Clare Woo is the Human Resources Director at FCM Travel Solutions, Asia. Based at FCM’s regional office in Singapore, Woo is responsible for supporting the company’s Asian growth strategy through people development plans, as well as transformation, implementation and execution of end-to-end HR policies and programs.
Woo has 20 years of experience across diverse sectors including automotive, consumer goods, luxury brands, and reinsurance, bringing particular expertise in leading engagement with business leadership to build organizational and people capabilities. Companies she was previously with include BMW Asia, Swiss Reinsurance Company and LVMH Fashion, among others. A Singaporean and graduate of RMIT University, Woo also holds a Strategic Human Resources Leadership Certificate from Cornell University.
Here are the excerpts of the interview.
How has L&D changed over the years? What's new in learning and why businesses should embrace them?
Having an agile mindset to un-learn and re-learn. With the world changing at a much faster pace, knowledge becomes obsolete very quickly. It’s important to embrace learning with the mindset to un-learn obsolete knowledge or old school techniques that are hindering us from being successful in the future economy.
We believe in empowering employees to develop the best versions of themselves which is why we make sure that every single person goes through a career development plan which includes identifying, assessing and addressing skill gaps
How important is the commitment from the C-suite to ensure organization's learning and development efforts reach its full potential?
L&D requires a vast amount of time and financial investment and is definitely not a one-off initiative. L&D needs continuous investment and a robust curriculum to stay relevant. When there is a lack of support and commitment from top management, it is common to see L&D budgets become one of the first items to get shaved off as part of an organization’s cost-cutting measures. Fortunately, FCM’s management is a strong advocate of L&D and I have been given a strong mandate and free rein to plan for a structured learning curriculum.
How important is identifying, assessing, and addressing skills gaps according to you?
Generational shifts are common with increasing global connectivity in businesses. There is no doubt that the influence of Gen Z is expanding within organizations. However, it is important not to take a biased and blanket approach towards Gen Z employees (in fact this should be the case with all employees regardless of which generation they are part of). We believe in empowering employees to develop the best versions of themselves which is why we make sure that every single person goes through a career development plan which includes identifying, assessing and addressing skill gaps. This will help them to transition into the role or route that they are passionate about or towards a leadership position if it’s something they aspire to grow into.
The biggest challenge for talent development is getting employees to make time for learning. In such a scenario, what's the way forward for organizations and how can they deliver training on multiple platforms?
It’s in fact critical to offer learning through multiple platforms, even if not due to learners’ time constraints. Different individuals have different learning preferences. Being able to combine learning through a variety of tools helps to enhance the employee’s learning experience. The tools should be built to complement one another so the employee gets on a continuous learning cycle within a flexible timeframe.
How can technology and analytics be leveraged for L&D to make an organization-wide impact?
Leveraging on technology for L&D helps in diversity of training programs and is a productive channel in this era of digitally enabled learning. At the same time, technology and training analytics are important for analysis of training ROI. This helps to clearly articulate the outcomes of a successful learning investment and determine its relationship to the improvement of business results, as well as employees’ engagement, which can often lead to increased retention.
Different individuals have different learning preferences. Being able to combine learning through a variety of tools helps to enhance the employee’s learning experience
No matter what mode of delivery you choose, L&D Managers still report difficulty in driving engagement for learning? What strategy can organizations embrace to drive engagement?
It is essential to spend time in understanding learners’ requirements and designing fit-for-purpose programs based on their feedback. If the learners’ needs are sufficiently met and they have taken ownership of the content design, they are more likely to have a higher commitment and deeper level of engagement which will lead to a more successful program for both the organization and the employee.
What does the L&D team of tomorrow need to look like in order to prepare organizations for a digital future?
Knowledgeable, well-equipped and versatile in the use of technology to create and navigate a sociable and interactive approach in training experience. In FCM, we like to use gamification to make learning fun and engaging. Our e-learning portal builds a variety of quizzes and games into the learning curriculum and employees receive achievement badges for trainings completed. There is a leaderboard where employees who complete the most training gets mentioned. We have some very competitive employees so that really drives them! There is a panel of different subject matter experts available online for learners to do instant live chats or post questions if the experts are offline. Learners can also post instant feedback about the curriculum or their learning experience immediately.
What kind of impact will the 4th industrial revolution have on the workforce and the skilling scenario?
There will be disruptions to businesses and jobs will become obsolete but new jobs with new skills required will also be created. Employees will have to adopt a continuous learning mindset to constantly refresh their skills to ensure they keep up to date with new job demands in order to stay relevant in the workforce.