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Doris Tham, Ricoh Malaysia

15 minutes with Ricoh Malaysia’s Doris Tham

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In this conversation, Doris Tham, general manager of human resources at Ricoh Malaysia, identifies finding the right people for the job and retaining them as the two challenges faced by companies in Malaysia.

Having been in HR for the past 16 years, what led you to this career in the first place?

It is all about people! An organisation can have the most advanced technology, processes and procedures in place, but without its people, none of it would be made possible.

Hence, my passion lies in empowering people to pursue their personal and professional aspirations – in other words, helping achieve the organisation’s goals.

With that said, the greatest accomplishment for me is knowing I am part of a vital instrument that transforms people in their knowledge, skills and behaviour, elevating their lives for a greater purpose.

What do you love most about your job at Ricoh?

As it is my first experience working with a Japanese company, inevitably, I had to adjust the way I work in order to better assimilate, given my past experiences have been with Western MNCs.

With that said, Ricoh definitely has its own unique culture and set of values that are the guiding principles of how we should work and treat our shareholders, colleagues, customers and community.

Of course, making my job a lot enjoyable are the friendly and cooperative people at Ricoh. I am blessed with a very dedicated and passionate HR team that works very hard in driving organisational change.

With such giving superiors, I have the privilege and honour to be bestowed full empowerment to develop HR projects and initiatives that are relevant to enhancing business effectiveness and people productivity.

My greatest goal is to raise the HR profile to the level of business partners, as I believe that the intangible asset in human resources can be further harnessed to help organisations achieve quantum growth.

As it is my first experience working with a Japanese company, inevitably, I had to adjust the way I work in order to better assimilate, given my past experiences have been with Western MNCs.

In Malaysia, what do you think is the biggest HR challenge facing most companies?

Finding the right people for the job and retaining them are two of the main challenges faced by most companies in Malaysia.

Surveys have reported that an employee’s average tenure at a company is approximately two years with most attributing their reasons for departure to seeking better pay/role and work-life balance or the lack of chemistry in working relationships with their managers.

As a result, the cost of hiring is increasing and affecting work productivity.  The salary scale is on an upward trend while competency development may not necessarily be moving in the same direction – or at the same pace.

The human capital cost is growing at a rate that now exceeds productivity growth, eventually eroding business competitiveness in Malaysia, and ultimately affecting economy growth as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) also suffers.

What is your top tip for ensuring that employees are as productive as they can be?

I believe, to ensure productivity, it is important to first align the employee’s KPIs with the achievement of the overall organisation through regular monitoring and coaching of their goals.

This will help differentiate rewards and recognition for top performers from mediocre performers.

We should also create an encouraging environment, culture and system for our employees to perpetually grow and nurture themselves.

It is also pertinent to establish a strong sense of belonging in the company for your employees, creating a safe platform for the thriving of inner strength and self-drive to always improve and perform for the company.

An employee’s average tenure is approximately two years with most attributing their reasons for departure to seeking better pay/role and work-life balance or the lack of chemistry with their managers.

Take us through your regular work day.

Usually, I am not too involved in operational activities as I am blessed with a very reliable team.

My typical day involves spending time inspiring and motivating my HR team as well as colleagues to do their best at their role, supporting them in idea generation and overcoming obstacles that hinder them from accomplishing their work.

I am also constantly thinking ahead, anticipating how development in the business environment, both internally and externally will affect the company’s business, analysing from a HR’s perspective on how the company should prepare.

As they say in business, what is certain is uncertainty.

Ultimately, my main objective each day is to create a happy workplace for our employees, which in turn contributes to creating a happy home.

Have you had a mentor in your career?

My greatest mentor is Nicholas James “Nick” Vujicic, an Australian Christian evangelist and motivational speaker born with tetra-amelia syndrome – a rare disorder characterised by the absence of all four limbs.

Every time when I feel inadequate, I would remind myself of Nick and how, despite his inabilities, continues to live life like any other ordinary person, sharing and spreading such immense joy and inspiration to the world.

It is his qualities of determination and positivity that I hold dearly for encouragement. Similarly, it is the same qualities that I would share with my team in leading them and guiding them in their paths – to remind them to always keep their chin up and accentuate the positive.

Complete the sentence: I cannot imagine HR without … 

I cannot imagine HR without the love for people, the passion for business excellence and care for the community.

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