HR in the hot seat: Rachel Lee, talent acquisition business partner - regional tech, Grab

Rachel Lee talks about disruptive HR methods, recruiting objectively, and changing the face of the sharing economy in Asia

HR in the hot seat: Rachel Lee, talent acquisition business partner - regional tech, Grab
What is your job title and what brought you into this role?
I’m the Talent Acquisition Business Partner for Regional Tech at Grab. Currently, I’m laser focused on strategic recruitment for mid to senior level hires in Engineering. I was headhunted to help with Grab’s talent acquisition, based on my previous experience in fuelling the regional APAC growth of Adtech programmatic companies headquartered in Singapore. It’s been an amazing journey and I’m enjoying myself thoroughly!
What motivates or excites you the most about your current position?
At work, I meet a lot of people who are innovative and disruptive, people who are going to change the face of the sharing economy in Asia. What motivates me most is that I have the ability to bring them into jobs that they are really passionate about, and be part of their professional development!
What is unique about HR at Grab?
At Grab, we’ve made the term “HR” obsolete. Instead, we are known as POPs (People Operations). We are a team of collaborative and innovative people who dare to disrupt conventional methods in order to bring changes that can motivate and influence our people.

Over the past few months, we have rolled out several internal initiatives such as job levelling, market benchmarking for competitive salaries and robust employee engagement programmes (Grabbuddy). There are external impact initiatives as well, such as the Grab Ambassador Programme where staff and new joiners can experience being a GrabCar driver for a few hours. We also rolled out new systems designed for managing solutions better, and created a cohesive workforce plan.

These are all brand new initiatives, and we play a big part in shaping the company’s ways. I can safely say that we wouldn’t have been able to achieve so much in such a short time if we were operating by traditional HR methods.
What will HR’s biggest challenges be for the coming year?
In my opinion and experience, HR’s biggest challenges for the coming year would be:
 1. Establishing an approach to workplace diversity
HR Leaders need to actively speak about the positive organisational benefits that workplace diversity brings. At Grab, we have been able to naturally create diversity in the workplace by focusing on hiring the best person for each open role. 
 2. Pay strategy & hiring top talent efficiently
For companies that are prepared to scale, they should invest in the right hiring philosophy and a pay strategy that can support their growth.

HR leaders should hire the most critical talent first and focus efforts on making the time to hire shorter, without compromising on the quality of new hires. For every talent that you want to bring onboard, it is important to hire with an objective in mind, rather than focusing on the budget, in order to bring onboard the best and most suitable talent for the organisation.

Candidates will respect that you value them, and this helps in creating a personal and meaningful interaction between the company and the candidate.
If there’s one piece of HR-related advice you could give, what would it be?
Few people realise that in the span of their lifetime, the majority of their time spent will be at work. There may be limitations to what we can choose to do for work, but if you are deeply unhappy in your working relationship, there are always different ways and avenues to seek comfort. For me, I plan to focus on Grab for this chapter of my life, and will try my best to stay focused while keeping flexible at the same time! So a piece of advice I could give, or rather, a question for someone looking for advice is: What reality are you creating for yourself?
What hobbies and interests do you have outside of HR?
My motto in life is ‘Travel well, shoot often’. I am a film photographer enthusiast - to me, photography has always been about witnessing the human intersections in the fragile moments of our everyday lives. My first photography book, My Everyday Marseille, bears witness to my travels in the South of France,  and my second book On The Last Verse, is due to launch at the end of the year.
Where’s the best place to go for dinner/drinks in Singapore? Why?
I really like to bring business partners and visiting colleagues to LeVel33. Not only is there beer brewed on site, the food is exquisite. The city skyline also looks amazing post-sunset. For mains, try the kangaroo paired with House Porter brew, and don’t miss the pink peppered chocolate fondant or any of the other sweets. Bon appétit!

Free newsletter

Our daily newsletter is FREE and keeps you up-to-date with the world of HR. Please complete the form below and click on subscribe for daily newsletters from HRD Asia.

Recent articles & video

Should qualifications or experience matter more in recruits?

Appreciation best practices: a checklist

Prince Harry’s ‘modern’ approach to fatherhood highlights HR failure

Mental wellness: why C-suite should lead the discussion

Most Read Articles

How to overcome challenges of HR tech project

Worker sues after being fired while on sick leave following miscarriage

Is your workplace culture toxic?