SHRI Member Spotlight – Michael Jenkins

Michael Jenkins is the CEO of Expert Humans, a company he founded in April 2020 in Singapore together with Joyce Jenkins.

They bring their individual and shared interests into play through their work together, combining a long-standing and deep interest in what makes people think and behave the way they do – and particularly how they do so in an international or global context.

How would you explain your job to someone outside of HR?

I work as a facilitator for a number of Singapore-based academic and practitioner institutions in the area of leadership development, organisational development, and human resources. My job is to try to support people to make sense of what is going on in the workplace today and to help them as best as I can to prepare themselves and their organisations for the future of work.

What’s something about you or your job that would surprise us?

Many years ago before moving into the area of executive education, I was a professional Japanese-English interpreter and translator. My job took me all over the world and gave me an opportunity to meet people from many walks of life and with different work backgrounds and experiences. The connection between the work I did then and the work I do now is that it is still all about people – figuring out what makes them think, why they do what they do, and building bridges between them.

What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far?

Like everyone, I have experienced the ups and downs of work-life over quite a long period now. The biggest highlight has probably been witnessing the amazing resilience of our friends, colleagues, and family in recent years. It gives me hope that whatever life throws at us, we will get through if we pull together. I am also pleased about the progress we’ve made in the areas of compassion and empathy: while there is still a lot to be done, we have made inroads and normalised conversations about these topics in a way that 10 years ago would have been almost impossible.

What's an HR trend or space you're watching this year?

I'm very interested in diversity, equity, and inclusion and have started to think about Generation Alpha. This generation will be entering the workforce in about 5 to 8 years from now so I think it's useful to start thinking about what expectations Alpha will have and what the implications are for HR professionals and their organisations as they work hard on their strategic workforce planning – and even as they continue to figure out Gen Z!

What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?

Be curious. Curiosity is a superpower – it broadens our minds to possibilities, encourages us to think creatively, and to dial up our capacity for empathy and perspective-taking. Try to read widely, talk to all sorts of people, and go for long walks. Walking is a great way to exercise your body and your mind.

What's one thing you can keep talking about for hours?

My grandson Henry. He lives in the United States and I don’t get to see him very often. But watching him reminds me of the joy of discovery, the fun of learning, and the humanity of people. So I love to talk about him and share what I have heard from my daughter about his latest exploits. He also reminds me of the duty of care we all have towards our environment and the planet which is why I am active in the sustainability space. I don’t want Henry to ask me (when he is able to) about what I did to support the planet – and then to have no answer.

What's your favourite movie/TV show?

I recently enjoyed watching The Banshees of Inisherin starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. It’s a thought-provoking, warm, and yet profoundly sad movie that made me think about the nature of friendship and how delicate it is – as well as exploring through metaphor some of the bigger issues around such as the madness of large-scale conflict and war. I enjoy watching a film and then discussing it with my family and friends. That’s my idea of fun!

What's your go-to lunch around your workplace?

I’ve been going to Crystal Jade La Mian Xiaolong Bao in Holland Village for over 20 years now. The staffs are like old friends and I always order the exact same things: their signature dan dan mian (Sichuan noodles) plus six xiaolong bao (dumplings) and hot Chinese tea. What could be better than that?

If you’d like to be featured similarly in this series, click to join SHRI Membership – the only Professional HR Membership body in Singapore.