Third-party logistics giant Keppel Logistics is no stranger to pushing global boundaries, with logistics facilities across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia, China, and Hong Kong. The company’s extensive network demands employees with specific skill sets, a challenge it addresses by investing heavily in its talent pool.
Jennifer Tan, Keppel Telecommunications and Transportation’s General Manager of Human Resources, says it is sometimes challenging to find suitable candidates who are willing to take up overseas stints in the group’s data centre and logistics facilities, which span developed and developing markets in Europe and the Asia-Pacific.
Resources to thrive in a foreign land
The key, she says, is giving those on overseas postings the support and preparation they need to thrive in a new environment. The company has various talent management programmes, which includes close monitoring and regular reviews of staff members’ readiness to take on overseas postings. There are currently 10 employees within the logistics division who have been assigned to the group’s Southeast Asia and China business units.
The duration of such overseas assignments vary: Management Associates usually undergo postings which last between 12 and 18 months, where they are rotated through various functions in areas including finance, strategy, project development, and implementation; Country Heads, on the other hand, are usually posted overseas for over two years to gain a deeper understanding of the market.
Jennifer says that while most employees who are seconded overseas are game for new challenges, those who are posted to less-developed markets often find themselves having to make more lifestyle changes. An example is the group’s presence in Lu’an in China’s Anhui province. In such cases, coping with cultural differences, climate change and dietary habits can be challenging.
Staff support in such cases is particularly valuable. The group provides support in the form of resources such as mentorship, where more senior staff members are matched with newer staff to help them assimilate.
In addition, Keppel makes it a point to review individual progress on a yearly basis.
Those who return from overseas postings are often earmarked for more senior roles in the group’s Singapore headquarters, and are often given the opportunity to act as mentors to less-experienced colleagues.
Jennifer says this tailored approach works well for those with different experience levels. Younger talents are partnered with veterans to facilitate two-way learning for both parties; for experienced staff who are new to overseas postings, the company facilitates sharing and knowledge transfer between peers who have overseas work experience.
She adds that staff who have been posted overseas are appreciative of the mentorship and support they have received. One example is Oh Kheng Huat, 44, the General Manager of Keppel Logistics’ Strategic Business Unit who was posted to Vietnam to help grow the group’s business there.
Says Jennifer: “Kheng Huat is part of our successful mentorship programme which provides guidance to secondees. As part of the programme, Kheng Huat meets up regularly with his mentees and provides practical advice to them, such as what to expect from their postings, as well as how to grow in their roles.”
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