How would you describe your current role to a HR outsider?
I am a visionary entrepreneur and an HR expert and leader with over 10 years of experience in various industries, such as hospitality, digital marketing, and technology.
What is a common misconception about the work you do?
A common misconception about the role of People & Culture professionals is that our primary function is limited to administrative tasks and paperwork. While administrative duties are indeed a part of our responsibilities, the scope of People & Culture extends far beyond these routine tasks, encompassing a much broader and strategic role within an organization.
People & Culture professionals play a pivotal role in managing and nurturing a company's most invaluable asset - its people. Our responsibilities go beyond the realms of payroll processing and employee record-keeping. We are instrumental in talent acquisition, talent development, performance management, fostering employee engagement, and cultivating a positive workplace culture. In the dynamic landscape of today's business world, People & Culture professionals hold a strategic position in driving organizational growth and success.
We are actively involved in strategic workforce planning, ensuring compliance with labor laws, advocating for diversity and inclusion, and designing policies and programs that contribute to the overall well-being of employees and the performance of the company. To sum it up, while administrative tasks form a part of our role, People & Culture professionals are pivotal in shaping the company's human capital strategy, a role that directly impacts the organization's success and sustainability. We are much more than mere paperwork and administrative duties.
How did you get started in your HR career?
I embarked on my HR career journey following a somewhat unexpected turn of events. My initial exposure to the field came during my internship with the HR department, which proved to be a pivotal experience. Interestingly, during my earlier academic pursuits in Hospitality Management, I had faced challenges with my HR subject, a subject that I ultimately transformed into my professional calling.
My HR career began to take shape as I assumed the role of HR Coordinator at Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral, where I played a key part in the pre-opening phase of the hotel. This experience provided valuable insights into the dynamics of HR within the hospitality industry. Subsequently, I been transferred to The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur as an HR Executive, contributing to another successful pre-opening launch. My journey continued to evolve when I joined Swiss-Garden International Group as a Group Assistant HR Manager. Here, I gained multifaceted experience, honing my HR skills across various aspects of the industry.
One of the highlights of my HR career was the promotion to the role of Chief People Officer, a significant achievement that allowed me to contribute to shaping and enhancing the people-centric strategies within an organization. My trajectory in HR culminated with my role as Head of HR for Southeast Asia in a digital marketing and technology company. This role marked a transition into a different industry, where I adapted my HR expertise to the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the digital landscape. Subsequently, I decided to embark on an entrepreneurial journey, leveraging my HR experience to explore new ventures and contribute my insights to different aspects of business. My HR career has been a diverse and transformative journey, one that has equipped me with a deep understanding of HR's significance in various industries and the ability to adapt and thrive in a dynamic, ever-evolving professional landscape.
Describe the most impactful HR project you've personally worked on.
I've had the privilege to work on during my career was the creation and implementation of a global talent development program. This initiative had a profound and far-reaching impact on the organization, as it spanned across different countries and regions. As a key member of the team, I played a significant role in the program's design and execution.
The talent development program aimed to identify and nurture successors within the organization, ensuring a strong leadership pipeline for the future. This project was not confined to a single location; rather, it extended internationally, covering various subsidiaries and regions within the group. The program's success hinged on its ability to identify high-potential individuals and provide them with the necessary resources, training, and mentorship to prepare them for leadership roles.
The project involved meticulous planning, collaboration with HR teams across different countries, and a deep understanding of the organization's unique needs in each region. It required the creation of standardized assessment and development processes, ensuring that the program's objectives were consistently met across the globe. The impact of this project was substantial, as it contributed to the organization's long-term success by fostering a robust and capable leadership team. Identifying and nurturing internal talent not only reduced recruitment costs but also improved employee morale and engagement, as they saw a clear path for career growth within the company.
Moreover, my experience in opening two hotels and establishing their HR functions from scratch was another noteworthy project that allowed me to create impactful change within the organization. The challenge of building HR infrastructure and teams from the ground up was a significant undertaking, and it required strategic planning, recruitment, policy development, and the establishment of strong HR practices. Additionally, leading HR teams across Southeast Asia (SEA) was another milestone in my career, where I had the opportunity to shape HR strategies and practices across a diverse region. My experience in this role involved developing cross-cultural HR policies, fostering collaboration among the HR teams in different countries, and aligning HR practices with the organization's global goals.
These experiences collectively represent some of the most impactful HR projects I've been a part of, each contributing to the development, growth, and success of the organization on a global scale. They underscore my commitment to driving positive change through strategic HR initiatives and my ability to lead and collaborate in diverse and dynamic settings.
What is one HR/future of work trend or change you're not convinced will work for SEA startups?
I am not entirely convinced will work seamlessly for startups in Southeast Asia (SEA) is the complete adoption of a fully remote or distributed workforce. While remote work and flexible arrangements have gained prominence globally, especially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are certain challenges and nuances specific to the SEA region that may make this trend less straightforward for startups.
What is one HR/future of work trend or change that you hope to see more of at SEA startups?
A greater emphasis on fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. While this trend has gained traction globally, it holds significant potential for positive impact in the context of SEA startups.
What is your favourite HR resource that you would recommend to this community?
Harvard Business Review (HBR), Human Resources Online (HRO), McLean & Company.
Lastly, where are you based, and where would you take friends visiting your city for the first time?
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.