Asia Pacific as the Growth Engine for Roche Diagnostics: Exclusive Q&A with Goh Chor Lim, Head of HR – Asia Pacific

October 21, 20168:08 am1869 views
Asia Pacific as the Growth Engine for Roche Diagnostics: Exclusive Q&A with Goh Chor Lim, Head of HR – Asia Pacific
Roche Diagnostics' Asia Pacific Centre of Excellence, Singapore

With expectations on healthcare increasing and people demanding quality care, Roche Diagnostics continues to sustain its leadership position in In-Vitro Diagnostics, while realizing growth in market share, profits and sales.

Know the secret elements to Roche’s success spanning across talent retention strategies to people development challenges and employee engagement in healthcare from Ms. Goh Chor Lim, Head of HR – Asia Pacific, Roche Diagnostics in an exclusive conversation with HR in Asia.

  • What are the human resource and people development challenges in the healthcare industry in Asia Pacific?

Asia Pacific is a dynamic and growing region for Roche Diagnostics. We are experiencing double-digit growth in the region and with that, it also means we need to hire and train new employees quickly. One of the challenges is the limited supply of people with specialist knowledge and skills like pathologists and hematologists who would move out of the hospital/ laboratory environment.

We also invest heavily in training employees and retention is a priority, especially given the active labour markets in the region and the fight for talent. At Roche, we have implemented a number of initiatives to develop, motivate and retain employees.

Goh Chor Lim, Head of HR - Asia Pacific, Roche Diagnostics

Goh Chor Lim, Head of HR – Asia Pacific, Roche Diagnostics

  • What could be the talent retention strategies, employers in healthcare in Asia Pacific should focus on to retain key talent within companies?

There are a number of talent retention strategies to combat the fight for talent in Asia Pacific.Our business is very medically inclined and science driven, and at the heart of it all, it is about the patient at the core. We want to create an environment where our employees remain passionate about the cause and stay focused on what needs to be done.

Professional growth is one way to retain talent. At Roche, we are focused on developing our employees through different experiences and exposure as well as formal training. Some employees are sent abroad on overseas work assignments for varying durations depending on business needs and the employee’s mobility.

We have also partnered with world-class institutions such as INSEAD and NTU Executive Education Center to offer international and local programs to help employees take ownership of their careers, as well as to fill in Roche Diagnostics’ leadership pipeline with a diverse mix of high-performing professionals. In fact, six out of our last eight leadership roles, over the last two years, were filled internally in APAC.

We are also focused on building a strong employer brand and believe that we need to be right from the inside out. We have worked hard to create an open, inclusive and innovative culture for our employees, be it in our sales teams, labs or in our administrative teams.

With multi-generational employees working together under a single roof, we provide flexibility in benefits and work arrangements to cater to different needs.

  • Congratulations firstly for being honoured with the “Best-Employer commitment to Employee Engagement”. What have been the drivers to seek business growth in these competitive times?

The Asia Pacific region is growing very quickly, particularly in comparison to Europe or North America and the competitive environment is also changing. At the same time, expectations on healthcare systems are increasing, with populations demanding quality care.

With this in the backdrop, Roche Diagnostics continues to be the market leader with continued focus on innovation and people.

By sustaining and growing our leadership position in In-Vitro Diagnostics, we are able to realise sustainable growth in market share, sales and profit growth. We are shaping the future of diagnostics and contributing to a healthier tomorrow.

We are also focused on sustaining and growing our market leading position in the delivery of Medical Value – the provision of medically meaningful diagnostic tests and testing efficiency – the ever-increasing demand for value-for-money in diagnostics; both expected to remain as key customer requirements.

Testing Facilities at Roche Diagnostics Asia Pacific Centre of Excellence, Singapore

We aim to drive innovation by exploring and investing in potential game changers, including alternative operating models.

Our people are the key to thrive in the dynamic markets we operate in, and to live our strategy. We aim to strengthen our organisation to ensure we have the capabilities and skills needed to deliver on our strategy. We will need to have a One Roche mindset to deliver complete solutions and act “as one” in front of our customers.

See: Asia Pacific Healthcare Costs Set to Increase in the Next 3 Years, Up by 8% in 2016

  • What are the employee engagement strategies implied uniquely at Roche to maintain unique employee value proposition in healthcare?

There are many factors which play an important role in employee engagement. Employee feedback through our regular Employee Opinion Survey tells us that it is about having good leaders and co-workers, receiving recognitions and rewards and having access to career and training opportunities.

About 35% of our workforce in the region has worked with Roche for at least 5 years. In Singapore, one third of the new hires are made through referrals.

At Roche, we have a number of ways to thank employees for the work done. APPLAUSE, is a global recognition program that allows anyone to reward and recognise another employee anywhere in the world. This helps to foster a culture of frequent feedback and recognition. It really motivates employees, including teams that span across borders.

Regionally, we have also implemented Commercial Excellence Awards that recognise individuals and teams for specific business projects and achievements.

Last but not the least, we invest in learning and development by working with renowned institutions. This is to ensure that we build our local leadership pipeline. Our commitment to employees is to foster an open and transparent culture. We make use of regular town halls, lunch-and-learn sessions and our managing director has a blog, which he uses as a platform for engagement.

  • What are the initiatives taken by Roche towards development of its people?

Our primary focus is to create an environment and provide opportunities where employees can learn and grow to become future leaders at a local or global level. This includes providing sponsorship to undertake further educational programs; short and long term international assignments; our own designed leadership programs with world-class institutions as well as virtual tools and sessions to make learning accessible to all employees.

The following are few key programs for people development:

  • Assessment Centre Program

This is a two-and-a-half day workshop where participants go through role plays and simulating work situations, such as, a more senior person having a difficult employee conversation or an employee managing an unhappy customer. They will receive feedback and coaching from the Roche leadership team to help employees develop their individual development plan. This is one way to showcase our commitment to employee development.

  • INSEAD Advanced Leadership Program

This is a two-week program customized by INSEAD, designed for our General Managers’ successors. It is a very intense program that forces people to reflect on their behaviour when it comes to topics of leadership. During the period, participants also work on critical business projects in the region.

  • APAC Discovery Program

This has been a 10-year partnership with the Nanyang Technological University, Executive Education Center. It is a Management Development program for mid-level managers covering topics like strategy, finance, design thinking and coaching.

  • Express Development Opportunities

This is a short term overseas assignment of up to three months and provides employees a different experience.

  • How does Roche manage to stay ahead of the game and be the employer of choice in Asia’s competitive healthcare industry?

As the world leader in In-Vitro Diagnostics, we provide innovative products and solutions that will improve peoples’ lives. Our aim is to make sure our employees can connect to our products and our purpose.

For example, as leaders in HPV/ Cervical cancer screening, our cobas HPV test is able to identify women at risk of developing cervical cancer many years before it may occur. We organise lunch-and-learn sessions for employees to educate and raise awareness on this topic.

At Roche, September is ‘Live Well’ week where we have more activities to promote healthy living. Fruits, yoga, exercises and organizing talks about healthy living are some of the popular activities.

  • Tell us more about the workplace culture at Roche with specific focus on diversity and inclusion.

Passion, Integrity and Courage are Roche’s core values. It is about being passionate in what you do, striving for excellence and doing the right thing. It is about upholding ethics and code of conduct. It is also about having the courage to think big and accept challenges; be brave in conversations; and learn from failures.

We have 24 nationalities working in the regional office in Singapore. It is common that we work in teams across various specialisations, functions and geographies. Inherent in this setup is the respect and appreciation for different perspectives, knowledge, skills and market conditions in countries. Our decision making process is more inclined towards consensus and therefore getting the buy-in from team members.

Our workplace is also designed to foster open and relaxed interactions. There are sofa corners and casual meeting rooms for discussions. Also, our workstations are ergonomically designed with height adjustable desks that facilitates impromptu meeting with team members.roche-diagnostics-corridor-1

From a gender diversity perspective, we have 25 members in the regional leadership team, of which nine are female, heading country operations or regional functions. At Roche, we have a Sponsorship Program where female high potentials have a mentor, who is a global leader to champion and advise her on career management.

This October, we are also hosting a Women Leadership Summit in Singapore where the global HR head for the Diagnostics Division will deliver a keynote address. We will continue to look at strategies to embed diversity and inclusion and make this a part of our DNA.

  • What are the challenges towards delivering quality healthcare? How do you think a strong employer brand helps towards attracting great talent?

Delivering quality healthcare is multifaceted and includes things such as creating awareness; making it accessible – especially where infrastructures are less developed; efficient testing; and timeliness of healthcare services. Government spending and regulatory measures are also some macro drivers to consider.

As a market leader, Roche Diagnostics is known for its products and solutions, it focuses on testing efficiency and providing medical value. Our strong employer brand and the purpose of the company has helped in attracting talent. In Singapore, for example, we get positive feedback from recruiters about the Roche brand and internally, we have a high employee referral rate.

  • What are future international talent mobility considerations and new challenges you foresee in the healthcare industry in APAC – from the HR perspective?

Talent mobility will continue to be a big agenda item for us. There are obvious benefits to overseas assignment from a company perspective, however, this needs to be balanced with family consideration especially when it involves a working spouse and school-going children.

In this part of the world, there is also the social expectation of taking care of one’s parents or extended family. Hence, there is a need to remain flexible and pragmatic to support mobility.

Till date, we have Asian colleagues working internationally within the APAC region as well as further afield such as the US and Europe. Their perspectives and networks are broader and this will be an important aspect in the future as we continue to develop Asia Pacific as the growth engine for Roche Diagnostics.

Also read: MOH on track to grow healthcare workforce: Chee Hong Tat

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