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Evangeline Chua, Citi Singapore’s head of human resources, speaks to Akankasha Dewan on how the HR function has evolved since its conception, and the direction it is heading towards.
How has your experience been as the head of HR at Citi Singapore to date?
It has been a very good journey for me. I rejoined Citi Singapore in July 2010 and every year here there has been a change in my work scope. In most HR functions you either do a specialist or generalist role.
In my first year, I was given a hybrid role, managing the learning aspect as well as risk and control. In addition, I was also working as a generalist supporting various businesses. It was in my second year I was given a specialist function. I landed in my current role in my third year. So it was really an exciting journey for me.
Why did you decide to pursue HR as a profession?
It was a conscious decision. I am passionate about dealing with people, and even when I was picking out my major I knew I wanted to be either in HR or public relations.
How have you noticed the HR function evolving during your career?
When I first started work in the 1990s, the function was called “personnel management”, which tended to relate more to administrative and transactional work. As it evolved in the late 1990s, it became “human resources”. That’s when we started talking about human capital.
Since then, processes have become more sophisticated, more automated and more structured. This is because we’re dealing with four generations in the workforce that have different needs and desires, and their own out-of-norm demands. So we really have to put structured policies and practices in place to act as a guide, especially considering Citi is such a big organisation.
What we’re advocating right now is that HR rightfully should be the employees’ advocacy
What does the future hold for HR?
Right now, as we speak, we’re again going through another phase of transformation. The HR function is going to be very specialised. Historically, the function has been very reactive – whenever employees have any queries, the function addresses their needs.
But what we’re advocating right now is that HR rightfully should be the employees’ advocacy. And we should be out there to represent the views of the employees and to play a more advisory role to the businesses. So the function is becoming more advisory and strategic.
What do you enjoy most about working in Citi’s HR division?
At Citi, it’s all about talent. I work with very passionate people – be it from corporate affairs or the product people. I truly enjoy this passion because you need passion to drive any organisation.
What improvements do you think need to be made within HR?
From a general perspective, I think talent development is still key because it is closely tied with the motivation and retention of any employee.