Career Path

Leading by example

by Sophie Leung

Daisy Wong, director of human resources
Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong
Photo: Lewis Wong

Most people are only too happy if their jobs provide satisfaction in addition to a stable income. But over her long career, Daisy Wong has gained even more — she has found her Shangri-La.

Now into her 25th year at Kowloon Shangri-La Hong Kong, Ms Wong, human resources director of the leading five-star hotel, remarks, "I have always enjoyed working here as part of the team."

With a deep interest in people and a passion for people development, Ms Wong started her career as an executive secretary of a training consulting firm which was supporting the Kowloon Shangri-La management and sales training. When she heard about a position for executive secretary opening up, she immediately went for it. "I am very clear on what I want from my career: to be in a place where talent management is a priority," notes Ms Wong.

She became an executive secretary to the hotel's director of human resources in 1984, and worked her way up to human resources manager by 2000. Within the following two years, she was promoted to director and has led the HR team ever since.

Under her leadership, the Hong Kong HR team was named the Shangri-La Group's best HR team of the year in 2006.

"We appreciate and always seek to accentuate the group's principle of creating an environment where employees can grow to achieve their personal and career goals," she says, attributing her success to her excellent team and the hotel's corporate culture.

Walk the talk

Ms Wong believes that staff loyalty is cultivated not only through monetary rewards, but also by creating an ideal platform to grow and develop talent. In her opinion, employees who worked their way up within the hotel are invaluable assets, as they provide a wealth of experience and tend to be high-calibre candidates for succession planning.

The hotel's commitment to long-term staff development and internal promotion has clearly paid off. "We currently employ about 740 staff. More than half of them have worked here for over 10 years, and about 120 of them have been here for more than 20 years," Ms Wong points out.

Holding on to her principles and being sincere are important aspects of her role as a leader, Ms Wong stresses. "People sometimes regard the human resources department as a company's 'internal police'. We do, of course, establish procedures and rules for staff. However, it is vital that we walk the talk and maintain a high level of integrity in order to gain credibility and support from our colleagues."

"I am very clear on what I want from my career"

Aside from promoting training, Ms Wong also aims to enforce positive values such as respect, modesty, courtesy, helpfulness and sincerity. "The hospitality offered by our warm and caring staff distinguishes our brand from competitors. We practice what we preach and always put our employees' well-being first," she adds.

Future outlook

In spite of current economic challenges, Ms Wong is confident about the prospects of the hospitality industry. "The downturn gives us an opportunity to improve, as it prompts us to further enhance our service," she says. The Shangri-La group plans to expand and recruit more staff globally over the coming months.

Firm in her belief that business is driven by people, Ms Wong often employs creativity and a high-touch approach to lightening up the corporate environment. "I like to include an element of drama into our State-of-the-Hotel meetings and sometimes encourage staff to produce small performances during boardroom presentations. Everyone really enjoys this, and my colleagues always look forward to the meetings," she notes.

Ms Wong also organises special trips to sister hotels abroad, so that participating employees can get the chance to share experience and best practice with their overseas counterparts. Such learning experiences are not restricted to frontline staff, back of house employees such as accountants also benefit from these growth opportunities.

In an effort to promote staff well-being, Ms Wong and her management team often engage themselves in a simple exercise regime before meetings. "We understand that work can be stressful, so we care about our staff's health and advocate a healthy work-life balance. In order to do this, we need to set an example ourselves," she concludes.


Taken from Career Times 27 March 2009, p. B10
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