyle tips and stay-home webinars, to introducing a work-from-home assistance scheme for staff to a complimentary 'Resilience Mindset' programme for them as well as all corporate customers to help them take charge of their wellbeing and better support them in a remote work environment.

Q As evidenced by the win, this initiative clearly delivered some amazing results. What was your gameplan for measuring ROI? What are some proud achievements you can share with us on this front?

For a company that is about enabling healthier, longer, better lives, making a real and tangible impact on the health of our customers and employees is definitely one of our proudest achievements.

Our comprehensive health and wellness programme, AIA Vitality, has supported members to make significant strides to their health as evidenced in the improvements in the key health metrics of blood pressure, body mass index, glucose, and cholesterol levels.

When we first launched AIA Vitality, Singaporeans’ Vitality age was reported to be four years older compared to their biological age. Today, we have narrowed this gap to less than a year for Vitality members.

Vitality Age is a measure of the member’s body age based on the lifestyle, relative to their actual age.

Q We’re now seeing HR manage portfolios that were previously considered far from their job description. In your view, what are the top three skills and attributes of today’s successful CHRO?

Today’s CHROs take on an important multi-discipline role and this continues to evolve. In order to successfully lead the charge on reimagining work in a post pandemic world, I believe the most important skills include:

  1. Having agile thinking to foresee business threats and opportunities and refine plans accordingly,
  2. Showcasing empathy to be sensitive to the evolving needs and desires of employees, and
  3. Improving digital literacy as organisations are continuing efforts to digitally transform.

These skills will set today’s HR professionals up for success as a key driver of the company culture by setting strategies and policies to attract and retain employees and to institutionalise desired operating principles. The right company culture drives organisational success, and CHROs are the chief architects behind this.


Image / Provided (Wong Sze Keed, CEO, AIA Singapore)

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