This edition of 60 Seconds With A Rising Star features and celebrates the achievements of Nadiah Bohari, HR Advisor at Linklaters.
Where is the first place you want to visit travel-wise when the borders opens up?
That's a tough one! My next trip out will probably be to Japan – specifically a road trip in one of their more rural prefectures. Road trips are great for exploring scenic areas and I like travelling without having to stress too much about catching specific trains / buses etc. to get to the next destination.
How would your friends describe you?
I think they see me as someone that's approachable and… smiley? I genuinely enjoy smiling - it can go a long way in brightening up someone else's day. I've also been told that I can strike a conversation with just about anyone.
Why did you choose a career in HR?
It was never planned.. I studied Economics and wanted to major in psychology – but it was extremely difficult to secure the limited modules and I had to drop the idea midway else I couldn’t graduate in time! I ended up taking a few HR modules which I found interesting, and that’s when I learnt more about what HR practitioners actually do.
I've always wanted to explore a career in which I could interact with as many people in the organisation, and have the ability to improve their working experience in some way. I was also mindful about choosing a path which can’t be easily replaced by technology. HR felt like it might be a good fit for me.
As I had no prior experience, I knew I had to get my foot into the field before graduation, so I sought an HR internship during my final year, and managed to secure one with a Finance firm. It was a generalist role and I got to try a little bit of the different HR functions (recruitment, payroll, learning & development..) – I even had the opportunity to support different countries later on. It was really valuable exposure and I’m glad I took on the internship to know for sure that HR was where I could see myself 20 years down the road.
Has your HR career lived up to your expectation so far?
Yes - and more! What I particularly love about my role now is that no two days are the same. The HR function is constantly evolving and we always have to keep up with new laws, best practices, HR systems.. It can be quite overwhelming at times, but I like that I'm always learning something new.
At times, we also have to deal with very complicated and grey issues – and I’ve grown to enjoy the challenge of advising our people how to navigate situations like these.
What are the greatest lessons you have learnt in your career to date?
It’s very important to separate Work and Personal relationships in the office. It was a real struggle for me initially when friends at work were involved when I had to facilitate difficult conversations, say No to someone who wanted to bend the rules, or follow up with someone to complete an HR task – I had to thread carefully to not burn bridges. I’ve now learnt how to draw very clear lines in situations like these.
We should also never forget to work as a team with different departments, as they would be the experts in their field. So say I’m dealing with a difficult Immigration case – I’ve learnt to make sure I get advice from teams like Tax, Risk and Finance too, in case I might have missed out any important considerations before coming up with a proposal.
What advice would you provide to graduates thinking about entering a career in HR?
If you don’t already have a clear preference from the start – read up on the different areas of HR and try them out before you decide to specialise in one! You might be surprised at what you feel more aligned to in the end.
I would also make the effort to keep abreast on how different companies are managing their people, whether it's via reading resources online, networking or joining HR groups. This would greatly help you later in your role to advise leaders on how to tackle certain issues which you might not find in your textbook. COVID is a great example - it lead to many new processes for us to manage, and I found it useful to speak to other HR practitioners to find out how their organisation has been dealing with the pandemic so that we continuously improve our own procedures and knowledge on the matter.
What does success look like to you from a work and personal perspective?
Success to me is when people around regard me as someone who is reliable – whether in the capacity of an HR partner, or in my personal life as their friend or family member. It’s something I strive towards everyday.
Please note that all commentary and opinions provided are those of the individual, and not the organisation/company.