L&D in the hot seat: Jennifer Ong, Bosch Group

by John Hilton22 Jun 2016
L&D Professional interviews Jennifer Ong, HR director, Southeast Asia of the German multinational Bosch for her insights. Bosch is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 375,000 associates worldwide.

LDP: What do you see as some of the most important parts of your L&D program?

JO: Not only is lifelong learning an important factor for guaranteeing the future for our company, it is also an integral part of the personal development of our associates.

We see associate development as a continuous process of maintaining and enhancing their skills to address present and future challenges. We develop our associates’ technical and professional skills to perform current tasks more effectively and efficiently.

At the same time, they should also be broadening their perspectives, exposure, and competencies beyond their existing scope of work to be able to take on future roles as they progress in their careers. This approach applies to all functions, at all levels, and in all the countries where the Bosch Group operates.

Development measures can be broadly categorised into professional competencies in technology, methods, and business administration spanning all areas and functions of our business. Then there's the meta-professional competencies such as social and leadership skills, as well as inculcating an entrepreneurial spirit and contributing their innovative ideas.

LDP: What are some of the greatest challenges you are facing in L&D?

JO: In Southeast Asia, the complexities from being a diverse region presents a unique set of challenges; there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. For example, a balance needs to be struck between Gen-X and Gen-Y participants on what the most effective mode of delivery is for the collective group.

There are also local cultural differences that need to be taken into consideration. As much as possible, Bosch aims to develop a local pool of high-quality trainers that can best meet local needs and understand local nuances, while maintaining global standards.

However, each training also needs to be cost-optimised to achieve economies of scale without compromising on quality and attention given to each participant. Even in today’s context, training is still viewed with a sceptical lens, where the time spent in training could have been put to more ‘productive’ use such as developing sales leads.

What helps change this mindset is when the associate is able to demonstrate and apply the new knowledge or skills that results in tangible returns in the immediate or short-term. However, this may not always be the case for every type of training or development measure.  

LDP: Are there any trends which are influencing your L&D?

JO: Bosch is ramping up its manufacturing, and research and development activities in Southeast Asia. We are therefore gearing our learning and development programs in this direction, such as in the fields of mechanical engineering and mechatronics.

As Bosch is a leading supplier of connected solutions for mobility, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Industry 4.0, we are also expanding our software expertise that requires equipping our associates with the necessary skillsets.

The sophistication and mobility of Southeast Asia’s workforce is increasing because of the region’s rising middle-class, and L&D is gaining importance as a means to talent retention. Today’s local talent needs to be developed based on the business needs and leadership positions of tomorrow.

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