What It Takes to Become a Great HR Business Partner

Get more visible. Become more involved in the organisation. Focus on the bottom line.

In this article series, I talk to HR Business Partners and HR leaders about what it takes to become a great HR business partner.

Questions asked include :

1. What does it mean to be an HR Business Partner today?

2. What aspects of your work do you consider strategic?

3. How have you brought strategic input into your deliverables?

4. What are the key aspects of being a great HR business partner?

5. What have you done to develop a deeper understanding of the business you’re in?

6. How do you balance the need to take charge and yet, question legacy systems and ways of thinking?

7. What is the biggest myth about being a great business partner?

8. How do you ensure you see the bigger picture ie outside the perspective of your own function? What concrete steps do you take to achieve this?

9. Is financial literacy key to you becoming more relevant to the business? If so, how?

10. What has been key to you building better relationships across the organisation?

This series features:

Jessica MichaelJessica Ann Michael is a strategic advisor to the business leaders of certain functions for Malaysia, Singapore and Australia and the HR Manager in Malaysia for a tech company.  She is also a certified HRDF trainer who has vast experience designing and delivering soft skills and leadership development programmes. Jessica has a Masters in HRM and Industrial Relations from the University of Newcastle,  Australia. Read her article.



Silke Karin PilgerSilke Karin Pilger is an HR Business Partner (HRBP) and lawyer for a Big Four company in Saudi-Arabia. Silke was seconded from the German practice as a Senior Manager and HRBP to the organisation in Saudi Arabia. Prior to this, she worked in the Consulting Area (People & Change, Public Sector) for more than 13 years. Read her article.



Cindy SaundersCindy Saunders is an HR Professional with over twenty years’ experience working in manufacturing, mining, finance and staffing industries. Currently, she is an HR Business Partner for a global technology company. Cindy recently earned her Strategic Human Resources Business Partner (sHRBP) certification and holds designations as Global Professional Human Resources (GPHR), Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) and SHRM-CP Senior Certified Professional.  Read her article.



Gladys De SilvaGladys De Silva has 20 years of experience managing HR and Administration at both strategic and operational levels in the digital advertising, PR, automotive, NGO, consulting and banking sectors.  Gladys began her career in marketing before switching to HR. She was recently accredited as a Certified Human Resource Manager (CHRM) and an HRDF-certified Trainer. With a solid combination of HR and marketing experience, she looks forward to her next challenge in a business partnering role where she can add value to the business.Read Gladys’s article.



Pearly TanPearly Tan is a multi-site HR Business Partner Lead at the Steelcase Global Business Centre. She is based in Malaysia but is also a business partner to the sales offices in Singapore and Australia.  Pearly is both a strategic and hands-on HR Business Partner who works closely with the leadership team and with HR in APAC on various people initiatives. These initiatives serve to strengthen talent management to ensure business performance and continuity, build functional and leadership capabilities to meet current and future business needs as well as transform the culture to enable people and organizational growth. Read Pearly’s article.



What makes Shanti Ramsamy jump out of the bed every morning and go to work is the ability to make a difference in people’s lives. The Senior HR Manager at Flextronics Technology, Shanti is passionate about driving employee engagement and through that, to help business become more efficient and profitable and help people work happily.  As the site HR leader, Shanti leads a team of HR professionals to provide the full spectrum of HR support for the entire plant comprising 4,000 employees. Read Shanti’s article.




Deon SmitDeon Smit is an experienced HR manager and HR Business Partner with a history of working internationally in the Information Technology and Financial Services industry. He is skilled in Talent Management, HR Consulting, Personnel Management, Employee Engagement and Change Management, Succession Planning and Employment Relations. Armed with a master’s degree in Industrial and Organisational Psychology, Deon has worked as Country HR Manager for HP and Dimension Data New Zealand respectively. Currently, he is in a regional role (Asia Pacific) focusing on Workforce Planning and Talent Acquisition. Read Deon’s article.



Rob DonkersRob Donkers is a finance manager with more than 20 years’ experience in international business, leading finance teams through significant change and transformation processes. He successfully partners with the business to achieve multi-million-dollar improvements by increasing efficiency in sales, procurement, HR and delivery organisations. His leadership style can be characterised by sustainable management of employee relationships and letting everyone participate in the success. He is considered a leader of change in finance organisations..  Read Rob’s article.



Aishah LassimAishah Lassim is a business leader and consultant for the C-suite and HR function in the areas of talent, culture and the future of the workforce i.e. the rise of digital talent and modernisation of technology. She partners with C-suite Executives and HR Leaders to help drive transformation and create value for all stakeholders. She began as a management consultant and later moved into leadership roles as well as CHRO roles across diverse industries – oil and gas, financial services, IT and facilities management.  Read Aishah’s article.



Bernadette A MartinBernadette A Martin has extensive experience in global talent management, succession planning, organisational development, change management and executive coaching. Currently, she is the Regional Strategic HR Manager APAC, Japan and India at NCR Corporation. She is the Strategic HR Business Partner and Adviser to the leadership team for the Global Services organisation which cuts across 15 countries in the APAC, Japan and India region. Read Bernadette’s article.



Kenny TanKenny Tan is an accidental HR practitioner who declared, many years ago, that HR is a role he will never understand, let alone get into as a career.  With a background in accounting and finance, his early years were shaped by many coaches and mentors whom he had the privilege to work with. It is these experiences which have opened up his soul to what it means to be in the business of people. He sees himself as a business person handling a corporate role in an HR function. Read Kenny’s article.



Kimberly BolandKimberly Boland is currently a HR Business Partner at Schneider Electric, stretching into the world of Employee Experience Journey Mapping amongst many other HR initiatives. She partners with the executive management team and implements HR strategies, principles and processes in line with Pacific Zone HR strategies. Prior to this, Kimberly worked in the Workers Compensation industry for more than seven years, beginning at Allianz. Underpinning this operational experience, she has a Bachelor of Psychology, an MBA and is a certified Strength Profiler practitioner. Read Kimberly’s article.




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