HR in the hot seat: Jennifer Wu, head of HR, APAC, LEWIS

Jennifer Wu talks about HR's ever changing roles—from sales to marketing to the boardroom—and the strange things that happen during recruitment

What is your job title and what brought you into this role?
Head of HR, APAC. I was referred to LEWIS by an industry colleague. The role really excited me because LEWIS wasn’t looking for a generic HR person. They appreciated that one of the biggest opportunities with this role was not only to bring someone onboard who focused on its people, but also a sales oriented role. Why sales? Because often companies are doing all the right things to engage its people, but the inability to market to external candidates and even more importantly, internal staff, meant that employees didn’t realise all the opportunities that were available to them.  

What motivates or excites you the most about your current position?
My role, as with all roles at LEWIS, is ever changing and growing, I can have as many opportunities as I can handle – something I feed on! However, one of the key things that keeps me engaged is people transformation. Identifying top talent and working with them to evolve their career at LEWIS is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. Those who have thriving and successful careers at LEWIS are self- motivated, driven individuals who have an entrepreneurial streak. They come to LEWIS and treat it as they would their own business. The team is enabled to be forthcoming with fresh ideas and staff can have a very real and tangible stake into the direction of the agency.

What is unique about HR at LEWIS?
HR at LEWIS is not treated as HR. They have a voice in the boardroom, be it locally, regionally or globally. The organisation fully understands that people are their strongest commodity. HR therefore has a direct impact and opportunity to inject influence to business operations – this allows people focused initiatives to filter down into the everyday role responsibilities of staff. We are not just treated as business partners, we are part of the business.

What will HR’s biggest challenges be for the coming year?
The challenges (or should I say opportunities) remain unchanged. As many industries continue to evolve and integrate into hybrid business models, and the demand for talent requires a fine balance between localisation and globalisation, the challenge for organisations means that we are no longer competing just within our own sector or country. Our focus needs to remain vigilant on ensuring we hire the right people and give them the right opportunities. We also need to be adaptable and flexible to identify new initiatives and approaches to work that allows for maximum creativity to stay relevant as a business.

If there’s one piece of HR-related advice you could give, what would it be?
Find a job that you are passionate about. Self -motivation is often key to a successful career. Organisations, more often than not, provide the necessary environment for people to be successful. However, the best companies are probably also the fastest growing, so they will enable you, but they won’t pander to you. You need to be self -driven and self -motivated to truly succeed.

What has been the strangest HR scenario you’ve ever experienced?
Recruitment is always the greatest platform of strange happenings! I’ve had a situation where I had a Skype interview arranged, only to have the candidate answer the call in the bathroom of her current employer. She intended to do the entire Skype interview from there!

What hobbies and interests do you have outside of HR?
Travelling (for fun) – I love exploring new places and taking in new cultures. I think life experiences is something that is priceless.

Where’s the best place to go for dinner/drinks in Singapore? Why?
Esquina is one of my all- time favourite dinner places – sitting at the bar watching the chef’s make your dish. The way the kitchen operates so efficiently is fascinating to watch. Everyone plays a critical role and have mastered their skill set. They also make for very interesting conversations. The food is also amazing, like a party in your mouth!

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