Magazine article HRMagazine

Learning to Adapt

Magazine article HRMagazine

Learning to Adapt

Article excerpt

As senior vice president of human resources for the Chubb Group of Insurance Cos. in the Asia Pacific region, Chris Hamilton sets and directs people management strategy in one of the world's most rapidly changing high-growth business environments.

His functions include acquiring and retaining talent, coaching senior managers in employee relations and labor law, developing training for staff, and promoting leadership capabilities.

Hamilton recently talked about his HR career and how he and his team of 11 HR professionals in nine countries support Chubb's 750 employees in the region.

What are challenges your company faces in the region?

The markets in which we operate in Asia Pacific are diverse, highly competitive, and growing and changing at a rapid pace. They range from Japan and China to Australia. In such a dynamic environment, the shelf life of any one specific training initiative could be limiting. We needed to shape a culture that allowed us to grow and compete and to react and adjust to the business demands around us.

What is the strategy to meet those demands?

Chubb requires that employees have actionable development plans and be engaged in relevant training that address both technical and management skill development. In 2008, we began using a model developed by Willie Pietersen, a management professor at Columbia Business School, to build strategy and shape culture. The dynamic four steps in Strategic Learning (Wiley, 2002) are circular. They begin with a situational analysis to generate insights that then lead to strategic choices about how organizations build winning propositions. The third step aligns those choices to the organization. Implementation is the fourth step. The model repeats itself so you constantly review and adapt based on what you learn.

What's the HR role in this process?

My HR team is a key driver behind the use of this model. We teach it in two-day workshops and oversee implementation for three to five months as participants work through the four stages. We've held more than a dozen workshops in the last three years for participants ranging from Gen Y employees to experienced managers. The workshops drive engagement and innovation, and account for growth initiatives such as expansion in North Asia.

How does the model apply to leadership training?

In 2012, we intend to build on the strategic learning model by incorporating the framework into our senior leadership programs. …

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