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15 minutes with Zalora’s Foo Chek Wee

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Zalora’s group HR director Foo Chek Wee shares insights on what HR can do to help businesses remain globally competitive, while staying locally relevant.

How did you get started with HR?

Before joining Zalora, I had more than 10 years of accelerated HR experience in companies such as American Express and Visa.

I was in an HR specialist role in the first three years of my HR career, where I took on learning and development and HR operations routes.

I spent the next seven years as an HR business partner, trying my best to deliver high-impact HR services.

What do you love most about your job?

Zalora is a young internet company backed with great funding, and aspires to become Asia’s leading online fashion destination for super smart people who are constantly breaking new ground for the company and their careers.

As an HR practitioner who has learnt much about HR functions in multinational companies, I work closely with my teammates and stakeholders to incorporate the best contextualised HR practices into Zalora’s working environment. What’s not to love about my work?

What’s a typical day at work for you like?

A typical day at Zalora is no typical day.

Zalora is comparatively a large organisation with more than 2,000 employees across Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. We have big dreams and KPIs to fulfil and there are no dull moments when everything is ongoing.

HR, specifically, is in a unique position to observe how the business is run and to provide line managers with feedback on how their behaviours have an impact on employees and the work culture.

In Hong Kong, what do you think is the biggest HR challenge facing most companies?

Hong Kong is one of the world’s leading financial centres and has become more susceptible to the impact of globalisation and global competition since the 1997 handover.

From an HR standpoint, this translates into a need for local companies to glocalise their talent pool in order to compete with global competitors and collaborate with global partners.

Attracting and retaining the already limited talent pool in Hong Kong is the highest priority for most local companies. In response, local companies have to think outside the box.

For example, local firms can explore talent from other industries with transferable skills, the possibility of engaging seasoned talent with rich experience to aid in thinking diversely, or even different types of employment to staff (e.g. part-time or flexi-hour contracts).

What is your tip for inspiring and uniting employees?

This boils down to having a positive work culture. Line managers at all levels serve as critical channels in enabling this to happen.

HR, specifically, is in a unique position to observe how the business is run and to provide line managers with feedback on how their behaviours have an impact on employees and the work culture.

More importantly, HR must have the courage in raising negative feedback to line managers.

CSR efforts have been a hot topic for many companies. Can HR help in that aspect?

In many companies, HR tends to contribute to CSR efforts in terms of co-ordination and logistics. This is unfortunate as HR can do so much more by leading such efforts.

For example, HR can proactively initiate such efforts, or gather the feedback from the employee population on the value employees place in a particular CSR effort, or motivate employees to participate.

HR tends to contribute to CSR efforts in terms of co-ordination and logistics. This is unfortunate as HR can do so much more by leading such efforts.

How do you think the HR function will evolve in the next five years?

As outsourced HR service vendors mature and perfect their capabilities in providing impact and scale economies, the HR function is able to focus on human capital strategies and executions that have a direct impact and alignment to the company’s bottom line.

The aged question on what value HR brings to the business table has all along been questioned and debated since the human resources function was called the personnel department.

The next five years will be when we will see more local stories or evidence of how HR value is executed and brought to fruition.

Complete the sentence: I cannot imagine HR without …

Highly competent HR team members that are always pushing the envelop in being more innovative, impactful and client-centric.

Image: Provided



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