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Hiring in Japan: Getting it right in 2022

While 2021 saw companies in Hong Kong and Singapore pressured to re-adjust hiring strategies to meet candidate-driven market challenges, here in Tokyo, this has always been the norm, and last year was no different. While hiring levels increased from 2020, we didn’t experience the great resignation as witnessed elsewhere. Japanese market conditions at the beginning of 2021 were uncertain due to the slow vaccination rollout. However, confidence slowly returned, and by the end of the year, almost 78% of the population had been fully vaccinated. The economic recovery was relatively weak and suffered from subdued private consumption, a Delta variant spike in the summer and supply chain and procurement challenges for semiconductors for digital goods and the automotive industry. Japan’s unemployment rate remained stable, dropping slightly from 3% in January 2021 to 2.7% by the end of the year. Currently, the job to application ratio is 1.15, meaning there are 115 job openings for every 100 job seekers. Through 2021 the highest levels of hiring activity were seen across the IT, e-commerce, pharmaceutical and medical device industries, while the retail, hospitality and automotive sectors continued to struggle. There was renewed appetite for senior sales & marketing, HR and finance professionals which was driven by companies looking to upgrade key positions within their leadership teams as well as senior candidates leveraging the market by moving onto new opportunities. There was also an unprecedented need for talent acquisition professionals in Tokyo as many firms realized they were behind the competition in recruitment expertise and attempted to strengthen their capabilities. Traditionally, recruiting functions here have been overly administrative with little emphasis on strategy, however, those who attempted to make the transition to a more strategic function struggled to find qualified candidates with the necessary experience and knowledge. Although Japan has always been a candidate-driven market, increased client demand last year further squeezed talent availability. At the mid and senior ends of the market, candidates received multiple job offers, making it difficult for companies to hire their preferred candidate. The firms that were the most successful in hiring understood the market conditions surrounding the available talent pool and put in place strategies to ensure they got ahead of the competition. Other firms who failed to do this in their recruiting strategies had positions open six months or longer.​Positive business outlook for 2022Despite the new Omicron variant spreading, overall business sentiment remains positive for 2022, with the government forecasting the economy to grow by 3.2%. As supply chain issues lessen, we will see increased levels of production and a rise in exports which will contribute to greater corporate investment. Client sentiment is also positive for the year ahead and we foresee an increase in demand for qualified bilingual professionals. To ensure businesses thrive, retention and attraction strategies will be more vital than ever, and as we move through the year, it will become apparent which companies have invested in such strategies and those who have not. Although the discussion on this topic has been held again and again, there has never been a more critical time to get it right.Support flexible working arrangementsWith most foreign-affiliated companies in Japan having had an almost fully remote or hybrid working arrangement since the pandemic started, the year ahead will raise new retention and attraction challenges as companies look to return to offices. A lot of firms are already facing resistance from employees who do not wish to return to pre-covid conditions and maintain at the very least a hybrid working arrangement. These employees do not want to give up the well-being and quality of life they have gained through the time saved on long daily commuting times. Firms that lack a clear and flexible policy around WFH will not only lose key talent but also find they are positioning themselves out of the market to hire new employees and will be left with a weakened employment brand. When discussing new opportunities with candidates at all levels, flexible working arrangements are now as important as salary and career progression. Broaden the ideal candidate profileIn an increasingly competitive market, more flexibility should be shown around age and experience levels. Too often we see clients who are overly rigid around their preferred profile and miss out on an untapped potential pool of qualified and talented candidates. With Japan’s ageing population, such flexibility will eventually become a necessity.Robust and speedy interview processesInterview processes that focus on both candidate assessment and candidate experience are essential to retention and attraction. We’ve seen clients repeatedly lose out to other companies because of prolonged and drawn-out interview processes. That, or candidates drop out due to a poor interview experience. Companies who focus on quality and can expedite processes when needed will always come out on top.Invest in learning and developmentEmployees feel appreciated when given opportunities to improve their skills, and companies who invest in development will see lowered attrition rates. One area many firms struggle with is training managers in leadership and best practice performance management. Often, managers in Japan do not want to show perceived favouritism, a practice which backfires when employees feel they have been undervalued and leave to go somewhere they feel they will be recognized and rewarded for their efforts.Prioritize compensation and benefitsAlong with benefits such as flexible working, compensation levels remain one of the most important motivating factors for employee engagement and retention. As candidate demand increases, up-to-date benchmarking will be a necessity to stay competitive.  Additionally, companies needing to make crucial hires must exercise flexibility around salary ranges, otherwise, they will lose out to competitors who are willing to exceed market levels.  ​We've got a wealth of experience hiring on the ground and can help. If you would like to discuss hiring in the Japanese market, please contact Jonathan Hughes.  ​​ 
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The Even Greater Resignation

The Even Greater Resignation Coming to an Asian job market near you...and how to win The Great Retention battleUnless you’ve been in quarantine for the past 12 months without access to TV, Wi-Fi, mail or phone, you may have noticed that job markets in Asia were red-hot last year, which was partly fueled by economic rebounds across the region.This was particularly the case in Hong Kong and Singapore where a marked uptick in hiring began in February. The China market simply continued its strong trajectory from the year before, but from April things seemed to pick up a notch. Recruitment companies of all shapes and sizes have had record years and, within many companies, plenty of new faces replaced departing ones.   Well, hold onto your hats because the talent acquisition bull run isn’t over yet. Prepare yourself for The Great Resignation 2.0. With bonuses being paid over the next month or so many people who didn’t make a move last year will be looking to jump ship. Traditionally, Q2 is when global job markets typically reach their peak and this year will be no different, except with plenty of added sauce. There are various factors coming together to create the continuation of this perfect storm. Talent is about to become even more difficult to find.Apart from the continuance of the economic rebound and increasing business confidence, which will ensure a robust pipeline of jobs, there continues to be dissatisfaction among professionals with their employers in Asia. In fact, many have one foot out the door. Various surveys have suggested most hiring over the last year was to do with replacing employees, more so than business growth. But as we go through 2022, both will heavily feature as causes.Unfortunately, companies have become complacent, and many have neglected their retention strategies over the last two years and, on top of this, the pool of available talent is shrinking rapidly.Talent pool bluesThere are a lack of professionals coming into markets like Singapore, Japan, mainland China and especially Hong Kong due to the effects of the pandemic. In some markets strong talent has been leaving permanently as a result of visas not being renewed, difficulties in flying overseas to see loved ones in their home countries, as well as, in the case of Hong Kong, negative perceptions of what the future holds. These trends will only continue to gather momentum this year."It has become incredibly difficult to find strong talent and many high-performing employees are being targeted regularly by headhunters. If salary increases or bonuses aren’t up to scratch, these calls will be taken more seriously."As a result of what has transpired so far, job markets are showing signs of stress. Salaries are going up and expectations of robust hikes to move to a new company are far higher than even six months ago. In some functional areas it has become incredibly difficult to find top talent and many high-performing employees are being targeted regularly by headhunters. If salary increases or bonuses aren’t up to scratch, these calls will be taken more seriously.Companies are also ‘buying back’ employees that resign, offering large increases in base salary and promises of bigger jobs and titles. Jobseekers are interviewing with numerous organisations at the same time, receiving multiple offers and, with it, their compensation expectations are rising. These are common enough occurrences in a hot job market, but I haven’t seen this volume in my 24 years working as a headhunter in Asia, and more is to come.  Continental comparisonsThe Great Resignation in North America and Europe has been well documented. It has partly been fueled by employee sentiment that remote working has made moving jobs easier than in pre-pandemic times. No physical relocation is required for many job moves and people can now access thousands of new roles which were previously off-limits geographically. But this has been less of a factor in Asia as the uptake of working from home (WFH) has been less than on other continents. Some companies have voiced an openness to base roles in other cities in Asia, but this has been rare, and ultimately the original location for the role has won over.What is happening though in Asia, which mirrors another contributing factor for The Great Resignation in North America and Europe, is people wanting to move on from organisations where they have experienced an unhealthy work-life balance and toxic work culture. Many have simply been feeling burnt out having not taken much time off. And because colleagues have been working non-stop, that has put pressure on others to just keep working too, leading to a vicious circle of exhaustion. Retention neglectionLike I mentioned earlier, many organisations have neglected their retention strategies over the last couple of years and CEOs have not been listening to their employees, many of whom have voted with their feet. HR functions had outlined this as a risk, but many CEOs didn’t heed their warnings. Some companies have reacted to changing candidate expectations in recent months and have turned on the charm offensive, but for others it’s ‘too little too late’ with true colours having already been exposed.Last year, many people were able to step off the never-ending hamster wheel (for a brief moment) and, upon reflection, decided that they didn’t want to get back on. This might have led to a career break, a change in lifestyle or a new career. This phenomenon is being led by Millennials and Generation Z and, in China, was seen through the rise of the ‘tang ping’ movement with young workers reacting against the 996 working hours/rat race system. These trends will only become more established as we head through 2022, further disrupting talent pools.Just as in Europe and North America, professionals in Asia who are moving organisations are leaving to join better companies that they perceive to genuinely care more about their employees and have more positive, respectful cultures. Research by consulting firm The Josh Bersin Company found that only one in seven companies in the US would fall under this bracket of, what they term, “irresistible organisations"This rise in expectations of what people want from employers was happening pre-pandemic but the last two years has acted as a catalyst and sped up this trend exponentially. People are expecting more."This rise in expectations of what people want from employers was happening pre-pandemic but the last two years has acted as a catalyst and sped up this trend exponentially. People are expecting more. During the worst moments of the pandemic, people worried about their health and their loved ones. They were also concerned about the impact the pandemic would have on their finances. As a result, there’s now an expectation that a good employer should help to alleviate such concerns and offer support. Many employees are basically leaving to go somewhere with a positive culture where they feel this support and, in effect, are more valued. What can leaders and organisations do?​CEOs need to be far more engaged with their company’s talent strategy. Many say that talent is their top priority but from my experience not many walk the talk.Leaders should assume every employee is looking for better opportunities. Employee engagement programmes need to be ramped up and the focus of managers needs to be on listening and supporting their staff. Empathy is critical. Career progression and succession planning need to be taken more seriously and time and money need to be invested. Internal mobility needs to be facilitated through upskilling staff. Retention is key given the cost of talent acquisition (take Amazon for example, which spent around $4 billion USD on hiring in Q4 last year) as well as the cost of lost productivity. Research suggests it takes between six and nine months to onboard someone to be fully effective).​Far more attention needs to be given to employer branding. Your reputation in the market counts for a lot when it comes to hiring. Word can easily get around within Tokyo, Shanghai or Singapore and, if staff are heading for the exit, people will know about it. Talent acquisition processes need to be far slicker. It astounds me how many companies still fall short in this department with hiring processes leaving a trail of appalling candidate experiences. Long gaps between interviews, interviewers not being adequately trained, prepared or joined up and interview processes that drag on for weeks with too many interviewers involved are all putting candidates off. A lack of respect and compassion for candidates can have dire consequences too - peeved candidates will talk to each other about their experiences. Onboarding processes have been found to be lacking in many organisations too - not a great start to retaining talent in a hot job market.More investment needs to be put into well-designed benefits programmes including well-being programs and digital tools to improve workplace productivity and wellness. Working from home is definitely here to stay and companies that don’t recognise this and offer flexibility will suffer the consequences. Research from late last year conducted by three economists, Barrero, Bloom and Davis, pointed to an average of 1.3 days a week being spent working from home in a post-pandemic world. This number is 25% higher than when the question was asked 12 months prior, so it might rise even further over time although, as mentioned in this and previous articles, professionals in Asia are less attracted to WFH compared to other regions. Listening to individuals is key. Ensuring staff are taking time off as holiday is essential as well. Many have neglected to take them over the last two years and this needs to change. Last year, LinkedIn shut down for a week to force people to have a break and Nike gave their employees a mental health week off in August.  "Organisational attractiveness is a high-level C-suite leadership issue. Retention and talent engagement can’t continue to be an agenda point that is left for HR to champion and push uphill." Organisational attractiveness is a high-level, C-suite leadership issue. Although some things will return to normal, like the ability to travel and be geographically mobile, I feel this issue of organisational attractiveness is here to stay. The next generation of leaders will learn that taking care of employees will become a key priority of what they do. Simply put, retention and talent engagement can’t continue to be an agenda point that is left for HR to champion and push uphill.  ​
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APAC Sales & Marketing Market Insights 2021

INTRODUCTIONThe APAC region has long been recognised as a high-growth environment for many investors and corporations and that hasn’t changed despite the pandemic. The market experienced a sudden jolt in 2020, which had a varying impact on many companies and industries. For some, the glass was half empty, while for others, the glass was half full. The most significant impact of COVID-19 is the accelerated digital transformations of many businesses throughout 2021.The most common and necessary pivot among organisations is the ability to shift their business models from offline to digital. For the companies that are already entrenched in the internet eco-system, the challenges are to cope effectively with the surge in demand among the B2B and B2C audiences for better services and delivery of goods. The online world has also further ingrained itself in the lives of the population, with remote working opportunities now a key driver for candidates and employees alike.Confidence in the region is high, and 2022 looks like it will be a year of growth, provided the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues and surges are controlled. In this report, we will look at the key trends observed in the sales & marketing recruitment space and the factors influencing sales & marketing professionals across the region.HONG KONGAs we edge closer to the new year, the business landscape in Hong Kong is looking positive, with a rise in the number of companies opting to open offices in the region. However, there is still an air of apprehension because of travel restrictions and potential outbreaks of COVID-19. In the last 12 months, record numbers of people have left Hong Kong, shrinking the talent pool considerably.Hiring activity is robust despite the crippling skills shortages. Demand for experienced sales & marketing professionals, particularly in executive to vice president/director roles, is high in the region. It is worth noting that interview processes are slightly more robust and lengthier than in previous years, so although there is an appetite to hire, there is also an overriding desire to get it right.HOT SKILLSEntrepreneurship:Hong Kong is a leading destination for start- ups in APAC and is recognised globally. We have seen a real need for candidates with entrepreneurial mindsets who can change direction quickly or pivot depending on the needs of the company. Candidates willing and able to take on more than what is written in their job descriptions will do well in these types of fast-growing organisations, as will the ability to lead without title. Ownership, whether it’s a short project to launch a new feature or take a product into a new market, is something that clients are looking for, as well as having the passion to develop something from scratch.Digital marketing:The demand for digital marketing skills continues to increase, especially for candidates with experience in eCommerce and online marketplaces. As the shift from offline to online continues, senior marketing candidates who have experience in both sectors are highly sought after. And many companies with open sales & marketing roles in Hong Kong are seeking candidates that have experience within APAC as well as European and North American marketplaces.Buy-side selling experience:Sales & marketing candidates with a track record of selling to buy-side financial institutions are highly sought after right now.Team leadership experience:Sales leaders are in high demand, particularly those who have experience managing and coaching teams and can lead from the front with client ownership and deals.JAPANAs always, Japan faces one of the highest skills gaps in the world when it comes mid-to-senior level talent. In addition to the traditionally low levels of English fluency and exposure to international business methods, the talent pool for international businesses is even more competitive than ever at a time when everyone is looking for a change maker. There has also been significant movement in the jobs market in Japan in 2021 as a result of the shift in working styles brought by COVID-19, and more and more candidates are aware of just how many options are open to them.Many people have taken on new roles so they can work remotely. The desire to work virtually was rare pre-pandemic; however, people have seen how it can help to improve work-life balance. People no longer want to attend long repetitive meetings or spend time commuting during the subway rush hour crush. Business leaders are starting to buy into the new world of work, which in turn challenges many of the archaic practices in more traditional Japanese business (a continuing reliance on fax machines, company seals on official documents etc.).There has been a rise in the number of employers offering a hybrid approach to work – allowing employees to split their working hours between the office and home. This has been most welcomed by employees. Companies that have adopted, or are planning to adopt, a hybrid approach will find it easier to attract talent. We are also seeing people leave jobs in more traditional industries for agile and tech-driven roles and companies and a move to more online driven activities. There’s been a marked increase in digital marketing and video advertising spends and a focus on ramping up ecommerce capabilities and presence.HOT SKILLSDigital strategy and execution:Sales & marketing candidates with experience in helping retailers change direction from brick-and- mortar stores to digital have been in high demand for several years. However, the pandemic has meant such experience is even more sought after than before. Many of the giant Japanese retailers suffered historic losses during the early stages of the pandemic and may not recover. Department stores could become a thing of the past in Japan due to changing shopping habits, so those with digital experience will continue to be in demand for many years to come as companies transition and focus more on digital.Demand generation:We are seeing a steady rise in opportunities for those sales & marketing professionals who have both digital and demand generation experience.Sales:As digital transformation builds speed, even within the realm of the famously analog national government, and more and more tech related start-ups enter the Japan market, technically savvy sales people of all stripes with English language ability are highly sought after, from hunters and business development specialists, to account managers, and customer success professionals focusing on renewal and up selling.SINGAPORESingapore’s economy has made a good recovery from the contraction it experienced in 2020. This is mainly because of the country’s aggressive vaccination program rollout, its COVID-19 containment measures and government support for both businesses and households. The Ministry of Trade & Industry even upgraded its GDP growth forecast for 2021 from between 4 and 6% to between 6 and 7%. On the international business front, Singapore is still very much viewed by many MNCs and Asian conglomerates as an ideal place to locate regional offices for the following reasons:The Singapore government’s pro-business policies that are designed to attract foreign investments.The country’s reputation for its strict adherence to establishing effective governance and regulatory framework for businesses.Singapore serves as a gateway to South East Asia (SEA) markets with its talent pool of mostly bilingual white-collar professionals and theirregional experience.The pandemic, however, remains a significant near-term risk and is causing some uncertainty over the medium-term growth outlook. In terms of hiring, the consensus remains that of cautious optimism. Like most industries in the wider APAC region, sales & marketing roles are evolving to include more digital skills as part of the overall job scope.Candidates with commercial experience and a strong understanding of online services (and ecosystems) remain in high demand. Senior hires with proven track records in developing omnichannel strategies and execution are among the most sought after. For professionals who are falling short of such experience, upskilling becomes a critical mission for them to pursue actively in a bid to stay competitive in an intense job market.HOT SKILLSProduct management:As Singapore’s vibrant tech ecosystem continues to develop, we have seen a growing demand for product managers. Strong analytical, interpersonal and communication skills are integral for candidates in these roles.Digital marketing and enablement (as a discipline):Like other regions in APAC, demand for digital marketing skills is higher than it has ever been in Singapore. This is because of the rapid pace of digitisation brought forward due to changing consumer demand when lockdowns were enforced at the height of the pandemic.Digital transformation:The pandemic pushed companies to adopt and embrace digital technologies, so the momentum of digital transformation needs has increased. Companies are seeking project managers and programme leads to oversee their digital efforts. Candidates with strategic change and technology skills are highly sought after.Business development and partnerships:Singapore remains a top business hub for global investment. As the number of companies and start-ups setting up shop increases, so does the need for talent with business development skills to expand their presence in the region.CHINAChina is still very much the growth engine for many multinationals (MNCs). Several high-profile global companies have revealed aggressive expansion plans for China, with some targeting growth of three to five times their current figures. China has long been a digital leader in the consumer space and the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated digitisation in the country. We have seen several organisations increasing headcount as they boost their digital capabilities.Competition for talent is fierce - not just among MNCs. There is now an emergence of local Chinese brands providing new, innovative offerings to consumers. An increased number of companies have shifted their strategies to ensure they are also catering to the appetite of Chinese consumers by localising products. For example, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies are now developing new products in China for Chinese consumers versus bringing in products from overseas, which is the approach they had favoured previously.The appetite for premium and luxury items is still strong among Chinese consumers. With limited overseas travel and a growing desire for quality products, the luxury sector is robust, even beating previous growth records. The same applies to luxury skincare brands. This has led to a new direction for non-luxury/mass brands, with many currently undergoing “premiumisation” strategies.We are seeing more and more candidates with higher salary expectations. With more vacancies than candidates available, companies are compelled to offer higher starting salaries. We see experienced candidates receiving multiple offers, and as such, companies need to move quickly to secure qualified talent. Hiring at speed is especially important for roles that require niche skill sets, such as those in a digital capacity. There is a very narrow pool of available talents in this space, and hence companies will need to do more to attract these talents.Many candidates want to work for companies that have committed long-term to the Chinese market, provide autonomy and have growth plans in place so they can progress. They also want the ability to widen their scope with higher salaries and job titles that reflect advancement.HOT SKILLSRetail and LuxuryCommercial experience: Companies in the retail and luxury sectors are seeking consumer marketing professionals with commercial experience to help them keep up with growing demand from buyers.Experience using electronic customer relationship management and extended producer responsibility systems: The use of technology in the retail and luxury sector is up as companies turn to tech to speed up processes while improving the customer experience.Experience in managing WeChat stores: Although retail and luxury brands are still very much brick-and-mortar, they still want to capitalise on the growth in eCommerce.FMCG and New Internet ConsumerseCommerce: Candidates with experience in eCommerce marketing, especially those who understand Alibaba regulation and other eCommerce platforms, are in high demand.Consumer insight:Due to evolving customer needs, job seekers that can quickly understand younger consumers are highly sought after.Demand generation: Consumer marketing professionals with a track record in driving new traffic and expanding new channels are in demand as companies aim to increase their reach.Digital savvy: Because consumer habits have changed, more companies are investing in digitisation. Candidates with a digitised mindset are in high demand as a result.General management: Consumer marketing professionals with a strong in-depth understanding of the digital landscape in China are highly sought after. They must be able to balance and integrate offline and online as Chinese consumers still value the experience of visiting a shop in-person.Social media: Frontline salespeople do not have to rely on the traffic in physical stores. Salespeople are now using the likes of Douyin/TikTok and other digital platforms to sell their products, thus achieving their sales targets. This trend grew in popularity during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic when shops suffered a significant drop in footfall.Key industries hiring in APAC right nowThe sectors hiring the most sales & marketing professionals include the following:Fintech: Organisations that specialise in payments, digital banking and crypto are hiring at scale right now.eCommerce: Many platforms, brands and retailers are expanding because of soaring demand from consumers and are increasing headcount as a result.Start-ups: Technology-driven, product-focused and agile companies are experiencing hiring surges. The companies that offer flexible, remote work opportunities are find it easier to attract candidates than those that don’t provide flexibility.Luxury retail brands (most relevant for the China market): Many are capitalising on the opportunities from the pandemic and are expanding their physical store numbers and eCommerce channels to cope with the surge in consumer demand.Healthcare-related retailers: There are various openings in commercial roles, especially in brand marketing, eCommerce and digital. There is also an increased demand for data-driven roles, including big data, consumer insight and so on.What are sales & marketing candidates looking for?SALARY EXPECTATIONSCandidates with well-developed skills and proven track records in the digital space possess a more robust appetite for salary increases when considering their next job moves. However, some candidates have received marginal salary increases in comparison. As a result, they are seeking opportunities that allow them direct exposure to sharpen their digital skills, build their experience and expand their networks within the online ecosystem.There is also another group of job seekers who are joining start-ups and are willing to take lower base salaries (sometimes even a pay cut) because they are taking calculated gambles on the stocks or employee stock ownership plans given by the companies. This group of candidates operates more on a high risk, high rewards mental framework, banking on an eventual IPO of the organisation. The companies that offer flexible, remote work opportunities are find it easier to attract candidates than those that don’t provide flexibility.COMPANY CULTURECompany culture is more important to candidates, as is flexible working options and unlimited annual leave, which is more evident for millennials and those who fall into the GEN-Z category.Unlike before, candidates are no longer seeking the prestige and security traditionally associated with large MNCs. There has been a shift towards (well-funded) start-ups, as well as smaller niche players instead. This is partly because of the allure and the success stories coming from Silicon Valley and the spotlight on the high growth tech ecosystem, which has been bubbling within Asia for the last couple of years.FLEXIBLE WORKINGCandidates are also seeking a better work-life balance. This stems from the additional time they had to spend on work tasks during the pandemic because they didn’t have to travel because of restrictions.In short, there is still an air of caution among sales & marketing professionals who are considering a career move. They will be evaluating the overall macro and micro factors of the opportunities at hand before making the leap forward.RECENT PLACEMENTSCHINACEO - European Consumer Goods CompanyDeputy General Manager - Global Fashion GroupHead of Media and Communication - Global Food & Beverage Company Innovation Lead - Global Consumer Goods CompanyProduct Manager - Leading Cosmetic CompanyCreative Director - Global Consumer Goods CompanyDesign Director - Global Chinese Lifestyle CompanyCategory Head - Global Consumer Goods CompanySenior Brand Marketing Manager - Global Wine & Spirits CompanySenior Project Management Lead - Global Consumer Goods CompanyeCommerce Manager - Leading Cosmetic CompanyConsumer Insight Senior Manager - Global Consumer Goods CompanyMarketing Planning Manager - Asian Manufacturing MultinationalHONG KONGHead of Marketing - Asian Property Development ConglomerateHead of Business Development - US FinTech CompanyHead of Pre Sales - US InsurTech CompanyHead of Internal Communications - UK Consumer Goods CompanySales Lead - US FinTech CompanyDigital Marketing Director - Asian Property Development ConglomerateDirector, Partnerships - UK Financial Information CompanyMarketing and Events Director - Global Hospitality BrandDirector, CRM - Global Hospitality BrandSenior Business Development Manager - US FinTech CompanyDigital Production Manager - Asian Digital Insurance CompanySenior Marketing Manager - Hong Kong Private Members ClubDigital Design Manager - UK Consumer Goods CompanySINGAPORERegional Head of Marketing - Global Consumer Electronics CompanyAPAC Marketing Lead - Beauty & Skincare CompanyHead of Trade Marketing, Singapore - Global Consumer Electronics Company Head of CRM, South Asia Pacific - US Sports Retail BrandRegional Sales Director, ANZ - US Technology CompanyAssociate Director, Communications - Singaporean ConglomerateRegional Digital Transformation Manager - European Oil & Gas CompanyExternal Affairs Manager, Singapore - Global Consumer Technology CompanySales Manager, Thailand - Regional Consumer Goods Manufacturing CompanyAPAC Communications Manager -US Agricultural CompanyRegional eCommerce and New Channel Manager - European Oil & Gas CompanyRegional Product Marketing Manager - Global Consumer Electronics CompanyOnline Business Director - Consumer Lifestyle CompanySenior Projects Manager (B2B) - Global Consumer Electronics CompanyRegional Sales Program Manager - Singaporean Logistics Technology CompanyKEY CONTACTSFor more information or individually tailored advice, please do not hesitate to contact our regional Sales & Marketing team:China Offices - please contact Paul Loo, Johannes Tan or Vicky LiuHong Kong Office - please contact Paul SheltonJapan Office - please contact Jonathan Naylor or Liam HegartySingapore Office - please contact Karen YapClick here to download the full report.
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Spotlight on Supply Chain Hiring in Asia

INTRODUCTIONThe business landscape in Asia has changed dramatically over the past 18 months. Snarls in supply chains and transportation are leading to rising prices and shortages in key economies. Global supply chains have seen major disruptions during this period. In addition, the effects of the global pandemic, natural disasters, international trade tensions and cyberattacks have caused further disruption to a lot of companies.Despite this, the APAC region is projected to remain the fastest-growing region in the world with 6.5% growth in 2021, according to forecasts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).Many companies have been looking at how they can build resilience in their supply chains. In this report, we explore supply chain hiring and industry trends in Asia, as well as candidates’ responses to the current market landscape.CHINAChina’s economy experienced a steady recovery during the second half of the year. The recovery was fuelled by an increase in production and demand, while employment and prices have remained stable. Gross domestic product (GDP) in the first three quarters reached RMB82,313.1 billion, a year-on-year increase of 9.8%. This represented an average two-year growth of 5.2%, which was 0.1 percentage points lower than the average two-year growth of the first half of the year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China. China’s manufacturers continue to be pressured by growing labour and shipping costs and in recent times, had to cope with temporary power shortages in certain provinces. However, we have seen many manufacturers putting more investments in research and development, placing importance in local innovation.Hot Skills in ChinaProcurement excellence strategistsThese individuals are highly sought after because of their ability to drive improvements while providing transparent analysis of procurement data. We are seeing the most demand for these candidates from companies in the cosmetics, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and healthcare industries.Demand & supply planning managementProfessionals with experience in supply chain management are in demand because of the increasing need to mitigate risks with detailed scenario planning. This has become a focal point for many businesses because of the global supply chain crisis caused by the pandemic. At the same time, companies need such experience and skillsets to identify and quantify potential opportunities. These roles are proving especially popular in business to consumer companies (B2C), particularly where both online and offline channels are of equal importance.3PL and 4PL sales professionals and business development managerseCommerce is booming across many industries. Pent-up demand continues to be unleashed following the lifting of lockdown restrictions and consumers are more reliant on technology, so are doing a lot of things digitally – even more so after the lockdown period in 2020.Pharmaceutical manufacturing production/environmental health & safety (EHS)/quality engineersPharmaceutical companies in China are rapidly boosting production locally. Many are in the process of setting up new plants and/or expanding product lines. As a result, quality and EHS expertise are in high demand.Procurement (logistics category)Demand for experience in this category has increased because logistics costs are now much higher due to the pandemic. This means organisations are taking a more strategic approach when it comes to the sourcing of suppliers. Many are being tasked with making cost savings despite the current crisis and this is especially so in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries.Looking AheadDue to the pressure the manufacturing industry is experiencing, enhancing the use of technology, including AI, in operations and processes have become critical. We expect this increase in digital capability to rise into 2022As skills shortages continue to impact China, recruiters are looking overseas to attract Chinese talent and are persuading them to return home. Some companies have become more open to talent from other industries rather than from their direct competitors or companies in related industries.Candidates who have worked in global multinationals, as well as domestic companies, are now most widely sought after, especially with domestic companies or multinationals that are hiring for their joint ventures.Skills shortages mean many companies are reskilling and are evaluating their compensation and benefits structure in a bid to retain talent.There is a greater focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG), especially in procurement. Procurement leaders must factor this in as they look to align with their consumers, who are increasingly choosing brands with strong ESG credentials.SINGAPOREThe economic recovery is progressing well in Singapore. The Ministry of Trade & Industry’s advanced estimates suggest the Singapore economy grew by 6.5% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2021, moderating from the 15.2% growth reported in the previous quarter. The Singapore economy is expected to continue to grow during the last quarter of the year. As more pandemic-related curbs get lifted, we will likely see the demand for goods and services pick up pace. The Monetary Authority of Singapore announced recently that it will allow the dollar’s nominal effective exchange rate to appreciate slightly. The stronger currency will put a ceiling over rising inflation as we see inflationary pressures building up around the economies.  Hot Skills in SingaporeExperienced regional Supply Chain leadersGiven the challenges faced in the supply chain functions, there is an increased demand for experienced supply chain leaders who can lead regional supply chain functions to build resilience. We continue to see a demand for supply and demand planning professionals as companies seek to improve their integrated business planning processes.Business to customer (B2C) and online to offline (O2O)There has been an increase in demand for candidates with experience in these sectors. Demand for supply chain integration analysts and data analysts is increasing too as artificial intelligence and digital technologies continue to be applied across the supply chain.LogisticsWe have seen an increase in the number of eCommerce start-up companies and companies in eCommerce sectors expanding their presence and reach in the region. This has led to an increase in hiring for good supply chain professionals with experience in the eCommerce sector. There is also a growing need for logistics professionals with expertise in last-mile delivery solutions and supply chain analytics.Trade and customsTrade and customs will become increasingly important for many companies as a result of ongoing trade tensions and their potential impact on trade and supply chain flows.Procurement and strategic sourcingCompanies are continuing to place great importance on cost efficiency. There are also efforts to reduce exposure to single-source suppliers and other supply chain risks by diversifying where they buy materials. There is an increased focus on improving overall raw materials supplier performance and category management strategies to enable maximum cost savings. With the rise in technology spend across most companies, there is an increase in hiring for procurement professionals with good experience in managing technology spend.Process improvementAs organisations continue their efforts to drive process improvements in the supply chain and operations, demand for process improvement professionals with proven track records in reducing costs is set to increase even more.Project managementProject managers and continuous improvement and solution implementation professionals with relevant certifications such as Project Management Professional, LEAN/Six Sigma and Kaizen, are very much in demand. Candidates who have global transformation experience in the local market will have more job opportunities.3PL and 4PL Sales and Business Development professionalsSingapore is a regional or global headquarters for many major logistics service providers. This creates a vibrant ecosystem of leading shippers and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) in Singapore. We see an increase in hiring among 3PL and 4PL providers for strong sales and business development professionals.Looking AheadThe IMF recently downgraded the 2021 growth forecast for Asia by more than 1% to 6.5%. The downgrade was largely driven by a spike in COVID-19 cases, which caused a lot of disruption in some areas of the region. The threat of new variants and a resurgence in COVID-19 infections could impact the pace of the recovery.Higher commodity prices and shipping costs, coupled with continued disruption of global supply chains are amplifying concerns over persistent inflation.More organisations are recognising the importance of optimizing their supply chains to ensure resilience.There has been an increase in investments in digital capabilities in supply chain intensive industries and we expect this to continue into the new year.Companies are continuing to place greater importance on cost efficiencies. They’re also trying to reduce their exposure to single-source suppliers while increasing their focus on improving overall raw materials supplier performance.There will be a greater focus on data analytics in providing insights to improve supply chain management over the coming months.There is a greater focus on ESG, especially in procurement.KEY INDUSTRIESThe industries with the most hiring activity for supply chain roles right now includeFast-moving consumer goods (FMCG)eCommerceHealthcare including pharmaceutical manufacturing, medical devices and health servicesBiotech/biopharmaceuticalIndustrial manufacturingLogistics (particularly 3PL and 4PL)Specialty chemicalsTHE FUTURE WORKPLACE WILL RELY ON SOFT SKILLS​As technology, globalisation and demographic shifts continue to shape how businesses compete, the importance of soft skills will grow. Increased automation and artificial intelligence will result in a greater proportion of jobs relying on soft skills. Tasks that require hard skills are continuing to decline, making soft skills key differentiators in the workplace.Soft skills that employers highly valueLeadership and persuasivenessStrong communication and interpersonal skillsStrong business partnering skillsAgility and adaptabilityWillingness to embrace changeDigital savvinessGood problem-solving skills and creativityCross-functional collaborationAbility to perform under pressureGlobal view with local working experienceRECRUITING FOR TALENT: What do candidates look for in a company?As we continue to see a competitive employment landscape across Asia, companies need to ensure they have robust talent attraction and retention strategies in place. Candidates are craving stability after such a turbulent 18 months, so employers must invest time in sharing their long-term plans and strategies to candidates and employees, while positioning themselves as employers of choice.47% of workers in Asia are likely to consider changing employers (versus the 41% global average), according to research from Microsoft.Candidates are considering several key elements when assessing a career move:Career growth and development opportunitiesOrganisation leadership and cultureFlexible workingThe financial stability of potential employersFinancial rewards and relevant employee benefits  Economies in Asia are still facing severe challenges from fresh waves of COVID-19 infections and weakness in service consumptions. One thing that remains certain though, is the spotlight is firmly on supply chains in the region as companies seek to build resilience. We will continue to see a good demand for supply chain talent in the region.RECENT PLACEMENTSChinaSite Head, Jianshan SiteAsian Biopharmaceutical CompanyProduction Line LeaderGlobal Manufacturing CompanyHead of Sourcing, ChinaUK Automotive ManufacturerProcurement Director, CapexAsian Biopharmaceutical CompanySourcing ManagerEuropean Medical Device CompanyPurchasing Excellence MangerEuropean Cosmetic CompanyProject Procurement Manager, APAC                                         Global Manufacturing CompanyQuality DirectorUS Technology MultinationalFacility Security Senior ManagerProfessional Sports LeagueTrade and Compliance ManagerGlobal Manufacturing CompanySupplier Quality ManagerGlobal Manufacturing CompanyEHS ManagerAsian Biopharmaceutical CompanySingaporeAPAC Supply Chain DirectorEuropean Pharmaceutical MultinationalDirector of ProcurementSingaporean Consumer Retail CompanySVP of Supply Chain ManagementAsian eCommerce MultinatiomalGlobal Order Fulfilment ManagerGlobal Chemical Manufacturing CompanyRegional Sourcing ManagerGlobal Chemical Manufacturing CompanyDeputy Head, Business DevelopmentSingaporean Logistics CompanySupply Chain AnalystEuropean Mining MultinationalFacilities ManagerGlobal Life Sciences & Diagnostics MultinationalRegional Health & Safety ManagerEuropean MNC in Services SectorLogistics & Customer Service CoordinatorGlobal Chemical Manufacturing CompanyBusiness Implementation Executive, APAC                               Asian Logistics MultinationalSenior Supply Chain ManagerSingaporean Food & Beverage CompanySenior Trade Operations ManagerAsian eCommerce Start-upBusiness Excellence ManagerUS MNC in Pharmaceutical SectorQuality Operations ManagerUS Biopharmaceutical MultinationalOperations Director (Philippines-based)US Food & Beverage CompanyKEY CONTACTSFor more information or individually tailored advice, please do not hesitate to contact our regional Supply Chain & Operations team:Singapore Office - please contact Yvonne GohChina Offices - please contact Cherry ZhuClick here to download the full report.
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Accounting And Finance 03

2021 Accounting & Finance Market Insights

INTRODUCTION The business landscape in APAC has changed dramatically over the past 18 months. The pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital transformation in many companies. As the digital-first economy takes centre stage, companies need to adapt to the changing needs of both employees and consumers. The talent market is in a constant state of change right now, but one thing is certain: accounting and finance talent remains in high demand.     The first half of the year was busier than ever in the accounting & finance recruitment sector as many of the organisations that put hiring on hold last year regained momentum. As businesses continue to grow, we see a sustained demand for finance professionals who can become true business partners and advise on strategic decisions.    Candidates were cautious about making career moves amidst the pandemic as they were uncertain about the economic landscape. Recently, we have seen a greater willingness from candidates to look at new opportunities. However, we have also observed that candidates have more considerations as they assess a career move.    In this report, we explore hiring and industry trends across the accounting & finance industry in APAC, as well as candidates’ response to the current market landscape.  CHINA Gross domestic product (GDP) in China hit record levels during the first quarter of 2021 at 18.3% on a year-on-year basis, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China. In Q2, the growth was not as high at 7.9%. Despite this drop, China’s recovery has been strong and steady. It was the first major economy to come out of lockdown in 2020. The global landscape, however, is fraught with uncertainties as COVID-19 is running rampant in other parts of the world.         Like the rest of the world, businesses in China are currently navigating a talent market that has changed irrevocably. Many organisations are facing multiple challenges in the increasingly competitive job market, including a lack of focus on candidate experience, skills shortages, poor retention rates and low compliance with hiring standards. HOT SKILLS IN CHINA Operational Finance with IPO Experience  Candidates with operational finance backgrounds and successful IPO experience are in demand. Employers are seeking finance candidates with a strong business acumen that can manage capital markets and oversee internal finance.    Investment Banking Exposure Bankers with solid IPO exposure in the Hong Kong market are highly sought after. Some listed companies, especially those with VIE (variable interest entity) structures, are considering moving to the Hong Kong capital market. Demand for candidates with this experience is high as a result.   Finance Business Partnering Finance professionals with commercial acumen are highly sought for as companies expect solid data analysis to support business decision making, especially for those companies that are further investing in China.   Digital Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) Candidates with digital FP&A experience are proving popular as companies seek to invest in in-house digital hubs to drive business growth. Technology know-how has become a requirement for many businesses looking for finance professionals due to the ever-increasing reliance on technology.    Finance Transformation More companies are leveraging Shared Services Centers (SSC) or Global Business Services (GBS) transformation to drive further efficiency and cost-saving. Talents with solid SSC or GBS experience, especially those who have regional exposure, are in high demand.   Audit/Internal Controls/Compliance Finance professionals well versed in auditing, internal controls and compliance-related roles are sought after, particularly by listed companies or organisations that plan to go for an IPO in the future.   HONG KONG As we move towards the end of the year, the general sentiment among businesses in Hong Kong is that of positivity. Employers know that securing top talent is more challenging than it has ever been. Despite the chronic skills shortages and changing needs of candidates, employers in this region have remained stringent in their hiring processes.    Demand for accounting & finance professionals has risen steadily since Q4 2020. Companies are looking to hire finance professionals with strategic mindsets. With many businesses working on their sales and growth targets for 2022, the demand for qualified talent is not slowing down.      HOT SKILLS IN HONG KONG Business Partnering Organisations are looking for finance candidates with the ability to work in a business partner role, especially in FP&A.   International Experience The pandemic caused severe disruption to supply chains, while business travel came to a standstill. As borders reopen and supply chains return to normal, finance talents with experience in global markets are highly sought after.    Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) Experience M&A activities tapered down during the initial phases of the pandemic due to uncertainty in the economic landscape. This year, we have seen an increase in the number of M&A taking place, and a rise in demand for candidates with experience in driving M&A.    Change Management Skills Increasing numbers of companies are going through business transformation. Finance professionals experienced in change management are highly sought after to help manage new processes with minimum disruption to overall business operations as a result.     Business Analytics Candidates with strong analytical skills play a significant role in strategic decision-making. As businesses push forward with their growth plans, finance professionals with expertise in business analytics are in demand.   High Emotional Quotient (EQ) The world of work has changed due to COVID-19 and employee well-being has become a focal point for many companies. Therefore, finance professionals with a high EQ are in demand as employers want finance professionals who can lead their teams through periods of uncertainty and show empathy.    JAPAN Hiring demand slowed in Q3 compared to the first six months of the year. Japan is now at a critical juncture with the pandemic and completion of the Olympic Games. We expect organisations to expand their hiring efforts and the demand for new finance professionals will steadily increase over the next year.   Like many countries across APAC, candidates in Japan were cautious toward changing jobs during the height of the pandemic. However, this uncertainty is quickly fading.    Candidates are now more interested in making a move and companies are showing renewed confidence and appetite around hiring. With demand for talented finance professionals far outstripping supply, the most sought-after candidates are receiving multiple job offers. To counter this, companies that have robust, yet flexible interview processes are gaining a competitive advantage to hire ahead of the competition.    HOT SKILLS IN JAPAN Business Partnering Finance professionals with the right combination of analytical and communication skills are highly sought after. Those in highest demand are finance business partners who fully understand the business and can provide the necessary data-backed narrative from which solid strategic decisions can be made.   Stakeholder Management Many firms continue to seek candidates who can build solid relationships within the business and put in place the processes needed to ensure necessary strategic alignments across all functions.   Leadership Expectations of the finance function continue to shift. And many firms in Japan are looking for agile and creative leaders to drive change and transformation around efficiency in an ever-changing and ambiguous environment.    High Emotional Quotient (EQ) Within this extremely candidate-driven market, more emphasis is being placed upon the retention and development of employees. Senior finance professionals must foster positive working environments and be able to lead, develop and retain high performing teams.    SINGAPORE Singapore has reached a high rate of vaccination and we are seeing the economy show signs of recovery. Q2 this year, Singapore saw 14.7% year-on-year economic growth – a significant increase from the 1.5% in Q1. The Ministry of Trade & Industry (MTI) has upgraded the GDP growth forecast for 2021 from between 4 and 6% to between 6 and 7%. These adjustments account for the better-than-expected performance of the Singapore economy in the first half of the year along with the latest external and domestic economic developments.   However, the pandemic remains a significant near-term risk and adds uncertainty over the medium-term outlook for growth. The general outlook for hiring remains cautious. APAC remains an important region for global businesses. Singapore is viewed as an ideal location for regional offices due to the large pool of qualified talent with good regional exposure.    We have seen an increase in the number of companies that are undergoing restructuring in the region as well as enterprise-wide transformation initiatives. We continue to see redundancies in companies, yet on the same note, these organisations are still hiring although in more specialised niche functions.    HOT SKILLS IN SINGAPORE Business Analytics To better forecast business changes and assist in strategic decisions, finance talent with data analytics and big data management experience are valued. Hiring activity is likely to rise for FP&A, commercial finance and finance business partnering professionals who have exposure to data analytics tools like SQL, R, Tableau, Python, SAS and QlikView.   Strategic Insights & Finance Business Partnering Firms are seeking finance professionals to provide insights in driving business performance, with high demand for commercially astute finance professionals who possess the gravitas to engage with key stakeholders.    Finance Transformation & Robotic Process Automation (RPA) More organisations have been embarking on finance transformation initiatives to drive process and system improvements. Candidates who can lead finance transformation projects relating to process improvements are highly valued. Accounting professionals experienced in implementing RPA within large organisations are also in high demand. Even mid-sized businesses are looking to adopt such technologies to stay competitive and efficient.    Supply Chain Finance The ongoing pandemic has exposed just how much supply chains can make or break a company’s success. Finance leaders with deep experience in partnering with supply chain leaders can bring value, including financial impact analysis, the evaluation of capital investments, effective inventory planning, identifying and managing risks and optimising performance.   In-house Corporate Finance & Strategy The COVID-19 pandemic has created opportunities for businesses with good financial positions to look into M&A. Hiring for in-house M&A positions is rising, as well as in-house corporate strategy roles to support both inorganic and organic growth.    Risk Management Increasing economic volatility and complexity have elevated the importance of risk management as a critical function. Companies are upping their efforts to establish a more systematic approach to analysing business risks and opportunities and identifying strategies for managing risk.    Increased Emphasis on Soft Skills We are seeing more emphasis on soft skills as part of the hiring criteria. This includes stakeholder engagement skills, critical thinking, learning agility and the ability to drive change. When recruiting new employees in 2021, many clients have cited communication as the most sought-after soft skill.    RECENT HIRING TRENDS IN APAC The recruitment market is still very dynamic in China, and finance talents is in high demand to support business expansion plans. Many employers are looking for finance professionals to become true business partners and provide strategic guidance. In Hong Kong and Singapore, accounting & finance professionals are increasingly open to moving roles. With the economies showing signs of recovery, finance candidates are in high demand and are more open to seeking new opportunities. When considering a career move, finance candidates are looking closely at business performance to ensure they make the right decision. They are also seeking opportunities to develop and progress in their careers. When asked why they are considering leaving their current organisation, almost two thirds (59%) of respondents cited a lack of career growth and developmental opportunities, according to our 2020 Working in APAC report. The number of finance professionals looking to switch industries, not just companies, has gone up. FinTech and technology start ups are fast becoming attractive options for candidates; however, they will still have concerns. Company stability and funding remain key considerations for candidates. Accounting & finance candidates now seek more flexibility and improved work/life balance when considering a move. The pandemic has led many people to reflect deeper on what they want from a job. Coupled with the surge in remote working during enforced lockdowns, this means many are prioritising positions in companies that allow for a better balance.   KEY INDUSTRIES HIRING NOW The industries with the most hiring activity for finance roles right now include the following:   Healthcare and Life Sciences  Consumer Goods and Food Manufacturing Technology, Digital and eCommerce Athleisure and Sporting Goods   RETENTION OF TALENT As the job market continues to pick up, there is an increased need for companies to ensure they have robust talent retention strategies in place. In this highly competitive market, it is more important than ever to regularly review your Employee Value Proposition (EVP).   Organisations with a compelling EVP have an advantage over the competition as they will find it much easier to successfully attract highly qualified candidates and retain their best employees. Employers that take steps to foster environments where employees feel safe, valued and empowered will be better able to retain their talent.   WHAT DO CANDIDATES LOOK FOR IN A COMPANY?  As the job market continues to see greater recovery, candidates are considering several key factors when assessing a career move:       RECENT PLACEMENTS   ROLE ORGANISATION LOCATION     COO Global Leading Service Provider China Pre-IPO CFO China Leading Biotech Company China Pre-IPO CFO China Leading Consumer Company China CFO Global Healthcare Company China Pre-IPO Finance VP Leading High-Tech Company China Corporate Development Director Global Leading Chemical Company China Risk Management Associate Director Global Food & Beverage Company China Senior Accounting Project Manager Global FMCG Company China Senior Strategy Manager US Leading Manufacturing Company China Commercial Finance Manager Global Leading FMCG Company China VP, Finance, APAC UK Footwear Brand Hong Kong Head of Treasury US FinTech Company Hong Kong Financial Controller US FinTech Company Hong Kong Senior Financer Manager Asian Travel Company Hong Kong Finance Manager Asian Travel Company Hong Kong              FP&A Manager Asian Professional Services Company                                Hong Kong Regional Finance Director Global Multinational Company Singapore Regional Finance Director Global Pharmaceutical Multinational Singapore APAC Finance Director European Logistics Multinational Singapore Finance Director US Multinational Company Singapore VP, Finance Business Partner Leading eCommerce Company Singapore Financial Controller Singaporean Healthcare Company Singapore Regional Senior Manager, FP&A US Multinational Company Singapore Senior Manager, Compliance, Governance & Risk                           Singaporean Healthcare Company Singapore Operation Risk Manager Technology Start-up Singapore Treasury Manager European Multinational Company Singapore Business Process Advisory Manager Global Multinational Company Singapore                                                                                     KEY CONTACTS For more information or individually tailored advice, please do not hesitate to contact our regional Accounting & Finance team:   Singapore Office - please contact Yvonne Goh Hong Kong Office - please contact Paul Shelton China Offices - please contact Sophia Sun Japan Office - please contact Hiro Azuma Click here to download the full report.
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Digital And Tech 03

The Only Way is Tech: Why Digital Skills are still in High Demand in APAC

2021 APAC Digital & Technology Market Update Digital and technology skills continue to be in high demand across Asia Pacific (APAC). The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the need for tech talent in the wider APAC region, as it forced many organisations to prioritise digital transformation. Bringing forward digital capabilities was business-critical for many companies. The overnight shift to remote working played a major part, while others had to revert to online sales models to keep up with consumer demand. Not only that, 70% of the population is now online and 94% of new digital service consumers intend to continue with the service post-pandemic, research from e-Conomy SEA revealed.   Meanwhile, in Singapore, the region, often dubbed the Silicon Valley of Asia, is a fertile ground for start-ups and tech investments thanks to its data-friendly policies (strict governance and compliance) and free trade agreements. The government also plays an active role in attracting funds, driving investments and incentivising start-ups. In fact, Singapore has more than 150 venture capital funds, incubators and accelerators, according to the Singapore Economic Development Board. ​ And it’s not just the prioritisation of digital transformation programs. The timescales for completion have also been condensed, in some cases by several years. This means digital and technology skills are arguably more highly sought after than ever before, with the most in-demand positions include both technical and commercial roles.   Globally, tech talent has always been in short supply and APAC is no different. Our lives are becoming ever more digitized which means tech talent is even more critical. From software engineers to cybersecurity experts, all are in demand.   To continue to build a successful tech ecosystem throughout Asia, more investments in education and resources are required, along with infrastructure, governance and the right talent pool. The work-from-home technology surge Although many businesses have returned to the office, some regions in APAC have adopted a more flexible approach to working. Australia, for example, is very much open to retaining many of the flexible working elements it introduced during the height of the pandemic. However, in China, it’s business as usual, and many organisations returned to the office last year. Singapore and Hong Kong have welcomed a more flexible approach and it seems like this will be the case in the future, our research suggests. Both regions have reinstated working virtually, albeit temporary, over the past few months to help control surges in COVID-19.   With remote working showing no signs of stopping, organisations across the globe must keep pace with the technological needs of this new standard of work. Whether it’s increasing cybersecurity efforts, transitioning to the cloud, or producing new collaborative tech tools, the competition for skilled digital and technology professionals will remain high for the foreseeable future.​ In-demand technical skills​ IT Operations: People working in roles within IT Operations are, simply put, the unsung heroes of the pandemic. The critical need to work from home during the pandemic meant demand for these roles (infrastructure, application and cybersecurity) soared. A good IT leader plays the role of a “stitcher”, in other words, they have the ability to integrate the various processes seamlessly based on the business needs. So, he or she is a strong project leader.   Engineering: Software, mobile and data engineering skills have been in high demand because of the robust growth within the internet economy. Companies, both within the traditional economy and start-ups, are racing ahead to develop the next blockbuster product/platform within the online ecosystem. Beyond the technicalities of the function, a good engineering leader is also someone with sound business acumen. Companies seek to marry those two traits when hiring for such talent, which is why they are in such high demand.   UX/UI: Due to the pandemic and soaring consumer demand, the shift in digital operations is as high as it has ever been in recent years. With this shift comes a heightened emphasis on ensuring the customer’s digital journey is flawless. Candidates with these skillsets have always been in high demand, and there has been a notable increase in recent months.   What types of companies are hiring?  There are four main segments: Large multinational companies in traditional economies going through digital transformation Organisations in the internet economy Start-ups (Series A and beyond) The public sector - GovTech in Singapore is leading the charge in this area Challenges It’s fair to say that there has always been a severe shortage of digital and tech skills; however, this has become increasingly more apparent. Today, most companies can be classed as tech businesses due to the amount of technology relied upon in their day-to-day processes.   To keep pace with technological change, the number of workers applying digital skills in certain APAC regions (Singapore, Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea) will rise five-fold from 149 million workers today to 819 million workers in 2025, research from Amazon Web Services (AWS) revealed. The report suggests that the average worker across these regions will need to gain seven new digital skills by 2025, and 5.7 billion digital skill trainings will be required.   With the soaring demand for digital and technology skills, employers in the APAC region are all courting the same pool of candidates. Top tips on how to access digital talent A robust employee value proposition (EVP) that aligns with the employment brand is key to position as an employer of choice. It is also worth remembering that people with digital and technology skillsets are driven by the opportunity to learn. Money isn’t their main driver - they want to be able to make a real difference. Other tips to attract this pool of talent include:   Attracting new talent with ongoing learning and development programs. Technology is evolving at a rapid pace, so candidates want the opportunity to learn and develop. Showcasing learning and development programmes and certifications via employment brand can help attract this segment of talent. Develop comprehensive graduate talent and early career programmes to benefit from emerging talent. Partner with educational institutes to create a pipeline of talent. Develop talent communities and keep engagement levels high with relevant content that’s personalised. This allows organisations to showcase their employment brands. Transition consultants and contractors into full-time roles. This isn’t always easy. Companies should cater their employment brands to showcase the innovative projects and company missions that might convert freelancers. Remember, pay and benefits may be appealing, but meaningful opportunity is a requirement for a lot of consultants. Cross-training existing IT employees to have the skills to pivot into other roles. Recent Placements ROLE ORGANISATION Product Manager, Cloud Singaporean Technology Company Senior Manager, Automation Projects Enterprise Architect, Cloud                Singaporean Technology Company Chief Information Officer SVP, Cybersecurity Singapore-based Conglomerate Regional IT Director Global Manufacturing Company Manager, IT Solution Architect Global Manufacturing Company Regional Technology Risk & Security Manager, Asia Pacific US Global Commodity Company Global IT Director, Applications Global Provider of Technology Services, Products & Solutions             Regional IT Director Global Education Group Director, Retail IS&T, APAC Global Consumer Electronics Company AD, Cybersecurity Solution Architect Portfolio Investment Group Regional IT Security Manager, APAC European Shipping and Logistics Company Chief Information Officer Singaporean FMCG Manufacturing Company Program Manager, Agile Coach Blockchain Technology Startup Senior IT Security Manager Asian Airlines & Aviation Company Engineering Director Geospatial Analytics Company IT Director Global Optoelectronics Manufacturing Company Online Business Director Global FMCG Company Chief Digital Officer Global Asset Manager E-commerce & New Channels Manager, APAC Global Oil & Gas Company APAC Digital Transformation Manager Global Oil & Gas Company   Key Contacts   For more information or individually tailored advice, please do not hesitate to contact our regional Digital & Technology team: Singapore Office - please contact Karen Yap Hong Kong Office - please contact Paul Shelton Shanghai Office - please contact Paul Loo Beijing Office - please contact Nicole Li     Click here to download the full report.
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Ac Covid19article

The Seismic Shift of 2021: free cans of soda won't buy my loyalty

As the demand for talent becomes increasingly more competitive, Profile Director Amanda Clarke highlights the need for authenticity and empathy in the workplace as more employees consider making a move.Simon Sinek, the performance coach, said, “working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress, working hard for something we love is called passion”. Over the last 17 years working in recruitment, I have met people from all over the world who, for one reason or another, simply don’t like the companies they work for. Some don’t believe they have enough opportunity to progress, others feel undervalued, many dislike their firm’s culture or politics, and several cite poor managers.When you break it down and think about it closely, companies (and colleagues) have an obligation to make sure that, at the very least, we gain some enjoyment from our daily working lives. While employers may not be able to change job content and deliverables, they can make the environment within which employees work a whole lot better. That doesn’t mean we need all the office extras – like bean bags and subsidised canteens - but rather, if employers want our commitment, they will have to show they have our backs. Each year we carry out various surveys on working lives in Asia Pacific. Of over 2,000 respondents in Asia Pacific who filled out our Working in Asia 2021 survey, circa 50% said they were open to leaving their companies in the next six months (down from around 70% in previous years). While around half of the respondents cited ‘lack of career development’, a whopping 31% said they wanted to leave because they don’t feel ‘appreciated or recognised’ for the work they do.Similarly, of those wanting to stay in their organisation (aside from the ‘uncertain market conditions’ quoted by many), 40% confirmed it was thanks to the ‘enjoyable and productive culture’ and because they felt ‘appreciated or recognised’ (35%). Quite clearly, being valued and recognised plays a significant role in whether employees stay or leave their firms. And notably, these motivators scored higher than their interest in financial rewards (both to stay and leave). So, what makes an employee enjoy their firm’s culture and feel appreciated and recognised? Over the years, I have seen more and more stuff presented to enhance the office environment – from in-house drinks bars and yoga rooms to pianos and pinball machines; one even has a DJ booth and a Mahjong room. But does this make us happy? Does it mean we enjoy our jobs more and feel valued? Maybe. Possibly. Is it sustainable longer-term? I don’t think so. 2021 is seeing a seismic shift. A recognition that the stuff isn’t as important as more holistic values and needs: our wellbeing, our sense of inclusiveness, our time. Forward-thinking companies are beginning to review their medical plans and offering better benefits to same-sex partners, improved maternity/paternity leave, vaccinations, flexi-work, meditation apps, sabbaticals, and more. Will it retain us in these firms? It will certainly help.As the last eighteen months has dramatically shown, the world is evolving all the time – and so are we. We are constantly developing what we need and what makes us engaged and productive, so employers must be empathetic and walk with us; share our wins and losses together.Leaders are starting to acknowledge that they must be truly authentic. They need to be visible, even fallible – they need to imbue kindness and show they care.  Employees, in turn, will more readily feel the office is a safe environment where they can voice concerns and where their feedback is valued. And it is in feeling valued, appreciated, and safe that we can grow. And it is then that we feel loyal.So, the leaders of every organisation should know that employees of 2021 are a lot more demanding with an increasing list of expectations for their working environment. Yet, while they might enjoy the office extras, what they really want is your guidance, trust, support and, ultimately, kindness. As we think through employee loyalty and engagement, it’s important to point out that as some employees start or continue to work from home more often, they will view their office space differently. As firms look to readdress space planning and employees potentially desk-share, perhaps they will feel less attachment to their physical surroundings. After all the years of carefully curating office spaces, free cans of soda in the pantry may not matter anymore.And if that is the case, it will be even more important that employees feel loyal to the people with whom they work, because it will be – as it’s always been – the main reason employees will be committed to stay. 
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