Schaeffler's SVP of HR: The first 100 days in a new role

From remote onboarding to 'action plans', the experienced HR head reveals all

Schaeffler's SVP of HR: The first 100 days in a new role

Schaeffler, a global supplier in the automotive and industrial sectors, has recently appointed Poo-Jiuan Eng as senior vice president of HR Asia Pacific. Based in Schaeffler’s APAC headquarters in Singapore, Eng oversees a 6,000-strong workforce located in 18 different markets. The task is unlikely to be daunting for the experienced HR leader, who has spent over 25 years at major international juggernauts from sectors such as aviation, energy, as well as oil and gas. HRD caught up with Eng to find out how she’s handled being remote her first 100 days on the job.

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The remote onboarding experience

Eng was recruited and onboarded remotely, like many other professionals in the past two years. The bulk of her onboarding process was done remotely. She did, however, request to head into the office at least one of the days and was able to pick up her work equipment as well as meet her boss, the regional CEO, on day one of the new gig. She’s found her experience at Schaeffler to be great so far. “I was very impressed by the people in Singapore and globally,” Eng told HRD. “I have found the welcome [and] sense of professionalism as nothing less than impressive for me the last two months.” All things considered, she hasn’t found the experience particularly jarring as she’s been in regional roles where you’re likely to work in distanced, remote teams even in pre-pandemic times.

Read more: How to onboard remote employees

Why the change in job roles?

Next, when asked why she moved to the industrial giant, Eng gave a candid answer right off the bat. “I didn’t know Schaeffler until I was approached,” she said. “I had some very exciting years [at past roles] and I know – you will know – in your bones that you’re ready for another adventure. I think what was really attractive to me was the breadth of this role at Schaeffler.”

Eng will head the overall HR strategy within the Asia Pacific region and tasked to provide the necessary support and resource to ensure operational excellence. Eng has also joined Schaeffler at an exciting time as they’ve recently introduced a diversity & inclusion (D&I) council to enable a more structured approach to diversity management, as well as received recognition as a Great Place to Work across its offices in Singapore and Thailand.

Eng believes her new role is an opportunity to have “direct influence and contribution” to Schaeffler’s business agenda. “Getting to know the organisation a little bit more in the last six months further confirms that Schaeffler has a very clear roadmap of where it wants to be,” she said. “Schaeffler have a very systematic idea of what it wants to be. I think when I saw what it had to offer, it was exciting because you don’t really get a chance to build something all the time.”

Read more: Shell VP of HR: What’s it like to relocate in a pandemic

The first 100 days

What then will her team be aiming to “build” at Schaeffler and what has she started focusing on in her first 30 to 60 days on the job? “I believe HR’s mission is always to enable business success,” she said. “How do you support the business to be successful and win in the market? If you start from this perspective, you have to really learn about the business in terms of where you are and where you can contribute. So, I have spent my first 30 to 60 days really understanding the business and its people.”

While she’s ready to make an impact on the job, she won’t be making drastic changes yet as she considers the first 100 days as a critical time to plan out the ideal strategy according to what the business and people truly need from HR. Schaeffler started their transformation journey about two years ago and has had very specific plans in mind and goals to achieve by 2025. Eng thus prefers to focus on finding out the most business-critical areas to finetune and ensure she adjusts the HR team’s action plan according to the diverse needs of the multi-country region.

“I respect a lot of stuff that has already been put in place,” she said. “It’s something like ‘going a little slow to go fast’ kind of approach. My time here has been a lot about getting grounded, understanding, listening, and not jumping to conclusions in terms of what my next 30 days will be. It’s about really harnessing that understanding and looking at where the business needs attention and accelerating.”

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