Bó Lè Leaders. Succession Planning: Why Does it Matter? The Leadership Journal for Strategic Career Management. It s Never Too Early

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1 Bó Lè Leaders The Leadership Journal for Strategic Career Management Edition 2, 2014 Succession Planning: Why Does it Matter? The global corporate world understands how emergencies impact the bottom line, whether they are due to financial mismanagement or the unforeseen resignation of a member on the senior management team. But research conducted by PT Worldwide shows that nearly half of all companies (40%) aren t prepared for an executive leadership crisis: the unexpected departure at the CEO level. Any change in leadership can be disruptive to various dimensions of an organization such as employee morale, organizational culture and financial performance. So what can be done to sustain a more efficient transition? It s Never Too Early When then-bank of America (BOA) CEO Ken Lewis announced in October 2009 his plan to retire by year-end, the company could not immediately name a new CEO. In the following months, BOA s board of directors was faced with sharp criticism for their apparent lack of preparation in succession planning, during which time its stock fell 10 percent when the Dow Jones Industrial average rose 7.5 percent. After multiple outsider candidates declined to replace Lewis, the company was finally able to find insider Brian Moynihan to step into the role later in the same year. Succession planning the process of identifying and cultivating internal candidates for key leadership roles is every business critical responsibility to ensure top performance and continuity during leadership transitions. Without a solid succession plan in place, companies will find themselves losing their competitiveness to drive growth in the long run because they did not have the right talent needed to achieve their business objectives. Top-performing companies understand there is every reason to get succession planning right. A few years ago, in the span of two years, the world s largest fast-food chain McDonald s had appointed three CEOs from its ranks, a feat made even more noteworthy considering the tragic circumstances of how two of those CEOs died within seven months of each other. Similarly, a well-established succession plan allowed Apple to seamlessly transition through the loss of company founder Steve Jobs, who took the time to inspire leadership talent around him and handpicked CEO Tim Cook to be his successor well before his death. Two and a half years after the hand-off, Apple under Cook grew its annual revenue by about 58% and its profits by about 40% during which rivals such as Google increased its profits by about 25% in the same period. Despite widespread understanding of the importance of succession planning, few companies dedicate sufficient effort

2 to the process. In a survey conducted by Women Corporate Directors, 80% of directors in Asia indicated that succession planning is discussed occasionally or only after the current senior executive is leaving. Specifically, more than half of all survey respondents in Asia say that succession is either never discussed or only discussed once a year. When companies choose not to take ownership of the process, they are willfully choosing to hurt their short-term health and performance in the long run. Given that CEO turnover averages about once every three years, it is critical than ever for companies to have a thorough and robust succession plan that keeps them prepared for anticipated and unanticipated emergencies. While there is no one size fits all succession planning model, companies can take rigorous steps to establish a disciplined methodology that allows them to prepare for the true readiness of their candidates. Companies that are prepared to fill key leadership roles in the most pressing times are in a much stronger position to sustain continued growth and ensure success in the future. Succeed in Succession Planning According to Stanford Graduate School of Business, corporate leaders believe succession is vitally important today, just as it has been in the past. Still, most business leaders are dissatisfied with their company s own practices, and think not enough is done to prepare for executive leadership. The following are best practices to ensure succession planning is effective: The board of directors takes charge Unlike before when it was unclear as to who was responsible for succession planning the board of directors or the CEO the board now has the critical responsibility for selecting the right executive leadership for their companies. Unfortunately, a number of companies give the incumbent CEO full responsibility for identifying and developing his or her own successor. There are dangers to relying solely on the CEO to choose his or her successor. All too often, the CEO is biased by his or her own style and experience and tends to choose a successor based on the current state of the business condition, rather than business growth strategy. Succession planning is a governance responsibility as opposed to a managerial responsibility. To that end, a functional board plays a central role in succession while involving the senior management team and Key Succession Planning Questions The Board Perspective (Source: Beeson Consulting) 1. What is the required profile for CEO success in the future given corporate strategies and business priorities? 2. Do we have bona fide internal candidates who can succeed the CEO over the short and long term? If not, how can we recruit and seed into the organization executives with the potential to become candidates? How can we manage the expectations of those individuals as well as manage the impact on other incumbent executives? 3. Do we have acceptable emergency candidates who could serve as CEO on an interim basis? 4. How would we work with a search consultant to identify and possibly recruit external candidates or benchmark the top internal candidates against external candidates? 5. How can we get to know both internal and external candidates well enough to make an informed selection decision? 6. What steps are being taken to test and develop the top internal candidates? 7. How are the top internal candidates progressing? What can we glean from that regarding their readiness and ultimate fit with the requirements of the CEO position? 8. Are there any retention issues on the part of the current or future senior leaders? If so, what steps should be taken to ensure retention? 9. How can we be assured that the company s senior management has put in place the processes/programs necessary to create a pipeline of future leadership talent? Key Succession Planning Questions The Senior Management Perspective 1. How can we ensure the talent and leadership strength required to grow the business, execute business strategies, and deal with retirement/attrition? 2. Who are our future leaders? 3. How can we help them clarify/articulate their career goals? 4. How can we give future leaders the development and breadth of experience required to maximize their potential? 5. How can we focus managers on attracting, developing, and retaining future leaders on key talent? How do we ensure follow-up and accountability on the part of managers? 6. How can we overcome the tendency on the part of managers to hoard talent? 7. How can we ensure common definitions and standards regarding leadership/ career potential across the organization? 8. Are there any talent gaps given growth, current strategies, etc.? 9. Can these gaps be addressed by internal development? Where do we need to recruit externally to add/upgrade the talent? 10. How can we maximize the likelihood of success of outside hires? key functional teams, when appropriate, to participate in the task. It is important that members of the board have extensive experience in managing leadership development and succession planning programs so the importance of identifying and cultivating great talent is not overlooked, as is the case with most companies. The CEO s role in succession planning The strongest leadership transitions occur when both the CEO and the board work together, on a regular basis, to identify and cultivate its business leaders. In the early stages of the process, the CEO and the board must set the right tone at the top by embracing succession planning as a critical strategic process for continued growth. In some instances, however, some CEOs may be reluctant to start discussing about their successors as soon as they take office. A well-functioning board successfully manages any personal sensitivities by building a meaningful relationship with the CEO, based on mutual respect and trust, from the very start. It is essential that the CEO and the board foster an honest and open discussion about succession planning to ensure the process is as objective and ethical as possible. As a best practice example, General Electric s board and CEO routinely discuss succession planning as an integral part of the company s business continuity plan. Their attitude as well as appreciation for authentic leaders are widely recognized in the business world and have enabled them to find the best successors through multiple transitions. A highly competent CEO has a clear focus on succession planning and leadership development. Once the CEO is appointed, he or she plays a vital role in actively revising, with the board, the set of skills and experience required of the future CEO in the short, medium, and long term. Understandably, 2 Building Our Legacy Everyday, 14,500 successful candidates and counting

3 such an effort also facilitates the board s appraisal of the incumbent CEO. In addition to helping establish the future CEO profile, the CEO is responsible for creating career development plans and grooming potential internal successors to assume leadership roles. It is essential that the process begins as early as five years in advance so there is ample time to close any holes in internal talent. Throughout the process, boards should ensure that they are regularly monitoring the CEO s performance in leadership development. The process never ends An effective board understands that succession planning must be an ongoing, structured process that forms an integral part of their agenda. When succession planning becomes consistent and transparent, candidates as well as the CEO will learn to appreciate it as part of their career development plan. In return, boards will gain a deeper exposure to the senior leaders in their organization, close any capability gaps that may exist between the current and desired future state of the talent pipeline, and effectively develop world-class leaders suitable to their particular business context. Creating a Culture In today s highly competitive marketplace, talent is fundamentally every organization s best asset. Boards must foster a corporate culture committed to help high-potential business leaders continue to learn and grow as well as inspire others around them to be their best. This process begins by developing and committing to a thorough and rigorous strategic plan that defines leadership needs, assesses the right leaders, and develops bench strength across the organization. Identify and evaluate critical needs Developing a strong leadership bench requires a solid understanding of the critical business needs of the company. To achieve this, the board and the CEO must forecast the most significant challenges the company and its industry are likely to face now and in the long run, and appraise key positions and leadership skills required to overcome these challenges. In general, leadership positions that are high-impact and have a high retention risk should be the main focus of succession planning. Furthermore, successful companies understand that future challenges will require different leadership skills from those that have worked in the past. Consider Jamie Dimon, who was distinctively different from Bill Harrison at JPMorgan Chase, as was Reginlad H. Jones from Jack Welch at General Electric. These companies recognize that a forward-looking lens is needed to grasp precisely the kind of leaders able to run the organization in different time frames. Assess talent bench A comprehensive leadership assessment process is critical to building a succession pipeline. The assessment should be consistent across the organization and include, at minimum, the top three tiers of management. A well-designed assessment measures each individual s accomplishments against agreed business goals, strengths and weaknesses, and development needs and plans. According to the Harvard Business Review, a welldesigned leadership assessment process should also outline appropriate career paths for higher-level responsibilities. Siemens understands the power of holistic and accurate assessment. When CEO Peter Löescher joined the multinational engineering and electronics conglomerate company in 2007, he led an assessment of the top 400 people in his company. By 2010, over 3,000 employees were benchmarked using the same assessment process. Löescher knew an accurate reading of his people allowed his company to build customized leadership development plans for each individual to reach his or her potential and ultimately meet the company s strategic needs. He was also able to identify candidates who were ready to assume senior roles now, within the next 12 months, and for the next few years. In addition to internal assessment processes, companies should seek external professional firms for an objective assessment of its business leaders. These outside firms can provide a new perspective and great insight to the company s talent bench. Grow your leaders Recently many top leaders are found leaving their jobs because they are dissatisfied with the lack of growth opportunities offered in their companies. If companies wish to have a steady pipeline of talent that is ready to step into key roles whenever the situation calls for it, they should make a long-term commitment to cultivate its leaders. More often than not, however, companies spend excessive money on off-the-shelf programs that offer training completely irrelevant to candidates roles. A best practice is to adopt an integrated approach that provides a holistic growth experience for leaders to learn directly from and support short and long-term business objectives. Ideally, an integrated development program includes a combination of methodologies including but not limited to job rotations, on-the-job learning, assignments, 360s, and leadership workshops. Companies should ensure that its core values are deeply embedded in its programs so as to build a culture of growth and development aligned with business strategy. According to the Harvard Business Review, such a program should foster a genuine commitment, at every level of management, to help business leaders learn and grow. Building a sustainable talent pipeline involves the combined efforts of the board, the senior management team, and representatives from key functional areas such as the human resources department. An evaluation process should be designed to formally assign roles to each of these groups, and assess how well they are managing succession as well as their performance on mentoring and grooming candidates based on a set of measurable performance metrics. Have an emergency plan Throughout the process of assessing and cultivating candidates, it is important that companies compile a broad list of possible successors internal and external who are prepared to fill critical roles across the organization. Companies should gauge whether or not these candidates are ready to step up against two time frames: a shortterm emergency time frame and anticipated succession in the long term. If candidates are not ready to fill key positions, companies should focus on making improvements to their development plans. In selecting ready-now candidates, it is equally important to consider that just how well they perform will largely depend on their relational interplay with the rest of the team. Companies should recognize that a high-performing successor is a byproduct of multiple parties working together. For example, it is not the CEO alone, but rather the entire top management team, that influences strategic decision making and performance. Therefore, companies must consider succession not only in terms of one key position often the CEO but also in terms of forming a new team, and how different attributes and skills complement Building Our Legacy Everyday, 14,500 successful candidates and counting 3

4 each other. Consider the common situation where an outsider CEO is appointed to lead a team of insider senior executives. According to an MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) study, these senior leaders often have a negative attitude towards the outsider CEO and are more likely to resist new initiatives set by him or her. Buying from Outside Deloitte findings show that over the past 25 years, there has been a decline among S&P 500 firms that appoint CEOs with at least 20 years experience within the company. Stanford s Graduate School of Business attributes this to the dangerous myth that external candidates are more exciting and promising. Inside promotions of seasoned executives to CEOs also fell by nearly onehalf to 30% of total successions in 2012, as compared to the 46% in 1996 and 58% at the end of the 1980s. Regardless of insufficient internal talent or a desire to diversify the leadership pool, companies often find themselves recruiting externally. But is this really the right decision for companies? Changing Of the Guard - Internal vs. External Candidates Outgoing CEO Planned departure (CEO retires) Emergency departure (CEO becomes disabled, dies, is terminated or resigns) Internal Candidate Best Scenario Presents the lowest risk and can even have a positive impact on stock prices at the time of announcement Allows time to identify and develop internal candidates and use a formal assessment process to evaluate candidates Least costly Advantages Internal candidates understand the company s culture and are aware of the specific internal needs of the company Disadvantages In many cases, there are no viable candidates lined up Could result in interim CEO (in many cases a board member will take over for the interim) New CEO External Candidate Advantages Brings new ideas More objective Disadvantages Costs more than an internal candidate Worst Scenario Most value at risk with greater surprise comes greater risk More publicized and scrutinized Source: The Corporate Board According to MIT Sloan Review, there are instances in which outsider CEOs tend to do better than those who come up through the ranks. On one hand, outsiders can introduce new ideas and inspire change, especially when a company is under the condition of poor performance and in need of a transformation. Research even suggests that these critical times make it easier for external CEOs to overcome internal resistance to change initiatives. Consider General Motors (GM) four CEO successions within an 18-month period. After CEO Rick Wagoner, a homegrown leader, stepped down in March 2009, his successor Fritz Henderson, another loyal GM employee, resigned later in the same year. It was in these unfavorable circumstances that the board chose Ed Whitacre, a former AT&T executive with no auto industry experience, to rescue the company from the brink of bankruptcy. Whitacre brought a fresh perspective that restored the company s vision of creating the best cars. His successor, Dan Ackerson, again with no car industry experience before joining, effectively implemented important changes to the company s leadership. In 2010, GM raised a record $20.1 billion in its initial public offering, putting the spotlight on the performance benefits that outsider CEOs may bring to companies faced with poor performance. Nevertheless, hiring external successors does not guarantee successful leadership. Even the best outsiders grapple with the negative effects of being new to a company or industry, with some taking as long as months to adapt to a foreign business environment. Also, outsiders lack a solid understanding of a company s culture and may fail to build trust with the key players. Another downside to hiring outsiders is that a much larger compensation is often required to entice them to leave their current company. Any way you look at it, it is good governance that boards should look broadly through the ranks of their organization while running outsider searches for talent. According to Forbes, the best companies first conduct an external market scan and identify the key candidates within the industry and across. Most of the time, companies will select two to three external candidates to interview. Afterwards, they will benchmark their own internal candidates against these external candidates, using a pre-agreed set of leadership criteria. On-board the Successor After the successor is named, companies should focus on getting him or her up to speed for the job. After all, the time between the acceptance of the job and the formal transition greatly determines the rate at which the new successor addresses critical needs and takes appropriate action to meet those needs. In the case of a newly appointed CEO, the board must ensure that the new successor spends adequate time building a relationship with the key constituencies such as board members and the outgoing CEO. This is a critical period for the successor to strengthen his or her vision for the company as well as cultivate a full awareness of the key challenges that require immediate action. Once the CEO takes the reins, the board must provide its full support to help him or her transition to the new role. While internal and external successors will experience the transition differently, the key is for the board and the CEO to build a solid plan that outlines the successor s performance metrics and key milestones in the first year. From there, boards should provide a coaching plan that helps the successor complete his key responsibilities in a productive way. The board should give the new CEO sufficient time to build support from internal networks across the organization, while providing access to a wide network of mentors and executive coaching opportunities that can help the CEO be at his or her most effective. Leadership transitions are the riskiest times for companies. By crafting a strategic approach to succession planning, the board develops the most suitable and strongest leaders for the company to move forward. 4 Building Our Legacy Everyday, 14,500 successful candidates and counting

5 In this edition of Bó Lè Leaders, we had the unique opportunity to speak with senior executives in Shanghai and Singapore to discuss their views on succession planning and the role it plays in their companies. While the industries they work in Asset Management and Semiconductors and the size of their businesses vary, they share a strong consensus on the importance of being prepared for leadership transitions to sustain continued growth and ensure success in the future. Interview with Ren Can Tian Ren Can Tian is the CEO of HFT Investment Management Co., Ltd. (HFT), a leading Chinese asset management company that was founded in As one of the largest and earliest joint ventures in China, HFT manages assets that are worth up to USD 15 billion and has a wholly-owned subsidiary in Hong Kong as well as representative offices throughout China. Ren Can is currently based in Shanghai and is a board of director at HFT. Ren Can holds a Master s Degree in Business Administration that is jointly awarded by Manchester Business School and University of Wales in the UK and a Master s Degree in Political Science and International Relations from Shanghai International Studies University. What is HFT s view on the role of succession planning? HFT has always been committed to a solid succession plan as we are fully aware that employees may leave and changes in leadership are inevitable. A well-established succession plan keeps us prepared in identifying talents with the potential to lead the company in various business lines. For example, if someone were to leave the company and there was no back-up to fill his or her role, the replacement costs would be extremely high in terms of time and learning curve for the newcomer. Whether internal or external, successors will create many uncertainties for the team. The process of succession planning ensures business continuity as well as team cohesion during such challenging times of leadership transitions. How does HFT prepare for an executive leadership crisis, such as the unexpected departure at the CEO level, in the shortterm and in the long run? The succession planning process for an executive leadership crisis, such as that at the CEO level, must be organized over a sufficient period of time. Ideally, succession planning should start at least 6 months before the departure takes place so stakeholders are given enough time to understand the reasons behind the new leadership and what the new leadership would look like. We would need to figure out who might be able to succeed the outgoing CEO, communicate with key members of the team and provide regular updates on the situation and the transition process. At this point, it is crucial to ensure that any impact on the stability of the team is minimized. On the business side, it is extremely important to develop and execute an appropriate communication plan with key clients as they trust the company, are likely to know the CEO, and understand the management style, culture, and the ways in which the business is organized. In any case, an effective succession plan encompasses all of these efforts to lessen the transition s impact on the company s day-to-day operations. To me, the question isn t when leadership transitions occur, but how to deal with them when the situation calls for it. Please describe the ideal senior executive at HFT in terms of experience, leadership competencies, and personal characteristics. A new leader at HFT should be able to carry forward the traditions of the company. He should also be an excellent spokesman of the company. As one-third of our customer base comes from the overseas market, he must possess strong communication skills in English and have had solid international exposure. Because HFT is a joint venture company, it is vital that the new leader is able to serve as an effective communicator between the business two major shareholders and help them reach a consensus on the overall business direction and strategy in the long run. As CEO of the company, what is your role in succession planning? As CEO of the company, I play a major role in ensuring that the succession planning process is smooth and as efficient as possible. Prior to the succession, I would communicate with both internal and external stakeholders about the situation and facilitate the board in identifying the new candidate. After the successor is named, I would focus on helping him understand the key principles that he must stick to in order to grow the company and get him up to speed for the job so he is able to build his credibility and gain the trust of his employees, shareholders, and clients. How does HFT accurately assess its talent bench and select those who have the potential to lead and grow the company? HFT uses a formalized assessment system that was established around 11 years ago. The leader of each business line would coach new employees and help them understand the ways in which the company wants them to perform. Internally, regular and irregular discussions about the new employees are held, and the HR department would develop a personalized annual training plan, which I would later approve, that addresses those individuals key weaknesses and devises methods to improve those areas. Throughout the training process, we would observe and identify those individuals who are able to learn quickly and emerge as high-performing employees. We would then eventually move them to a higher-level position in a few years time, decide whether or not he is good enough to take on more responsibilities, and what kind of skills he 8 Building Our Legacy Everyday, 14,500 successful candidates and counting 5

6 Interview with Thiveanathan K. Thiveanathan K. ( Thivi ) is the Chief Human Resource Officer at UTAC Group, a leading independent provider of semiconductor assembly and testing services for a broad range of integrated circuits including mixed-signal, analog and memory. The Group offers a full range of package and test development, engineering and manufacturing services and solutions to a worldwide customer base, with manufacturing facilities operated in Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and China. Thivi has over 24 years of HR leadership experience with reputable multinational companies and is the winner of the 2006 HR Leader Award in Malaysia. Thivi holds a Master s Degree in Business Administration from Charles Sturt University, Australia, and a Bachelor s Degree in Economics from National University of Malaysia. How are leadership changes dealt with in the company? Our approach and response depend on the given situation and context. If a leadership change involves the hiring of an external talent, the key hiring criteria is cultural fit. HR and a panel of interviewers speak with the candidates to assess their cultural fit, among others. We do an extensive reference check, both formally and informally, to support our hiring decisions. Formal reference checks usually give predictable responses. However, with our informal reference checks via industry contacts and colleagues, we do receive objective and candid feedback, which gives additional insights to our hiring decision making process. Communication is key in managing leadership changes. In such situations, the stakeholders, such as the incoming leader, outgoing leader, affected employees, peers, superiors and general employees, are expecting no surprises. Planning a communication process, prioritizing the communication timing and ensuring the correct messages being conveyed are paramount for a smooth transition. For senior leadership change situations, I m personally involved in all of these stages. Usually, the intended communication messages are shared with the incoming and outgoing leader as well as their superiors for alignment. For example, ensuring affected employees are communicated with personally by an appropriate leader before the announcement goes out is important in showing respect to these employees. After the communication is carried out, having a clear and detailed induction program to help the new leader understand the business, the people and work processes is critical. In collaboration with the hiring manager, HR facilitates this process for the first 1-2 weeks. Thereafter, respective hiring managers take ownership over mentoring and guiding the new leader to ensure a smooth transition. At UTAC, who owns the succession planning process? Why? The process is owned and facilitated by HR. However, we ensure that the CEO is fully on-board and is the UPR sponsor (UTAC People Review is UTAC s internal process of succession planning). John, our CEO, is a strong proponent of developing internal talents. Frankly, this has made HR s role very interesting and effective. Consistent messages on talent development and the importance of the UPR process and leadership engagement to this process is delivered during leadership meetings and business reviews. For example, John s commitment to block his calendar to participate in Talent Calibration sessions sends a strong message to the rest of the leadership team and the organization. Does HR own the succession planning process for all positions including C-suite roles? HR is the functional expert who owns and facilitates the process for all levels. However, the success and effectiveness of such a process depends on the maturity of the culture in managing talents, the leadership team s ability to have candid and fair discussions on talents and mobility, as well as the discipline to ensure that plans are implemented to develop identified talents. At UTAC, it has been about a year since we rolled out the UPR process. Though it is relatively new, we are proud to see the CEO and C-level leaders as well as General Managers engagement to this process and commitment to taking this forward. What is the role of the board when it comes to succession planning? The board has full trust in the CEO and leadership team to manage succession planning for senior leaders, including C-level roles. As for the CEO s role, the board usually keeps an open mind with reference to whether it should be an internal or external talent. For example, when we were looking for a business unit leader recently, the question that the board had for us was do you see him or her as a CEO successor in 3 years or 5 years time?. Is there a well-established leadership assessment process set in place at UTAC? If yes, what does the assessment measure and why is this important? UTAC managed this with an informal process in the past. Last year, we took a formal approach to succession planning and refer to the process as UPR or UTAC People Review. We use simple tools to guide the leadership team in assessing talents and share their assessment during a Talent Calibration meeting, which is facilitated by HR. During this meeting, robust and candid discussions are held to review identified talents potential and development areas. It is common to drop someone from the talent list or to add a new name to the list during these sessions. 6 Building Our Legacy Everyday, 14,500 successful candidates and counting

7 In general, we use three components in assessing talents: Ability, Aspiration and Leadership. Ability measures the core and functional competencies that are transferable to more senior roles. These include demonstrating a level of emotional intelligence required to be successful in a role of greater responsibility and exhibiting curiosity to learn new skills. Aspiration measures the candidate s interest in advancing to a role of additional scope and complexity as well as his willingness to make trade-offs to gain the experiences and skills needed for a more senior role. Leadership, on the other hand, identifies the candidate s ability to deal with change and communicate with transparency and integrity. He should demonstrate a passion for the company, and inspire others to perform beyond normal boundaries. When we combine the three components, we are able to gauge the candidate s potential to lead the company. What made UTAC decide to formalize the process last year? Previously, in the absence of an internal talent development process, UTAC has heavily depended on external talent. To ensure a stable and sustainable company with a desired culture, we recognized the need for an internal talent identification and development process such as UPR. The aim of the process is to assist in bringing greater visibility to our internal talent, enable us to invest in targeted development initiatives and build stronger talent bench-strength for key roles instead of routinely depending on external talent, which comes with its own risk. A good pipeline of internal talents who move into leadership roles will be familiar with our values and people practices. This will minimize disruption resulting from hiring an external leader who is unfamiliar with our culture, people and work processes. Nevertheless, the intention is to have a healthy mix of internal and external talents to ensure we are stable with a desired culture and yet, open to new ideas, prepared for changing business conditions and remain competitive in the market place. Is the assessment process conducted by UTAC s in-house HR team or is it outsourced to a consulting firm? UPR is an internal process that was developed by our HR team members who have many years of relevant experience working with various reputable multinational companies. These experiences, added with the understanding of UTAC s business needs, culture and the commitment to keep the process simple, led to the development of UPR, which is easy to understand and thus simple to roll out globally. UPR brings much needed clarity and consistency to the talent management process at UTAC, as well as laying a foundation towards building strong talent bench-strength. The mantra used while rolling out people initiatives at UTAC is sense and simplicity. These programs need to make sense to line managers on its relevance and should be simple to use, without HR jargons and large Powerpoint materials to support it. How are development plans established to help individuals prepare for higherlevel roles? Identified talents will have their Individual Development Plans, which is guided by the principle. Essentially, this means that the majority (about 70%) of learning and development initiatives come from on-the-job training such as stretched targets, managing strategic projects or cross-functional team activities. Approximately 20 percent of learning comes from coaching, giving feedback, and mentoring from leaders, and about 10 percent from attending workshops or classroom training. The principle was developed by a US-based leadership research company in the 1960s and is commonly used by many organizations. How has UTAC hired external successors in the past? Were they successful or not? External successors are usually hired through executive search companies. We work closely with search companies at various tiers to cater to different levels of hiring. UTAC has been reasonably successful in hiring external talents. However, the retention of these talents varies in each market we operate. While the US, Europe, Taiwan and Thailand have seen greater success in retention, we have faced challenges in China and Singapore. Nevertheless, in recent years, we are seeing encouraging positive trends in our retention efforts, especially when compared to our peer companies in the industry. How does HR work to lessen the retention risks in China and Singapore? Broadly, we have been focusing on two key programs for now. One is towards improving our communication routines with employees. This is done via various interventions, including town hall meetings, breakfast meetings with the GM/CEO, focus groups, formal mid-year performance reviews, exit interviews, etc. There are on-going processes that will be continually reviewed and enhanced. The other is on leadership development. This year we have started a program called U-Grow for all our leaders and managers. U-Grow focuses on enhancing managers coaching skills. We strongly believe managers skills in coaching and giving constructive feedback will greatly help in retention and in the development of our talents. How does UTAC decide on when to hire external successors as opposed to internal successors? When we have a vacancy, we look around internally first, and then externally. We have a list of identified potential candidates through our UPR process. During the UPR calibration process, we do consider potential external candidates as successors for key roles. If the internal candidates are not ready yet, then we will look outside, either by informally reaching out potential talents via our industry network or with the help of executive search firms. Please give me an example of UTAC facing obstacles in the selection process. One of the obstacles in the selection process is to attract candidates from established brand names to our industry. Our business is a back-end industry, providing value-added services to many reputable semiconductor and electronics companies. As such, UTAC is not in the minds of consumers or candidates when they think about their career. We need to put in extra effort in working with our search partners to share our values, career prospects, and short and long term plans. During the interview process, we engage cross functional leaders to speak with the identified external talents and share their own success stories. I spend many hours meeting with our search partners and sharing our company values, business expectations, reward programs as well as career and culture-building efforts so that our search partners can be more candid and effective in representing UTAC to candidates. Why is it important that UTAC attracts candidates from established brand names? It is not merely about the company s brand but more about the relevant skill sets and Building Our Legacy Everyday, 14,500 successful candidates and counting 7

8 Continued from page 5 - Interview with Ren Can Tian needs to grow and become a manager. This has happened to a number of our team leaders over the past 10 years. How are individuals at HFT mentored and groomed so that they are always ready to step into key roles? For our senior level employees, HFT arranges a coach or mentor to accompany them for a certain period of time. These mentors would meet with the employee once or twice a month and provide personalized training based on the employees needs. During each session, the senior manager would discuss his difficulties and problems regarding his job and day-to-day management. The coach would then offer constructive feedback to help the manager objectively understand the situation as well as solutions to resolve those issues. Continued from previous page - Interview with Thiveanathan K. experience that the candidates bring to the company. Does HR at UTAC conduct its own selection process? We do use several assessments tools for mid-level hiring. However, most of our leadership hiring is done by closely working with external search firms. If a number of members on the senior management team were to resign tomorrow, would UTAC have candidates ready to replace their roles? This obviously depends on the function and level in the management team. In general, we are confident in managing our dayto-day business with existing talents and mobilizing talent within UTAC for our short term and emergency needs but for longer term sustainability, we will take a blended approach by promoting internal talents as well as hiring from outside. How does HFT conduct outside searches for talent and benchmark these candidates against their own? If there is insufficient internal talent, HFT will conduct outside searches for talent, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Fortunately, our team has been very stable over the years. Bó Lè is our external consultant and we have regular exchanges about the talent market and its challenges, and updates on new skill sets that we are looking for in future candidates. What are the biggest obstacles UTAC is likely to face in the future, and what leadership qualities are the most sought after to overcome them? We are in an industry which is cyclical and highly competitive. Our people are highly skilled and require a long learning curve to be effective. Thus, retaining talents will continue to be a challenge. We need leaders who are able to select the right talents, and then empower and develop them appropriately. Talent retention requires leaders who are capable of engaging the hearts and minds of their teams towards a common goal. Given the cyclical nature of the industry we are in, leaders need to have perseverance to see through short term head-winds for longer term success. Bó Lè Leaders The Leadership Journal for Strategic Career Management Bó Lè Leaders is published by Bó Lè Associates for selected HR professionals and key decision-makers worldwide. Bó Lè Associates is the leader in executive search in Asia with a well-developed network of 16 local offices and over 370 employees across the region. Bó Lè is a wholly-owned subsidiary of RGF, the world s fifth largest HR service provider. Our core competencies are in handling senior level positions including CEOs, CFOs, Regional Heads, General Managers, Functional and Business Heads. Our Executive Chairman, Louisa Wong, was cited by BusinessWeek magazine as one of the 50 Most Influential Search Consultants in the World. Editor-In-Chief Louisa Wong Executive Chairman Editor Melanie Chien Marketing & Communications Officer Unit 1201, China Building 29 Queen s Road Central, Hong Kong Tel: / Fax: China Beijing Chengdu Chongqing Dalian Guangzhou Shanghai Shenzhen Suzhou Tianjin Hong Kong Taiwan Taipei Indonesia Jakarta to 7 Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Philippines Manila Thailand Bangkok Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Opinions expressed in this publication are not advice and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the publisher or the staff. No responsibility is assumed in relation thereto. To contact the editorial team, please

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