Michael Smith, Randstad’s SEA Managing Director, gives us a unique insight into the role of HR technology in client service management, as well as his growth plans for SEA.
Currently you’re managing the Randstad offices in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Are there any plans to open up new offices in SEA over the next year? Are there any markets in SEA in particular where you see serious growth potential?
The Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia markets are still sectors where we have the potential to gain larger market share – we strongly believe that adopting a sharper focus will lead to better returns. There is, of course, definite potential in other locations around the region, such as the Philippines. In several locations we have already built strong partner relationships which are resulting in good returns.
What can you tell us about the Randstad Innovation Fund’s “Tech & Touch” vision? How will this add value to the SEA market specifically?
The SEA region is already seeing the impact of HR technology and the disruptive role it is having on the recruitment industry. The rapid development of technology across all industries is pushing organisations to scramble to hire new talent and drive new business initiatives. This leads to challenges between balancing quality of hire and speed.
Rather than fighting this change, we as an organisation are taking our own approach to this trend, resulting in our ‘Tech & Touch’ vision. It’s vital that a balance between the tech and touch elements must be achieved. Leveraging technology to automate, simplify and speed up processes allows our consultants to spend more time adding the human touch to the recruitment process by building deeper personal connections. We have already implemented several HR technologies in line with this vision. For example, reference checking in Randstad has now become fully automated – freeing up our consultants’ time to focus on sourcing higher quality talent for our clients.
How does Randstad SEA plan to enhance its customer experience in 2017?
The customer experience is a core element of our focus in 2017. We have implemented an NPS (Net Promoter Score) system aimed at covering interactions with clients at each touch point. This system allows for in-depth analysis into a client’s experience with us – from the roles we’re helping them recruit to the consultants they’re working with.
This NPS system is being taken seriously across the organisation as a tool to improve the quality of service we provide to our clients. Senior leadership for the region plan to hold regular roundtable discussions to dive into the feedback and results of the NPS survey. Through these discussions, senior leadership will have the opportunity to formulate solutions that will have real impact in ensuring Randstad is delivering on its client service promise.
As someone who has personally made the transition from a graduate to Managing Director with the same firm, what advice do you give to today’s Randstad graduate intake?
Expect the operating environment to continually and rapidly change, have a strong work ethic, and make sure to take time for personal reflection. Most importantly, be patient. Many forget that the future is purchased with the present. It’s easy for an individual to gauge career expectations when looking at someone in a position who’s making a real impact on the industry. You must be willing to go through the same building blocks of learning and grasp the opportunity to mature through experience.
How competitive is it when it comes to attracting graduates or trainees to Randstad? Is a degree obligatory today?
We don’t exactly have specific requirements, such as a university degree, when it comes to evaluating candidates. We take pride in finding amazing and talented people who come from various educational and professional backgrounds. This does not mean we will hire anyone who does not have a university degree. We would expect to see an alternative form of experience where the individual will have had the opportunity to learn, grow and develop professionally, for example, having started and ran their own business.
On a lighter note, how do the Randstad team let their hair down?
The senior leadership team for the region unites for quarterly off-sites. At each of these trips, they go through something new and experiential that forces the whole group to work together as a team and share more deeply about their personal and professional journeys.
On a company level, we maintain a ‘work hard, play hard’ culture. We hold quarterly activities such as go-karting, boating, laser tag and even dance challenges. The highlight of the year for us is definitely our outlandish year-end dress up parties. The effort and creativity that we see at these events never fails to amaze!
It’s been over four years now for the Smith family in Singapore. Can you see yourself living here long-term? How do you find Singapore from a lifestyle perspective?
Singapore is a fantastic country and I feel privileged to be based here with my family. The culture, food and people are truly unique. When combined, they create an environment where there is always something to do. Singapore is also gifted with an incredible location in the Asia region, giving us access to a vast range of experiences within a few hours of travel. I definitely don’t have plans to leave any time soon.