Erin Stewart, VP of HR at LendInvest, compares the HR differences between the UK, Tokyo and Singapore.
What attracted you to LendInvest?
The first thing that caught my eye was the role itself. Becoming VP of HR in a company that is growing as fast as LendInvest was a hugely attractive proposition. The role has a very wide remit and the fact that I’m first to hold it here meant that I have the opportunity to build it from scratch and define what it aims to achieve.
During my own recruitment process, I was impressed by the passion I felt and the people I met at LendInvest. There’s a clear understanding of what LendInvest is all about and what it aims to do, that is shared by everyone who works here. Fintech is a rapidly growing area and I saw this as an opportunity to help a leader in the UK fintech space evolve and mature without risk of becoming ‘just another’ financial services or tech company.
What HR lessons did you learn from your time at Essence?
Lots! Essence had a great practice of empowering and developing people to do what they were good at. They allowed me to develop my craft my own way. I don’t think I’ve ever been more myself at work and I believe that’s a hugely important but often challenging skill to achieve. I am grateful for the opportunities I had and even signed off my leaving note by saying I left there a very different HR practitioner than when I joined four years earlier.
Are HR practises in Tokyo and Singapore different to UK ones? If so, how?
Yes - they are extremely different from the UK, and both very different from one another.
In Singapore, there are very few legal guidelines or law that apply to many businesses and the ways they are expected to treat or take care of their employees. Most legislation there is aimed at very low-paid employees, creating a challenging environment to enforce a strong HR culture with effective, impact policies.
In Tokyo, there’s a ‘job for life’ culture where businesses take it for granted that many of their employees will not look elsewhere to progress their careers. This feels a bit outdated as new generations of young employees enter the ranks with less loyalty to their employers. It meant that it can be difficult to attract employees to a new company.
However, in both countries, businesses do invest in culture, continuous development and internal progression, all of which are key for professionals.
What do you think is the future of HR?
Data science is becoming more and more intrinsic to everything an HR professional does, decides on or chooses. HR teams will invest more and more in analytics and metrics that help their company make strategic decisions and add value. It’s fascinating to see how this is developing and with more investment it’ll only get better.
The way that companies develop their quality talent - not just for now but for the future success of a company - is an important feature of future HR practice. Businesses are thinking more than ever about their future leaders; the best embed succession planning, ensuring it isn’t just a check box.