"Flavours" of Regional HR Leaders and Tips to Becoming One

"Flavours" of Regional HR Leaders and Tips to Becoming One

Business Consigliere, Global Normad, Local Guru or Maverick, which one are you?

I recently met a friend who's currently the Head of Knowledge Partnership from the Human Capital Leadership Institute (HCLI is established with the Ministry of Manpower, Singapore Economic Development Board and the Singapore Management University as strategic partners to offer best in classthought leadership on human capital development). I read with great interest a piece of research that she shared with me on Developing HR Leaders and I wish to first credit HCLI for the insights that I am about to share here. Click here to visit the HCLI site and research project. 

There are four flavours of Regional HR Leaders. 


1. Business Consigliere

A business leader who after a long and successful business career in the organisation moves on to the HR function. A business consigliere has strong business acumen, understands the business well and has deep credibility in the organization. For example, the Global CHRO of Mondelez Internationaltoday was formally a Senior Executive from Finance!

2. Global Nomad

This refers to a HR Leader who has spent a considerable number of years outside his home country, both within and outside Asia. For example, the Regional HR Director of Fonterra, Cecile Diversy (an extremely capable HR Leader whom I know personally and values diversity) have had experience working in bothdeveloped and developing countries. 

3. Local (or I prefer to call it Asia) Guru

This is a leader who has spent the bulk of his career in the HR function as a generalist or running one of the COEs. His exposure to the business was gained via a series of business partnering roles in his career and overseas exposure within Asia. Highly valuable and sought after today in light of increasingly protective employment law in Asia markets and the scarcity of HR talents with a global mindset and Asia point of view. 

4. Maverick

Consultants, Executives from other professions who makes a mid-career switch to HR. Mavericks typically have considerable global exposure and experience in the business or HR consultancy. 


HR leaders broadly map to one of the four flavours. Global Nomad and Local/Asia Guru dominate the regional HR Leadership community today but they shouldn't rest on their laurels. According to the Deloitte's 2015 Global HR Trends study, 40% of the global CHRO hires now come from outside of HR

So, which one are you now or becoming in the future? No matter which one you're, there are some universally good tips to bear in mind if you aspire to become a HR Leader someday. Here's five:

1. Make Long Term Career Plans but Remain Open to Possibilities (not going to belabour the point here, self-explanatory)

2. Go Global, Go Early (read Exposure here)

3. Early Cross Functional Experience and risks pays off for executives (read Experiences here)

4. Develop a Professional Network with Depth

5. No Need to 'Save Face'. Continuously seek feedback in your interactions with  your business stakeholders. 

I hope you've found this article helpful. Do check out the Human Capital Leadership Institute if you are interested to know more about enabling great HR. 


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