SingTel: Connecting and Growing Talents within SingTel

From its home base in Singapore, SingTel has, through its strategic investments, transformed into Asia’s leading communications company. With more than 249 million regional mobile customers, it is also the largest multi-market mobile operator outside of China. Today, it is listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange as the largest company by market capitalisation. On the global front, it is aiming to be the top info-communications technology (ICT) solutions provider in the industry.

For SingTel to lead and shape the markets it competes and operates in, it has to continually invest in both its infrastructure as well as capabilities. This includes building its human capital with a strong commitment to talent management and development.

A key feature of SingTel’s corporate strategy is thus to be an Employer of Choice.

“Talent management is one of the most critical organisational issues today,” says Ms Wong Sau Lin, SingTel’s Vice President of Human Resources. “To meet the growth aspirations of their people, organisations need to have the right team in place. The challenge is not only how to attract the best people, but how to develop and grow the existing workforce as well.”

Connect and grow with SingTel
Ms Wong adds, “We aim to provide a supportive environment in which employees can build a fulfilling career as they are the building blocks to achieve our vision to be the best communications group in Asia Pacific.

“This is reflected in our employee value proposition – ‘Connect & Grow’. Through this, we create networking among colleagues within the SingTel Group, including our joint ventures and regional associates, to share ideas and work on joint-projects.”

As a Group that operates in 20 countries and territories worldwide and in a business that is always challenging, SingTel offers opportunities for its talents to be exposed to a variety of roles and work environments.

“The cultural diversity of the SingTel family provides a fertile ground for innovations. With our geographical reach and variety of services, we also offer a rich and varied range of career choices and growth opportunities for employees,” Ms Wong shares.

A MAP for talents
This “Connect & Grow” proposition can be seen in the learning and development opportunities that SingTel offers its employees.

“We place a high priority on continuous learning, upgrading of skills and career development,” says Ms Wong. “This helps to ensure that its employees stay relevant and productive even in the current uncertain economic climate.”

SingTel employs a multi-faceted talent management approach with emphasis on experienced-based, relationship-based and education-based development. Employees gain valuable experience through job rotations, overseas assignments and cross-functional projects and taskforces. At the same time, they can build their knowledge and capabilities through relevant training programmes, online courses as well as part/full-time course sponsorships. They also learn through coaching from mentors, guidance from their colleagues and dealing with customers.

The talent management programmes are applicable in Singapore and across the Group. One key example is the SingTel Management Associate Programme (MAP), which is aimed at nurturing top graduates with outstanding leadership potential. This intensive 24-month programme provides participants with opportunities to gain valuable work experiences through different roles, training, mentoring programmes and cross-functional projects as well as interacting with senior management team members.

Ms Yeap Mei Yi, a Segment Marketing Manager (Business) who is in SingTel’s current MAP intake, shares, “After graduation, I wanted to be in the corporate world and as SingTel had an opening for such a good programme, I decided to go for it. It has definitely been an eye-opening experience. I am educated everyday on the job itself and my team-mates have been extremely generous in guiding me along, taking me under their wings and teaching me things that would definitely benefit me in the long run.”

Another participant in the MAP is Mr Aris Andhika, Global Marketing Manager (Business). He says, “I was attracted by the cross-functional projects as well as the opportunity to join a company as big as SingTel and be groomed to be a future leader. SingTel has definitely met this expectation already as I have been given opportunities to lead some of the initiatives and liaise with people.”

“The MAP is unlike other management trainee programmes – it's hands-on experience. For example, through handling pricing in the first six months and fronting sales people, I now understand the importance of both sales and marketing roles.”

Ms Kartika Surja, Product Manager (Business) also shares the same sentiments on why she applied for MAP. She says, “Cross-functional projects – these keywords alone attracted me to quickly apply for the MAP. I have been very satisfied with my placement in the programme thus far as my current position combines analysis with business acumen and technical skills very well and allows for diversity.”

She adds, “My positive experiences here are also a result of my good work environment. Here at SingTel, there is always teamwork and people are very friendly.”

It is feedback such as these that propel Ms Wong and the management team in SingTel to continue to invest in its people strategies and practices.

Money can’t buy experience
Ms Wong notes, “To attract and retain the best talents today, it is no longer just about offering attractive remuneration or providing a safe workplace. It is giving them a ‘money can’t buy’ experience.

“We recognise that people like to be heard and participate more in the development of the business and work place policies nowadays. So they demand business leaders who engage them frequently, and who create challenging and exciting experiences at work.”

That is why SingTel’s leaders make it a point to have hands-on involvement in employee engagement initiatives. Senior management members down to its people managers and supervisors regularly communicate the company’s strategies, goals and performance updates with employees as well as explain how each employee plays a role in contributing to the big picture. It is also not uncommon for a CEO to visit employees at their offices or have tea sessions with team members to get a pulse of issues that might affect their performance.

For its success in strategies and practices that continue to attract, engage and develop talents, SingTel had recently swept five awards at the Singapore Human Resources Awards 2009. It won a Corporate HR Award, and three Leading HR Practices awards for Learning & Human Capital Development; Talent Management, Retention & Succession Planning, as well as HR Communications. A Leading CEO Award was also conferred on Mr Allen Lew, SingTel’s CEO Singapore.

Ms Wong attributes the wins to the support of the SingTel senior management team as well as the collaborative spirit across the whole organisation.

She notes, “A lot of profit-driven companies are primarily focused on increasing revenue growth and operational issues. It can be a tall order for companies to commit to talent management. Therein lies the difference with SingTel. We have the entire management team on board with us. And for the new talents who join us, they can truly expect to connect and grow with us at Asia’s leading communications group.”

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