Could you outline your educational background and current position? Please provide an annual vision of your work pace, seasonal variations in your missions, main highlights.
I double hat as Head of HR for Indosuez Singapore and Azqore Asia, and am responsible for implementing HR strategies and initiatives to support business growth. Having been with the Bank since 2016, I had the opportunity to manage and take part in multiple organisation and strategic projects, such as the integration of CIC and the Azqore spin off in Asia. As both Indosuez and Azqore’s Asia branches grow, my role as HR Head for both entities also continues to evolve.
Our people are our most valuable resources, and the HR team champions culture and the Group's raison d'être. We perform a multi-faceted function that requires us to have the humility and agility to regularly pivot from strategic to operational roles. The Covid-19 pandemic threw us into challenges that we would not have imagined, operating in crisis mode for much of 2020 and 2021, adapting to government sanitary measures, and trying to keep employees engaged and connected. As we settle into the new normal, the role of HR will also need to adjust to focus on our teams’ need for adaptability and resilience, reevaluate the employee experience to foster engagement and inclusion for all, including those working remotely.
Please explain your professional background, the developments that allowed you to take on more responsibilities. Were you behind these advances? How did you climb through the ranks?
I started my career as External Auditor and quickly realised I am not suitable for a job that isn't very engaging. However, it helped build a strong foundation in my financial, tax and payroll knowledge, and the data analytics skills acquired during my auditing days created an opportunity for an HR analytics and reporting role. The latter gave me a chance to work closely with a team of experienced and passionate senior HR professionals. It sparked my passion for HR, and when an opportunity arose, even though it was a difficult business function with major attrition issues, I applied for the role and never regretted it since.
A woman manager inspired and motivated me the most during the early part of my HR career. In addition to being an engaging manager and mentor, she was always able to display a positive, motivated and passionate attitude even when she was dealing with challenging business demands, and juggling child care for 2 young kids.
Tell us about the obstacles you encountered. How did you get past them? Do you find that being a woman was conversely an advantage? How do you balance professional and personal life?
Based on research, women tend to demonstrate more advanced empathetic and interpersonal skills, which are both key in HR. While I don't find myself facing any difficulties, being a woman in a function that is dominated by women is neither an advantage nor a disadvantage.
Even in female-dominated roles such as HR, men were often given more senior positions. It is not until recent years that we achieved gender parity through the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) position. There are also persisting stereotypes that women succeed in HR because of our natural affinity to relationship building. The extra burden is that we need to demonstrate that we are as strong, if not stronger, in critical thinking and in our business acumen, etc.
Women tend to underestimate their abilities more than men and we question ourselves more. It is important for women to be more confident about the skillsets and values that they contribute, we can't convince others when we doubt ourselves. Staying passionate in my work and continuing to learn and adapt to the changing environment are key values for me to stay motivated at work. It is also important to take a step back to re-charge when it gets hard to feel enthusiastic.
Please share your vision on the changes you have observed and those you want to see in the future. Could you provide examples of initiatives already carried out? What were the obstacles and success drivers? Talk about the support provided by your management.
In the recent years, the Group has demonstrated a strong commitment towards gender diversity and action plans are in place to ensure equity, develop and empower women. As an HR professional and a woman in a senior leadership position, it is important for me and my team to be advocates in promoting diversity and inclusivity, and making sure this is not just a symbolic effort.
While we adapt to new ways of working in the "New Normal" and re-assess the ways we engage with employees, we should also pay attention to the pandemic’s impact on gender equality. It has quite aggravated the issues working mums face as many saw their domestic responsibilities surge, thereby making juggling between home and work even more complex. More women are therefore considering downshifting their careers or even leaving the workforce, which can be a potential setback in our gender equality efforts. While we address the new flexible working "norm", it is important to review policies that encourage gender equitable roles, especially in caregiving duties (i.e. encourage paternity leave), engage men in gender initiatives and consider programmes to help women re-enter the job market.
Could you give tangible advice based on your personal experience?
Strongly believe that women are equally confident, independent, intelligent and skillful. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo, and be ready to own the transformation journey!
February 09, 2022