Inaugurating our brand-new column is Schneider Electric's CHRO, Charise Le, who shares about the personal journey that made her the leader she is today, what success means to her, the one trend she follows, and more.
At Human Resources Online, we constantly strive to provide strong, relevant, and modern content to readers across Asia. This includes our various columns to whet different (reading) appetites — such as Suite Talk with the CXOs, Snapshot with the HR leaders, Industry Insider, Breaking Barriers, Winning Secrets, and more.
Today, we're happy to launch a new column, where we peel back the layers and take a deeper look into the human element of our leaders, through a chit-chat with the Cs. In this new leadership-special feature, get set to read the story of the person behind the leader’s persona. Other than learning about the successes, we also uncover the challenges, tough times, and lessons learnt.
Welcome to our brand-new column: Chit-chat with the Cs.
To kickstart, we meet with Charise Le, Chief Human Resources Officer, Schneider Electric (pictured above), who has been part of the Schneider Electric family for 17 years.
Having taken on her current role in April 2020, Le first joined as HR Manager China for Clipsal, an associated brand of Schneider Electric, after which she moved into the role of HR Director for Schneider APAC in 2007, and has held different HR leadership positions within the Group before assuming her current role.
In this catch-up, she shares with Lester Tan all about her personal journey that made her the leader she is today, what success means to her, the one trend she follows to keep up with the times, and more.
Q Take us through your morning routine before you start the day, and your night routine after you end the day. What are some rituals that you can’t miss, no matter how tired or how busy you are?
I work my morning routine around setting goals and intentions for the day. I am very intentional with my time. I get up early and one of the things I do is to connect with my parents as they mean a lot to me. I make it a priority to check in with them daily while on the way to the office. As I commute, I also review daily and weekly to-do lists.
Due to the nature of a global role, my work stretches up to 9pm to 10pm. I wind down by looking at the agenda for the next day and catch some light reading before bedtime, this includes catching up on news online and on social media. An important part of my ritual also includes five to ten minutes of stretching every day.
When I’m not travelling, I devote two hours to personal learning every Friday and never miss the end-of-the-week reflection routine. Carving out time for self-reflection helps me to see clearly where I am allocating my time and resources, both internally and externally. Reflective leadership motivates me to engage in goal setting and it can also be very humbling as I reflect on my feedback and coaching style.
Q Share with us your story – how did you end up where you’re at today? What are some decisions you made that guided you?
I have spent 28 years in various human resources management roles across Asia Pacific, including employee branding and acquisition. HR is a very rewarding and challenging career, one that I am proud to have at Schneider Electric for the past 17 years. Schneider keeps me busy with different roles and opportunities to learn and contribute.
I have been blessed to work with great mentors and leaders in an environment of trust. They have empowered me to be confident in my role and have given me space to grow and to stretch my abilities. Having had good mentors, who exposed me to new and different perspectives in various aspects of management and the HR sector, I believe in the power of mentorship in both business and personal life. To this day, I remain close to many of my mentors who have guided my career journey and shared valuable perspectives and support at every milestone.
A turning point in my career came in 2007 when I was offered to lead HR in Asia Pacific, a regional role that brought me to Hong Kong for three years. It was my first regional leadership role that broadened my view of the HR sector in China and Hong Kong – two very diverse cultures with different HR practices with nuances to the local culture. It was a fantastic opportunity to work closely with our China and Hong Kong team members to learn and explore new management approaches, practices, and processes to improve our team efficiency. I enjoyed the challenge of staying abreast of two cultures and guiding teams on trends, innovations, and best practices including defining approaches in the region.
Q How do you measure success for yourself, and for others? Translating it to where you work, what does it look like?
Success does not always have to be performance-driven, as I believe that leadership is measured by the overall success of the team’s ability to collaborate, innovate, and work together to overcome obstacles. Collaboration and inclusivity are values that I strive to uphold in the workplace. I am mindful of every contribution from my team members that pushes us collectively to make a positive impact on the organisation and the environment. Our culture at Schneider Electric is unique, we believe that our people are important to who we are and what we do. We consciously ensure that we foster an inclusive workplace, and welcome diversity and new ways of working.
As we learn and grow as a team, I strive to be understanding of generational differences, and to become a good listener so as to foster and implement space for the growth of our future talents.
Q As a corporate leader, what is the biggest challenge you’re expecting in 2022-2023? How are you looking to address it?
The biggest challenge I foresee is the challenge that comes with global change. The world is constantly evolving, and with pivotal developments comes the demand and need for new skills and processes. These global economic challenges alter the status quo and challenge the future of work. We need to reimagine how we attract, retain, and develop skilled workers.
It has been two years since the start of the pandemic and the world is still reeling in uncertainties. From longer work hours to demands at home, the pandemic has introduced new stressors and many workers are struggling with burnout. We recognise this cocktail of work and home-related exhaustion. Fortunately, at Schneider, we approach mental health awareness with much empathy and support. It is our ongoing mission to provide support and space for our employees to care for themselves and those they love during this difficult period.
As an HR leader, I am very thankful for the way my company has embraced a culture of wellbeing. We seek to lead with empathy and provide supportive workplaces that care for workers’ wellbeing. Some of the most effective ways of help have been encouraging hybrid work, which has been effective in putting a focus on how we can better manage and care for our people within our organisation.
Q What’s one really hot trend that you’re actively understanding or pursuing, in a bid to stay current and fresh with the times?
Change and innovation are the end result of true learning and an emerging area that I view in relation to HR is in the sphere of employer branding. On unconventional, new platforms such as TikTok, I see a shift in how employers market themselves to future talents. As Gen-Xers become the largest demographic in the workforce, we must embrace workforce transformation.
Being on new social media platforms allows me to understand and access new channels for external outreach, and it has been interesting to monitor how HR trends can evolve and change to appeal to the new generation while maintaining the roles of the older generation.
Q What did you learn early on that still serves you today?
When I was younger and just starting out in my career, a mentor pointed out to me that I had difficulty saying 'no'. I realised then that I harboured a lot of guilt when being asked to take on tasks when I didn’t have enough bandwidth. Saying yes to everyone who has reached out and asked for help, led to me taking on too many tasks; which impacted how I managed my time and priorities. I had to work on my ability to ask for help for resources when I am stretched and learn to say no without feeling guilty – to protect my own time and resources.
This piece of advice has guided me throughout my career and is one that I continue to share with new and old members of my team.
I do my best to provide a safe and neutral space for employees to express, discuss thoughts and emotions, and to ideate, believing that when we work collectively in an environment of trust and openness, we can collectively deliver better results for ourselves and our customers.
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