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24. Pip on Curiosity and Data Deliberation

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Podcast with Pip Part 1




Pip shared her backstory of how she got into HRtech space. She believed that curiosity enable the need for developing a continuous learning journey that helped her to pivots multiple times in her career and keep her motivated to develop her career. Although companies have moved everything online with the tools that they had, Pip doesn’t believe that leaders have fully navigated the hybrid workplace of the future. She believed that virtual reality and extended reality are more likely to be the tools of the future for the modern workplaces. Covid’19 has accelerated the discussion about AI associated issues like: bias, discrimmination, data, privacy. It is important to understand people use of technology when it comes to technology adoption. Pip believe that companies need to be more deliberate in their use of data as much as they put alot of effort to collect the data. Failing to do so can lead to a deterioration of trust and that will hinder continuous digital transformation.

[00:00:00] Andrew Liew Weida: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the AI of mankind show where I share anything interesting about mankind. I'm your host for this season. My name is Andrew Liew. I work across four Continents and 12 international cities. Also, I work in tech startups across a range of roles from selling products, making customer happy, figuring out fundraising, making finance tick, building teams and developing sticky product. Apart from building startups. I've also worked in fortune 500 companies as a chief data scientist or technologist or people leader. You can call me Jack of all trades or master of learning. I hope to make this podcast show a great learning experience for us In each season, there is a series of interesting things where invite guests to share their views about their life and interests.

[00:01:09] Andrew Liew Weida: Now let the show begin.

[00:01:26] Andrew Liew Weida: Thank you everybody for welcom to the show. My name is Andrew and welcome to this AR mankind today. Our guest is PIP. She's one of the most recognized HR leaders in Asia. She has more than 20 years of experience in people and digital space. She has worked things on great companies like group and Mercer, RBS ,Friendster. In her spare time, she loves to do caregiving, learn, help, and connect with people. She also did an executive MBA with Kelloggs and Hong Kong UST.

[00:01:55] Andrew Liew Weida: And so let's welcome.

[00:01:57] Andrew Liew Weida: Thank you so much we mentioned about the purpose of this podcast is to allow our audience to learn more about people, HR, digital transformation so let me ask you the first interesting question that I always wanted to ask is what happened in your career that lead you to your latest startup people collider?

[00:02:15] Pip: Yeah. Great question, Andrew. It was a series of accidents, so I fell into HR purely by accident. I didn't even know what HR stood for when I was my first office job. I was recruiting people. So going through interview processes with people. In up conducting induction and training.

[00:02:34] Pip: In fact, I even hired Santa clauses in my first job and condu and ran Santa school. And I remember telling a friend I'm really enjoying what I'm doing at work. And I explained what I did and she goes, oh, you'd like HR. I'm like one , I didn't know what it was. So that was the start of a tiny career in Human resources.

[00:02:54] Pip: And yeah, I discovered the, I started studying on top of full-time work and the they save the rest is history, but it was it was an interesting journey. I was very lucky. I spent most of it in Sydney or the first decade in Sydney. And that was a good grounding with a lot of multinationals number of contracts by choice because you get the more interesting jobs, the contract jobs in Australia contracting is very common here.

[00:03:18] Pip: And I know it's not in Asia, but it is in Australia. And through one of those contracts, I was working on the PeopleSoft implementation at ABN AMRO. And when Royal Bank of, Scotland took over ABN they decided to start up the PeopleSoft project again. And so I had my first opportunity to move to Asia, which I had always wanted to do.

[00:03:38] Pip: And that was to tip to Taipei. I loved it. I'd moved back in a heartbeat if there was a job there for me, it was a wonderful place to live. And so so continued my career in HR and technology or HR tech so life is great. And I moved around and traveled a lot until about 2013.

[00:03:56] Pip: When I found myself in Singapore working for RBS and I've lost my mojo. I still loved HR, but it wasn't enough. And I was sort of looking around for something else to peak my curiousity. And I discovered technology. I always loved the geeky stuff. Star wars and StarTrack

[00:04:14] Pip: so it was a comfortable fit for me. And I remember thinking that I needed to learn about robots as I thought of back then, because as an HR professional, you spent your life trying to work out how to get people to work with people. And I thought, oh, cause I'm gonna have to figure out how to get people to work with robots now and I remember trying to Google psychology for robots of course there's nothing in 2013, I didn't Google works. If you know what you're looking for. I didn't know what we were looking for back then. But it was the start of a my learning journey into technology and subsequently analytics which as we both know are interdependent and invisible. It was wonderful. I made good use of many of the facilities available in Singapore, particularly SG innovate where we met. Yeah. I'm sure you remember. So in the early days I'd go to those events. I'm sure I wasn't the only HR person in the room, but honestly I only understood the introductions at some of those. I just, cause it was very deep tech head and I didn't understand it, but I kept going. I kept the more I learned, the more I learned what to learn, I learned I could learn what to Google. I knew then what I was looking for and I learned it was, my learning was not about HR tech per se, but it was about technology now as a separate piece. So also adding another string to my bow. And that's where it sort of, I guess, flowed into my HR work. Cause my interest is in where technology and people come together where they overlap, particularly in the workplace which is way beyond HR technology. And that sort of led after out of corporate, finished my MBA into a startup.

[00:05:50] Pip: And then I conducted a study in the state of HR and tech in APAC. Cause I wanted to know about our relationship with technologies, HR professionals, more broadly and long story short. That's why we started people collider. Cuz I, we discovered that the knowledge of the average HR person in APAC around technology is not where it needs to be able to blend technology and people effectively in the workplace, both within the HR function and beyond the HR function. And that's where people, why and how people Collider came about that a longer journey there, but certainly not a straight path. Yes.

[00:06:27] Andrew Liew Weida: It's a very unique interesting story. I mean, like I learned a lot more about you, like Your story . So I know that you started people collider around like 2018, 2019, and how has the journey been so far and what have you learned throughout this journey?

[00:06:42] Pip: Yeah, I guess I've learned a couple of things. The most important for me is I love learning and sharing learning, which is not the same as running a business. As I'm sure many founders have discovered they love what they do more than the running of business. Not that I dislike it, but my passion is for [00:07:00] learning. So I've picked up a lot more lecturing. I lecture in Australia in business analytics and I lecture in Singapore in technology and human capital. And innovation part. So I guess I love collecting and learning things myself and sharing that knowledge with other people and together building that knowledge is one of those fabulous things. And when it is shared, it grows. It only shares in many ways if it grows. So yeah, that's been a really important part of my journey. And what is central to my work either with people Collider or anywhere else that I'm working with. It is the learning journey for the people involved who are sharing it with me either as a fellow trainer or a student be their university student or corporate corporate HR professionals. It's for me that the learning journeys is central and keep me

[00:07:54] Andrew Liew Weida: So coming back , how has COVID 19 really changed digital transformation or changed [00:08:00] the way we do things?

[00:08:01] Pip: Yeah. Good question.

[00:08:02] Pip: I know a lot of people listening will agree that things were already on track for change, and they've just been accelerated with COVID. So I don't wanna go into the acceleration. We're all familiar with that. What I am seeing though is a couple of changes. when we moved online, , we start using new tools like the, you and I, Google meets zoom, WebEx, whatever it is we just didn't use 'em the same. So we had many of the same tools and we just used them either more heavily or slightly differently. But it didn't necessarily change the nature of what we did. In fact, the online learning with People Collider, I wanted to stop and really think about this because I didn't just wanna do classes over zoom and university as well. It's not the same as a sustained digital transformation. We moved everything online with the tools that we had, but I don't believe that we've really navigated the hybrid workplace of the future and what the technological options may be that are associated with that. I think what we sort of stop and think and reflect on. What we have, how effective it is and where we want to go in the future, that most companies will actually be using a different type of technology. Things, that support collaboration and communications far more effectively than good old zoom. We love zoom, but we know it's also not the future in the same way. I think tools like virtual reality and extended reality are far more likely to be the tools that settle in with us over time in these workplaces.

[00:09:36] Pip: The other thing that I think it has changed is it accelerated the debate about the ethics of many of these technologies, particularly AI. It wasn't really on the agenda for many people at the beginning of COVID and I think it would've raised its profile raised over time, irrespective of COVID, but COVID, I think also accelerated the discussion about bias, discrimination, data, privacy, and so forth with artificial intelligence during COVID times. So I think as we've adopted tools that have been adopt built and selected in an unregulated environment, I think that as we move forward with the tool, that we have and the tools that we'll choose, the different types of tools, we will have to start thinking about the additional levels of governance, either those that we apply internally, or those that are imposed upon us by the statutory bodies in multiple jurisdictions, GDPR is just the start just one related legislation. So I think that yeah, acceleration, but it is also going to change that for us. And we haven't done that fully yet. I don't think many people have actually thought deeply about those : the technologies that they going.

[00:10:49] Pip: VR is fantastic. 5g is rolled out, the hardware costs are coming down significantly. I really think that VR and it's end of reality. We're going to see a lot more of those in the workplace [00:11:00] so many years to come.

[00:11:01] Andrew Liew Weida: Ever since COVID 19, everybody is compelled to use technology more often. Five, 10 years ago we are using WebEx, everybody probably heard of it. Now using zoom it's just a different name because the technology is maybe higher latency, higher frequency to allow a better resolution of voice or more resolution of face but it still haven't changed that interpersonal connection that cannot be transmitted through the digital realm. What do you think?

[00:11:28] Pip: Yeah, that's a great point. And what I've seen certainly since 2013, is: the more we talk about technology, the more important humans become. This notion of separating the 2 and understanding what is important for people when we are adopting technology, it's the people aspect that must be front and center in the old days, it used to be through change management but it's different. That's evolved significantly as well. So I think that while it will change and it will adapt, it will be pushed. We will be pushed to think more about people and purpose because the people that we're hiring in a tight labor market will force us to do so. And rightly so, I'm pleased they will, because they will shape a lot of what happens thereafter. When we don't, when are not compelled to do it by a talent shortage

[00:12:15] Andrew Liew Weida: Coming back to the second part, you mentioned about ethics. Because of the rise of COVID 19, everybody is forced to work from home if possible most of the time. I have also spoken to a lot of other guests or a lot of peers or leaders. Some of the leaders will be saying " I can't see my people now that they're at home. I do not know whenever we do a teams or a Skype or Google hangout. When I'm the one doing the talking are my juniors taking notes or they are playing some computer games or mobile games on another screen because these days they can buy four or five screens." Another leader will say, "okay, that's the reason why we need to track every single data through like whether our zoom or Skype and work." And that actually created a situation in which that employees or talents: they're like, "Hey, do I really want to be tracked? I mean, I'm some of the really hard working and conscientious worker." They say, "I really do all my work. I don't really believe that the company should track it." And that means there's a lack of trust. And because of the trust and the high frequency of data capture that leads to the sudden view of ethics, what is your view on that?

[00:13:20] Pip: Yeah.

[00:13:21] Pip: A couple of perspectives on this. One is the monitoring. I was horrified by the number of companies that automatically responded to work from home, with monitoring software. In fact, I had people reaching out to me on LinkedIn to saying, "what monitoring technology should I be using?" And that really worried me. No, because that suggests that underlying issue of trust. I'm ethically or philosophically do not agree with Monitoring technologies per se . I don't like being tracked. But it comes down to two things, it's really the data that we are collecting and how we are using it. So whether we've got monitoring tools in place or not, most data points are available to companies, whether we're in the office or not, we generate a slightly larger digital footprint at home . Now, if you ask average HR person, it's generated in the course of work, using work tools, therefore the company, owns the data . So the more data points that we try to gather as companies from our people, from our employees that is going to be a downward spiral in many ways, but we have to open up conversations with our employees. In fact I would bet that most companies have not already had the conversation with their employees about the size of their digital footprint and what they're doing with the data, because most of the data points that we are producing, we produce as exhaust. We're not producing intentionally. They just merely exist in the workplace through the use of tools. So I think what data points we are gathering with, what tools does make a difference. And we are going to have that conversation, whether or not we can legally use it. And we know in most jurisdictions [00:15:00] companies can, but the difference is are people gonna put up with it.

[00:15:03] Andrew Liew Weida: I, like the way that you mentioned about like we need to have all the society leaders needs to have conversation about what what data did they capturing? What are they doing with the data? Because it established trust. I mean, of course I know that way you mentioned about nobody likes to get their digital footprint monitored, because it's the end of the day. It's about trust. If I can get my job done, I send, submit a PDF or report or whatever code it's done. Leader should be like, okay, I trust this guy will get a job done. I don't need to be like some companies where they put some CCTV to see where this guy sleeping or typing, because it's like, it's the extent of how we use data. Data is a double edge sword. One hand, it's supposed to help us excitedly. How can we make this guy know that, oh, maybe you should take leave today. Maybe you should take off his overwork. Instead of the other inverse, ah, this guy is not doing his job. Let's going monitor him like a cat and dog thing.

[00:15:57] Pip: To me, that's not the collection, that's the use of the data the why, so, and we need to separate these. Most people will say, I don't want my data collected. Privacy. actually, it's not the collection of the data. The issue, is the use of it that most people object to., so Company A monitor people and see if they're sleeping and dock their pay for the moment that they are asleep. They may not give them more shifts or they may be negatively impacted by that data in some way. Another company might use that to develop a better wellbeing program to give people paid time. To be able to improve the rostering system so that people are not as tired at work to even question, are they needing to work double jobs, two jobs, because they haven't earning enough. They're not earning a living wage. Now I'm thinking of security offices in Singapore, many of them sleep on the job cause they just have to work so hard to be able to make ends meet. They're barely being paid a living wage to live in Singapore. So two companies could be collecting exactly the same data, but using it very differently. And it's the use of that data. Microsoft collects, a huge amount of data on their employees monitor surveillance, monitoring, tracking you name it, but it is used for, and by the employees to improve their decisions and what they choose to do in the workplace. So I think we need the conversation about what is being collected .

[00:17:18] Andrew Liew Weida: Hi everyone, thanks for tuning into this episode. We have come to the end of part 1 with Pip . In the next episode, we will continue with Pip on part 2 which she shared with us on how the inappropriate use of data can lead to a downhill erosion of people's trust towards the company. She also explain why it is important to think about the purpose of developing a ethics, data and technology charter . Lastly Pip explain why having an organizational skill inventory enables digital transformation.

[00:17:44] Andrew Liew Weida: If this is the first time you are tuning in. Remember to subscribe to this show. If you have subscribed to this show and love this. Please share it with your friends, family, and acquaintances. See you later and see you soon. .