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HR director discusses how to keep up with an evolving workforce

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

The future of work may be unpredictable, especially after coming through the pandemic and now an artificial intelligence (AI) revolution.

However, there are trends that employers should be keeping an eye on and addressing if they are to stay ahead during times of change.

Melissa Bowden, Workday’s senior HR director for APAC and Japan, joined The HR Leader to discuss the future of work and how to properly harness change.


HR Leader: “What do you think are the biggest things that are going to impact businesses going forward?”

Ms Bowden: “We are shifting to a skills-based economy, and if you are not on the train, quickly get onto it. We know that the global talent workforce is not going to keep pace in terms of the skills to the needs of the future.”

“Technology is part of that ... Let’s say you have a workforce of 5,000 people. And you are able to capture, what are the skills of those 5,000 people? So that gives you this skills cloud,” Ms Bowden said.

“That skills gap, this is where we in HR get laser-focused. How do we reskill and upskill our talent because we want to retain them? So that whole skills-based economy is critically important for us. AI and machine learning are critical to that.”

She added: “AI machine learning is really then informing and helping individuals define their career, and it helps managers facilitate the conversation … You need a good technology platform of some description if you think about what we’ve gone through with the pandemic and figuring out where all your employees are.”

HR Leader: “How can employers properly utilise this evolution?”

Ms Bowden: “It’s the access to real data and timely data. So, we are thinking about HR, payroll, and finance. The ability of that interlock is critically important and really supports. It’s phenomenal in workforce planning and a whole myriad of things.”

“The other one for me, we’ve touched on the whole skills-based economy. And if you want to understand what skills your workforce has, you need tech to be able to do that.”

Ms Bowden continued: “This is something that is critically important … because it’s changing the way that we are used to recruiting and thinking and opening up the talent pool of skills and assessing those skills to be successful in the role.

“So, it’s taking away from, ‘You worked at this organisation and that organisation,’ or, ‘You went to this school,’ or, ‘We need you at grad’. It’s like we’re blowing it up. We’re really disrupting it.”

“There’s a whole lot of pilots going on within our own organisation around the development of skills and reskilling and upskilling, but now we are tackling it from a hiring perspective. So, it’s a bit of a watch and learn. We are going through this as everyone else is. I’m just grateful we’ve got the tech to help us to do that.”

The transcript of this podcast episode, when quoted above, was slightly edited for publishing purposes. The full audio conversation with Melissa Bowden on 12 April is below, and the original podcast article can be found here.




The term "workforce" or "labour force" refers to the group of people who are either employed or unemployed.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.