Jeremy Chan is the Senior International Human Resources Specialist for Asia Pacific at financial services company Wells Fargo.
Balance the Grind spoke to Jeremy about his HR background, a typical day in the life working at Wells Fargo, recharging with martial arts, career development and more.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?
I currently work in HR Consultancy in a large global bank, working between our local business platform and the Shared Services located in Hong Kong and Singapore.
This includes being point of contact for any work related issues, from coaching our managers to manage performance and career development, project work for Australia, New Zealand and supporting Asia Pacific projects.
It’s also being the point of contact for all HR enquiries for our staff, so having an up to date knowledge of Australian and New Zealand employment law and employer related obligations.
Any employee concerns come to me first too, from workload issues, bullying and harassment allegations, questions around policies & rules, and anything staff related!
Previously, I worked in generalist HR doing similar things, but have also done specialised HR work – mostly in recruitment and learning & development functions.
I have also worked in a variety of industries, starting my career in a drug & alcohol charity, insurance, and now finance.
2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?
On a typical day, I provide support to our Shared Services in Asia Pacific, driving culture, compliance, policies, and other requirements through our employees. So for example, we recently completed our yearly performance appraisal cycle.
I coached managers on the differing standards of the system, the new regulatory requirements being driven from the US and Asia Pacific, and ensured that data was entered correctly and saved.
Otherwise, I make sure I make myself approachable and available for our team members in case they have anything they need, usually confirmations of employment, clarifying work policies or reviewing their contract clauses and translating them.
3) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Mornings start with a large, strong black coffee (100% needed), followed by the email check.
Urgent work (usually around new joiner contracts, or employee relations) get prioritised first, then any action items from projects I am undertaking.
After that, any regulatory or compliance work – usually working with our managers to ensure communications being driven throughout their team, or working with the team members themselves so they understand what needs to be done.
On a typical day, I’ll finish up doing any ad-hoc team member requests & admin, like reference checks, employment & salary confirmations, logging parental leave & extended time away etc.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you prioritise your workload?
- Keep the emails filed. It used to sound pedantic to me, but actually helpful.
- If it takes less than 5 minutes, do it now.
- Do the hardest thing of the day first, then everything gets easier after that.
5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?
For me, mindset is important to not be overwhelmed. I try to be in the mindset that life and responsibilities are part of a life worth living.
Working in a charity showed me first hand that having responsibilities – bills to pay, family who need you, friends who rely upon you etc. – are actually blessings in disguise.
Many people lack the opportunity to pay for bills, lack a reliable family who need them (and also support you!) and friends who are close enough to request your assistance for things.
But on the other hand – just as important to shut all of that out and concentrate on you and do something completely self-centered.
I find that we are often taught being self-centred is bad, but taking the time to re-charge ensures you are a better friend, family member, work colleague, member of the community etc.
6) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?
My gym time is my recharge time, where I focus only on myself for a bit. I usually spend about 2 hours in the gym per session.
I train martial arts and find the dynamic movements far more engaging than lifting weights over and over again.
Otherwise, going to the pub and having a beer or four with close friends helps me vent and communicate, get a different perspective on anything that bothers me.
Finally, big geek here – I love video games, so solitary time with my PlayStation is probably the ultimate in relaxation for me.
7) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?
One of the most valuable tools I’ve picked up is developing the ability to talk about your workplace needs – whether that is career development, workplace flexibility, or even a deadline change – in addition to having the courage to show the vulnerability to talk about these things.
I don’t think I am alone in that when I started work – speaking my mind, asking for career development opportunities or even just disagreeing with people more “senior” than myself was challenging and I didn’t often want to address such topics in fear of offending or presenting poorly to that manager or leader.
However, it’s okay to show a level of vulnerability (even at work!), to put yourself out there and to disagree.
I tell myself not to worry about offending others too, since there are people will take offence to you simply existing or other stupid reasons, so why even bother trying to people-please. Just be authentic and do your work to the best of your ability.
8) Are there any books you’ve read that have helped you with work-life balance?
Not 100% focused on work-life balance, but Mark Manson’s Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck was a great read, brushing on a whole range of interpersonal and life skills. Highly recommended!
9) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
Work to results, not to time, and work until you are genuinely satisfied with your output or quality of work.
You might not have completed everything, it might not have been perfect, but as long as you are happy about it – you will feel like you have achieved something for that day.
And if you’re doing that and your manager is still chewing you out about bad work – either get a new manager or hold yourself to a higher standard.