This edition of 60 Seconds With A Rising Star features and celebrates the achievements of CJ Reynold, Assistant Manager of Talent Acquisition at Aviva.
Tea, coffee or bubble tea?
Coffee of course! There is nothing like a Long Black to get my system going full steam ahead for the rest of the day!
Favourite Singaporean food?
In joint first place on my list is Nasi Lemak and Hokkien Mee. I have a savoury tooth and these two dishes are aromatic, decadent and filled with savoury goodness!
What is the best thing about your job?
I’m able to navigate all parts of an organisation and get first-hand experience in knowing what makes an organisation tick. Playing an active role in attracting Talent who are the lifeblood of an organisation is what I find extremely fulfilling.
Tell us about an individual that inspires you…
My grandfather is definitely someone who embodied the traits that I find inspirational. Looking back at the sacrifices he made to ensure that the greener pastures he sought in Singapore were worthwhile, he displayed tenacity and sheer grit in achieving his goals. He was not rich but he was rich in values, he was a man of few words but his actions spoke volumes, he was not boastful but others often spoke about his good heart. These qualities are rare to find in one person and it is my absolute pleasure to have known and learnt from such an outstanding individual.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t let anyone put a dampener on your innate curiosity. It’s ok to ask why and it’s especially important in a world where Knowledge and Problem-Solving skills are always in demand.
Any hidden talents?
I can whistle in three different ways.
What attracted you to a career in HR?
I have always had an interest in people from a behavioural point of view - what makes them tick, what motivates them and what do they rely on to make decisions. In HR, we are in a unique role as we not only have deep insight into a company’s goals, challenges and strategic priorities but we are also responsible for hiring the very people who devise those strategies, communicate it, and those who shape the culture of the organisation which is essentially every employee.
Furthermore, there has never been a more exciting time than now to be part of the HR function. It has evolved significantly and with the direct impact of Technology on HR strategies, these strategies have now become the forefront of C-level discussions that entail Employee Engagement, Upskilling/Reskilling of the workforce, embedding automation and even re-designing the organisation to fit the new world.
How has your role/organisation been preparing/impacted to ensure business continuity during the pandemic?
Aviva started implementing split team arrangements in February. As the COVID-19 situation progressed and with the increasing number of countries implementing lockdown measures, we did a trial run of having 100% of our workforce work from home to prepare for the possibility of such measures taking place in Singapore. This provided an opportunity to identify potential gaps and time to resolve and improve these gaps before the circuit breaker measures were implemented in Singapore.
We now have 94% of the organisation working from home. Remote working further highlighted the need to care more for our employees, including their mental health. We tapped on technology options to engage employees and keep them connected with each other. For example, we conducted Yammer sessions so that employees could share their opinions and hear from senior leaders for reassurance and connection. We also constantly update employees on advisories and provide tips on remote working, staying healthy and mental well-being. To help maintain work-life balance, we have taken Basecamp, our flagship employee engagement programme, online. This includes virtual group exercise classes (Yoga, Zumba, Piloxing) which were previously conducted in the office.
For us in the HR department, we catch up every Monday to talk about anything and everything but work. Starting the week on a happy note, we play games, puzzles and find out more about each other through sharing sessions to stay connected.
Within the Talent Acquisition team, we are taking this opportunity to accelerate projects in the pipeline from Employee Experience to automation of processes to re-designing job ads.
What has been the highlight in your career to date?
Switching to HR is definitely a turning point in my career. I started out in agency recruitment in 2010 and was fortunate to have fully experienced different types of recruitment across mid to senior roles in APAC and the Middle East. Making the switch to HR meant that I could add significant value within Talent Acquisition and also gain first-hand insight into the impact that HR as a function has within an organisation.
How has your organisation/mentor/work experience encouraged and helped to grow your skillsets?
At Aviva, I would say that the world is your oyster in the sense that the opportunities are there, whether it’s to fix an issue, implement a solution, learn a new skill via L&D programs or to get access to hundreds of e-learning modules to help you gain knowledge. I have also been given the opportunity to lead projects, be part of the executive team for a number of key projects along with an option to take on more projects if I choose to.
In addition, every month I have a chat with my Manager about my career goals, challenges I am facing and what skills or projects I can work on now to get to where I want to be in two years’ time. These sorts of conversations are typically hard to come by, generally speaking, and I am fortunate to be part of a team that champions this.
If you could invite two individuals to a dream dinner party, who would they be and why?
I would invite Oprah Winfrey and Martin Luther King Jr.
Oprah has an amazing rags to riches story which is inspirational in its own right and she has so many monumental achievements that truly make her a legend. What I like most about her is that she is an exceptional interviewer. According to her, she has interviewed more than 37,000 people on her show and one thing she found that is common amongst all is that “everyone just wants to be seen and heard”. Such a simple but profound truth but it is this realisation that has helped her to be a masterful interviewer who has the ability to get to the heart of a topic, make a person feel extremely comfortable which then results in insightful answers.
Martin Luther King Jr is one of those individuals who had a special gift and chose to use it for the good of humanity. He embodied exemplary moral qualities such as Courage, Conviction and Truth. He had a dream to change the world, to break down racial barriers and to do it all in a non-violent way which was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. He was an extraordinary communicator who had a clear vision and was able to inspire people from all walks of life to subscribe to his vision – this is a leadership trait that is relevant in any era.
As the gracious host of this dream dinner party, it is only right that I let my guests get to know each other as I sit back and watch the greatest interview that never was!
Please note that all commentary and opinions provided are those of the individual, and not the organisation/company.