HR in the hot seat: Vivian Wong, assistant director of HR, The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore

by Lucy Hook27 Sep 2016
What is your job title and what brought you into this role?
I am currently the Assistant Director of Human Resources with The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore.  I was first selected by The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore in June 2013 as a Human Resources Manager.  With prior experiences in various disciplines within the HR function (i.e. learning and development, talent acquisition, compensation and benefits), I was fortunate to be granted my current role in overseeing the daily HR operational matters, as well as playing an advisory role on human capital matters.

What motivates or excites you the most about your current position?
At The Ritz-Carlton, we are empowered to continuously seek opportunities to innovate and improve The Ritz-Carlton experience.  In HR, the experiences that we create for our Ladies and Gentlemen (how we address our employees by) is the pinnacle of what we do.  Seeing them grow in their career and fulfilling their individual aspirations, while we maintain our position as the market leader, is what motivates and excites me every single day.

What is unique about HR at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore?
The HR team is made up of individuals who function as Business Partners to each business unit (i.e. division or department).  All of us provide the full spectrum of HR services for our individual business units.  We are empowered to engage the Ladies and Gentlemen in our individual business units, by personalising our styles of communication, and providing solutions to support the business units to achieve their business targets.  By applying The Ritz-Carlton’s Employee Promise of trust, honesty, respect, integrity and commitment, we are collectively driven towards the same goal of creating a highly performance-driven culture in an inclusive and diverse environment.

What will HR’s biggest challenges be for the coming year?
The constant challenge faced by a brand like The Ritz-Carlton, is always the poaching from our competitors for our employees.  The training provided to our Ladies and Gentlemen in areas of technical skills and leadership confidence, creates a very strong “pull” factor from the market (I.e. our competitors) to aggressively hire employees from us.  However, this does not deter us from our continuous commitment in training, as we have faith in the choices that our Ladies and Gentlemen make when it comes to their own career development.  With the ever evolving technological advancement, many manual tasks can soon be replaced with machineries.  In view of that, HR needs to anticipate skills that will be required in the future, by first re-designing the current jobs to gradually match the market requirements.  Subsequently, training plans need to be designed with the intention to equip our workforce to face these challenges with confidence.  When our Ladies and Gentlemen are equipped with both soft skills and technical knowledge, they can then contribute to the business goals by engaging more guests and turning them into Ritz-Carlton guests for life.

What has been the strangest HR scenario you’ve ever experienced?
Some candidates I have interviewed are under the impression that all hotel employees are given accommodation in the hotel rooms.

If there’s one piece of HR-related advice you could give, what would it be?
Join an industry which you are genuinely passionate about.  Gone are the days where HR functions as administrative officers.  As HR Business Partners, we work hand-in-hand with business leaders to influence strategic business decisions.  If you are not interested in the industry you are working in, you will never be able to value-add to the business.

Where’s the best place to go for dinner/drinks in Singapore? Why?
It would be none other than The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore.  We have two signature restaurants, Colony and Summer Pavilion, which are both excellent dining venues.  With seven ‘live’ open concept kitchens, Colony presents a true taste of Singapore through the local heritage cuisines it offers, while our One Michelin Star Summer Pavilion offers exquisite Cantonese cuisine.  Coupled by the warm and genuine service provided by our Ladies and Gentlemen, we assure a memorable and unparalleled dining experience for all our guests.