Bhavna Khemaney
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People & Culture
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About Me
Proving how HR can have a powerful impact on an organisation
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About Me

How would you describe your current role to a HR outsider?

In my role, I work closely with our leadership team as a business partner and cover all aspects of HR - from recruitment and retention, to employee engagement and L&D. Ultimately, my goal is to create a positive workplace and make RICE the best place to work at.

What is a common misconception about the work you do?

'HR is just an admin job' - I can't tell you how many times I've heard this. I feel that the HR function has so much potential to do more, especially in working with the core leadership team to create strong business impact.

How did you get started in your HR career?

HR is my second career. I started out in communications and Public Relations for the first decade and then moved on to HR a few years ago. I was particularly drawn to HR because of how fulfilling and meaningful the work is. While my communications work had mass appeal, I could do even more in HR by helping individuals directly and improving a workplace environment. The transition has not been an easy one though. In the initial phase of my career shift, I struggled to find companies who were willing to take a chance on me and see how my skills were transferable. After a year of trying, I came across RICE and they recognised my potential. It was a perfect match because I even had the opportunity to write my own job description, including roles and responsibilities that I could immediately take on, as well as those I will learn on the job. It's been an amazing journey at RICE so far, and the work continues to inspire and motivate me!

Describe the most impactful HR project you've personally worked on.

One of my most impactful projects happened during the pandemic - when we had to evaluate and decide on an appropriate and long-term work arrangement for the team. The solution had to consider the environmental changes and everyone's general well-being. At RICE, we take pride in being employee-centric, so naturally we had to start with the team and hear them out. We took a consultative approach and ran a company-wide survey as well as focus groups to understand how everyone was feeling. We roped in our Research & Insights team in the process, to ensure an unbiased approach and methodology. Once we were able to draw insights, we then had a discussion with the management team and agreed on a flexible arrangement. While more companies continue to push folks back into the office, we let our team decide what works best for them, and that includes working remotely from all corners of the globe. This arrangement is still in place but we continue to check-in with the team to ensure that they are happy and productive.

What is one HR/future of work trend or change you're not convinced will work for SEA startups?

I am not particularly convinced at how AI will transform HR/future of work just yet - automation and grunt work, yes, but there are still some uncertainties around areas such as employee engagement and recruitment. Modern HR challenges does require modern HR technology, but the human element is still critical to building meaningful and strong connections.

What is one HR/future of work trend or change that you hope to see more of at SEA startups?

Definitely more skills-based hiring! The competitive labour market is now pushing employers to look beyond education, experience and long tenures.

What is your favourite HR resource that you would recommend to this community

My best resource is LinkedIn. While some preach for publicity, there are many authentic and inspiring people out there that regularly post about their experiences and lessons learnt. Some that I follow include: Talleah Teo, Crystal Lim Lange, Lynette Pathy

Lastly, where are you based, and where would you take friends visiting your city for the first time?

I'm based in Singapore. I would take friends to try some local food at Bedok 65, followed by some late night foot reflexology at Ashi! I'd also recommend walking tours or if they're feeling adventurous, a scooter/side car tour around places like Joo Chiat.

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