Total Rewards Asia Summit 2024 Singapore
Snapshot: Why seasoned HR leader Sow Chat Gan believes "every interaction matters"

Snapshot: Why seasoned HR leader Sow Chat Gan believes "every interaction matters"

Not only does it apply to clients, but it is the platform for Teleperformance to maintain the human touch with employees per their HR life cycle, Sow Chat Gan, HR Vice President, Teleperformance tells Aditi Sharma Kalra.

Q Tell us about the moment that brought you to Teleperformance (TP), where you have been for the last four years.

As I was enjoying my career break and searching for my next role, I was approached to explore an opportunity with TP as the Head of HR. I still remember, it was via a short phone interview, followed by another video call. Afterwards, I committed to reporting to work in the following week.

Q What do you love most about the experiences you've had in your HR career, and what has been your most memorable milestone?

The people agenda is universal and cuts across all cities and countries. During my 26 years as an HR practitioner, I've had the ability to experience cross-country exposure in driving HR solutions and the opportunity to work with diverse team members and colleagues.

With that, one memorable milestone has been meeting, and knowing, that there will be friends in every part of the world, and that we can meet to catch up and share our stories.

Q As the VP HR at Teleperformance, what does a typical day in your life look like?

Normally, I will reach the office before 8am and will take some time to enjoy my Penang breakfast around the office area. My next routine will be clearing all the urgent emails from stakeholders and emails that need approvals. Then, I will be attending virtual meetings and catch-ups with my team members on a day-to-day scope.

Q As you were primarily in the rewards space previously, how did you find yourself upskilling, if at all, to take up a holistic HR role?

Believe it or not, I am still on my learning curve and transforming into a holistic HR role. Basically, this means moving from a breadth and role of handling regional rewards, versus the depth required for a country HR role.

On the positive side, my rewards experience gave me an added advantage in data analytics and due diligence when it comes to decision-making

The initial gap was the industry knowledge of the BPO industry, plus the need to be fast and right in supporting the business growth.

Q What are some of the main challenges that the outsourcing sector in Malaysia is currently facing, and how are you at Teleperformance solving them?

There are still two major challenges for the BPO industry: 

  1. The speed of hiring,
  2. The resiliency of employees in adapting to the BPO working environment.

For TPMY, as we are a multi-lingual hub for 29 nationalities, we embrace the 'work, live and play' approach and prioritise diversity & inclusion for all employees.

For three consecutive years, we have been certified as a Great Place to Work, and this has also provided us a platform to review employee feedback, including our gaps and areas that need continuous improvement.

Q Similarly, what are the main trends in rewards space that you're trying to get ahead of?

The mantra is still the same:

  • Employees continue to demand higher salaries and benefits; and
  • From the employers’ perspective, it is about optimising our cost spending to be sustainable per the business landscape.

Overall, the philosophy of paying for performance, for individuals, for teams, or for business remains the key driver.

Q A recent survey found 55% in Malaysia want to retire early but are unsure if they can do so. What is your advice to employers and employees alike to achieve retirement adequacy?

The common answers will be basic or essential financial adequacy for retirement. However, with the post-COVID scenario, perhaps a better approach will be a 'short-term career break', where we have a chance to revisit our priorities for our families, health, and what is best for our current needs.

With the ability to explore work-from-home options, the retirement end-in-mind may no longer be valid.

Q As HR moves into the next level of its capabilities, how can we put the 'human' back in human resources?

Internally in TP, we continuously adopt a balance of 'high tech vs high touch' and work towards a positive employee experience. The digitalisation and transformation of HR will be an ongoing journey for us.

Our TP tagline, 'each interaction matters', does not only apply to our clients. It is also the platform for us to maintain an appropriate human touch with our employees per their HR life cycle.

Finally, we also need to inculcate the paradigm shift for our employees to use technology in navigating our HR solutions.

Q Finally, let's end on a fun note - when you aren't busy devising HR strategies, how do you maintain a work-life balance?

I would replace work-life balance with work-life effectiveness as the new normal of working mode. In that vein, I wish to do more exercise, do more home cooking, and travel more.

Image / Provided (Interviewee, Sow Chat Gan)

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Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

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