Norlida (Oli) Azmi is the Group Chief People Officer of Axiata Group Berhad, driving the Group’s People Strategy in line with Axiata’s vision of becoming The Next Generation Digital Champion. She also serves as a Non-Independent Non-Executive Director (Nominee of Axiata Group Berhad) on edotco Group. Oli strongly advocates DE&I, digital, agile, and total well-being. She actively mentors and coaches young talents and aspiring leaders on various platforms. Most recently, Norlida joined a community of prominent industry leaders as Adjunct Professor for Organisational Behaviour and Leadership at UNITAR International University’s Graduate School.

1. What are some of the major challenges and trends that have been impacting the HR Industry lately?

As the world returns to some normalcy, albeit major external disruptions, be they socio-political or environmental, the effectiveness of leaders and managers in the changing ways of working is key–for them to effectively implement the actions for people first as well as drive productivity and ultimately business results. Key traits of leadership being called upon are empathy, resilience, the ability to communicate openly, cultural sensitivity, and courage. Another is the focus on mental well-being, which underlines the importance of care and wellness for our people and the overall employee experience across all the HR touchpoints.  The future of work, be it our ways of working or technology shaping our new operating models - with the right people at the right levels of competencies and capacities is another key trend and challenge.

2. What keeps you up at night when it comes to some of the major predicaments in the HR Industry?

For me, how do we build and sustain the excitement within our people, so they remain engaged and motivated to deliver at their highest capabilities and potential?

The change in our Ways of Working to ensure an integrated workforce of those who work in the office and remotely is as much a progressive move towards supporting our people’s desire for flexibility and agility as it is also a key challenge. Ensuring our people managers are equipped with the skills to manage this distributed way of working and still able to drive collaboration and ideation. And how to ensure that the Axiata Culture, we term a Winning Culture based on our 2 principles of Uncompromising Integrity and Exceptional Performance, continues to be embedded in our people’s behavior and conduct.

The Great Resignation or The Great Reshuffle has not spared us. Though we are fortunate that our talent brand is strong enough to bring new talents into our Group, there is still a period of acculturation for new joiners.  During this period, we have had our good people stepping up during these vacancies to ensure that there has not been a disruption to our business or a dilution of our corporate goals. However, with mental and physical well-being being very key today in what people are looking for, we also don’t want these people who are loyal and committed to us to be adversely impacted.  This includes key leadership departures, and these transitions need to be managed very closely and emphatically with clear, consistent, and frequent communication by those in acting capacities or by the ‘informal’ leaders.

The other key element for me is how fast we are upskilling and reskilling our people so that they can deliver effectively.  We are in an industry that is rapidly transforming by quantum leaps. Our customers out there are demanding more innovative products and services that build in new technology and sustainability features.  Learning journeys are also different today, and the outcomes are not always easily demonstratable or measurable.

3. Can you tell us about the latest project that you have been working on, and what are some of the technological and process elements that you leveraged to make the project successful?

One that is worth sharing and excites us is how we have been updating and refining our Talent Management and Succession Management framework and principles over the last year.  As we move to a more agile and skills-based talent management and disruptions both internally and externally adding complexities, how do deliver for the business.  This is all linked to enlarging our competencies dictionary to our more technical roles, changing working mode of engagements (gig, contract, remote and much more), enriched talent mobility programmes and rewards structure that moves beyond monetary.  We are working to connect the dots, differently.  Change Management is a key area in this project.

This is being underlined by a 2-phase digital platform that we are working with a partner towards eventually enabling our people to access and own their growth and career progression with us. This platform will also be able to drive more data- driven and insights-guided talent decisions by our leaders.

As this involved all the entities in our group, this project has brought about great conversations and validations amongst the HR communities within the Axiata Group. The challenges, home truths, have unearthed opportunities to correct and calibrate some of the inefficiencies and redundant elements in out talent management.

4. What are some of the technological trends which excite you for the future of the HR Industry?

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine-learning and deep-learning are all very exciting as we incorporate these into our digital platforms that span from talent acquisition, onboarding, rewards, talent management, employee wellness and so much more. As the demographics of our workforce becomes younger and younger, the employee experience against the touchpoints with HR must move apace.  Virtual Reality for onboarding or ‘access’ to events and experiences at other locations will be exciting. Learnings that are more gametized or embedded in the flow of work will greatly facilitate the upskilling and reskilling of our people.

Data integration will provide convenience and security, greater user experience at all levels and HR insights and analytics – crucial in making future business decisions. Against an increasingly remote and gig economy workforce, distributed across the world cloud-based HR Tech is a key enabler.

However, companies will have to prioritize as these will require investments in terms of money and people. And beyond implementation, the after-care from the change management will need to be implemented.  Across the Group, we have a dynamic blueprint of how can we adopt these technologies into our people lifecycle and adjust as required.

5. How can budding and evolving companies reach you for suggestions to streamline their business?