Overheard a recent conversation between the Chief Controller (CC) in OCC and the Yard Master (YM) in the train depot.
CC: ‘I need to slot in a train now. It’s urgent.’
YM: ‘I’ve only got one spare (manpower) and he has been used up for the stock change. I don’t have any more manpower!’
CC: ‘In that case, you will bring out the train. I want you to bring it out now!’
YM: ‘But the only buggy is now at the siding. The spare left it there when he brought out a train for the stock change. It’s raining heavily now!’
CC: ‘So you want me to send a helicopter to fetch you?’
About 30 mins later, CC called back. ‘Hey! Where is the train? And why are you still in the office? You not bringing out the train?’
YM: ‘I’m still waiting for your helicopter lah!’
Joke of the year for OCC…..I liiiiike
Don’t laugh! The joke may be on you! That is the typical mentality and work culture.
Datuk Norman sent this to me few days ago. We can’t even hold a candle to Goggle. Read to know what I meant.
Great culture attracts great pple & u need to nurture them!
From iTODAY:A culture for talent
| 25 Mar, 2012 6:00
Julian Persaud tried several jobs and travelled the world before settling down at Google. Its South-east Asia managing director tells Lin Yanqin why it’s a company like no other
He had only been at Google for a couple of months as the head of business development in Australia, when Julian Persaud was asked to give a presentation to Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page and co-founder Sergey Brin on a business proposal.
“We were on the phone in Sydney at 3am, it was an important deal we were pushing through,” says Mr Persaud, of that moment some seven years ago. “What was nice is that there were probably four to five layers above to the founders, but all those people got out of the way so that they could actually hear from me, who at the time was a relatively junior person.
“I thought that was a wonderful indicator of how a company should operate, where the founders of the company, the CEO, still had access to the people who were directly involved in the work,” says Mr Persaud, now 39 and the managing director of Google South-east Asia.
And it is practices like this that help Google stay on top of the game, at a time when Internet companies are being started and growing at a frantic pace – and fighting for the same pool of talent.
“Great culture attracts great people, and you need to nurture it,” Mr Persaud, who got his start in the Internet business in 2000, around the time of the dotcom boom in London.
INVESTING WITH FOOD
Google, celebrated for its employee-friendly practices worldwide, certainly is not afraid to throw in the fun perks: At its Marina Bay office in Singapore you’d find free breakfast and lunch for staff at the “Goopitiam”, massage rooms and fully-stocked “micro kitchens”. Google Asia Pacific was the only corporation to win two awards – for Best Employer Branding and Best Work-Life Harmony – at the Singapore Human Resources Management Awards this year.
The affable Mr Persaud – who did the interview and lunch cheerily despite having just having had his wisdom tooth removed the day before – says only half-jokingly that “food is a big part of the Google existence”.
But lava lamps, free food and table tennis tables is only one part of the formula to keeping staff happy and productive. People “want to feel like they are contributing to a part of something, they want to feel valued”.
To that end, the company gives its staff “1 per cent time” to do community work. One project sees groups of abused maids and foreign workers going into the office here to learn how to use Google’s tools and skills like creating resumes.
Engineers get to use 20 per cent of their normal working hours to work on Google projects outside their main focus. And the company provides paid maternity and paternity leave with thoughtful touches – like vouchers to call in takeaway food, “because who feels up to cooking after giving birth and taking care of a baby”, as Mr Persaud puts it.
He notes that some employers in Singapore are “not as flexible”. “I find that when you talk to some CFOs about policy and food, they see that as a cost whereas we see that as an investment. There are a lot of start-ups out there, and we have a lot of creative people with great skills, and we want to make sure we retain them.”
After opening an office in Singapore in 2007, Google last year set up in Malaysia, its first new Asia office in four years. The booming smartphone market accounts for some of the excitement over the South-east Asia market, says Mr Persaud, who calls Google’s mobile services “almost the signature for us in this region”.
“If you look at this region, people’s first connection with the Internet is on a phone, not a laptop. Because there’s the expense of an S$800 laptop, versus Android phones that are getting cheaper and cheaper, and S$100 handsets.” Hence the company’s “mobile first” strategy.
Fast-growing as the region’s market may be, it is still a relatively young one. “Digital accounts for around 30 per cent of all advertising dollars spent in the UK. In South-east Asia it’s something like 2 per cent.” He adds: “As the industry we can do better in explaining our products … But that is changing, in Singapore, about 8 to 9 per cent of the advertising dollars go to online.”
The company is also helping businesses in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia build an Internet presence. “We’re trying to get 50,000 businesses online a year. We are giving away free hosting and free websites, even going out to explain it in the smaller regions to entrepreneurs who don’t know and can’t afford a domain name.
“That’s great because it helps us create a lot of local content. Like that great Thai restaurant that people only know by word of mouth wouldn’t it be great if they had a website and tourists can find it on the Internet. So much of our business is based on tourism and travel in this region.”
MAKING IT SEXY
The dominance of Google and other Internet giants and their access to consumers’ personal data have given rise to concerns over data privacy elsewhere in the world. Does he think Google will be increasingly challenged in South-east Asia too?
“We have such a quick growth in such a large amount of products, and we have like, 50, 60 privacy policies, which we try to condense,” he says. “Our view is to make it easier and transparent to people what data we have and how it’s held, how it’s used. And the general principle is that the company is born out of a ‘do no evil’ kind of viewpoint and that continues.”
Google’s growing reach in Singapore has also meant more opportunities for Singaporeans to enter the digital industry, and Mr Persaud feels the Government has been supportive in collaborating with the industry to build a talent pipeline. “We are hiring very well-educated people in Singapore. And there are programmes like ‘Angel’s Gate’ that are trying to make business entrepreneurship sexy and that’s the right step. It’s not just about the Internet, the digital economy can support a lot of start-ups.”
The challenge was attracting people away from traditionally popular sectors like medicine, law, or banking. “We want to get the message out there that it’s cool to work for companies like us. So if you go to your mum and dad and say, I want to go work at Google, or XYZ company in the Internet space, we want them to say, that’s great we back you 100 per cent.”
FINDING HIS DIRECTION
Mr Persaud, a communications graduate, cautions against putting too much pressure on students to choose what they want to do in life too early, saying it is okay to take some time to find direction.
“After I left university I wasn’t very sure what I wanted to do. I went into a sheet metal company, I sold beer, which sounds like a good job but it put me off beer for at least a couple of years.” He tried being a journalist and a lawyer, and he took a year off to travel – making stops in Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, South-east Asia and the United States – before returning to London to begin his “love affair” with Internet companies.
“My parents, they’ve always told me, ‘do what you want to do’. Which is probably why I took so long. But it worked out.”
He admits to being a somewhat more demanding parent to his two children who, together with his wife, moved to Singapore with him. “We send our kids to Kumon. Even our four-year-old,” he says with a laugh.
But while today’s education landscape may be more demanding, he appreciates the richer experience it offers to children. “Growing up in North London, the school we went to was really rough and rundown. The education we can give our kids now is so much better, it’s a real gift.
“My four-year-old is at the back of the car, and she’s counting in Mandarin and her accent is very good. And she’s saying I’m repeating it very badly and she’s correcting me. Which is wonderful.”