The voice of an Individual Contributor
For many of us HR folks out here who have regional responsibilities and as individuals, (or to be more precise - individual contributors!) we work in a solo capacity without any other HR team members. Sometimes - luckily enough, we may get the budget to hire a short term HR intern to tide us through the crazy peak periods and of course, we always have our fantastic local administrative colleagues around to help us translate local languages manpower / labour documents.
Working as an individual contributor definitely has its ups and downs:
- You know you are the head, body and tail of the entire HR ‘department’. You are everything - you own all HR related processes, from regional payroll, photocopying, vendor management, HR operations, global mobility to business partnering. (yes, everything!)
- You set the rules, you build the processes and you basically learn new things every single day.
- You know that you can almost only go on vacations during non-payroll periods.
- You know that you hardly have someone to really cover you on all aspects. Even if there is, you still feel solely responsible and think about work all the time even during a romantic beach vacation in Maldives or a weekend trip to Chatuchak Market in Bangkok.
- Language can sometimes be a barrier – especially when interacting with some of the regional local vendors.
- You get to interact with everyone - employees, managers and senior management. You basically get to know everyone in the region.
- Some of the more memorable encounters:
- E.g. Sitting in an 1 hour vendor meeting where most of the conversations are held using a foreign language.
- E.g. In some of the APAC countries, an English version of the vendor contract is almost always not available. You almost always have to request for it.
- E.g. Being 'best friends' with the online Legal/Human Resources employment e-guide.
- E.g. In some of the APAC countries, private corporate employees health insurance does not always fare better than the local government health insurance. Essentially, you might not always need to insure employees on private corporate employees health insurances in some of these countries.
- You learn not to rant as much, control your emotions and settle issues and challenges more efficiently.
Working as an individual contributor doesn't make you any less of a collaborative team member, it also doesn't make you less of a capable line manager.
PS: These are my personal experience and does not represent any opinions and judgement by APCO Worldwide.