HR in the hot seat: Derick Ooi, HR manager at Hotel Jen Orchardgateway

by Miklos Bolza03 Nov 2015
What made you decide to work in HR?
When I first graduated college, I went into the food and beverage department. I started as a waiter in 1999 and became restaurant manager in 2003. From there, I moved into the training department which I did for almost five years. Because training is related to HR, I decided to then move into human resources.
What is your job title and what brought you to this role?
Training and HR have goals in common. Training is part of talent development and in terms of the progression plan it has to come with the right HR strategy. That’s what brought me into the HR role: to understand more about how we can challenge our people.
What would you say excites you the most in your role?
To me, HR needs to be very people-oriented. HR in a hotel is very much dealing with operational staff. Because I’m from an operational background, what excites me the most is when my staff actually open up to me with regards to challenges at work. When they walk into my office, it’s very transparent. That’s where my role comes in to help them.
What are the goals you want to most accomplish in your work?
My specific HR goals are to continue to boost the morale of my staff. That’s the most important thing. Also with our succession strategies, what are the things that I need to improve on? It is my goal to ensure we are able to maintain that properly and see that it grows with the company.
What is next for you in your work? And what are you looking forward to?
I will continue in my current role. I think there are lots of things to do. I’m quite comfortable at the moment in my human resources role. Besides training, I will focus over the next few years to get more into the HR function.
What is your favourite aspect of the job and what is your least favourite aspect?
My favourite aspect is that we are very transparent. At each level of my inner management, we are actually at a very eye-to-eye level. We’re also very casual in terms of our grooming standards. I think the aspect of coming to work quite casually makes things easy and gets things moving forward.
My least favourite aspect is one day when our staff may probably leave us. That’s the most difficult aspect. It relies on our role in talent planning and making sure staff are well-developed and able to continue their own personal goals.
What’s the best piece of HR-related advice you’ve ever received?
Since I was in operations, I always followed one piece of advice I feel is still relevant: ‘If we fail to plan, we plan to fail’. It’s something I still feel still exists; I use it even now when planning my work.
Do you have any key mentors who have influenced you? If yes, tell me about them.
There are plenty, but I’d probably mention my closest friends who I can talk to if I need to. I make sure that they are not in the industry so they can give me some more interesting feedback.