An insight on generation Y&Z and ways to engage

Blisfull Productivity

A game developer and a scientist, Jane McGonigal presents in a video her latest research findings on a project that may appear overambitious: "trying to make it as easy to save the world in real life, as it is to save the world in online games".

Yet, her exuberant presentation provides exceptional insights to a better understanding of the so called new generations Y&Z: what are their needs, their skills, how they interact and become engaged?

► Watch the video on Ted Talks website


NTUC wants more for Singaporeans

NTUC building

The NTUC, by the voice of Labour Chief Lim Swee, is reported to be advocating an economic policy that would still be enough foreigners friendly not to compromise the country's global competiveness but would provide Singaporean with privilege.

As Singapore growth paces down and the singaporean society gets more mature, there is a visible tension amongst Singaporeans who want more visible signs of what's for them in the development of their country. While the general economic model, based on facilitating Foreign capital investment, is not questioned, the increasing number of foreign workers is seen as having a double side impact on Singaporeans daily life. On one hand, they consider they are increasingly competing with foreign workers on the job market. On the other hand, they feel the pressure of speculation, linked to the rapid growth of the population, feeding inflation and Real Estate prices.

In such a context, NTUC* proposes capping the number of foreigners employed for white collar jobs and finding ways to achieve "better employment" for the Singaporeans. Interesting ideas are being promoted such as differenciating policies according to workers category - " for instance, low-wage workers would prefer higher pay, while professionals, managers, executives and technicians lament the slow pace of their career advancement"-, or linking the availability of foreign workers to the employment of mature workers (a firm could have more access to foreigners only if it hires more mature workers).

Whatever the official answer that will be given to the demand, the current job environment is becoming more demanding for foreigners. It is no longer easy for an expatriate spouse with a dependant pass, to create his/her own company and secure his/her self employment through a letter of consent; it is also becoming not so obvious for a foreigner with a job offer to get a work pass nor is it for a long time resident to get the "resident pass".

* NTUC- National Trade Union Council. Source: Mypaper Thursday June 2, 2011


Nexmove joins Arbora Global Career Partners


The French based outplacement cabinet NEXMOVE joins ARBORA GLOBAL CAREER PARTNERS, one of the most important outplacement network, with a presence in 29 countries in Europe, Asia-Pacific and America.

Located in Paris,NEXMOVE is dedicated to accompanying individuals on transition, in France and Abroad (Leaving or coming back from expatriation, spouse support, integration coaching to a new cultural environment...)

By joining the ARBORA GLOBAL CAREER PARTNERS group, NEXMOVE awails itself of the means to provide it's clients with continuous support - career path, assessment, coaching and outplacement- wherever network members are located.


When strategy means diversity

Extrapolation is often a useful way out from conventional frameworks. In this article, a video from Michael Porter talking about strategy in front of HEC students, back in 2002, and stigmatizing a model of competition where "everybody want to do the same", provides a grid that can as well be of interest for companies to rethink how they manage talent & diversity, and for individuals to envisage their career with a larger perspective.


Business competition and strategy

For Michael Porter, back in 2002, companies during the last 15 to 20 years have been intensively vying against each other, "using a wrong model of competition", "where everybody want to do the same", leading to "a downward spiral of destructive value". The reason for this situation, according to the Harvard Professor, are to be found in 5 trends that, although respectable to some extent, become wrong when systematized: all companies vying to dominate the market, pursuing altogether the best quality at the lowest cost, aiming at being the fastest to change, competing for the same critical resources and sharing the same passion for outsourcing. Equally misleading are the models of competition that have been borrowed to military warfare or to sports.

"In military warfare, for an army to win, it has to destroy it's enemy". "This is not how business competition works" says Michael Porter. In Sport, "there is a race and there are contestants. There is one game, there is one race, there is one winner and one set of rules". "In business competition, there is not a single way to participate and to win, there are lots of ways...". "One company is always free to choose the very game, the type of race and the set of rules where it can be a winner".

But the most challenging difficulty seems ultimately to be how to set the right goal (creating economic value) served by a true strategy. Growing for the sake of growing is not a strategy. Increasing shareholders' value is not a goal but merely an outcome. A true strategy, Michael Porter continues, can be tested on 5 elements: a distinctive value proposition ("what kind of an Industry A company do I want to be", rather than "I want to be the best in Industry A"); a different value chain; being selective, that is being capable of making trade offs at various levels; a systemic approach instead of a separate attention to each activity of the process; and continuity, as there is no way for a company to excel at what it is doing, if it is constantly changing it's value proposition.

Talent management and diversity

The same critics may apply to the way companies recruit and manage their talent. There is a high pressure on conformity in the job market. Companies are all vying to recruit the same profiles, from the same schools, with the same kind of academic and professional background. In the talent competition, young professional with an MBA or an engineer degree from a prestigious institution are trusting all the attention from recruiters. All companies go fishing in the same pools, reinforcing talents scarcity while nurturing teams uniformity and spurring wage inflation and turnover. University students, not to mention young graduates from various fields, with poor business exposure, are usually disregarded as a potentially interesting resource.

Uniformity is also at work when it comes to define career paths internally, or to specify the requirements for filling a middle to top management position. Risk taking is usually banished. Leadership is the Graal, and imitation prevails: the best candidate is often the one who has already held the same position or whose previous career path is the closest to in-house models. There is no room for managers to consider various styles of leadership and for teams to encourage other profiles than leaders.

paraphrasing Michael Porter's remarks on strategy, there should not be a single pool to recruit fresh out from. There should not be one single career path model, nor mere reproduction of the past should be the base to determine the ideal candidate profile.

On the contrary, diversity should be considered a key strategic element for a company to thrive in a fast globalizing and changing environment. Companies are increasingly engaged, but with variable success, in promoting women to top positions, building multicultural teams, facilitating inter-generational cooperation, and striving to integrate employees from various social background. All those efforts are laudable. They should only be integrated in a fully systemic talent & diversity management approach, where each segments of HR management is considered a piece of a global process, and the concept of diversity extended to various ways of building individual career paths, various experiences (for example creating one's company or working for an NGO...), alternative work-life balance choices, and different leadership styles.

Individual career management

Michael Porter's words on strategy should also have great resonance amongst individuals comfronted to career choices, considering international mobility opportunities or looking for a new position. Here are 3 simple lessons that can be extracted from the corporate strategy specialist's contribution:

1- there is not only one way to win. Each individual is free to give it's own definition of success and to choose the game,race and set of rules that best suit his skills and motivations in order to be successful in what he is doing. 

2- a key element is to clarify one's goal, which emphasize the need for individuals to have a clear understanding of their values, motivation and career anchors in order to design their professional project.

3- each individual can build his own career/job search strategy based on the same principles that apply to a company. A clear distinctive value (my offer of services); a different value chain (my set of skills and experiences); trade offs (what I want to do vs what I don't want to do); systemic approach (consistency in all areas contributing to build your image/brand); and continuity.


Note:  Michael Porter's video is accessible on I-Tunes U: Michael Porter- Strategy conference- HEC Paris

Carrefour appoints a Singaporean as it's Talent & Organization Director

The French Distribution Giant Carrefour is to appoint Mr Shafie Shamsuddin, the first Asian director to be relocated to the company's Headquarters in France, as it's new global talent management and organization development executive director.

M Shafie Samsuddin, who joined Carrefour in 1996 after graduating from Nanyang University, is currently the CEO of Carrefour Indonesia. In his new position he will be in charge of revamping the company's global organization with a particular focus on attracting, retaining and developping talents. His appointment is a sure sign that carrefour, which runs more than 12000 supermarkets, hypermarkets and convenience stores in 29 countries and employs about 475000 employees, is investing on developping a global talent pool and increasing synergies throughout it's operations in Asia, Europe and Latin America, as a key tool to serve it's global ambitions.

Source: The Strait Times- Feb 9, 2011: "S'porean to be exec director at Carrefour".

Jacques Attali in Singapore upon the invitation of ASEF

Jacques Attali was the guest of ASEF in Singapore on January 13th, where he was invited to share his perception of the world situation and his vision for the future. Is the world still in crisis? For the french writter, former Président François Miterrand advisor, founder of the BERD, co-founder and President, amongst other initiatives, of plaNet finance, the answer is yes. We are in permanent situation of crisis, with the persistance of structural inbalances, and the inability for leaders to manage it because of a lack of long term vision and failure to promote political integration. 


Jacques Attali had been invited by ASEF, Asia Europe Foundation, an institution created in 1997 to promote mutual understanding between Europe and Asia throughout intellectual, cultural and artistic exchange programs. Alternately using traits of humor and penetrating thoughts, he went through the challenging exercize of enlightening our understanding of the world situation, the current risks and what is at stakes for the future.

Is the world still in crisis? The answer is clearly yes. The current period remains under the permanent threat of a crisis, essentially because of what Jacques Attali describes as a fundamental contradiction between a globalized market and the fact that rules of laws remain local. This contradiction, according to him, explains everything: "we have a market with no rules of laws, which pave the way for economic anarchy and underuse of resources".  On the bench of culprits, the countries' debt, notably the US', that continuously grows and gets refinanced in tax havens; the international Finance, which "like a burglar emptying a Bank's safe before the arrival of the police", would have forgotten that it's role is to support economy before serving itself; the G20, a much too sollicited and ill adapted structure to deal with the problem, "an assembly of anonymous alcohol addicts saying- we have to stop drinking "; and the States, especially within the European Union, which are remaining reluctant to any further integration that would reduce their own sphere.

Jacques Attali is calling for the emergence of a true world governance, although he recognizes that, in the past, the biggest steps, the latest being the creation of ONU, have not been made as a way to prevent a crisis but rather as a consequence of it. In Europe, he wants to be optimistic, not only for the Euro, but also for Germany, a country that he pararoxically describes as the weakest element of the Union because of it's dependance on foreign exchanges, will utimately realized that it is in it's interest to show solidarity with other countries. Last but not least, he advocates the role of microfinance. Jacques Attali is currently the President of PlaNet Finance, an organization whose creation he has strongly supported with the ambition to fight poverty trough the development of microfinance, and which has become a key world player in this field. For Jacques Attali, well managed microfinance is indeed part of the solution to the current crisis.





What about a distance learning MBA?

As expatriation often equates to either high workload or remoteness, or both, it may not be considered the best period to resume studies not to say undertake an MBA. But with the development of especially designed distance learning programmes, this conventional perspective could well prove all wrong. While such programs suffer a number of limitations according to the brick & Mortar afficionados, their current organization, based on case studies and remote team collaboration, might well propel them as a key tool for candidates looking for flexibility as well as a mean to develop virtual team management skills.

Contrary to conventional thinking, distance learning MBA do not equate with unrecognized, poorly rated, cheap or uneasy to attend programs. They are already very popular in countries like UK, the USA and particularly India where they already attract millions of students and are considered a must in order to meet the needs of an immense students population. Far from being second brand diplomas, distance learning MBAs are, for some, offered by top notch institutions, where candidates have to go through the same selection process (and pay the same fees) no matter they attend the on campus or the distance learning program.


For an Institution such as IE Business school, the quality of the program is based on a 10 years experience. Students start with an on campus gathering session, and continue on line. As the teaching is based on case studies, e-students are doing the same exercises except that they do it online, via forums, webinars and teleconferences. The pace is intense and very demanding, but students enjoy a particular flexibility. They can conciliate studies with a full time job, with the side-advantage that they can immediately implement what they learn. They choose the best time for them to connect and are eventually often more contributive and pertinent, because they have the time to elaborate their messages.

Some may find it difficult to discipline themselves and to work from home rather than attending classes and mixing with other students, but distance learning team work provides them with a chance to interact with people from very different background and culture. Besides, it provides participants the opportunity to learn how to make the best use of technology and to develop the very global skills that will help them manage cross cultural and virtual teams in the future.

The economist magazine publishes a list of the best rated distance learning MBA (Download pdf) , based on 3 sets of criteria: program content, fellow students and distance learning elements. Based on this rating, the most outstanding distance learning providers are the following:


Japanese labour market still feably opened to foreigners

Despite risks of increasing talent shortages as it's population ages, Japan remains reluctant to open it's labour market to immigrants. As a result, the country becomes less attractive for investors, both japanese and foreign, who prefer places like Hong kong and Singapore.

Despite being comfronted to risks of talent shortages because of it's aging population, Japan hasn't yet accomplished it's revolution towards encouraging immigration. The country actually chooses to do the opposite, encouraging both foreign workers and graduates from it's universities, to return home and tightening the conditions to access it's labour market.

For the first time in 50 years, the number of registered foreigners fell in 2009. The overall Foreign population hence represents 1,71% of Japan's population of 127,5 Millions.


As a result Japan gradually loses it's attraction to investors and businesses. A number of Japanese industries are moving their staff to hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong where they find more friendly immigration and taxation regimes, lower cost of living, and local populations that speak better english.


Source: Japan Keeps a high wall for foreign Labour- The New York Times


Talents & leadership in Asia: Unilever to open it's regional development center in Singapore

Following the path of Procter & Gamble in February, it is now the turn of Unilever to announce the launch of a regional leadership development centre in Singapore. The Food giant announcement thus gives weight to the City State's ambition to emerge as a leading talent hub in Asia.









Released in February 2010, the "economic strategies commitee report (see our previous article- Singapore envisions it's future: talents,innovation,infrastructure) laid emphasis on the critical objective "to facilitate the talent recruitment, management and development needs of large and small Singapore based companies, out of Singapore, especially for the pan-Asian Region"

In February 2010, Procter & Gamble was the first to announce it's opening of P&G Asia Leadership Centre.

The Singapore Unilever leadership development centre will be it's second such facility worldwide, modelled on it's centre in London. Unilever CEO Paul Polman, quoted by Mediacorp, commented on it's group's decision: "There are tremendous growth opportunities in the region, and we need to make sure we can get the talent to support that growth. Singapore is a fairly logical choice for us, with the cultural diversity that we can leverage on and obviously the presence of our company here".

The Unilever centre is to be located at Nepal hill, a location where Singapore intends to bring together business schools, corporate universities and professional services firms in a single campus devoted to leadership and talent development


Wealthy expats are heading East

Wealthiest expats are living in eastern countries, with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Bahrein being the 3 top destinations overall. These are the findings of HSBC expat explorer latest survey, which crowns BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as the emerging expats hotspots, with expats in Russia & Singapore enjoying the highest income while mainland Europe (Spain, France, Netherlands and Germany) occupies the bottom of the rankings.


Based on a survey of 4100 expatriates in 100 countries, the HSBC expat explorer survey proposes a ranking of the top destinations for wealthy expats based on 4 criteria:

Proportion of expats:

  • with an annual income in excess of US$ 200.000
  • With a monthly disposable income in excess of US$ 3.000
  • with an increase in savings while living/working abroad
  • having at least 2 luxury items in the country where they live


Results of the survey

Career minded expats head east

Many expats moving to Asia and Middle east are doing so for financial gain or career progression.By contrast, European countries  (and Thailand) would be more attractive to retirees.

Expats are better off abroad than at home

2/3 of expats (66%) have more disposable income on expatriation than in their home country.


(source: Expat explorer survey- Expat economics 2010)




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