With no two workdays being the same, the one constant Meiyea Neo, HR Director APAC, Zendesk, finds joy in is connecting with others each day - be it on the local, regional, or global level. She tells Priya Sunil about her favourite day of the week, how she keeps a flexible work schedule, and more in this candid interview.
Q What’s the typical start of the day like for you?Every day at Zendesk looks different for me, so there really isn’t a usual routine! Most days start with an early morning video call, be it with our colleagues in the San Francisco headquarters or around the region. I’m a morning person, so the first thing I do is check Slack and my emails to find out what came in overnight from our other offices around the world, which gives me an idea of how my day may go.
On that note, my favourite day of the week is Monday because it’s my chance to get ahead of things while most of our colleagues in other parts of the world are still enjoying the weekend. Then I have breakfast at home with my family, drop the kids off at school, and get to the office by 8am.
Q What do you look forward to each day?Connecting with others is a key highlight of each day - be it through in-person meetings with the team, video conferencing with colleagues in other offices, or even grabbing a coffee with someone from another team. One of the things I love about Zendesk is the amount of sharing that happens across all our offices - it’s a great way for us to stay connected and engaged.
I really enjoy the opportunities we get to connect all the pieces together from a global, regional and local level, finding the implications for each region and how we can best support the business, our people and our leaders.
Q What’s on today’s task list at the office?Today, I have back-to-back meetings. I began with a regional meeting, then had a call with our global team to discuss the roll-out of policies in Asia Pacific and planning for the year ahead. I then have a series of regular one-on-ones with my team to check in on how they’re doing and how I can help them in their roles, followed by a meeting to discuss local operational issues such as payroll!
On days like today, I do work to find pockets of time in between meetings to gather my thoughts and work through all the information I’ve acquired during the day.
Q What’s for lunch?That’s always the million-dollar question. Our HR team usually makes an effort to eat lunch together to catch up and have a bit of fun. Some days, if time permits, we’ll venture further out to nearby areas such as Chinatown and explore new food, but other days it’s a quick 30-minute break. When we do eat in, we like finding one of the many break-out areas in the office to sit with the lovely plants and have a change of scenery.
Q Back to work: what’s on the agenda, and how do you manage your time?
Generally, I keep my schedule as flexible as possible. This allows me to adapt easily to the pace of change that happens here at Zendesk and ensures that I’m available when people need me.
When it comes to my to-do list, I’m still an old-school, pen-and-paper type of person. I see people on the team using various digital productivity tools – whatever works best for them – but I find the action of writing things down helps me digest the information better. That said, I do complement that with lists and a ton of reminders on my laptop, to stay on top of various projects.
Q Coffee or tea: which is your go-to drink to power you through the 4pm slump?If I had it my way, I will find opportunity to head downstairs for a walk! Sometimes it’s by myself, but other times I’ll go with a colleague – it’s nice to connect with someone out of the office every now and then. If I really need sugar, bubble tea is my occasional indulgence, but I have to watch where all the sugar goes!
Q It’s the end of the long work day – what’s your favourite way to end it?Before I head home, I have a look at the next day’s schedule to know what I need to start thinking about and preparing for. Then I try to enjoy my commute home by disconnecting and doing absolutely nothing other than people-watch. Sometimes I even try different routes to take home and experience new journeys – I did this a lot when I lived in Hong Kong, taking the ferry one day, the MTR the next, the minibuses the day after that.
Though I don’t have as many options for where I live in Singapore, I sometimes hop off earlier, as opposed to getting dropped at the doorstep or designated stop, in order to stretch for a bit and take a walk the rest of the way.
Photo / provided