What does it take to create a work culture that cultivates the entrepreneurial spirit? Alyssa Aw, our passionate People Manager, knows a thing or two about keeping a team of ex-entrepreneurs and high achievers motivated. Having come from a corporate HR background at Charles and Keith, Aspire was her first foray into a hyper-growth fintech. Seemingly overnight, everything started to move at breakneck speed.
As someone who thrives outside of her comfort zone, she immediately knew Aspire was where she belonged.
The space to build on ambitious ideas was unparalleled. Her vision for Aspire’s culture quickly followed suit. Today, Alyssa has helped to forge a strong foundation for various People processes from onboarding to engagement and wellbeing一all of which comes together to form a high-performing culture that is uniquely Aspire.
In this interview, we caught up with Alyssa to find out how she ensures that every single Aspirer has a space to build, why radical candor is essential to bringing out the best in a team and her new therapeutic hobby that helps her unwind after a long day.
I’ve worked in both SMEs and startups previously. In total, I have around 9 years of experience. I first discovered the startup scene 3 years ago. Swapping from a corporate environment to a fast-paced startup is definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made so far!
I recall coming across Aspire’s job listing for a People Manager role on Tech in Asia’s website. Back in those days we only relied on one job platform but now we are setting up our own Applicant Tracking System (ATS)! After researching more about the company and finding out that it’s one of the top emerging fintechs in Singapore, I went ahead to apply for the role.
I decided to join the team as a challenge to myself. It was interesting to hear Andrea’s vision for the company and how he’s building something from the ground up, and foreseeing myself being able to be part of that team that inspires personal growth, and the courage to support words with actions was definitely something that excited me from the very beginning. It’s an exciting time to be in this space.
Seeing how things can move quite fast here in Aspire, there’s no typical day per se. I usually start my day at 8am, and I make sure to have breakfast! Generally on a day when there are no meetings with the team, I start the work day with planning and setting up my to-do list, prioritising tasks. The most urgent task gets done first.
I usually spend the remainder of my day doing focused-work, whether that’s doing analyses of data from our employee engagement surveys to develop and improve things that directly impact employee experience, or brainstorming for new initiatives. In the People team, we are on a mission to develop a high-performing and happy culture, and ultimately the goal is to let all Aspirers feel they belong, feel heard and recognised.
Being in the startup phase, almost everyone is a “builder”! It’s definitely not easy doing that so we pride ourselves on doing so. I think it’s fair to say that everyone has contributed to the stage of growth that the company is in now.
An Aspirer is a self starter that is adaptable to an ambiguous work environment and being in a fluid role. In Aspire, we’re a dynamic company where things move and change quickly, which also gives us the opportunity to push our boundaries to react proactively to these changes and keep our competitive edge.
A builder is someone who is inherently proactive and delivers without people asking. At Aspire, where our team is made up of ex-entrepreneurs and high achievers who have already built something, everyone is essentially a builder. There’s no limit to what can be built so long as it ultimately ties back to the company’s vision. It can be everything from building a strong team of managers from a CEO’s perspective to creating entirely new systems or processes that make things run more efficiently. When you have an ambitious idea, it all starts with asking yourself “How do I make it happen?” before doing what’s necessary to succeed.
Perhaps a 3.5 out of 5. One major change that took place was definitely replacing interviews from face-to-face to video calls.
In the beginning of our expansion, there was some uncertainty, but with every crisis comes opportunities. We were able to hire some really great profiles during this period of time too because of some companies’ restructuring, redundancy layoffs etc.
With most of the teams having a matrix reporting structure back to the regional team based in Singapore, I would say that Aspirers are comfortable with having weekly syncs via video conferencing calls now. However I would agree that remote working has changed the way that we interact at the workplace. Our all-hands call is one way for team members to interact with each other outside of their department/country. We also provide a team bonding budget for all employees and encourage departments to spend time to bond locally. That being said, we will try to think of new ideas to increase interaction during all-hands while being conscious of everyone’s busy schedule.
Gardening seems to be a popular pandemic pastime now! I’ve discovered many plant nurseries during this lockdown! There are days where you’ll spot your plant(s) unfurling a new leaf, and some days you see it looking limpy, but it bounces back after watering. I find it therapeutic to care for your plants at the end of the work day一a way for me to release my stress. Being a new plant hobbyist, I am growing my collection healthily and progressively. I currently have about 10 pots of plants indoors while waiting for my new plant rack to arrive.
I am also trying to habitually meditate. One of my ex-colleagues recommended this app called Balance that provides bite-sized meditations I can use anytime, even on the go!
I can play the Angklung and the Kulintang! I was first introduced to this musical instrument during my secondary school days when I joined it as a CCA. Since I was young, I’ve always had an interest in music and arts. So to be able to be part of school competitions was definitely something memorable.