SHRI Member Spotlight – Evelyn Chow

Evelyn is the founder of DecodeHR, a Singapore-based strategic HR consulting firm that serves clients from around the world. With over a decade of corporate human resources roles across Asia, Evelyn’s consulting portfolio includes global companies in sectors such as finance, healthcare, technology, energy and manufacturing amongst others. A hands-on professional with strong cross-cultural exposure, she is passionate about helping clients to align their human resources function with corporate strategy, while improving employee retention and satisfaction, and ultimately performance of the organisation.

DecodeHR Pte Ltd is a Human Resources Consulting firm that thrives on working with companies that are passionate about realizing the best in their people. The firm provides strategic advice and high-impact HR solutions to clients and its forte is leveraging technology to strengthen human capital.

How would you explain your job to someone outside of HR?

As the Managing Director of DecodeHR, my job involves working closely with our team to ensure the human capital needs of our clients are well taken care of. These human capital needs could include helping them identify the right talent to join their team, designing and delivering coaching programs, developing competency frameworks and career pathways for their people, among a host of other services. At the end of the day, it’s really about working with organizations to identify the biggest opportunities to impact the way they can accelerate their workforce – whether it’s their individual or collective capability. An equally critical part of what we do is ensuring that this human capital strategy is enabled by a robust infrastructure, which includes well-designed processes underpinned by the right technology and tools. Finally, what is most critical, but often overlooked, is the importance of creating a workplace that celebrates people and the joy of being able to create meaningful products and services. The work that we do can make a real difference, and that is something precious to all of us at DecodeHR.

What’s something about you or your job that would surprise us?

I was just reflecting the other day, and it dawned on me that I enjoy a good dose of adrenaline in the sports I do – whether it’s cycling, rock climbing, or skiing. I’m not sure if that would surprise others, but it’s certainly something that I did not see myself doing when I was a lot younger. Perhaps it’s also because my work often requires me to push myself and test my limits.

What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far?

There have been many high points over the years. But what really brings me joy is working with people and growing alongside them. Working with the young people in my team, in particular, has always been something I enjoy tremendously. This includes getting to know the aspirations and challenges of our interns and younger team members who joined us fresh from school. Being able to be a part of their journey is both a joy and privilege. Sometimes, I have to remind myself to confront my own assumptions and thought patterns, which can be quite humbling but nonetheless necessary. This allows us as a team to keep an open mind, and maintain an agile and adaptable mindset.

What’s an HR trend or space you’re watching this year?

I am watching to see how companies are preparing and responding (whether in a passive or proactive manner) to the impending economic slowdown. My view is that there will be both challenges and opportunities during these challenging times. I am observing certain types of organizations to see how they are navigating and steering their organizations towards continual success and how they are adjusting their strategy to respond to threats and opportunities. The implications of these strategic business decisions have tremendous impact on downstream human capital decisions.

What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?

Learn as much as you can by getting exposure to all areas of HR. Immerse yourself in the business and seek to understand how the other parts of the organization work. Get to know people from other teams and departments so you can grow and learn. Stay curious and don’t be afraid of trying out new things. Find a mentor whose core values align with yours. And remember to have fun!

What’s one thing you can keep talking about for hours?

I enjoy talking about leadership and coaching topics. I can also go on about talent development topics. HR strategy hits the right spots for me as well.

What’s your favorite movie/TV show?

I am not a movie buff, as I prefer to read. I’m currently reading a leadership book by Henry Kissinger, and I’m really enjoying it. It provides some very interesting and thought-provoking insights into the lives of giant political leaders who made such a profound impact on the nations they led. In fact, the effects of the decisions they made as heads of nations were global and remain to this day. If I had to name a movie that left a deep impression on me, it would have to be the ‘Band of Brothers’, a war series co-directed by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. I found the series both touching and extremely inspiring. The recurring theme of comradeship and courage in the face of overwhelming danger and loss spoke deeply to me.

What’s your go-to lunch around your workplace?

That would be fish ball kway teow at ‘Eat First’ at Duo Tower when I feel like going local or a light and always enjoyable meal at ‘Go France’. It really depends on my mood!

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