How would you describe your current role to a HR outsider?
As the Head of People & Culture, my role revolves around creating and maintaining a positive and productive work environment within the organisation. I focus on the well-being, growth, and satisfaction of our employees, ensuring that they are not only performing at their best but also feel valued and supported in their professional journeys. My overarching goal is to align the company's strategies and goals with its workforce. I work to foster a strong company culture that promotes collaboration, innovation, and employee engagement. This involves implementing various initiatives, policies, and programs that contribute to employee development, job satisfaction, and overall organisational success.I work closely with various departments within the organisation, including executive leadership, department heads, managers, and individual employees. Collaboration is key in my role, as I need to understand the needs and challenges of different teams and align HR strategies with broader business objectives. By building strong relationships and effective communication channels, I can ensure that our people practices contribute to the company's overall success.
What is a common misconception about the work you do?
HR are seen as the 'spy' for management and the 'loudspeaker' for our employees. I like to see we are neither but a bridge to help both management and employees come together.
How did you get started in your HR career?
I started my career as a Process Engineer in the plant. After 2 years being in the role I felt a little empty and asked, "Will I still be happy being an engineer after 20 years?". This reflection went on for about year before I was given the opportunity to try out "Organisational Development" for the parent company. From there I was able to explore the world of Talent Development and Management (TDM). During that period, I had to learn many of the TDM theories through books, websites, asking others as I did not have a degree in it. Granted my engineering background did gave me the edge of understanding processes and was willing to question why certain policies were in place. I am thankful that I had wonderful managers and mentors who eased me into the role. In 2019, I was given the opportunity to play the role as HR Business Partner (HRBP). There's where my HR Core was developed. Fast forward to 2021, I stumbled upon the world of startup. I was initially hired to be the Learning & Development (L&D) lead. It was a fun experience and it was great to help shape L&D policies and framework. Along the way, I saw the need the play the HRBP role and was happy to be part of the HRBP team. Unfortunately, my role was made redundant and I had to leave that wonderful company. But it gave me a taste of what work can be and how work will be evolving. End 2021, I decided to join my current organisation, this time slightly more prepared with the ups and downs nature of a start up. So far it has been an interesting ride.
Describe the most impactful HR project you've personally worked on.
In my first organisation, I had the opportunity to co-lead with another colleague on a Culture piece. We were tasked to find out what were the values of the organisation. My colleague designed the questionnaire and I was involved with the focus groups interviews. We had a blast meeting and understanding the grassroots of the organisation. From there we were able to present a set of 5 values to the top management. After a series of tweaks with the MD, the 5 values were nailed! And it was time to promote it. I was in charge of retweaking our onboarding programme and I decided to add a module on our values. Up to today, that session is still running and the 5 values are still existent in the organisation.
What is one HR/future of work trend or change you're not convinced will work for SEA startups?
Succession planning is hard and very challenging for a startup. Most succession planning are done on the fly and on the go rather than planned. This is perhaps of the runway that startups have. In large organisations, the runway could be about 3 - 5 years whereas in startups the runway could be about 3 - 6 months.
What is one HR/future of work trend or change that you hope to see more of at SEA startups?
AI or Data driven workflows. While startups are good with SAAS, I believe that systems used are very much just to fulfil a basic need rather than looking at how powerful the tool can become.
What is your favourite HR resource that you would recommend to this community?
Lastly, where are you based, and where would you take friends visiting your city for the first time?
I toggle between Klang Valley (Selangor) and Johor Bahru (Johor). I love food so of course will bring you to have a wonderful time of eating our local foods.