The objective of the HR head is simple – enabling her team members to grow happily along with the company, and feel proud of what they have achieved.
In charge of the people function for the leading retailer of toys, games, leisure equipment, and educational products, Angel Kwok’s top priority is people, as they are the core of every business.
As the world continuously advances, she has seen customer demands naturally evolve, requiring adjustments and adaptations within businesses.
In this dynamic landscape, the role of HR, she tells HRO’s Tracy Chan, is to identify and attract the most suitable talent while cultivating an environment conducive to both personal growth of the talent as well as business growth.
Read on for the interview:
Q: With stints across different industries – banking, fast fashion, properties, textile, and now retail – what was your biggest learning from these diverse HR experiences?
The overarching priorities of HR have remained the same despite the different industries – it always comes back to our people and business. Having said that, my experience from different industries has provided me with invaluable insights into different perspectives, innovations, and best practices. Drawing from the wealth of different experiences empowers us to become more resourceful and effective in applying novel concepts within different contextual frameworks.
Q: Amidst today’s increasingly competitive environment, what, in your view, are the most effective ways to attract and retain top talent?
Word of mouth, from our own employees and our consumers.
Q: How does Toys”R”Us Asia offer support, guidance, and a sprinkling of fun and magic throughout employees’ journeys?
Our company’s vision is ‘to fuel the imagination and inspire our next generation through the power of toys and play’ and we live up to this vision in every aspect of our work.
There is an unparalleled level of fun and inspiration when you come to the office every day. As a family brand, we also bring the joy to our ‘extended’ family. We organise family fun days, and invite family members to our office.
Q: How would you describe your leadership style?
Open, transparent, and direct. Communication is key and it’s especially true in this rapidly evolving world. My unwavering focus has always been on people and I am a true believer in talent development. My objective is very simple. I want my team members to grow happily along with the company and when they look back, they will feel proud of how well they have progressed and contributed to something valuable.
Q: How closely do you work with the CEO, and what are the specific projects that both of you work closely on?
I cannot think of a day I do not communicate with my CEO. He is a people leader who puts people and communication as his top priority. The whole leadership team works together on most people-related issues as we strongly believe in teamwork and communication.
Q: Is there a phrase that you believe HR professionals should do away with? And what should they replace it with?
Rather than focusing on a phrase we should replace, let’s talk about one we should keep, and it’s ‘people, people, and people’. HR professionals should always have a people-focused mindset. There’s no other way we can do our job well.
While we should balance different business needs and expectations, we must carefully consider the implications on our people, and how to bring out the best from them to create a win-win situation for all parties.
Q: Here in 2024, what is your vision for the coming year?
In 2024, one of our main focus areas lies in harnessing the power of AI to empower our people in advancing their roles with greater impact. By leveraging AI, we seek to enhance the efficiency of our teams by automating tasks, introducing more innovation, and elevating the overall experience for our valued customers.
Q: Let’s end on a fun note – if you could choose only one toy from the store, what would it be and why?
Miniverse would be my choice because the product is full of surprises, all the items are relatable, fun, and everyone gets excited while building the miniature toys! In 2024, there will be more to look forward to as Toys”R”Us continues to bring many never-before-seen campaigns and initiatives to our customers!
This article first appeared in the H2 2023 edition of Human Resources Online's Hong Kong e-magazine. View the e-magazine here, where you'll find power-packed features and interviews with leaders from Hong Kong and across Asia!
Image / Provided (Lead image: Angel Kwok, Chief People Officer, Toys"R"Us Asia)