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Reach Our Full Potential with a Diverse Next-Gen: Delta SEA CHRO Shares Vision for a Future-Proof Organization

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Interview with Mr. CH Huang, Delta SEA CHRO
Text and photos by David Nakayama, DET Corp Comms

Samutprakarn, Thailand, June 30, 2022- As we continue on our sustainable development journey, Delta Thailand is at a stage where we can choose to transform into more than just a factory where people can earn a living.  One day we might become a future-ready community where the power of each person’s differences are tapped into and we can fully engage with equal opportunity to grow together. Recently, Mr. CH Huang, Delta SEA CHRO, was brought on to lead change in our people and talent in Thailand development that is necessary for our future sustainability.

Despite his busy schedule, our new CHRO spared an hour to sit down with me for a chat. Here, he shared his interesting career path from sales to HR in Taiwan and Southeast Asia and gave in-depth insights on why diversity is essential for our growth and how HR can facilitate organizational change. He also shared how to tackle bias and help build a more fair and efficient workplace that attracts and retains new-blood talents who will propel Delta into the future.

Can you please share your background and how you came to your current role as head of Delta Thailand CHRO?

I was born in 1972 and have more than 27 years of work experience. After graduating from university in Taiwan with a degree in Statistics, I worked in sales for one and a half years before moving to HR at a major smartphone manufacturer. For five years at the global headquarters, I facilitated their organizational change from a manufacturer, for other OEM smartphone brands, to a maker of an original brand. This involved setting up customer service policies, with a manual on approaching customers, work templates for job reporting/evaluation, and a service recording system.

I also did a US EMBA program, where I participated in several business case studies with classmates from Google, FB, TATA, and West Point United States Military Academy.

I then spent two years leading sales teams in a Vietnam Software as a Service (SaaS) company and eight years as CHRO of two footwear companies in Southeast Asia with workforces of 54,000 and 20,000 people.

As an advisor of a SEA Angel Venture Fund, I assess and identify the capability and critical talents of startup leadership teams for business opportunities. Meanwhile, I learn from other advisors about finance, technology, markets, and M&A.

In March 2022, I joined Delta Thailand. I appreciate the support from our president Jackie Chang and our global head of HR, Charles Chen, in Taiwan, who guide me in Delta’s business and HR directions. Of course, our HR team members are kindly and sincerely working with me, which is critical and essential for success.

How was your experience moving to Thailand for work on “onboard” as the new head of HR at Delta SEA?

It’s my first time living and working in Thailand. Bangkok is extraordinary, and I like how it’s so modern and convenient. There are many museums and parks here, and I mention this because my wife, two kids and I enjoy all the recreation sites.

When I joined, I didn’t feel I had a learning curve or needed probation. I immediately started working with my colleagues in the HR team or other functions. On the second day on the job, I joined three meetings and immediately began to resolve problems or engage in project discussions.

Jackie’s leadership style, our culture, the working environment, my excellent colleagues, and the teamwork are a significant support for me, which highly matches my working style and experience.

How does HR support everyone’s growth at Delta, from managers to officers to operators? What is DET HRs role in our organization’s sustainable development?

HR has three primary goals to support three critical groups of people in an organization. These are organized in the table below:

GoalsAll employeesHi-Potential talentsManagers/Leaders
1. People developmentIndividual growthPeople and task managementStrategic organization design/development
2. User experienceOnline/offline user-friendlySelf-serviceTailored-made services
3. RetentionStable and friendly working environmentProjects, opportunities and rotation(cross country and business)Global megatrends, position, grade, business opportunities.

For example, HR wants to build a strong relationship with employees. Now we collect feedback from our official LINE group but because people are usually hesitant to say everything, we also need an anonymous channel. We want to establish a self-service channel where anyone can write down their questions without giving their names, title, or employee ID. We can then benefit from more candid feedback.

Improving our user experience (UX) naturally establishes trust and efficiency, so employees can create more value for their work. I say UX because I used to work in a SaaS company where we use technology as a tool to make operations more accurate and efficient. In a company, the employees are like the users or customers, and HR is like a service provider.

What do diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) mean, and what are the top benefits for companies that support DEI in their organization?

DEI is a simple idea, but it’s not easy to embed in an organization. My principle is to make no difference in the treatment of anyone on any aspect unless it’s an ethical issue, performance, or contribution to the company.

DEI offers many benefits, including more connections to diversified stakeholders, ideas, energy, and inclusiveness. It’s a big deal because it’s a mega trend for global companies everywhere, and if you want to have business with them, then your company culture and people’s behavior have to match up. So if we want to be equal partners with global giants, we must practice inclusiveness.

We need to believe in DEI and “walk the talk” when it comes to core values. Whether you’re establishing teams or doing business with partners, suppliers or customers they can all sense and detect our attitude and if we are living our values. Besides partners, third-party influencers or activists also observe and comment on all company’s social images on blogs, Instagram, or Facebook. So if we don’t reflect DEI in our behavior or image, they will highlight this to their network.

I prefer a more proactive or aggressive approach to DEI that prepares us for the future instead of a passive process of only following current trends. Diverse talent is a necessary foundation to help us navigate VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity). Diversified teams can resolve the VUCA challenges more efficiently than traditional teams with similar thinking and mindset.

What are the biggest roadblocks to transformative changes like diversity and equality in a traditional company, and what actions can HR take to create a more sustainable future for everyone?

We must help change people’s mindsets step by step by setting up learning experiences as much as possible.

At the smartphone company I was at before, we once had a program kick-off and at first, many service people complained about “stupid” users – these “users” are our customers. The core issue was our telecom engineers developing the product are completely different from our average user. So how did we change people’s mindsets? We had to bring our customer service people to observe how users use the phone.

We worked with the engineering and marketing teams to have focus groups to see regular people operating our smartphones. They then understood that people who don’t have engineering backgrounds don’t understand some intelligent functions. So we must consider how to approach those mom and pop users and even grandma and grandpa with the right product.

What is unconscious bias and how can it harm an organization’s performance and sustainability? How can HR identify and set up checks and balances to reduce its impact on the hiring, performance rating, and promotion processes?

Unconscious bias related to things like age or gender etc. may cause the company to lose our potential capability since we have other strong competitors for talents. We can take two directions to improve:

1. Educate and train HR to recognize and prevent those biases.

I believe that our HR team has already worked to identify some external consultants to be DEI teachers. It’s essential to recognize our unconscious bias first. Because if we don’t know what is wrong, then we don’t know what to change. We can then have some action plans or task force team to change slowly and smoothly.

2. Be mindful when we review and execute all HR practices.

Our progress towards both demographic and employee experience targets must be in parallel. Numbers are important metrics that can persuade stakeholders that we are committed and push us to move forward faster. However, research shows that many companies fail in DEI because they focus only on filling “diversity” roles. Still, they do not focus on changing the processes in the company and the culture for “equity” and “inclusion.”

If we only hire diverse people to fill in our quotas, then that’s too passive an approach and not enough. Only setting percentage targets may be too “number focused” without considering what the actual situation needs. We also need to ensure the employee experience and our systemic processes are friendly and fair enough for everyone to feel safe and succeed.

Can you share your vision and action plan to lead DET HR in creating a growth environment where today’s top talents can help build our Delta of the future?

My vision is for the entire team to be capable of providing user-friendly and smart services for current and future talents. That includes HR knowledge, capability, also the user experience concept with a thorough understanding of our business plan.

I also want each individual in HR to work with candidates or third parties as Delta representatives and employer branding ambassadors. Internally, they should also act on behalf of HR to provide services independently. They must be both specialists and generalists at the same time.

What do you enjoy besides work? Do you have any tips for enjoying life while working abroad?

I’m an audiophile who enjoys high-fidelity music because you can listen to beautiful music through detailed sounds. It’s an incredible feeling when you can hear so many things in the music, just like you would see when you closely look at a painting and admire the details of every stroke. I enjoy the full immersion of listening to music at home or live, just like it is “flowing” through every cell of your body and heart.

I also enjoy cycling, boxing, and photographing. I started boxing many years ago and now have a new boxing bag for fun and health. At home, it’s our family rule that I teach my kids Chinese, mathematics, and science, and my wife teaches them English and drawing. We enjoy cycling, swimming, or visiting national parks, museums, and aquariums on weekends.

 

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How can everyone help to stand up for fundamental human rights and create a workplace and community where everyone can succeed?

Everyone can focus on two things:

1. Get our jobs done right

The right to work is a human right. Everyone should complete their jobs on time with quality. Otherwise, they will cause a quality issue, backlog, or delay that impact others. If this kind of situation happens all the time, then that will jeopardize the internal fairness in our teams. When we do our part, everyone can enjoy an efficient working environment, and we protect everyone’s right to work.

2. Live with integrity

Temptation is everywhere, whether you are a CEO, C-Suite member, function head, head engineer, operator, or security guard. So we must always ask ourselves, “Am I acting with integrity?” Everyone must be mindful of integrity and contribute to fairness at work. If someone takes advantage of others without integrity, then other people will lose their rights.

Finally, is there anything you would like to share with your Delta colleagues worldwide?

I feel full of excitement and energy here at Delta. Fortunately, I believe there are a lot of opportunities for everyone because we are not just doing a job.

“What we do today is improving the potential future for ourselves and our next generation.”

So it’s an honor and a very excellent challenge. I look forward to a fantastic journey with everyone here!

David

About the Author (Editorial Team)

If content is king, there must be a kingmaker. And the universal theme in my favorite stories is our innate human desire for freedom. I have a master’s degree in Chinese education and experience spanning industries and countries. As the Comms guy at DET, I’m obsessed with the stories behind our products and people. Share your stories with me @ https://www.linkedin.com/in/yushi-david-nakayama/

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