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Monday, May 27, 2019

People Key to Successful Transformation, Says Bosch China Exec

May 27, 2019. Shanghai – As part of the on-going 2019 CEIBS Executive Forum series, CEIBS today welcomed Bosch China Executive Vice President Mrs. Rosa Lee to our Shanghai campus for an exclusive lecture and Q&A on Shaping the Organisation of the Future with the Digitalisation and Innovation of HR. During her presentation, Lee discussed how Bosch is working to maintain a strategic vision, long-term investment, and continuous innovation to build a solid foundation for the future and how, in the face of changes brought on by the digital age, the 130-year-old organisation is transforming its workforce to become a leader in Internet-of-Things technology.

Despite the progress Bosch has made as an early mover into IoT, Lee said the company still has a lot of work to do if it is to transform for the long run. For one, she noted that the interconnectedness of the space requires both radical collaboration and the ability to adapt quickly and that – amongst other things – big corporations must now seek out and form win-win partnerships with external partners.

“This whole IoT transformation is really about the ecosystem and having an IoT mind-set,” Lee explained. “In the past, Bosch was so successful in other areas [that] we didn’t need partners. But, in an IoT business model, you desperately need partners.”

At the same time, she pointed out that many organisations such as Bosch now face serious internal challenges when it comes to their workforce, especially when it comes to attracting and motivating talent. Lee also added that as demographics of the workforce continue to shift, younger employees have brought a whole new set of values into the workplace.

“For the first time [ever], we now have [four] generations in the workforce at the same time and these new generations are coming out with very different ideas,” she said. “They don’t want to work for a company. They want to develop their own strengths and their own skills and work on different projects and get paid whatever they want.”

In the past, Lee told the audience, human resource managers traditionally focused on the exploitation of new technologies, automation of processes, and maximizing operational excellence. In today’s environment, however, she noted, companies must also look into exploring new directions and opportunities.

“But, IoT requires much more on the exploration side, which involves [promoting] human collaboration, informatics, ecosystems for leaders and talents, and inspiring working conditions,” she said. “[Of course], you need to manage your cash cow business, but you have to think about and explore new business opportunities. Ambidexterity is the rule of the game for any modern HR.”

One way in which Bosch is trying to meet these challenges, Lee explained, is by leveraging new technology and trying to improve the company’s ability to obtain and make use of real-time data. In particular, she said she believes that at least part of the solution to many of these challenges lies in what she calls ‘people analytics’.

“HR usually makes decisions based on thoughts, experiences, and insights, but with so much data becoming available, it can really help you make many [people-related] decisions simply fact-based,” Lee told the audience. “[As a result], we’re now focusing on things like effortless reporting, skills management, and continuous listening.”

She explained that, ultimately, Bosch is now striving to reinvent itself as a ‘130-year-old start-up’ capable of sparking intrapreneurship amongst its employees and she emphasised that a focus on learning is a key success factor in any transformation.

“Seventy-five percent of companies fail in transformation because they don’t transform the people,” Lee said, concluding later that, “as leaders in HR, we need to realize that only if you are able to transform people will the business transformation be successful.”

More than 100 CEIBS alumni, students, and members of the Shanghai business community attended today’s Executive Forum, which was moderated by Bosch Automotive Products (Suzhou) Co. Ltd. HR VP and CEIBS GEMBA 2018 student Annabelle Cao. For more about the latest CEIBS Executive Forums and other CEIBS events, visit our events page here.

Michael D. Thede
Charmaine N. Clarke