At the recent Asia Recruitment Awards 2020, Singapore that took place in a fully virtual format, Human Resources Online celebrated all-rounded recruitment excellence like no other. This included awarding 24 team categories across in-house teams and recruitment solution providers along with individual award winners. Among the 74 winners announced on 24 July, Beam Suntory walked home with a gold and bronze trophy for Most Innovative and Sustainable Office Design and Best Career Website – In-house respectively.

In this article find out how Beam Suntory’s HR team works closely with the senior management, overcomes challenges and unlocks value through its evolving recruitment strategy and a collaboration-driven, culture-immersive office space, as shared by Ilja Rijnen, HR Director APAC & Global Travel Retail. (Check out photos of Beam Suntory's office space here)


Q What is your organisation’s recruitment strategy, and how has it evolved in recent times? How does this agenda fit into the bigger HR priorities?

Our recruitment strategy overall is to make Beam Suntory a global employer of choice and recruit the industry’s best diverse talent to fuel our vision to be the world’s fastest growing and most admired premium spirits company! In order to achieve this we must hire A-players who innovate, deliver outstanding performance and beat the competition together, the right way and we invite people to ‘Unleash their Spirit’ at Beam Suntory… to take chances, explore new things, challenge themselves. All within an inclusive, fast-paced, truly global workplace.

Talent is listed as our #1 priority within our business strategy and this is much more than a tagline. Whether it is developing our current talent or recruiting new talent, this is critical to our success now and in the future. We truly care about our people, we have a flexible work environment across the board, good benefits, and we’ve put our people first every step of the way during COVID-19.

This has evolved and we have much more of a focus on diversity and recruiting talent who fits our values and culture. We now measure all candidate slates for diversity.

Our CEO, Albert Baladi, recently talked about this in a global townhall on how our current talent has been the driver for excellent results even in the midst of the global pandemic. Hiring has slowed down temporarily, as we focus on looking after our existing employees, but we have still continue to recruit top talent for critical areas that will lead us to delivering our business strategy in the long-term.

Q Share with us your winning recruitment strategy! What were the key business drivers behind this strategy, and how have you executed it successfully?

Our recruitment strategy is tied closely to our 2030 vision to be the fastest growing, most admired spirits company in the world. Our recruitment strategy is targeted to attract, recruit and hire top talent that will help us to win in the marketplace.

We are on our recruitment journey but have great support from our executive leadership team who has enabled us to execute our strategy. We have enhanced our website, interview process and guides, along with our overall end-to-end recruitment process and candidate experience.

This is in an industry that has been typically male-dominated. In order to deliver our ambition of ‘Growing for Good’ we have taken a strong stance on our hiring in order to ensure that our global workforce reflects the diversity of our customer base equally well. Over the course of the second half of 2019, we have managed to bring in strong and diverse mid-career female talent across different functions through local recruitment agencies and social media. We want to ensure that every employee feels a true part of our Beam Suntory family and can be themselves in order to ‘unleash their spirit’ and be at their best.

Q No execution is free from unexpected hurdles. In what shape or form did you experience challenges, and how did you overcome them?

There is no question this has been an unusual year so far due to the global pandemic. Given this, we have shifted to a “virtual” recruitment process and have been able to utilise tools such as Microsoft Teams and Skype to conduct video interviews, host virtual events, and work to maintain a personal touch even if we continue to recruit all candidates virtually today

We were amongst the first few companies to honour all the offers and had all offered candidates virtually join us on respective joining dates. For instance, we hired many people over the past months for our many locations across the India market. All the new joiners across India were also sent essential IT assets to their homes for seamless business continuity.

We are refining our candidate experience during COVID-19 by having the line managers and HR collaborating in keeping the candidates constantly engaged with authenticity and sincere warmth. Giving them regular updates of their statuses and preparing the new hires well even before their day one of work to onboard remotely.

Q On to the most important part – results! How did you measure the ROI or milestones of this initiative, and what are you most proud of?

Overall, we increased the measured quality of our hiring processes from 2018 to 2019 across our International organisation (we measure these for each hire) whilst hiring well over 100 people. In 2020 YTD, we have had almost 90 hires during the first year half. Some of the highlights we are most proud of:

  • Increased hires sourced through our company website (50% increase vs last year)
  • Reduction of third-party agency use by one-third, even with the increase in number of hires
  • Great improvements in ensuring diversity in terms of quantity and quality of our candidate slates

ALSO READ: [Photos] Beam Suntory's new regional office in Singapore: Where culture and inspiration come alive

Q Why should office design matter to HR professionals? What are some cool features of your office?

Our office has been created as a result of a large project, run by representatives from HR, finance, business services, IT and procurement. During each phase of the project, we have involved our wider employee base in Singapore – so you could call this a real ‘democratic design’.

Office design has a very strong connection to bringing to life your culture, the employer branding and also helps in driving engagement and inspiration. It has helped us also strongly in driving our D&I and sustainability agenda – being a company that focuses on the long term sustainability of our processes, products and people, having the right office to reinforce this is critical.

We now have an office that is in a very central location, in an area that is easily reachable, for our people and our external visitors, it is built on top of the MRT station, close to the causeways. Around the office there are many shops and outlets, providing quality and affordable meals, health and fitness opportunities. The office itself has a very spacious layout, with many places for people to meet, innovate, focus or retreat if they need a moment to focus on their own. We do provide healthy snacks and drinks for our people and abstain from the use of single-use plastics, both in our office bar and in our stationary.

Being a Japanese-American organisation, we have aimed to bring to life our true East-meets-West culture, not just in our products (we have a worldwide renowned portfolio of premium spirits), but also through the use of furniture and spaces: you will find a combination of Japanese minimalism, Kentucky American warmth, with many spaces for people to come together, to innovate and come up with new ideas, and some original and exciting features, such as our Award winning Enso bar ('circle' in Japanese), our Japanese inspired lounge, a beautiful copper artwork at the entrance depicting the rich East-meets-West history of our brands.

Cool features from a diversity and inclusion point of view are the Harmony Room (a room where people can do yoga, take a rest or re-find their spirit), a kitchen with a long table where people can share their lunches (healthy drinks and snacks are provided), and a fully-outfitted mother’s room.

Photo / Provided

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