We’re thrilled to be expanding our team of specialist PR and communications recruitment consultants supporting clients throughout Asia Pacific. The most recent addition to our team is Joan Liew, Senior Consultant at Prospect. Based in Singapore, Joan is a veteran communications professional with almost 20 years of regional agency and in-house experience. She has worked with companies across the lifestyle, consumer, hospitality, property, and fintech sectors including PayPal and Galaxy Macau. She also has a passion for entrepreneurship and an abiding love of tea.
To get to know her better, we supplied her with a cup of her favourite tea and asked her a few questions. We hope you enjoy meeting Joan! To continue the conversation, don’t hesitate to contact her directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Why did you make the switch from PR/Comms to recruitment?
Relationships are at the heart of the communications and PR industry. The connections I’ve been able to make with people has kept me interested in this demanding industry over years. So when I thought about how I can continue to apply what I love – PR, people and communications – in a different setting, recruitment was the obvious choice.
2. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?
I’ve met so many amazing people throughout my career and have found that there is always something to learn from another person, even those you don’t always see eye-to-eye with. I go by a few principles at work and in life with this being key: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This translates to extending (and surpassing) the great recruitment services I have received in the past to potential candidates. Integrity, listening and skills like following through and closing the loops definitely apply in recruitment. Recruitment isn’t just about a job, it’s a business dealing with someone’s livelihood and can have a direct impact on an organisation’s team dynamics and culture. The needs of the client and candidate are equally important and should never be regarded as just a numbers game.
3. What advice do you have for employers and candidates?
For clients and candidates, my advice is to take calculated risks.
For clients, consider candidates not with an over-emphasis on hard skills but be opened to important soft skills and passion to try new roles. There are gems out there and practising progressive hiring beyond ticking the boxes for hard skills can sometimes mean discovering talent that will appreciate you taking a chance on them. This often means dedication and better retention.
And for candidates, speak and meet people personally, and don’t shut the doors based on hearsays. We are a very dynamic industry where at some point, everybody knows that somebody. People move around often so what you hear today about the company or an individual may no longer be relevant. It’s your career, not someone else’s. Find out for yourself and keep an open mind.
4. What are the most important things you look for when you see a new candidate?
What’s spoken, and more importantly, what’s unspoken. A good placement requires partnership so that means the candidate needs to play his/her part and be honest to share their interests and experience. It makes my job harder if I have to guess or dig information out of the candidate. The candidate needs to know what his/her achievements and strengths are. Before I can convince an employer how good a candidate is, it helps for the candidate to be convinced of his/her own worth.
5. What is your take on the current PR/Comms job market in Singapore?
By and large I consider the PR and Communications industry an economic-proof business. Even during the pandemic, companies are still in need for communicators to manage their reputation and business regardless in-house or agencies. In 2021, we continue to see openings in the market which is a sign of resilience. More internal communications roles have emerged as a result of companies realising the importance of this often-neglected function and I am particularly excited about this trend having had in-house experience myself in this area. I believe that internal communications is important and should not play second fiddle to PR/external communications. A company that is willing to dedicate resource to this function is a sign of them seeing their employees as an asset.
6. Your career has been varied including setting up a tea business. Can you tell us more about this?
When I decided to walk away from the ‘corporate’ life, I knew that I wanted to venture into something that is completely unrelated to communications. I didn’t want communications to be the only thing I know and wanted to make sure I fulfil my long-time goal of starting a business.
The idea of setting up a tea business came about by chance when I was taking my first solo trip to Vietnam after leaving my role at PayPal. As I was enjoying a cup of tea with a friend, the conversation led to us discovering our mutual love for tea and evolved to me making trips to tea plantations in Vietnam and Taiwan to meet tea farmers, and finally getting certified to be a tea sommelier and blender. I have thoroughly enjoyed the entrepreneurial journey of becoming a “tea lady” and it is an experience I would do all over again. The move has resulted in a mindset shift to be able to see things from an owner-perspective vs a pure employee-perspective. This shift translates to being able to talk, relate and empathise to the business concerns of executives.
7. What is your biggest learning from 2020 and what are your goals/hopes for 2021?
Be thankful for what you have and be adaptable, as we all know that change is constant. The difference between how one fares better than another is in the individual’s ability to adapt. When you think you have it hard, there is always someone out there worse off. With high unemployment globally and a lack of job security, my goal for 2021 is to put my skills to good use and make an impact on people’s lives (both individuals and companies) through sound placements.