Feb 15 2022

Ultimate Talent Development Through Digital Coaching

“86% of people are saying they feel signs of burnout. 60% of leaders in a global report are saying they are burnt out. That's demanding a focus on wellness, wellbeing, mental health and driving resilience in people.”

by  Sriram Iyer, Founder & CEO, hrtech.sg

hrtech.sg's Tech Talks focuses on engaging with HR & HRTech Subject Matter Experts to unearth trends & insights in the realm of HR Technology.

In this edition, we talk to Tim MacCartney, SVP APAC, CoachHub.

Tim Maccartney leads CoachHub’s expansion throughout Asia-Pacific and he loves the challenge of building big, culturally diverse, engaged and winning teams. Prior to Coachhub, he has led, shaped and transformed teams at top-tier firms such as Korn Ferry, GlobalData, Miller Heiman Group and CEB now Gartner. More about Tim can be found here.

Here are some notable excerpts and insights from my discussion with Tim:

What are the key business and talent challenges that your clients have been facing?
The last two years have been tough on individuals and businesses. The financial risks on businesses have forced corporations to rethink conventional approaches to work, job roles and how living and working comes together. I think that business leaders have responded to the best of their abilities with the need to prioritize problems that were actually already stemming before the pandemic, like delivering a great employee experience, building an inclusive and diverse workforce, succession planning, preparing for leadership transitions and so on. With COVID, we are always living our lives through a computer screen, staring at ourselves through zoom calls all day, and that's brought some real problems to be addressed. Like burnout! 86% of people are saying they feel signs of burnout. 60% of leaders in a global report are saying they are burnt out. That's demanding a focus on wellness, wellbeing, mental health and driving resilience in people. Moreover, this is all becoming quite urgent with the transition and the impact of the great resignation.

Why are companies hesitant about investing in talent development and coaching?
Organizations are investing in talent development because people are an organization's greatest asset. However, that investment is entirely predictable. The L&D market has boomed in recent years. It's about a $400 billion market cap because companies are wanting to invest in their people to ensure that they are focused, relevant in their roles and meeting industry standards. There's been an explosion of new tech that enables learning, but it's really presenting that the problem is a ‘choice’. We are presented with so much information. It's like having Netflix, how many of us are sitting at home each night and trying to work out what we are going to watch tonight? That is absolutely not what we want a training and development experience to feel like.

Longstanding research by Ebbinghaus on the forgetful curve states that 80% of what you're taught in a classroom or a learning environment is lost within two weeks. That's where we believe coaching comes in.  Traditionally, coaching was only for selective employees in an organization like the C-suite executives and it was certainly priced that way. It was very expensive. Face-to-face, with very heavy costs on time, travel and expenses.

The great resignation that we mentioned earlier, it's really told us that people need an individualized approach. The traditional means like mentoring or counseling have a very tell approach versus a help approach. Mentor tells the mentee ‘this is what you should do, this is how you should think, this is how you should feel’ etc.

 We at CoachHub believe that coaching helps individuals grow as a person and helps you inspire them through our platform. We deliver this in a much more scalable way to all organizational levels, including individual contributors. It's a platform approach, digitally focused and it can democratize access to the population to deliver the greatest impact.

What are the key trends that you're witnessing in the workplace that you think are going to be the game-changer for faster adoption of digital coaching?
Talking about the use cases for digital coaching, Diversity is a huge topic. It means different things across the world. In Southeast Asia, there are over a hundred ethnic groups. From a diversity point of view, we need to respect that each culture has a different reaction and needs to be tailored and made relevant in the workplace in terms of managing and working through that. A coach can help an individual be aware of their strengths and development goals in supporting an integrated approach. 

Time management is another key use case for us with many organizations globally. Traditional L&D approaches don't help people apply their learnings and knowledge enough. You should have a go-to coach who challenges what you're doing and helps you figure out the right approach. The same sort of use cases is applied in leadership, helping to inspire women who currently make up 15% of the executive force, but they're 50% of university graduates. How do we promote women into leadership roles and Make them feel comfortable and accountable, build resilience, etcetera.

How do you help your client HR teams get buy-in from the leadership for the investment in digital coaching?
We really do need to help organizations rejig and reconsider how they get the best bang for their buck. There are huge budgets allocated to L&D and transformation in organizations, but a large part is wasted because there's a disconnect between what the training is supposed to be and what it actually is. We create a very hands-on approach at CoachHub. We have layered customer success and client experience teams from day one.  We work with L&D and HR clients. To avoid leaving anything to chance, we have teams across APAC in every country to ensure a successful launch of every program.

And more importantly, we engage the leadership with data as we are a tech first platform. We have access to great information in real time such as Real-time dashboards that show engagement levels, coach session consumption rates, and NPS after each of the sessions around how effective that has been. We work with a global firm that has deployed CoachHub to all of their employees globally as a benefit. I think there's this big opportunity for us to engage with organizations to do the same here in APAC.

What do you think the post-pandemic workplace is going to look like?
The post-pandemic workforce will be value-driven. Employees want to be heard and appreciated. They want an environment that feels honest. The workplace will be entirely flexible and collaborative. There won't be any lone wolves or silos of teams doing independent things that link to a flatter hierarchy. This allows for more transparent discussions and faster decision-making across the organization. To summarize, there is this authentic energy that comes across conveying employees want to work with you for a long time and they want to feel like they are invested in doing so.

How do we encourage HR teams to be more data-driven and tech-savvy?
According to IDC research, 75% of organizations will have a comprehensive digital transformation strategy by 2023. However,  what we know about transformations from McKinsey is that just 30% of any transformation is successful. There's about three components to any kind of change that's out there. There's an organizational design component, structures & processes, and the third component is people, culture, and workforce plans. Where we seem to be going wrong is the people component. Whilst there is a lot of data and technology out there that we're driving, the role of HR teams should be looking to help change people's mindsets from a rigid mindset to a growth mindset to create an organization that's digitally dextrous and ready for the transformation that we're all going towards.

Sriram Iyer is a Human Resources practitioner with around two decades of experience in the areas of HR Technology, Workforce Planning & Strategy, Talent Supply Chain, Employee Engagement, Talent Branding and Acquisition & Client Management. Based in Singapore since Jan 2012, he has strong exposure to the JAPAC region and has a knowledge of the cultural nuances of the region. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, he has also played leadership roles with NCS (Singtel Group Enterprise) and Nasdaq-listed Cognizant Technology Solutions in Singapore, running large scale talent initiatives across regions. He is a proud alumnus of National University of Singapore (Singapore) and Symbiosis Institute of International Business (India).

Tim MacCartney


Digital Coaching


Talent Development

Employee Engagement


HR Tech


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