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By Alisha Sud

On Tuesday, four HR professionals came together to share the essential skills for HR professionals in China. Moderated by Horst Gallo of IBM, the event picked apart the role of HR and what differences stand between that role in multinationals and in domestic companies.

Brian Dickinson and Patrick Ran, of SHRM and SHRM China respectively, outlined HR’s role in creating business value by organizing talent to drive better business results. They emphasized the importance of both aligning HR’s objectives to business objectives and transforming the “art” of HR into a science through increased use of data analysis.

Julie Zhao, Associate Director of People & Change Consulting, provided an in-depth look at how HR must adapt to changing population demographics in China by reengineering the HR function to serve as a business consultant in terms of people issues by ramping up predictive analytics capabilities.

Having had experience leading HR teams for multinational corporations (MNCs) and Chinese private companies, Yue Guo, Head of HR at Taikang Finance, acknowledged that the skills accumulated in both environments are very different.

“Chinese HR has more ability to drive companies,” Yue said. “At MNCs, HR doesn’t have the power to create change. Hierarchies exist at Chinese companies also, but there is space for HR to implement other systems.”

Yue’s recommendation to give local HR the space to shape the company at MNCs left attendees thinking about the fundamental differences between Chinese and international HR practices.

Alisha Sud is a Communications Intern at AmCham China.