It’s no wonder that BMW employees can move within the Group according to their interests, development requirements and business needs.
Based in Singapore, Vaishali Ahuja designs, defines and develops talent management concepts, guidelines and initiatives for her pan-continental mandate. Starting her career in the automotive industry in 2000 with the world’s largest two-wheeler company, she then joined BMW in 2006, and was most recently Director of Human Resources for Japan in Tokyo before taking her current role in January 2022.
She will speak at the next Accelerate HR 2023 conference, on the theme “Moving from designing recognition programs to building mindsets”.
In conversation with HR Lara Samson, Ahuja, talks about the talent strategy that embraces diversity in all parts of the business across the globe, ensuring employees are at home at any BMW location globally.
Excerpts from interviews below:
Q What do you see as the main challenges and opportunities for leading HR in your industry and mission?
My role is to lead human resources in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA). As you can imagine, the region is very diverse. A mix of work cultures, combined with changing employee expectations, especially in the new hybrid world of work, makes the whole topic of people very complex. However, the common thread is that we are all part of the BMW Group.
As the world of work evolves at an unprecedented rate, alongside external global factors, we all live in HR in interesting times, which bring both challenges and opportunities.
Q As most organizations seek to recover and rebound, where do you find the people your team needs and how do you deal with the talent shortage?
Finding and cultivating talent is more challenging than ever, and we need to be innovative to stay ahead of the rest.
For us, it’s about hiring externally as well as developing our own talent, which is essential to our business strategy. For example, over the past year we have rotated existing employees into new positions and moved those with specialist skills into APAC markets as well as globally.
Q Brain drain is a real concern in Asia right now. In this time of labor shortage, how are you and the team preparing to handle these talent challenges?
As a global company, mobility is one of the cornerstones of our talent strategy. Employees move within the Group 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 like, we encourage diversity in all areas of the company around the world, and our talent management strategy guarantees it. With such a culture, you are at home at any BMW location around the world.
Q Looking to 2023, what is the biggest change you think needs to take place in HR?
While our efforts to find the best talent in the world will continue to be a challenge, a bigger challenge is managing the psychological safety of our current employees.
In the past, the focus was on performance, with mental health being almost an afterthought. In a post-pandemic world, regardless of the country’s culture, it’s critical that HR keep their ears and eyes open when it comes to employee health and wellbeing.
HR will need to ensure that leaders at all levels of the organization understand the topic, embrace it, and support employees instead of using it as a crutch for non-performance.
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