PeopleFirst APAC 2021: From surviving to thriving – Shaping the work experience for 2022 and beyond

Insights from leaders at Asia Pacific Breweries, GovTech, and Sampoerna

PeopleFirst 2021_illustration



Su-yen wong

Su-Yen Wong

Founder & CEO

bronze phoenix_logo


Shaun Ee (1)

Shaun Ee

People Director

Asia Pacific Breweries


Rahul Daswani

Rahul Daswani

Head, People and Culture

Open Government Products logo


Ripy (Sampoerna)

Ripy Mangkoesoebroto

P & C Director



PF2021_Panel only


The year is 2021 and we have been living with the pandemic for almost two years. Some days are hard, some days rewarding – both in personal and professional life.

In the spirit of thriving for more rewarding days, and right in time for our fifth anniversary, EngageRocket invited three remarkable leaders to share and discuss their views and experience to help us not only survive, but also thrive through the pandemic.

Joining our panel discussion were Shaun Ee, People Director at Asia Pacific Breweries (APB), Rahul Daswani, Head of People & Culture at Open Government Products, GovTech and Ripy Mangkoesoebroto, People & Culture Director at PT HM Sampoerna Tbk. Our discussion was moderated by Su-Yen Wong, Founder & CEO at Bronze Phoenix.


What do you think the future of the workplace looks like?


In these uncertain times, HR and leaders need to make an environment for employees to work in a hybrid model. A lot of things are changing, but some remain the same, according to Rahul. It’s the way we manifest fundamental things that change – finding good people, having an environment where people develop, and finding common grounds between personal and company goals.

It is vital that companies address people as the driving force of sustainable growth in a holistic manner. Ripy also added that by focusing on individuals as a person, people can live their potential as much as they can.

Supporting her opinion, Shaun shared that companies should have more agility and empathy. Presence doesn’t equal performance anymore. “We will be moving fast, but we will be learning even faster,” he said.

How do companies help employees shift from survival to thriving mode?


Consistent communication is key to understanding and helping employees.

Ripy shared that consistent, genuine care can result in sustainable performance. Having hope and vision is important, too, for they are very powerful energizers that give us goals.

“Find ways to recognize people and their work, despite working remotely. Give them opportunities to maintain both physical and mental wellness. Conduct surveys on many different levels to receive feedback and have a good pulse on current conditions,” Rahul explained.

In line with that, Shaun shared his experience with a listening circle, where he can receive honest feedback and implement changes. This type of circle acts as a safe space that supports honest conversations.


How do you measure the outcome or success from your good initiatives?


“By comparison, is the company doing better, in terms of efficiency and productivity?” Rahul invited us to reflect.

Learn how people are feeling. Companies without people are nothing, so make sure both qualitative and quantitative measurement are fulfilled.

Shaun explained that he usually starts meetings by asking how everyone is doing. “We also normally ask them to turn the video on so we can see their expressions,” he added. “Which can be a good indicator whether or not your employees might need help on the side.”

Ripy is on board with the idea of measuring both the business side and people side. Different employee persona needs different ways of engaging. People must feel heard, that’s why employee listening must happen throughout different stages of the employee life cycle.


What do you think are the top talent management priorities for 2022?


As with everything else, priorities have shifted since the start of the pandemic.

Ripy mentioned a very good insight, “Be sensitive in understanding what’s important to your talents because it might have changed since the pandemic.” She also explained the importance of networking with talents from cross industry, in order to make sure that the talent pipeline is always open and fulfilled, even in the unknown future.

Posting job ads doesn’t work anymore, according to Rahul Both HR and functional teams need to reach out to people. “Talk with people to see if there’s any technical and cultural fit,” he said.

“People don’t leave companies, they leave their bosses,” Shaun reminded us. Leaders are the touch point into the workforce, so it is important to build people relationship capabilities for your leaders.”


Panel discussion sketch


How can companies take proactive steps to prevent their talents from leaving?


Looking back at the ‘great resignation,’ companies need to have strategies to retain their best talents. It is essential to provide meaningful and purposeful things to work on, as well as balance between production and learning. Companies have to be exciting and the way to do this is through continuous listening and consistent care.

Rahul also suggested us to look from a different point of view. Employees leaving is, indeed, painful in the short term. In the long run, however, it is good to have that circulation of people with new best practices that can be helpful for the company as a whole.

Ripy apparently had once left Sampoerna and returned a few years later. When she returned, she offered a whole new experience she had learned during her time away.

Lastly, Shaun discussed his three Rs: real, relevant, rewarding. Keep it real by having authentic conversations with employees, be relevant as an organization in today’s world, and be rewarding in the sense of recognizing and thanking employees for their contribution.

All things considered, Ripy reminded us to always be prepared for anything, embracing technology and finding ways to connect with our team. Shaun emphasized the importance of communication, to keep people informed because anything that happens in the company affects their lives. We also need to monitor ourselves as leaders, making sure we provide communication on different channels – as Rahul suggested.

Surviving is important, thriving is elegant. 2022 will be our third year living with the pandemic and these wonderful insights from our speakers are useful for us to not only survive, but also thrive.

Huge thanks to all our speakers. Such an insightful discussion to kick off the last quarter of 2021!

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