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Pocari Sweat’s country manager for Singapore Puspita Winawati candidly admits that maintaining a balance between family and work is hard, but support from the boss and colleagues can make things easier.
What has been your most memorable moment working here in the past four years?
I have been involved in the nutraceuticals (that is, nutrition and pharmaceuticals) business. Besides handling the Singapore market, I am also involved in developing new markets in other Southeast Asian countries.
Many working women are struggling to keep a balance between family and work, and that applies to me as well. Before I knew I was pregnant, I needed to travel overseas at least three times a month.
I was the first female employee in our company to give birth overseas, and I am truly grateful to my boss and colleagues for their support. Compared to other Japanese companies, Otsuka Pharmaceutical is one that supports women pursuing their career.
Having worked across Japan, Indonesia and Singapore, was it an easy transition in terms of management styles?
I feel very lucky for being able to experience working in three different countries. It definitely requires adaptation, but this has also helped to form my current working style.
In Japan, I learnt about teamwork. As the only non-Japanese in my division, I tried my best to gain a better understanding of the work culture, and realised that most of the Japanese have a strong sense of commitment towards their work and team.
In Indonesia, which is still far behind other advanced countries in terms of regulations and infrastructure, I learnt to handle matters with flexibility.
Each time there was a project, I would need to make a trip to the site to grasp the actual situation myself. Nobody can predict what will happen regardless of how well planned you are.
In Singapore, I picked up the ability to manage. In our office, I could hear people communicating in English, Singlish, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, Tagalog and Indonesian.
Diversity is what I like about Singapore. While it helps to create new ideas and novel ways of thinking, it also pushes me to think of ways to maintain the motivation of a team made up of people from different cultural backgrounds.
With 70% of the company’s employees based out of the Japan HQ, how do you ensure cohesion with a vision?
Creating something new and bringing good health to the world are the key messages that every employee needs to understand and remember.
At the same time, our company supports the localisation of operations, and we are given the opportunity to explore new ways for our products to contribute to the local community.
I find this the right approach since the definition of a healthy lifestyle varies across countries.
While diversity helps to create new ideas, it also pushes me to think of ways to maintain the motivation of a team made up of people from different cultural backgrounds.
With the company focusing on a health brand, how do you promote wellness internally for employees?
We seek opinions from healthcare professionals on the current health issues in Singapore, and share this knowledge with the team.
Learning more about health issues prompts us to think of ways to tackle these problems. This, in turn, gradually shifts our mentality towards living a healthier lifestyle.
Besides altering our mindset, we have also started participating in running events as a team.
How closely do you work with your HR team?
We do not have a HR team at our Singapore office, so we are dependent on the regional HR team.
They give us direction on HR policies and rules, while the local management has the authority to adjust them according to the situation here in Singapore.
Do you feel HR leaders can grow to become business leaders?
Yes, I strongly feel that HR leaders can become business leaders, especially for a company that places a focus on innovation.
The job of HR leaders is not just to hire new employees and conduct training. They also need a clear understanding of the company’s goals, and secure the necessary human resources to achieve these goals.
HR leaders are capable of changing the mindset, skills and knowledge of employees. At the same time, they can also be involved in organisational changes to lead innovation.
I strongly feel that HR leaders can become business leaders, especially for a company that places a focus on innovation.
How would you define your leadership style?
I am a strong believer of teamwork, not individualism. Our company’s achievement is our team’s achievement, and problems faced by our company are problems that our team needs to address.
I encourage my team to adopt a hands-on approach towards these issues, no matter what position they are in.
I also like to have diversity in my team. I try not to hire two persons of the same type, and believe that my job is to draw out the potential and strengths of individual members so they can contribute in different ways.
Have you had any mentor in your career?
For the past four years, I have reported to my Japanese boss, the president of PT Amerta Indah Otsuka, a subsidiary in Indonesia.
The most important thing he ever taught me was that I should always choose the harder and smarter option, not the easier and usual way.
He encourages me to do what other companies are not usually doing, and has given our team many opportunities to challenge new things. I am very thankful to him.
When you are having a tough day, what helps you de-stress?
Most of the time, I would go out and visit a place that I have never been to before. I am always curious about new things that I have noticed, even if they were minute changes in the environment.