The Best HR Leaders in Asia | The Human Resources Hot List 

Pinnacle performers

In an era of rapid change and complexity, companies are being forced to grapple with the challenges of remote work and workforce wellbeing. This has seen HR emerge as a vital linchpin to enable employees to perform at their peak. 

“Even grand pianists who are the best in the world have coaches,” says Helen Coult, regional president at Armstrong Craven, underlining the renewed importance of HR.  

Another trait Coult sees in the best HR leaders, such as those featured on HRD’s Hot List 2024, is empathetic leadership. 

“They should want to be understanding what the employees are feeling and know what tools and tech they could be implementing in their HR strategy. I would expect them also to be doing things outside of their role such as networking and taking knowledge from other people.”

The talented cohort on this year’s Hot List exemplify all these traits and have made themselves indispensable for their firms as they navigate the evolving landscape of post-pandemic work by increasing employee engagement and combating turnover.


Connie Barrientos-Carey – Aleph Talent Solutions

According to talent solutions provider InCorp Philippines, recruitment fees reach as high as 25% of a candidate’s first-year salary.

Barrientos-Carey eschews this transactional approach, focusing on placing clients in meaningful and fulfilling roles.

“The industry is cutthroat, so many companies will endorse candidates as long as they’re getting paid. We don’t believe in that,” says Barrientos-Carey, who launched Manila-based Aleph Talent Solutions in 2014.

“We discourage talent from accepting offers if we don’t think they will be a good fit. No other company would do that, it’s bad for business. But we would rather suffer a loss than have our brand and reputation damaged.”

Her success has been recognised with awards such as:

  • Top 100 Filipinos on LinkedIn

  • 100 Most Influential Filipino Women on LinkedIn


DE&I champion

“You need to be aware of the people you’re leading, making sure that their voice matters. It’s really powerful because it enables everyone to know that they’re being listened to, that they’re valued, but then you’re going to do something with it,” explains Coult.

This is something Barrientos-Carey showcases on a daily basis. Not only is her firm’s workforce 80% women, she also helps her clients pursue equality and diversity.

“I’ve always been a champion for women and I’ve always championed for people with certain conditions to get them hired.”

And her efforts to broaden the pool of candidate extends further.

Barrientos-Carey says, “I also always champion the hiring of non-college graduates, regardless of the position, because there are actually super good people who are qualified, but because they don’t have the diploma, they don’t get hired.”

Her way of working is a by-product of personal experiences. She has channelled those to not only create a thriving business but also mark herself out as an industry innovator.

“I want to make an impact and I just want to do things better. I know what it’s like to not have a mentor, I know what it’s like to be overworked and underpaid. And I know what it’s like to not have somebody to champion you. So that’s what I’ve always wanted to do for people.”


Connie Barrientos-Carey, Aleph Talent Solutions
“I really know my stuff and I also ensure that I’m doing a great job. When I started, I was hiring 100 people every two weeks. I have seen these people become team leaders and operations managers, and that makes me proud”
Connie Barrientos-CareyAleph Talent Solutions 


Online advocate

Barrientos-Carey also demonstrates her commitment to employee advancement on social media. 

She leverages her platform of 30,000 LinkedIn followers to share valuable insight that transcends conventional career advice. Across a wide variety of topics, Barrientos-Carey is unafraid to vocalise what she believes in. 

 “I just wrote about things that nobody would say,” she remarks. “People seemed to appreciate it and that’s how I built my following.”

And she adds, “It’s always about impact for me. So, if somebody invites me to do a project and that will allow me to make a bigger impact, I really go for it.”

Along with her online advocacy, Barrientos-Carey has embraced the digital sphere. She is in the process of developing an app to streamline the recruitment process and cut down on the time it takes to source and interview new talent. 

“I get the impression people who build applicant tracking systems do not have to deal with the pains a recruiter goes through,” she shares. “You have to open so many applications at the same time, it’s crazy.”

The need for this is echoed by Armstrong Craven’s Coult. “Quite often there’s a deluge of applications through the website, job portals, LinkedIn and direct referrals. If you can streamline all of those into one place and implement AI tools which are very skilled at screening CVs and applications, then that enables you to get back to people promptly and improves the overall candidate experience.”

However, Barrientos-Carey is mindful of using tech at the right time. For example, automated résumé scanning software can leave behind applicants that are not SEO-savvy. 

“I spoke about this during an AI conference, because if you do not have the SEO keywords on your résumé, then the tool that employers use will not be able to see or find how talented you are,” she explains. “I still do it the old-fashioned way because I know for a fact there are companies that don’t bother. I don’t want to be unfair to somebody who is not tech-savvy but might be super talented.”

Focused on the future

Aleph Talent Solutions will mark a decade in business this year. Using her drive and desire, Barrientos-Carey is committed to lasting the course and giving more individuals the chance to shine like her.
Her family gave her the money to start her firm.

“I’m well aware of my privileges. Not everyone has them as I am female in the Philippines. When I started my business, everybody was asking, ‘How are you going to run your business?’ My dad was like, ‘It’s your responsibility to do better and make sure that you lift people up’.”

This is mirrored by fellow member of the 2024 Hot List Theresa Llamas, chief human resources officer at Newport World Resorts.

She explains, “My previous boss told me that sincerity is not something you can fake. She reminded me that in everything I do, I must ensure that it’s for the benefit of the employees. If you are sincere with your intentions, you can never go wrong.”

And another of this year’s winners, Luke Speers, chief people officer at Dentsu International, shares a similar sentiment. “I have found that being open and listening to those with lived experience is the best way to deliver meaningful practices and processes.” 


The Best HR Leaders in Asia | The Human Resources Hot List

  • Amanda Jackson
    Human Resources Director
    LG Electronics
  • Angelina Chua
    Head of People & Culture, Asia Pacific South
    SIG Group
  • Annie Lim
    Head of Human Resources
    Lonza Biologics
  • Bobot Codoy
    Director of Human Resources
    Seda Ayala Center Cebu
  • Cheryll Ruth L. Agsaoay
    Vice President for Human Resources
    SM Supermalls
  • Darwin Rivers
    Founder and President
    Philippines HR Group
  • Desmond Chen
    HR Director, Emerging Asia and Global Travel Retail
    Beam Suntory
  • Goki Muthusamy
    SVP, Head of People, Asia Pacific
  • Ihsanuddin Usman
    Human Resources and General Affairs Director
    PT Pelabuhan Indonesia (Persero)
  • Irvandi Ferizal
    Human Capital Director
    Bank Maybank Indonesia
  • Karen Lim
    Head of Human Resources, Asia-Pacific Region
    Skyworks Solutions
  • Karen Tay
    Vice President, Core Services Asia Pacific
    Merz Asia Pacific (Merz Aesthetics)
  • Lai Li Fang
    HR Sustainability Lead, VP, Group Human Resources
    OCBC Bank
  • Lee Eng Kian
    HR Partner
  • Luke Speers
    Chief People Officer, APAC
    Dentsu International
  • Ma. Theresa Llamas
    Chief Human Resources Officer
    Travellers International Hotel Group (Newport World Resorts)
  • Michele Sagan
    Director, Future of Work
    Asia School of Business
  • Paulene Chong
    Vice President, Human Capital
    MCC Singapore
  • Rea Michelle Morales
    Senior HR Manager, Philippines & Vietnam and Head of People
    Iyuno and MultiplyMii
  • Ruby Jaucian
    First Vice President, Transformation
    Aboitiz Equity Ventures
  • Shaun Ee
    Cluster Head of People, Singapore & Myanmar
    Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore (part of The Heineken Company)
  • Sowjanya Reddy
    APJ HR Head
    HP Singapore
  • Vinita Menon
    HR Director, Singapore and SE Asia
    Otis Elevator Co.
  • Wendy Weehuizen
    VP People Experience, Asia and Middle East
    Sony Music



As part of our editorial process, Key Media’s researchers interviewed the subject matter expert below for an independent analysis of this report and its findings. 



In October 2023, the HRD Asia team conducted a survey on the region’s HR sector to find the most influential leaders who had contributed significantly to the industry over the previous 12 months. The team aimed to identify individuals who had led new initiatives in the HR space and advanced the standing of HR within their respective organisations. The team also considered previous awards won by the candidates.   
By the end of the research process, 25 key figures were selected for their leadership, innovation and industry contributions. The winners are from a broad range of sectors including consumer goods, financial services and technology.