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[Herald Interview] Philip Morris Korea reworks HR management for all stages of employment

Praveen Upadhyay, director of people and culture at Philip Morris Korea (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
Praveen Upadhyay, director of people and culture at Philip Morris Korea (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

A corporate culture centered on employees is often misunderstood here. It is mistakenly considered the opposite of a profit-centered culture and is used to describe companies providing generous welfare and compensation to employees.

However, PMK goes beyond that, said Upadhyay in an interview with The Korea Herald. The company ensures staff go through a better employee experience throughout the employment cycle, starting from the job-seeking stage to leaving the company.

Upadhyay, who has worked in human resources for nearly two decades, joined Philip Morris Korea in January 2015. Beginning his career at Gillette India Ltd. in June 2000 in India, he served as a human resources leader for Philip Morris’ India, Nepal, Bangladesh operations from December 2009 to January 2012 and thereafter led the regional HR services operations for all Asia markets until December 2014.

“Through the entire employee-life cycle, we are trying to make sure whether they are in line with job requirements, the best fit for positions, under objective performance management, and rewarded fair and rational rewards,” Upadhyay said.

The firm’s key principles are meritocracy and inclusiveness -- not discriminating employees based on their gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity, he said.

Under the first principle, “each year, we set an employee’s objective through discussions between an employee and a manager. Performance against objectives are periodically reviewed and if required necessary adjustments are made. At the end of the year, employees performance are evaluated against objectives, followed by calibration within and across different functions and accordingly individual performance rating is confirmed. This is followed by setting next year’s objectives and also development plans. 

The achievement then leads to an employee’s compensation and benefits, which are reviewed and updated periodically against external benchmarks.

“We also invest a lot in developing employees’ work and leadership capabilities. This is very important for us,” he said.

A leadership program is run via both online and offline training sessions in Korea and abroad for each level of managers, including first-time managers, senior managers and heads of functions.

In the last couple of years, the tobacco company has spent over 3,650 hours in total providing leadership training to nearly 130 managers.

PMK also builds its corporate culture in harmony with local social value and on par with PM International.

Starting 2011, they conducted a campaign that encouraged speaking up and listening, respect, empowerment, challenging the status quo and celebrating success. This set up a good foundation, which further evolved during 2018, with the introduction of PMI Signature for Culture, to drive consumer at core, forward leaning, being disruptive innovators, inclusive and providing space to deliver, to enable & achieve the company’s smoke free vision. 

Upadhyay wants to see his employees celebrate and recognize their achievements more frequently.

“There are a lot of milestones that we achieved. But we don’t recognize and celebrate that much because of (the Korean) aspect of being very humble.”

Last month, PMK received certification by the Amsterdam-based Top Employers Institute that recognizes excellence in the conditions that employers create for staff.

In 2018, it was also given certification by Swiss-based nonprofit organization Equal Salary for compensating similar jobs equally regardless of gender.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)

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