I can still vividly remember the first time I met my career mentor and coach, Annie Yap. I was sitting in for an interview with Annie, who was then the managing director of AYP Group. As a fresh graduate looking to secure my first proper full-time position–being nervous was an understatement.
Gathering her 20 years of experience in recruitment, Annie asked questions that were both tricky and thought-provoking. That interview with Annie was life-changing to me for two reasons: firstly learning the need to live a purposeful life, and secondly when I knew that I had so much to learn from Annie as a leader.
In the five years I have been with AYP Group, Annie has imparted me with a wealth of knowledge and experience, but above all, the confidence and trust to bequeath me with the leadership role to take AYP Group to its next level of transformation and success.
My journey with AYP Group has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride–one I would ride over again, despite my acrophobia. I’ve encapsulated some of the key lessons learned from my mentorship under Annie and in my journey with AYP Group. Lessons that can be emulated in many other organizations.
Build a plan on solid ground, and don’t stop believing
At AYP Group, we are always constantly pushing ourselves and our limits, but we will always remain rooted in our beliefs, guided by our direction and purpose. This was a value treasured by Annie and has become a motto in how we perceived challenges and obstacles in our way.
As an organization, we embraced risks that come with growth and scale. This was most evident when we had to transform the company’s business model transformation into a recurring income revenue model and pivot the company to focus on technology solutions.
As part of this transition, we had to withdraw ourselves from the recruitment business, the core of our business offerings, to focus on recurring revenue streams through payroll outsourcing, Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) management as well as HR Management Systems. In the initial building stage, recurring revenue streams are tedious, time-consuming, and difficult to build up–but our team preserved nonetheless.
We believed that it was a transformation that had to be done, or we would risk getting disrupted by technologies and other competitors.
To support our beliefs, we backed it up with a clear goal, supported by a plan, and fuelled by a desire and confidence to execute. But this was not enough–we had to follow through with the plan with intent, day by day, never to be swayed by obstacles or challenges in the way.
Continuous learning to adapt to the changing tides
“If you let your learning lead to knowledge, you become a fool. If you let your learning lead to action, that’s when your life changes.”
A growth mindset is very important for a leader. It allows one to identify opportunities even within a crisis. Every day in AYP Group is an opportunity for me to acquire new knowledge, regardless of the circumstances.
This is a value that is particularly important for AYP Group as we transform to a technology-focused organization, and further strengthen our foothold in the APAC regions. As we look to expand, we have to continuously scale our processes whilst staying agile as the pace of growth fluctuates. As we achieve this growth, we have to ensure that we maintain a strong emphasis on talent development and retention, upskilling our people for any changes to the economic landscape.
In a volatile and uncertain environment, we have to remain open and receptive to learning to ensure that we are best able to serve an ever-changing market. Learning will also allow us to continuously innovate and progress to be the best in the space of hybrid workforce management.
A leader is as strong as her core values
Core values are the hallmarks of a good leader. Humility, courage, and tenacity are some of the core values I have picked up from Annie.
A humble and empathetic leader will be able to filter out crisis situations and focus on the opportunities available to them. A courageous leader should not overly concern him or herself about the things that are beyond their control and focus on the issues that are more relevant. A tenacious leader is able to persevere through obstacles and doubt, focusing exerting their efforts on making change.
The value of a career coach
I would not go so far as to say everyone will need to have a mentor in life to be able to succeed. But at the very least, everyone would benefit greatly from having a coach that will help you to identify your career roadmap to go forward.
A coach can not only help you to be clear about your goals, but also help you to identify your blind spots, get you to be accountable for your own progress, and make you focus on your personal and career development.
For this very reason, we believe and adopt a coaching culture in AYP Group. The staff in our team that are holding leadership positions are required to learn how to coach people. Our team members in the junior positions–similar to how I was years ago–are always hungry to do their best and are always seeking to challenge themselves. A coach can help to refine this tenacity and drive, allowing them to unlock their potential.
Writing this has given me an opportunity to reflect on my professional and personal journey so far. I am grateful to have a wonderful mentor and coach in my life.