‘Everybody wins’ through upskilling across the ecosystem - DN Prasad, GovTech Singapore #FOI2024

By Si Ying Thian

Both public and private sector HR share synergies in the race for talent, priorities around employee wellbeing and upskilling, and navigating tech’s impact on the workforce at large, says the Chief People Officer at GovTech Singapore, ahead of the Festival of Innovation 2024.

Prasad, also known as DNP to his professional circles, wears multiple hats as he navigates the winds of change in the HR industry. Image: Canva.

Amidst the race for talent, the public and private sectors can collaborate.


This may sound counter-intuitive, but DN Prasad, the Senior Director of the People and Organisation Division at GovTech Singapore, highlights what he calls “two irrefutable facts” that support his assertion.


 “One, it is all about the people, in any organisation. Two, whether it is the private or public sector, we coexist in the same ecosystem,” he says.


At GovTech, together with his CEO and management team, Prasad leads and executes talent transformation efforts aligned with the broader organisational strategy.


Prasad at the Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI)‘s 16th Singapore HR Awards. Image: DN Prasad's LinkedIn.

“Together, we build capabilities and leadership to deliver on our mission – engineering digital government, making lives better, and leading GovTech Singapore’s next bound of transformation,” he adds.


Prasad, also known as DNP in his professional circle, wears multiple hats as he navigates the winds of change in the HR industry, sitting on the Public Service Division’s Talent Development Committee, a select group of HR leaders across various agencies who seek to improve the HR function in the public sector, as well as being a Leadership Coach with the Civil Service College.


Also currently serving as the President of the Singapore Human Resources Institute, a non-profit professional HR body to advance the profession, and its standards and practices, Prasad will soon be speaking at the upcoming Festival of Innovation 2024.

Synergies between public and private sector HR


Prasad shares that collaborating on recruitment strategies, employee branding and talent pipelines can benefit both private and public sectors. He cites examples of public-private partnerships for internships, joint job fairs and exchange or attachment programmes.


On learning and development, there has never been a more important time for continuous learning than today. Sharing resources, training programmes, and expertise can enhance workforce capabilities across the board, he says.


“We see this happening already and there’s potential to do more. The focus is on upskilling across the ecosystem, so everybody wins. Cross-sector workshops on digital skills or leadership development is an example of such an effort,” he adds.


Prasad shares that across both sectors, there has been an increasing emphasis on the employee experience – from recruitment and recognition, to employee well-being and mental health, and to adaptive leadership.


Employee-centricity is the key theme underlying this. That is why HR managers today also need to be more attuned to monitor subtle signs of disengagement, such as decreased collaboration or a lack of enthusiasm – symptoms behind the “quiet quitting” trend – he explains.


“Early intervention prevents talent loss and fosters a positive work environment. The trend emphasises the importance of continuous engagement, feedback loops, and an employee-driven approach to solving organisational challenges.”

Advancing public sector HR


Wearing his public sector hats, Prasad has mentored a team in developing a 360 HR Scorecard for Public Service to assess the state of HR maturity across different ministries and agencies.


“As it’s often said, ‘what gets measured gets managed.’ The measurement has given a direction to HR teams on areas to focus on, and how to better partner with their leaders in serving the workforce,” he explains.


Prasad at GovTech Singapore's first Corporate Services Day, celebrating corporate functions in the organisation. Image: DN Prasad's LinkedIn.

He is also involved in multiple initiatives to build the capacities of public sector leaders.

These include career conversation workshops and coaching as key efforts to transform the public service.


The workshops equip directors to conduct effective career conversations with their employees, role model positive behaviours for other managers in their teams.


“Leaders have outsized influence on their teams and strengthening leadership development for new directors and emerging leaders has become very crucial for a large public service,” he explains.

Winds of change in the future of work


The convergence of societal shifts and technological advancements will shape the future of work, says Prasad.


For example, the rapidly ageing population in Singapore, coupled with improving life expectancies, mean that nearly half of the population may remain active in the workforce up to 70 years, he says.


This will necessitate organisations to manage a multi-generational workforce, with a need for customised interventions for different archetypes and cultural dynamics of the workforce.

The other societal shift is the rise of freelancers and the gig economy.


“Freelancing may become one of the more permanent and substantial parts of the workforce,” he says. By tapping into this trend, organisations will end up managing several parallel people supply chains for different categories of workforce.


Also, the increasing adoption of hybrid and flexible work arrangements enables a choice for employees, a means for talent attraction, and optimised real estate – by incorporating more collaboration spaces than traditional desks, says Prasad.


HR would also have to consider the impact of technologies, such as automation, AI and robotics on the workforce, and ensure upskilling keeps up with the pace as digital skills have moved from ‘good-to-have' to ‘must-have.’


This issue [of upskilling] can quickly move from one of relevance to one that questions existence, he says.


Leaders will need to navigate ambiguity, inspire resilience, and foster agility. Empathy and vision will guide organisations through change. Adaptability will be key. So, the contours of leadership will change, he rightfully sums up.



event banner for Festival of Innovation


Catch DN Prasad at FOI 2024 that is happening from 26 – 27 March 2024, at Sands Expo, Singapore. He will be moderating a leadership fireside chat around the topic of "Attracting Digital Champions to the Public Sector" on 26th March, 12.00pm - 12.30pm. Register here >>>