banner employee spotlight pages

Driving Innovation in a Competitive Market

Competition drives innovation—and that is especially true in the Asian Market. Read Joan Ong’s story of driving innovation through SHL’s Commercial team.


Check out our Careers page for opportunities to work with our amazing team!


My introduction to SHL was a bit unorthodox. I was first offered a job here when I was working for a media group and was chasing someone within SHL for over a year to advertise in one of our magazines. I refused to give up and, when we finally met, he said I was one of the most persistent people he had ever come across. He asked me if I would like to create a sales role in SHL’s Singapore office. I had no background in HR, but I have never looked back. Now, I am the Commercial Director for Southeast Asia, heading up SHL’s sales team here. We do business across the region and part of my role has been to expand our reach to countries outside Singapore.

Having worked in the SHL office in Singapore for 18 years, I have seen the business go through a lot of change, whether it is ownership, employees who have come and gone, or different types of management strategies. But one thing has remained constant: SHL has always been grounded in the science behind its products. I can feel absolutely confident what we sell to clients has been researched and tested. Put simply, I know it really works.

SHL has always been looking for ways to transform the talent landscape through its innovation—and that is something that I’m always excited about. Recently, we launched an innovation powerhouse, SHL Labs, that focuses on technological advancement that will benefit our clients. As the world of work continues to evolve, driving innovation is pivotal to distinguish us from the competition.

Competition drives innovation: transforming how we do business

An important project I have been involved with recently is SHL’s transform strategy. It is about making the business more product-led, allowing us to address specific client needs with pre-defined solutions. We realized we needed to do things that were more repeatable and scalable by leveraging technology and our expert services. The approach is one we have taken in our business unit for a while—selling innovative solutions is essential in the competitive Asian market—so we were well placed to contribute to the conversation about how to implement those ideas across the organization.

I can feel absolutely confident what we sell to clients has been researched and tested. Put simply, I know it really works.

I often say there are two speeds to my job—busy and busier. I have responsibility for the management of our business, sales team, and key customers. I am always thinking about the numbers and how we are tracking against our goals. Are we achieving what we have set out to achieve? I coach and support the sales team by catching up with them regularly and having weekly one-to-one conversations to see how individuals are doing and what new ideas they have. I believe that collaboration and diversity drive high performance so creating the environment for our sales and professional services teams to work closely and thrive together is at the top of my agenda. Then, of course, I spend a lot of time talking to clients to understand their challenges and supporting them to get the most value out of our objective solutions and people insights they need to achieve their talent and business objectives. 

Putting values into action

SHL’s core values really resonate with me. First, there is curiosity, always looking to learn. Next is fearless innovation, seeking to improve and create new ways of doing things. Strong connections are the value to which I particularly relate. Our business unit is quite small—we are only ten people— but because I have been with SHL so long, I know employees all over the organization. I maintain those contacts, as they are very helpful when you need to get things done quickly. Finally, there is impact, what we deliver for our customers and our colleagues. All of these values really reflect SHL— what it does and how it does it. You see them in action in the business every day.

Are you also interested in driving innovation at SHL and shaping the future? Check out our Careers page and join us!

headshot joan ong


Joan Ong

Joan Ong works as Commercial Director for South-East Asia based in SHL’s office in Singapore. She worked in sales in the media industry for nearly ten years before joining SHL in 2004. One day, she hopes to visit all the countries in the world, but for now, is happy planning her next holiday to The Maldives so she can check it off her bucket list.

Careers at SHL

Whatever your background, experience, and goals, we have career options to maximize your potential.

Find Your Place