Growing E-Commerce Tech Talent In Southeast Asia
By Tim Rath, Chief People Officer, Lazada Group
Significant Trends In Ecommerce That Feed Into Business And Talent Needs eCommerce in Southeast Asia is the hotspot,; and the rapid growth of Lazada is as exciting as the boom in online shopping and selling in this region. Businesses must recognize that consumer trends and needs shape eCommerce growth in the area. The key consumer-led trends that feed into trade and talent needs mentioned below:
i. Mobile-first society Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – the six markets in Southeast Asia that we operate in— -- enjoy more than 100% mobile penetration rate, which infers that some people have more than two SIM cards or two cell phones. This rate is also higher than the global average. With the high Smartphone penetration, it also indicates that there is a need for better consumer engagement and experience on mobile platform thus through mobile product design and development.
ii. Higher demands of a fast-growing middle class With a bigger middle-class population comes a higher customer expectation. Thus companies must remain nimble in steadily and quickly improving the customer experience.
Customer experience should extend to various aspects of operations – not just customer service. The nature of the eCommerce industry and business also requires talents with absolute values -- such as, enterprising and take ownership; strong communicators; and has a high sense of integrity.
The Tech Talents in Demand in eCommerce As Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma said: “Data will be the currency of the next century.” This means tech and data must be the focus for every tech-driven business.
While tech talents in demand are from across the spectrum, there is greater urgency particularly in roles such as data engineers and scientists, product managers, designers and developers, and UI/UX experts.
The Challenges in Hiring Tech talents for eCommerce in Southeast Asia Currently, we have a headcount of about 500 in four tech hubs – Ho Chi Minh City, Moscow, Bangkok and our headquarters in Singapore – and we are targeting to grow our tech talent pool by up to 50% by the end of 2017.
The greatest challenge in hiring is the short supply of talent, compounded by competition from global companies in hiring the best talents. Word-of-mouth employee referrals are the best means of acquiring new talent, and we get 45% new hires from this route.
We also run challenges such as hackathons, and most recently, we created a “crack the puzzle” test pushed through Facebook and LinkedIn accounts of our data scientists to solve a data problem. This involves an issue with three steps, testing necessary data analytics tech skills. We have received 35 resumes in the first 24 hours through this puzzle.
Developing tech talents to the requirements of eCommerce As a commercially-driven tech company, we need to embrace the diversity of talents coming from a variety of backgrounds. Besides, developing a "tech mindset" is critical across the entire organization. This involves putting employees through learning and development courses on tech topics and implementing a tech-driven culture by way of regular activities that would engage tech talents mentally and socially.
We also groom young professionals, such as coders and programmers, to take on new tech specializations. Also, we provide internship programs and on-the-job mentoring as well as opportunities to attend global conferences to share learnings. We allow our new talents to develop and launch new initiatives like our Taobao Collection that requires translation, photo search, and categorization of products.
As we manage a diverse talent pool spanning 65 nationalities, the need to integrate and immerse new hires in local and regional knowledge becomes pertinent. What we have observed is that social events such as sports and cultural activities to help them cross-learn, share and understand each other's different backgrounds and cultures.
Lazada Group is an e- commerce company that incorporates multiple payment methods including cash-on-delivery, customer care, and free returns for providing a better shopping experience.