Learning & Development Asia 2024
Thank you for loving your job, and Happy HR Day 2023

Thank you for loving your job, and Happy HR Day 2023


Authored by Tracy Chan, with inputs from Aditi Sharma Kalra, Priya Sunil and Arina Sofiah.

Dear Readers,

It's safe to say HR is a versatile role: from recruiting and managing talent, to making policies and driving transformation, even adopting technology and being a health counsellor, covering almost every aspect of all stakeholders' journeys.

Apart from having an in-depth understanding of the business, the key to success as an HR professional is to love and own your job. Only when you have real passion for your job, can you build authentic connections with people and make an impact on both individuals and organisations, which in turn creates a better community and a better world.

And the most fulfilling part of the job is seeing the growth and thrivingness of individuals and organisations owing to changes you've advocated for.

As we celebrate International HR Day this Saturday (20 May 2023), the team at Human Resources Online want to thank you for all your dedication and valuable contributions. We have had the pleasure of speaking to 23 HR leaders from across the region, to hear where their passion lies in their job, and their own definition of being successful.

Wish you all a Happy HR day!

- Your friends at Human Resources Online (HRO)

David Thomas, General Manager, Head of Human Resources, Asia-Pacific & Interim Global Head of HR, Commercial Banking, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation

david thomas hsbc

What do you love most about your job?
Opportunity to develop and lead world-class talent in an internationally connected and inclusive organisation. Managing HSBC’s Global Commercial Banking and Regional Asia Pacific HR teams means I’m never bored; no day is ever the same. I also have four great bosses, and a highly engaged Board.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
You must have deep understanding of the context that you’re operating in and a focused desire to build sustainable high performance across the whole organisation as part of the best leadership team that the company can field. Look after yourself, your team and results will come.

Doreen Siu, General Manager, Human Resources, MTR Corporation

doreen siu mtr

What do you love most about your job?
MTR keeps cities moving. Humbled and honoured to be part of the MTR HR team. Our colleagues have the privileges to connect and contribute to the communities on daily basis in one way or another. Through our jobs, we are able to serve Hong Kong with passion, purpose and professionalism.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
HR is all about humans. Back to being human is the key alongside AI and technological evolution as they are equally important.

“To win in the marketplace, you must first win the workplace” (Doug Conant). There is no magic wand except the heart and sincerity to understand what matters our people most.

Fanny Lau, Assistant General Manager – Human Resources, New World Development Company

fanny lau new world development

What do you love most about your job?
I love my job and my company. I can work closely and support our business heads as a HR strategic partner and drive HR initiatives that contribute to their business growth. More importantly, I have strong faith in our vision of 'creating shared value', I want to dedicate myself to make impact and influence in the society.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?

  • Agility – the world has been changing and businesses have been transforming, we have to be agile and be able to support our businesses’ growth.
  • Forward-thinking – same as business leaders, we need to have forward thinking and see our HR organisation not only for today but the next three, five and 10 years.
  • Customer-centric – see what our market customers, our business heads and our colleagues want, we all should have a customer-centric perspective.

Peonie Lo, Head of Learning – Leadership & Organisation Development, The Learning Academy, Cathay Pacific Airways

peonie lo cathay pacific

What do you love most about your job?
What I love most about my job is the ability to make strategic and often creative solutions to develop people. In this day and age, there are so many opportunities enabled by technology, particularly generative AI and learning in the flow of work. Very excited about what we can achieve.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
To be successful in any field requires drive, commitment, innovation, humility and a willingness to see all stakeholders succeed. In particular for the HR field, empathy plays an important role because we are in the people business and people look to us to represent and advocate on their collective behalf.

Tan Tho Wei, Head of Talent Management and Organisational Development, Gamuda

tanthowei gamuda

What do you love most about your job?
Being in the talent management and L&D line, I cherish the opportunities of being able to make a difference. To make a difference in the life of talents where they unleash their potential and grow in their career and life. To make a difference by serving as an enabler by driving business outcomes through the people, and of course, to make a difference to the community through the life we touch (e.g. through scholarship programmes, and how the projects delivered by our workforce make the surrounding a better place - e.g., MRT, townships).

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
I think a successful HR leader is capable in leading all three different domains: business, people and self.

Good HR leaders are close to the business and have critical thinking in aligning human capital strategy to drive business goals. Successful HR leaders must also be capable in leading people - the stakeholders, whether internal/external, top or bottom, and apply situational leadership well at different circumstances.

Last but not least, a successful HR leader has to be self-savvy: having self-awareness, being a learner, and being a role model to others.

Syukri Sudari, Group Chief People Officer, Affin Bank Group

syukri sudari affinbankgroup 1

What do you love most about your job?
I love my job because it revolves around people and serves a noble purpose. There is nothing more fulfilling to me than developing individuals and witnessing their growth. Being a part of someone's journey, supporting them in pursuing their dreams, and seeing them progress in their careers is truly invaluable. I have the opportunity to make a positive impact on people's lives and contribute to changing the world by empowering individuals in their professional paths.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
Successful HR leaders are visionaries who possess strong leadership skills and a deep understanding of business operations. They have big hearts with empathy, build strong relationships, navigate change effectively, and excel in talent management.

Wong Woon Man, Group Head Of Human Resources, Allianz

wongwoonman allianz

What do you love most about your job?
I appreciate the diversity of topics that come my way each day, from people matters to business and impact from the external world. No two days are the same. I get a deep sense of achievement when I am able to provide solutions and offer a different perspective on issues at the workplace. It is a privilege to be in a position where you can influence change and decisions, and with that comes responsibility to help our team succeed.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
What is expected of a HR leader is no different to other leadership positions. However, as the HR or people leader, you are seen as the ‘role model’ in everything that the company advocates, from being a high performer yourself to demonstrating all the desired behavioural attributes. To that, I would add humility, willingness to change, authenticity, energy and ability to communicate clearly and to inspire.

Thamayenthi NarayananDirector, Country Human Resources, DKSH Malaysia

thamayenti dksh

What do you love most about your job?
What I love most about my job is the ability to make a positive impact on both individuals and the organisation. Having been in this specific role for approximately two years, I thrive in the dynamic and varied work environment at DKSH Malaysia. It is truly rewarding to help people find job satisfaction and excel in their roles. I accomplish this by actively shaping the organisation's culture, driving high employee engagement, and fostering the career journeys of our people.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
A successful HR leader requires a strong business acumen and strategic mindset. He or she must understand the organisation's goals, industry dynamics, and financials to collaborate effectively with business leaders and develop HR strategies for overall success. Excellent communication skills are crucial for conveying information concisely and establishing trust with employees.

Ultimately, a successful HR leader combines business knowledge, strategic thinking, and exceptional communication to drive positive change and create a thriving work environment.

Ross Sidin, HR Manager - Southeast Asia, Graymont

ross sidin graymont

What do you love most about your job?
The HR portfolio has allowed me to explore different parts of the world, culture and people, aiding in the formation of friendships through continual engagement with others.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
Key skills: Integrity, empathy, agility, communication, ethical, self-awareness, and lifelong learning.

Felix Dan S. Lopez, Chief Human Resources Officer, Cebu Pacific Air

felix dan s lopez cebu pacific air

What do you love most about your job?
Being the organisation’s conscience, catalyst of change, and sparring partner of CEOs and the leadership team; being an employee champion without losing sight of what the organisation needs; being able to successfully lead teams and deliver trailblasing performance with significant impact to employees, their families and communities; and most importantly coaching, mentoring and multiplying effectiveness thus creating ripples of positive change.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
Being a successful HR leader requires the 4Rs: being Real (authentic and with genuine care); Radical (with strong conviction to drive the People agenda), Resilient (quickly bounce back from adversities to drive transformational changes), and Relentless (unflinching and refuse to give up even during the toughest and most ambiguous times).

Ruth Quirino, HR Director, Benby Group of Companies

ruth quirino benby group

What do you love most about your job?
What I love most about my job is the fulfillment found in being a part of every milestone in an employee’s career. As HR, you get to witness, influence or even drive every challenge, transformation and growth. At the end of the day, amidst the ever changing and ever unique people encounters, you feel a sense of pride on being a part of every successful employee journey.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
To be a successful HR leader, one has to (1) be a partner to the leaders and drivers of the business, (2) continuously learn HR trends and technologies that will enable tactical and strategic strategies, and (3) be genuinely concerned about people issues and career growth, having in mind that your team’s success is your success as well. Throughout your career, your personal and professional values should remain intact and uncompromised.

Lyn Hadjula-Legarde, People & Culture Director, Alaska Milk Corporation, a company by Royal Friesland Campina

lyn hadjula legarde frieslandcampina

What do you love most about your job?
I love the opportunity to help shape the development and growth of people and how they can be the best version of themselves and how this also drive the growth of the business.

I love how, with each action or interaction, we are able to provide a positive and reinforcing employee experience not just to the employees but to their families and loved ones.

I love the opportunity to influence the mindset and thinking of leaders today and the future to embrace diversity and be more inclusive in their thinking and actions.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?

  • Listening, empathy/genuine care, and passion.
  • Anchoring on business and strategic thinking that HR is business and not just a support or enabler.
  • Embracing diversity and being more inclusive.

Faye Villena - Catapang, Head of Human Resources, Calamba Medical Center

faye villena catapang calamba medical center

What do you love most about your job?
Being in HR is really a challenging job. Like a parent, you train, develop, manage performance, give control - being a good cop or bad cop, and even sometimes cleaning up the messes in the house - all around.

That is why it is always a great feeling to know that at any point, we continue to inspire and influence others to achieve their potential. This always fuels me to do this more than just a job but as a ministry.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
To be an effective HR person, you must be equipped with right knowledge, right attitude, right skills, and form these as a habit. But to be a successful HR person, one must have the heart to care. The ears to listen and using our voice to motivate, equipping employees and driving them to achieve organisational goals while making employees feel that they can achieve their personal goals at the same time.

Karen Lim, Head of Human Resources, Asia Pacific Region, Skyworks Solutions Inc.

karen lim skyworks solutions

What do you love most about your job?
I relish being the HR business partner who is influential in talent decisions that not only bring positive business results, at same time creates career growth opportunities for these talents. As HR leader, be there as the strategic enabler of business growth for the organisation and people.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
There is a reason my past leaders still contact me. "You are the first HR person who comes to mind and have gained the absolute trust with the business stakeholders and your HR team." The camaraderie and friendship established, is my most precious gift throughout my HR journey.

Shaun Ee, Cluster Head of People, Singapore & Myanmar, Asia Pacific, Breweries Singapore

shaun ee asia pacific breweries singapore

What do you love most about your job?
I find it incredibly rewarding to have the opportunity to positively impact the lives and livelihoods of every employee within our organisation. I am passionate about making choices that unlock the full potential of our people and create a high-performance culture that makes us an employer of choice.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
It takes a combination of qualities! You must have a deep understanding of the business to serve as a credible partner, the ability to lead by example and put people first, and a bold passion and courage to drive the people agenda, even in the face of competing priorities.

Leslie Lenus, Area Director of Talent & Culture, Novotel Singapore on Stevens | Mercure Singapore on Stevens

leslie lenus novotel singapore on stevens

What do you love most about your job?
As a human resources professional for many years, I find it very rewarding and gratifying to be able to collaborate with talents from all walks of life.

I am an advocate of lifelong learning and am always looking for ways to reinvent and simplify our processes, and believe in staying up-to-date especially since human resources is continuously evolving with new technology and emerging trends.

At this stage of my career, I was very fortunate to have great mentors who guided me to who I am today, and am glad to be able to give back to the younger generation - to develop, mentor and coach the new talents into this industry.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
Patience, resilience, aptitude and passion are the four most important qualities of a HR professional. This means a patient professional, who works smart; is resilient to failure and hard times; while possessing the correct aptitude to withstand and work through the difficulties, and the passion to develop and nurture talent.

Additionally, I am a firm believer of the saying, “If you find a job you love, you will never work again” and it is up to us to create our own passion, desire and spark at work, and to most importantly, enjoy the process.

Shefali Sharma, Head of People & Culture, Toku

shefali sharma toku

What do you love most about your job?
What I love most about my job is the opportunity to serve people within the organisation. It brings me immense fulfilment to be able to contribute to an employee's journey within the company.

Having come from an agency recruitment background, I never had the chance to be part of an employee's ongoing experience after placing them with clients. However, in my current role, I not only get to witness and support their journey as an employee within our organisation, but I also have the privilege of enhancing it.

Being able to make a positive difference in their day-to-day work lives and cater to their needs and wants based on the unique nature of our organisation and our people is incredibly rewarding. It allows me to forge meaningful connections and build a supportive environment where employees can thrive.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
In my opinion, resilience is a key attribute for being a successful HR leader.

The field of HR is dynamic and often presents challenges that require adaptability and perseverance. As a HR leader, it is essential to navigate through complex situations, such as managing conflicts, addressing employee concerns, and implementing organisational changes.

Resilience enables me to maintain composure in the face of adversity and find creative solutions to problems. It helps me bounce back from setbacks, learn from them, and continuously improve my approach. Additionally, being resilient can allow one to empathise with and support employees during times of change or difficulty, fostering a culture of resilience.

Overall, resilience plays a crucial role in successfully leading HR initiatives and promoting a positive and supportive work environment for employees.

Neetha Nair, Chief Human Resources Officer, Prudential Singapore

neetha nair chief human resources officer prudential singapore

What do you love most about your job?
The fact that Prudential’s purpose “helping people get the most out of life” is aligned with my personal life purpose. It gives me joy and meaning in everything I do and opportunities to always create something new, help people connect, grow, succeed, and to deliver their best at work.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
The key to be a successful HR leader is to invest in others’ success. In today’s context, the HR leader needs to lead from the front to help their people and business be future ready. Coach, care, and exemplify to inspire action and achieve the desired goals. Most importantly, be authentic and have fun while doing it!

Esther Liang, Sr. Manager, Global Learning Experience and Design, People Organisation, Micron Technology

esther liang micron

What do you love most about your job?
In my role in the Learning and Development team, I find it most fulfilling to be a growth catalyst, and together with my team, create an inclusive learning culture that supports and empowers our team members to thrive in their careers while having FUN. Learning is meant to be fun, isn’t it?

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” ~Theodore Roosevelt. With a large dose of care, sprinkled with curiosity, courage and topped off with kindness for myself and others, these attributes have helped me play my role thus far and I am continuously learning to be better.

Angelina Chua, Head of People & Culture, AP-S, SIG Group

angelina chua sig

What do you love most about your job?
I love that I am constantly on the lookout for opportunities to elevate our employees’ experience, delight our people and co-creating a positive and uplifting workplace culture where people feel happy working together in the organisation. I also love solving challenges which eventually lead to positive outcomes for all our teams. Here’s wishing Happy International HR Day to everyone in this purposeful and impactful profession!

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
Having an intense sense of empathy coupled with logical and systematic thinking is crucial to taking a balanced approach to any situations. The ability to remain truly genuine and authentic even in the most challenging circumstances and being the trusted business partner where you are constantly engaged and able to play an active role contributing to success of the teams. The ability to inspire, mentor and coach teams for continuous growth and building on one another’s strength would be transformational.

Rich Jacquet, Chief People Officer, Coursera

rich jacquet chief people officer coursera

What do you love the most about your job?
What I find the most fulfilling about my job is the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the lives and careers of all Courserians as well as millions of learners worldwide. Working with a talented and passionate global team, dedicated to our mission, makes every day rewarding.

What does it take to be a "successful" HR leader?
To be a successful HR leader, you must develop a human capital vision for your organisation that will enable the achievement of the company’s vision. But it takes more than a vision. The constant evolution of business driven by the global pandemic, flexible work, and technological evolution will require a coach, counsellor and change agent.

Victoria Hayes, Vice President, People Partnering, HID

victoria hayes vice president people partnering hid

What do you love most about your job?
To champion our people and being able to enrich their employment experience at each and every stage in their career lifecycle brings me challenge, joy and purpose. 

What does it take to be a "successful" HR leader?
All successful leaders need to have a deep understanding of the business and its goals. A successful HR leader needs to achieve this with the person and the employee experience at the centre of every decision. A successful HR leader therefore builds an inclusive culture that fosters engagement, stimulates growth, and empowers everyone to achieve their full potential.

Sabrina Chua, Human Resources Manager, Lighthouse Independent Media

sabrinachua lighthouse

What do you love most about your job?
I love that I get to come up with ideas to help create a better workplace for the people as well as meet and interact with different talents from all walks of life.

What does it take to be a successful HR leader?
To be the people’s voice but to also listen attentively. Always be open-minded and have empathy – a little kindness goes a long way. To think strategically, be quick to adapt to the ever-changing HR landscapes and be on a continuous learning journey.

Thank you for reading our story! If you have any feedback, feel free to let us know — take our 2023 Readers' Survey here. 

Lead image / Shutterstock

Photos / Provided

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