For The People, For The Nation

NSMan speaks to Sylvia Koh, Chief People Officer at CrimsonLogic, a two-time recipient of the NS Advocate Award. 

By Alywin Chew      4 March 2022

Presented annually, the NS Advocate Award award is the highest accolade that companies, organisations and individuals can receive in recognition of their support towards Total Defence and National Service.

We speak to Sylvia Koh, Chief People Officer at tech solutions company CrimsonLogic, a two-time recipient of the NS Advocate Award, on why they support NSmen, how NSmen contribute to the company, and her tips on how to make the best use of NS-acquired skills in the workplace.

Q: What does a Chief People Officer do?

Sylvia: My role oversees the full spectrum in planning and implementing global people strategies for the company. My core focus is building the pipeline of talents and managing and developing them, ensuring that they grow in their roles and progress in their careers. With the pandemic, our employees’ wellbeing is also high on my radar.

Q: What is behind the company’s motivation the company to support NSmen?

We are a Singapore company and that is why we feel very strongly about supporting our NSmen, whom we view as the sons of Singapore. These are people who are serving the nation and making sacrifices whenever they have to be away from their families, friends and careers during reservist. The least we can do is to recognise their contributions to the nation and take care of them.

Q: What are some of the ways that CrimsonLogic has supported NSmen?

Sylvia: Over the past few years, we have been rewarding our NSmen who earn a Silver or Gold for their IPPT. This year, we are revising the scheme – even those with a Pass will be rewarded.

We’re also implementing a new system where NSmen employees can earn rewards points through a variety of ways, such as performing well in their roles, participating in events or projects, volunteering for CSR programmes and winning special NS awards. They can then spend these points on things like cinema tickets and shopping vouchers.

Other company benefits include giving our NSmen priority in a new leadership development programme we launched last year, as well as allocating funds for them to do team bonding sessions with colleagues.

Since the start of this year, we have implemented a new policy: all new hires who have completed National Service do not need to serve probation. This reflects the trust that we have in the quality of our NSmen hires.

I have also led a ground-up initiative on behalf of CrimsonLogic to create a platform for like-minded employers and NS advocates to connect on LinkedIn and share best practices and information on Support for NS.

Q: What benefits do NSmen bring the company?

Sylvia: Regardless of their rank or vocation, the NSmen we have hired all display leadership qualities and possess a maturity that will help them excel in the workplace. They bring with them a can-do attitude and are always eager to support other colleagues.

I always make it a point to ask job candidates about their NS experiences and how it helped with their personal development. Learning about what they did during this period in life also helps me to understand what they can offer to the company.

Q: How can employees make the best of the skills they picked up in NS in the workplace?

Sylvia: Some of the most important life skills one can learn during NS are communication and teamwork, so NSmen employees should certainly put these skills to good use. They should also take charge of their careers and have a clear idea of what they want to achieve. When they do this, the company will naturally be eager to equip them with the right tools to develop further.

Q: Are there new people management measures that CrimsonLogic has in the pipeline?

Sylvia: Our Employer 4.0 initiative sees that every employee receives career coaching that is tailored to their unique needs and goals over the coming years. As part of this initiative, we have been accrediting more HR practitioners and providing the necessary training to leaders within the company.

We also want to place more focus on mental wellbeing. We’ve been looking around for solutions such as desk exercises, wellness apps and counselling services that would provide additional support to our employees.

Q: Why does CrimsonLogic put in all this effort to help employees?

Sylvia: We believe that employees are the most important asset of any company. Even though we’re a tech company that focuses on systems integration and developing IT products, our employees are ultimately the ones behind the technologies. When you take care of your employees, engage with them and ensure they have whatever is needed to do their jobs, they will flourish. When they flourish, the company flourishes.

Q: Remote work is becoming more commonplace today following the Covid-19 outbreak. Is this new mode of work here to stay?

Sylvia: It certainly is. The journey of navigating the challenges of the pandemic has shown everyone that people do not necessarily need to be in the office to work.

The rise of the virtual workplace has also expanded our talent pool, allowing us to select talents from all over the world. Here at CrimsonLogic, we have remote employees in countries including Australia, China, Vietnam and Hong Kong.

Q: What are some workplace practices that you would like to see become more commonplace in Singapore?

Sylvia: I think employers should do more to make the office a happier place to be in. Singapore is one of the most overworked nations in the world and this can be quite a stressful society to live in. As such, we must look out for the wellbeing, both physical and mental, of our employees and provide work-life balance.

Q: What are some of the biggest HR challenges companies will face in the near future?

Sylvia: We’re likely to face “The Great Resignation”. Yes, employees quit all the time, but this is going to be more pronounced in the coming years because Covid-19 has forced many industries to embrace higher levels of digitalisation, and this has in turned created huge demand for tech talents.

What this means is that many people are going to want to make the switch to tech, while those already in this sector will see their market value soar and see offers from other companies.

There’s going to be a lot of personnel movement and companies will have to find a way to acquire the right talents so that their projects do not get disrupted.

CrimsonLogic was accredited with the NS Mark (Gold) in 2016 and 2019 in addition to being conferred the NS Advocate Award. If you are part of a company that would like to step up and pledge your support for NS through the NS Mark Accreditation scheme, find out more here: go.gov.sg/nsmark

This article is brought to you by SAFRA and NSD.

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Photos: Sylvia Koh