Effective 1 January 2021, Ilja Rijnen will move from his current role as Beam Suntory’s HR Director, APAC & Global Travel Retail to the newly-created role of HR Director International: Employee Experience, Learning and Change.

In this position, in line with the company’s strategic agenda, Rijnen will be providing HR business partnership oversight for Oceania (Beam Suntory’s third largest market globally), global travel retail, and international legal, along with being responsible for the company’s International talent, EX, D&I and L&D initiatives. He will continue to be based in Singapore.

He is pictured above accepting the gold trophy for Excellence in Talent Acquisition, on behalf of Beam Suntory, at the HR Excellence Awards 2020, Singapore.

On this exciting development, Human Resources Online caught up with Ilja for an exclusive insight into his career journey. Excerpts below:

Q What was the business driver behind creating this new position?

This role will help our organisation to increase focus in particular in the areas of employee experience, learning and change. In order to deliver our 'Growing for Good ambition', which is the vision of the company. It is linked to our growth as a company, in being able to deal with the challenges of the pandemic, better aligning the elements of our employee experience from an international point of view, and better alignment of the HR agenda in order to thrive amidst the world of constant challenges and change.

With employee experience being one of the priorities in your new role, how do you see the field of EX evolving in light of everything employees have gone through this past year?

Super relevant question – no doubt 2021 will bring many companies another year with large scale changes, we are no different to that. One of key competitive advantages to deliver our strategic people agenda will be how we are able to sustain and build our culture throughout all of this. This has an internal focus, by ensuring all processes and contact moments between the organisation and the people are optimised and become a positive experience.

This also has an external element, by ensuring that we are able to attract, inspire and retain future employees around our EVP and employer brand.

Working under remote/ hybrid conditions, with the volatility created by the pandemic and global political challenges has amplified the need for a great EX for the company even more.

As you move on from your previous role in Beam Suntory, what has been your most cherished moment with your HR team?

Dealing with the unprecedented changes and challenges which Covid-19 has brought to us as company over the past 12 months. We had to move from a high-pace, high-change BAU (business as usual) environment to an 'excellence in crisis management' environment, whilst we were still taking the longer-term aspirations, legacy and values of our company as basis.

I am very proud of how my team has led themselves, our agenda and organisation through it to date.

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