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The Non-Traditionalist HR Professional

Sally Leong, Head of Human Resources, ISCA

Meet some of the 100 minds shaping ISCA’s future. Each staff, with his/her unique skills and perspectives, contributes to the collective effort. This series shares insights into some of the day-to-day happenings at ISCA House. Read on and stay tuned for more. 

“If you’re looking for a traditionalist for HR, then I may not be suitable.” That was what I said to the interview panel during my final interview before landing the role.

Hi, I’m Sally Leong, Head of HR at ISCA. I joined ISCA in September 2023 with a mission to make ISCA the coolest and most fun place to work at.

As I approach my one-year mark with ISCA, I would say I joined at one of the most chaotic yet exciting times.

Many of you are aware of the transformation journey ISCA has embarked on, reimagining nearly every aspect of its operations. This journey has undoubtedly come with its challenges. Our staff are required to step out of their comfort zones, think innovatively, and navigate uncharted waters. It hasn’t been easy and thus, we’ve experienced a high attrition rate. But, this is inevitable in the course of change management, isn’t it?

Recognising these challenges, I’ve prioritised ensuring that our ISCA staff not only work hard but also find time to play hard, which Fann (ISCA CEO Fann Kor) always emphasises. I remember a conversation with Fann where she said, “Our staff have worked too hard, but I think they need to play hard too. Sally, please help to make ISCA a fun place to work at. You are responsible.” With this mandate, I started to plan for the fun. My objective was clear: boost morale and create a positive, supportive environment.

My first key event was the annual Dinner and Dance (D&D), which was held in December 2023. Traditionally held at hotels, past D&Ds had adhered to the usual format including themed dress codes, being seated at round tables with colleagues, playing table games. My team and I decided it was time to break this tradition. We proposed holding our D&D at X-cap8, the largest integrated indoor fun ground in Orchard Road. It offers a range of activities for us to participate in, de-stress, and chill in a swanky, trendy space, while still preserving the mass games and best-dressed segment.

When I presented this idea, Fann raised her eyebrows and said she didn’t like the idea (change management for her … lah! 😃), but ultimately, she trusted us to make it a success. And guess what? The event was a hit! Staff enjoyed the obstacle courses and nostalgic arcade games – activities they wouldn’t typically engage in on their days off. Some ISCA members even asked for the event details, so they could suggest similar outings to their own HR teams.

Check out our D&D snapshots:

That’s me in yellow, with members of my HR team at the ISCA D&D (Neon Party) 2023

Another memorable event was the Chinese New Year lo-hei in February this year. Typically, a staff member (the emcee) would lead the proceedings. However, I wanted our staff to enjoy the lo-hei without the burden of facilitation. Therefore, I boldly invited a nearby restaurant chef, whose lively chants during my lunch had fascinated me, to lead the lo-hei. It was a huge success and everyone had a blast following his enthusiastic lead. Take a look at the TikTok video here.

There is so much more that I would like to share with you, but I’ll leave you with a taste of what we’ve done for our staff instead:

So, what’s next?

We’ve planned several activities for the second half of the year and are working with the department-designated leads, who will collaborate with HR, to bring interesting and engaging events to our staff. Fun isn’t only HR’s responsibility; we need to hear the voices from the ground, to understand what kind of fun they are looking for. Additionally, we are looking for ambassadors to start interest groups to bring staff with similar interests together, whether they are jogging, walking, singing or others. Isn’t there a saying that goes, “A team that exercises together excels together”, or similar?

Beyond fun, it’s essential for the ISCA name to be heard beyond the industry. That’s why I submitted ISCA’s entry for the Best Parental and Caregiver Support award, one of the categories under the Employee Experience Awards 2024. We were so gratified to snag the Bronze Award. This award shows our dedication towards helping our staff balance work and caregiving responsibilities, which in turn enhances ISCA’s brand recognition as an entity with heart. It was a truly proud moment to see the ISCA brand alongside big names like Accenture and Dyson.

At ISCA, we are dedicated to creating an environment where everyone can thrive, both personally and professionally. Gone are the days when traditional HR focused solely on operational issues. Today, it’s about building a modern culture where staff feel included.

So, as you can see, making ISCA a fun place to work at is entirely in line with what I shared during my interview last year. Here’s to a bright and inclusive future at ISCA, where every team member shines. 🌟”

Next week, meet our dashboard master Daryl Tan, who jokingly refers to herself as the “ISCA police”.

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