Mar 31, 2021

People Moves APAC: Lenovo, Knight Frank, KPMG, Mahindra

Kate Birch
3 min
nother week, another wave of executive hires across Asia Pacific, with senior leadership transitions to Knight Frank, Lenovo, Sun Life, and Mahindra
Another week, another wave of executive hires across Asia Pacific, with senior leadership transitions to Knight Frank, Lenovo, KPMG, Sun Life, and Mahin...

It’s been busy week across Asia Pacific with hires spanning industries, from insurance and real estate to technology, consulting and banking, and countries, from India to Singapore to Hong Kong, and includes two hiring firsts and the appointment of 10 new Partners at KPMG Singapore, brought in to "navigate these uncertain times", says KPMG Singapore Managing Partner Pang Thye Ong. 

Here’s Business Chief’s weekly roundup of the biggest executive moves in EMEA, March 25-31. 

Karim Gilani named President, International Hubs, Sun Life

Currently serving as Sun Life Asia’s CFO, Karim Gilani has been promoted to the role of President, International Hubs, which is Sun Life’s businesses in Hong Kong, Bermuda, and Singapore. Having previously held a variety of leadership roles in risk, actuarial, products, reinsurance and consulting at ManuLife and Swiss Re. Gilani joined Sun Life in 2015 becoming CFO in 2017, where he build a strong network and a deep understanding or the firm’s strategic agenda in Asia. “His extensive knowledge of our business and his strategic and financial leadership will be invaluable as we continue to grow our Hong Kong MPF and life and health insurance businesses,” says Leo Grepin, Sun Life President. 

Amar Babu to lead Lenovo’s operations in Asia Pacific

Lenovo veteran Amar Babu has been promoted to Vice President of Lenovo Services Operations and will lead the Chinese tech titan’s business in Asia pacific. Babu joined the Chinese tech titan in 2007, first serving as Managing Director, Lenovo India, where he grew the firm’s PC market share from 8% to 20% in less than a decades, and more recently, since 2018, serving as VP & Service Operations Leader of Lenovo Intelligent Devices Group. This new role will see Babu in charge of PC, smart devices, mobile and data centre businesses for the vendor across nine Asia pacific countries. 


Anish Shah appointed CEO of Mahindra Group

Following the succession last year of Anand Mahindra to role of non-executive chairman, Anish Shah has become the first professional MD and CEO in the history of Indian multinational corporation, the Mahindra Group, and will have complete oversight of and responsibility for the Mahindra Group businesses. 

Currently serving as the Deputy Managing Director and Group CFO for the Group, prior to joining Mahindra in 2015, Shah spent 14 years at GE Capital India, where as CEO, he led the transformation of the business, including a turnaround of its SBI Card joint venture, and prior to that served as a strategy consultant with Bain & Company in Boston. Describing Shah as “the right leader for the Mahindra Group”, Anand Mahindra adds that Shah “embodies the spirit of Rise and brings an exceptional leadership track record, strong international exposure and a unique ability to forge long-standing relationships with our customers, partners and our employees”. 



Neil Brookes to lead Global Capital Markets at Knight Frank

Currently serving as head of APAC capital markets and based in Singapore, Neil Brookes has been promoted to global head of capital markets, making him the company’s first global level leader outside the UK. 

Having led more than US$8.5 billion in cross-border transactions and major asset sales and having brokered such big-ticket transactions as the disposal of 52 Goulburn Street in Sydney for Credit Suisse, Brookes brings to the the new role a “track record and depth of relationships with investors based in Asia Pacific” that makes him the “standout candidate”, says Alistair Elliott, senior partner at Knight Frank. Prior to joining Knight Frank in 2013, Brookes as an equity partner at McVay Real Estate in Australia and served as director of international investments at both CBRE and Savills in Australia. 

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Jun 15, 2021

Could HR technology solve Hong Kong’s culture of overworking

Martin Blinder, CEO and Founde...
3 min
Martin Blinder discusses the average working hours in Asia and the consequential impact on employees' health and the resulting productivity of a business

It has long been common practice for employees across the world to work beyond their contracted hours, with staff feeling pressured to put the company’s needs before their own. But this can have a consequential impact on employees’ health, as long working hours create a poor work-life balance and demotivational working environment. This is particularly evident in workforces across Hong Kong, where employees are working an additional 24 hours during the week due to the rising issue of presenteeism. As a result, productivity in the region has dropped, and the health and wellbeing of workers have suffered. 


Technological advancements have created a culture where staff feel obliged to be ‘always on’, and respond to calls and e-mails when they’re out of the office. The demand for increased working hours means that businesses are losing capacity through burnt-out staff who are struggling to care for their health while meeting the requirements of their work. Companies in Hong Kong that were once able to retain their staff through an attractive salary package must now consider expanding the perks they offer their workforce that can help support them in achieving a better work-life balance.


Although the UK still has progress to make, workplaces in Hong Kong can learn from businesses in the UK which have made considerable efforts to identify causes of stress at work and taken the steps to reduce these. UK employers are prioritising the wellbeing of their employees and through adopting policies such as flexible working, working from home and offering access to health and wellness tools, they are able to provide enhanced support to their team.


By incorporating a health engagement platform into a human resources strategy, HR leaders in Hong Kong can create a positive working environment and improve morale within their team, as well as encourage and incentivise staff to take action and introduce healthy habits into their daily routines. This will also assist in tackling a disengaged workforce, reducing absenteeism and boosting motivation – all factors that have been a problem in Hong Kong’s working culture.


Employees both in the UK and Asia should also take the steps to look after their own health so they don’t fall victim to burnout. Employers should encourage their staff to take regular breaks throughout their day, whether it’s to practise mindfulness techniques or simply take a walk. Stepping away from their desk and spending time outside will help to reduce stress and clear their mind. 


Transforming attitudes to work in Asia is not a straightforward task and it will take time for age-old cultural and business practices to change. However, there are steps businesses can take to aid employees in living a happier, healthier lifestyle. Through implementing a wellness plan, businesses can support their employees in pursuing a healthy work-life balance and encourage them to improve their lifestyle both in and out of work. Not only will this create happier employees, but it will also lead to running a more profitable business as staff take control of their health.


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