Indonesia in recent years has experienced a great transition and has evolved from being merely an export-oriented car production center to a major (domestic) car sales market. Low labor costs and a low motorization rate led many global automotive companies to Indonesia, making it the second-largest car manufacturing nation in Southeast Asia and the ASEAN region after Thailand. Some of these companies include Toyota, Nissan, and General Motors, among others.
While the many players that enter the space create more opportunities for the talent and affect the country’s economy positively, they also fight for the same scarce talent. Besides competing for the right talent, organizations in the sector also have to ensure that they catch up with the rapid pace of innovation and automation impacting the sector.
In this scenario where the industry is growing but also posing many challenges, especially related to talent, it is important for companies to have people at the center of all their business decisions. To understand how organizations in the automotive industry in Indonesia are dealing with these talent challenges, People Matters caught up with the HR leader of one of the key players in automotive in Indonesia, Nissan Motor.
In the interview, Asep Susilo, Head of HRGA, Nissan Motor Indonesia, discusses how HR Tech will help Nissan in enhancing the productivity of its workforce and contribute in driving the business growth of the company in Indonesia.
You have more than 20 years of experience in the field of HR. In all these years, how have you seen the role and importance of HR change and evolve? How similar or different do you think was this evolution journey for the HR in Indonesia as compared to other markets in the SEA region?
The evolution of the HR function has been quite similar for the entire SEA region. When I started my career as a management trainee, HR professionals played a more transactional role and were responsible for administrative tasks majorly. In fact, even a few years back there was not a strong differentiation between HR and administration. But as the business environment became more volatile and vulnerable to technological, social and economic disruption, the focus on people, their capabilities and their dynamics has increased.
Today businesses realize that people decisions, from sourcing them to engaging them, impact the business directly. That’s why HR works closely with the CEO and other key leaders to make strategies that not only address the current business requirements but also takes care of the needs that might arise in the future.
How are you at Nissan Motor Indonesia ensuring that HR has a strong place and a strategic role to play in driving business results?
Nissan Motor Indonesia has five key pillars. Brand and product, Sales, Sourcing, Dealer network, and most importantly people and organization. While other pillars are centered more on revenue, distribution and the product itself, the pillar of people and organization is what binds them all together.
Nissan acknowledges the importance of culture and all the talent decisions taken in the organization. For instance, if we decide to increase our sales that require more manpower and also probably a more efficient structure to distribute the new roles. In another example, if a company wishes to introduce a new line of business, it can’t do that without the right capabilities in place. Hence, as the competition gets tough, the onus now shifts on HR, the function, and professionals and leaders in this function are expected to make a difference to business with their ideas.
Secondly, what’s helping HR drive and execute the people strategies more effectively is technology. With Workday and other tools, we have automated most of our HR processes and empowered our HR teams to focus more on complex tasks.
Nissan looks at technology as a key facilitator and refers to it as ‘HR’s Digital’.
How has the transformational journey been for HR at Nissan Motors Indonesia?
The transformation is underway. However, it is quite advanced when we compare it with many other companies.
With a tool like Workday, we have employee-self service in place, freeing HR from routine jobs. These self-service tools have also allowed us to increase the productivity of employees by saving them from bureaucratic processes. Further, technology is also helping connect the widely spread workforce for Nissan. Using a common platform allows us to access all the information from anywhere we want, helping us make decisions more swiftly.
Besides HR, technology is also disrupting the entire automotive industry. The impact of tech in the automotive sector has been huge. It has changed the demand for skills and this true not only for R&D and Manufacturing teams but also for sales and marketing. The professionals across functions in this sector are expected to be aligned with the new solutions prevalent in the market and the new technologies being used in car manufacturing especially.
We need talent that firstly, brings in ideas that help us build unique offerings to stand out from our competition and secondly, we need talent that enable us to put these ideas to action.
Given the increased competition, what are your key expectations from HR teams for the next year?
We at Nissan expect our HR team to be proactive and build the muscle to think ahead to prepare the company for foreseen challenges. This requires far-sightedness, innovative-mindset, and a drive to solve not just people problems but business problems through people solutions.
To be able to drive Nissan’s growth in Indonesia and enhance its market share, HR teams are expected to foresee the manpower requirements and also the culture that would be required to fuel this growth.