A View from the Top - International SOS

Maria Lee
Human Resources Director,
South & South East Asia
International SOS

What is one trait you look for in an interview candidate?
The most important thing is to assess how well the individual fits into the organisation culture. The organisation, especially a diverse one, needs to hire employees who are able to embrace diversity. This is very important for companies with global operations such as International SOS, which operates in over 70 countries. Our new hires must be able to work with different nationalities across diverse cultures. As we also have a performance-oriented culture, we seek out candidates who have a high level of energy and drive.

How can candidates impress you during an interview?
It helps if candidates answer questions with honesty and with a positive attitude. Honesty is highly valued in all organisations, but this is especially so at International SOS where our medical staff have access to patient records in their course of work. A positive attitude is important in our business as our clients expect us to deliver quick medical and security assistance wherever they are. However, when circumstances are difficult and when our clients expect immediate results, our employees must have the positive attitude to cope with and manage their expectations.

What is one interview blunder candidates often make during the interview process?
The one interview blunder often made by candidates in an interview is to complain about their previous or current organisation(s) or manager. While employers appreciate honesty in candidates who state the reasons for their departure, it is unprofessional for the individual to complain about his or her previous or current employer.

Best career advice you’ve ever received?
I was fortunate to receive the best career advice in the early part of my career, which is to leverage on my strengths, developing myself in an area which best suits me. The determinant of success is largely attributed to ones strengths in a chosen career, and these strengths can be derived from ones personality, intellect and academic qualifications. Personally, I think personality plays a very important role. As a Human Resource practitioner, it is important for me to have the suitable personality that will help me excel in my profession so that I can fulfil the duty of care obligations to a diverse and global workforce.

What makes your company a great place to work?
I am motivated by International SOS business vision and core values. We believe in making a positive difference to our customers, members and
patients. It is a powerful vision that drives my work. Practising our core values of care, quality, passion, professionalism, teamwork, integrity, innovation and people keep me grounded and focused on the customers and patients. It also helps that I have an empowering immediate supervisor, who values my knowledge and experience.

How should I ask my boss for a raise?
It is important for employees to share with their supervisors how their individual achievements have attained performance goals such as ROI (returns on investments), which were mutually agreed upon. The employee can also emphasise how challenging it was to achieve these goals, especially in light of the competition for talent outside the organisation. Finally, the employee can seek his or her supervisors views on how the latter intends to keep talent within the team.

How can I improve my productivity at work?
It is crucial for individuals to consistently review their work, looking into processes and technologies which could enhance productivity and add value to their work.

How can I better manage my manager?
A way to manage your manager is to use effective coaching skills to draw out his ROIs and expectations. In addition, help your manager achieve
his objectives, and assist him in building and retaining his team so that he is a strong performer, a valued contributor and key asset to the company.

I have an unemployment gap in my resume. How should I explain this to potential employers during interviews?
You should honestly explain the circumstances that led to this unemployment gap. A seasoned interviewer will able to discern if the interviewee is telling the truth.

Connect To Us