Orient Magazine Issue 81 - April 2021 - Page 36

IN FOCUS INTERVIEW WITH THE EDITOR :
SHEELA PARAKKAL , CHIEF HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER , PRUDENTIAL SINGAPORE
Prudential has collaborative work zones on both Level 6 and Level 7 of their Marina One office .
Prudential has been supporting our Future of Work activities for the past three years now . What makes this topic so important to the business ?
I think just from the title you can see it ' s a little bit of crystal ball gazing , really looking into the future of businesses and what they need in terms of people to be able to deliver on your ambitions , strategy and priorities . We ' ve been supporting this campaign for a while simply because I think it ' s a very fundamental question that we asked ourselves as we started a journey of defining who we are as an organisation and , more importantly , who we are in the context of our customers , our distributors , etc . When you look at the future of work , it sounds pretty big , but how we chose to look at it was through the lenses of being the best possible insurer , and in the lives of everyone in Singapore .
We always talk not just about happy people , happy customers , but people who truly understand customers . This must surely come from a workforce with people of different backgrounds , experiences , demographics , age groups , segments , gender , etc who can all provide different perspectives .
So for us , the future of work was , from very early on , defined as that diversity – of experiences , thinking and many others . While all of that is great , I think a large part of our acknowledgement and recognition early on was also around how do we get our leaders right at the top to be able to not just solve today ' s problems and focus on profitability , but to look beyond and really think about the investments that we would need to make today for further down the road . We also need to have the right leaders who not only have the vision but also the appetite to stay the course , those who demonstrate the right attributes and values to be at the helm of the organisation . These leaders need to also believe that the future of work is a worthy goal for the organisation to aim towards . We have a 90-year legacy in Singapore and over 170 years globally , and work surely just keeps changing and evolving .
We found ourselves at a crossroads as to who we were as an insurance company and how we interact with our customers . Just because we did something in a certain way yesterday does not mean that it ' s going to stay the course for the foreseeable future .
And in all of that , how do we capitalise on technology ? Not as something disparate and separate , but as an integral part of fulfilling the work and being able to deliver on our ambitions . So really this whole piece on being more digital , being at the forefront of what technology could do for us , that paid off for us when the pandemic landed last year as well . It placed us in a position of strength and allowed us to respond promptly in terms of not just how we work as an organisation , but more importantly also enabling our distributors , who are also a critical part in meeting our customer needs .
Moving on to workspaces , what do you think the workplace of the future will look like ?
If you had asked me this question back in 2017 , when we first moved our offices in Singapore , I would have said what we now have is the future . Workspaces are absolutely critical in encouraging how people work and interact with each other and , more importantly , ideate and innovate to bring the best of solutions . When most people walk into our office at Marina One , they feel this is not a typical