Dr. Murugappan

Redefining HR Excellence for Modern Organisations

Dr. Murugappan

Chief Human Resources Officer,

Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission

As an advocate of value translation, Dr. Murugappan, Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) at the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, has forged a distinguished career marked by innovation, leadership, and a relentless pursuit of excellence in human resources (HR) and organizational leadership. Dr. Murugappan’s journey into HR, stemming unexpectedly from an accounting background, unveiled his passion for reshaping organisational landscapes through strategic people practices.

Throughout his career, he has advocated for evidence-based decision-making, viewing a company’s vision as the leader’s dream, requiring meticulous planning and execution. Leveraging his financial acumen, he champions the integration of quantitative analysis into HR practices to drive purposeful initiatives forward. With 14 global HR certifications and a PhD in digital leadership, Dr. Murugappan stands as a thought leader in the field, committed to continuous learning and development.

Beyond the boardroom, he dedicates himself to nurturing future leaders through education and pro-bono work, mentoring underprivileged youth and promoting talent development initiatives. His research, notably the Digital Transformation Leadership Black Box (DTLBB), explores the intricacies of digital transitions, offering innovative approaches to organisational change. Dr. Murugappan’s multifaceted contributions epitomise his dedication to advancing HR and shaping the leaders of tomorrow. When TradeFlock interviewed Dr. Murugappan, he explained more about his roles and responsibilities, strategies, experience and personal interests.

What were your major career challenges, and how did you overcome them? How do you view these challenges now?

Navigating a multigenerational workforce over my 30-year career has been challenging yet rewarding. Leading employees from Baby Boomers to Gen Z requires understanding and adapting to diverse perspectives and work styles. Communication barriers, stemming from generational differences, often hinder collaboration. However, I view these challenges as opportunities for growth. By recognising and leveraging the strengths of each cohort, we foster a culture of inclusivity and innovation. Drawing parallels to music genres’ evolution, I believe bridging the generational gap is possible. Embracing diversity is paramount to fostering an environment where every voice is heard. Through open dialogue, we harness the collective talents of our workforce for success.

I embrace passionate energy, promoting fail-fast mentality for a learning opportunity to spur innovation. My leadership style prioritises disruptive learning, energising my team to execute strategic plans for organisational success.

How do you lead global HR and promote inclusivity in multinational organisations, leveraging your diverse industry experience?

I prioritise inclusivity by embracing diversity, especially generational diversity. Recognising the unique strengths each generation brings, I foster a workplace of high-octane passionate energy, promoting collaboration and innovation. Inclusive decision-making taps into the collective intelligence of diverse age groups, yielding effective outcomes. Drawing from over 30 years of industry experience, I emphasise the analogy of fingers on a hand—each indispensable, forming a formidable force together. By celebrating differences and promoting collaboration, organisations navigate global complexities with resilience, ensuring long-term growth and prosperity for all stakeholders.

Why is your PhD research on digital transformation leadership and human capital financial statements significant for organisations in the digital age?

My PhD research on digital transformation leadership is significant for its exploration of essential capabilities needed to lead successful business transformations in the digital age. By addressing the complexities of digital native enterprises and dynamic digital environments, my research offers actionable insights for navigating transformation stages effectively. With high failure rates in digital transformations, understanding leadership’s role becomes crucial. Similarly, human capital financial statements provide a groundbreaking method for measuring and leveraging human capital’s impact on productivity and financial performance. By quantifying workforce contributions objectively, organisations can optimise talent management strategies and make data-driven decisions, empowering them to thrive in the digital age.

What are your key strengths as a leader in HR and organisational management?

In HR and organisational management, my strengths lie in innovative thinking, fostering continuous improvement, and driving a culture of growth. With a focus on out-of-the-box ideas, I inspire my team to explore new possibilities. I operate with high-energy passion, advocating for evidence-based strategies and digital leadership traits like agility and value creation. I embrace failure as a learning opportunity, promoting a fail-fast mentality to spur innovation. My leadership style prioritises disruptive learning, energising my team to execute strategic plans for organisational success.

Can you discuss recent trends in global HR research that excite you and how you're preparing for them?

Recent trends in global HR research emphasise the evolving digital transformation landscape and the importance of innovative approaches to measuring human capital. My doctoral research on the Digital Transformation Leadership Black Box (DTLBB) highlights the need for tailored leadership strategies across different transformation phases. Additionally, I explore the measurement and reporting of human capital in financial statements, recognising its significance for organisational success. To stay abreast of these trends, I continuously refine my skills and expertise. By embracing these developments, I aim to drive impactful change within organisations, helping them navigate the modern HR landscape with resilience and success.

How do you blend real-world experiences into academia, and what key lessons do you impart to future HR leaders?

As an educator, I blend theory with practical experience by emphasising agile HR operating models and prioritising employee-centric solutions. Through industry collaborations, I develop micro-credentials tailored to evolving skill needs. I aim to equip future HR leaders with the skills to understand and invest in HR capabilities, optimise operating models, foster integration, leverage technology, and drive business performance while delivering a differentiated employee experience.