This award-winning team managed to successfully overcome a lack of a bottom-up approach, to instead create a culture of proactiveness and learning.

At the Employee Experience Awards 2021, Singapore, HEINEKEN Cambodia received the silver award for Best Career Development programme.

In this interview, Chia Pei Lin, Kimbouy Kong, and Sopheak Prak, People and Organisation Development team, HEINEKEN Cambodia share the secrets behind this win - and how they engaged with employees across the entire company to encourage self-awareness and self-motivation to stay relevant in the market through learning.

Q Congratulations on bagging this award! What is your award-winning employee experience strategy that led to this win?

At HEINEKEN, we have three core values - one of which is ‘respect for people and planet’.

We have always believed people are at the heart of our business. This inspires us to continue maintaining and building our career development strategy to make sure that our employees continue to go places, and are provided with enough tools, resources, and opportunities to achieve their fullest potential in both professional and personal development.

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Q How did you and your team conceptualise and adapt this strategy to suit evolving workforce needs in the past year?

Our people strategy in the Asia Pacific region is centered on the theme, 'build our own sustainable talent' (BOOST). We use this strategy to guide ourselves, and our people managers on ways to maintain and build a sustainable talent pipeline at all levels to keep the business operating sustainably.

Each year, based on our constant evaluation of the talent pipeline, the analysis and outcomes guide us on the priorities to implement in the year. This could be emphasising initiatives that attract, develop, retain, or revive, for either attracting new talent or developing, retaining, and reviving existing talent.

We specially adapted our career strategy from ‘go places’ which opened our employees up to opportunities to travel and learn across borders.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic restricting travelling, we altered our career tagline into ‘Brew your career with us’. We also offer virtual assignments, and continue to provide opportunities and tools for employees to learn.

Q What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome them?

Throughout the implementation each year, we have faced challenges related to a constant talent shortage in the market, and a lack of a bottom-up approach when it comes to building a culture of proactiveness and learning.

In Heineken, we have our career development strategies and multiple tools available, but these challenges continues to serve as a bottleneck that we strive to overcome and improve.

We tackled these issues by building our talent programmes with a strong emphasis on internal competency development methodology, and engaged with employees across the entire company to encourage self-awareness and self-motivation to stay relevant in the market through learning.

Q How did the strategy add to the overall employee experience in your organisation, in terms of ROI? 

Due to the annual implementation of programmes to develop our employees, this has resulted in the growth of potential employees who have grown their career dramatically.

For instance, when our internal employees are assigned to short- and long-term assignments abroad, they are exposed to ways of working in other operating companies in the region that have a similar market situation to us. This exposure allows them to bring back good case practices, or knowledge to our company when they return.

Year on year, we see an increasing number of promotions and local talents succeeding in higher roles. In return, these experiences allow our employees to grow personally, and professionally with diverse leadership opportunities. They get to build their career and become even more of an asset to the company.

Q What is the most exciting and valuable thing about being part of (and winning at!) the debut Employee Experience Awards?

For us, being able to win this award, we can learn and experience from so many big companies in Asia Pacific. The thought of us going through the assessment, being compared to other countries during the application process, made us so proud of what we have accomplished so far.

We are honoured to win the Best Career Development Programme award - it shows to our people and audiences that our career development strategy is credible, and we are working hard to continue to brew the career potential amongst our employees and people in the country.

Q Looking ahead, what else do you have planned as you continue to enhance the overall employee experience?

Our goal is to 'brew a better Cambodia', so we are not ending our career development strategy here.

We will be penetrating our local market to look for our next potential candidates who we want to brew and offer the career development programme they deserve.

Q Do share tips to inspire your peers who are working on their EX strategies and would love to participate in the awards next year.

We believe in honouring our stories. Throughout this whole competition, our application was written in a storytelling manner which enabled our judges to understand, and be inspired by our content. So, our advice is to write your company story. What do you want to tell?

Q Lastly, to end on a fun note – if you could describe the employee experience at your organisation in one sentence, what would that be?

The HEINEKEN philosophy when it comes to learning is that every employee owns their development, and our roles and responsibilities as a company is to provide a wide range of learning platforms and opportunities for them to reach their fullest potential.


Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section!

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