Alvin, Business operations, Malaysia

Alvin Low is the HR manager for consumer healthcare in Malaysia. We spoke to him to find out more about his role, what makes the culture at GSK special, and what it takes to follow a similar career path.

Hi Alvin, tell us about your role at GSK

I’m the human resource manager based at our Malaysian offices, so I am responsible for managing all aspects of HR within the GSK business unit in Malaysia.

What was it that attracted you to GSK?

Primarily, the work that GSK does – saving lives. Also, the fact that they work with big brands such as Panadol. People really connect with that brand in this region as it’s been in Malaysia for the last 60 years. On a more personal level, I like the work-life balance that GSK offers.

How would you describe the culture in HR specifically?

I would describe the culture as dynamic and self-starting – we all understand the importance of taking the initiative and we really do our best to take care of our employees.

Do you have any initiatives to attract your employees?

Quite a few. For example, we have recently rolled out the ‘My winning career fair’ – a day for employees to pick up tips on how to build a winning career at GSK. It generated a lot of excitement and positive feedback. It’s been running successfully in other larger GSK markets like in the UK, US, India and Singapore. It gave me the opportunity to connect with colleagues from across the globe and implement some of their experiences right here in Malaysia. The impact was incredible: 95% of people attending said it was useful. People really connect with this initiative because it’s personal and relevant to them.

You’ve mentioned work-life balance – how important is that at GSK?

Very important – so much so that we have flexible working arrangements including Early Finish Fridays and the ability to work from home. We want to help employees take care of their health and well-being as much as possible.

We have flexible working arrangements including Early Finish Fridays and the ability to work from home. We want to help employees take care of their health and well-being as much as possible.

Some line managers still need to work on implementing it better but the response from employees has been empowering – they feel “more energised the next day” and had the opportunity to “spend good quality time with family”, which I think is very positive. It gives me the motivation to work with managers that need to implement this in their teams.

It sounds like you’re quite busy at GSK with plenty of initiatives to support employees…

Yes – we’re all about celebrating the individual. We’re very focused on rewarding people for their good work. It’s part of our culture, and we encourage all line managers, or anyone within the team, to recognise those who’ve excelled in their work.

Do you feel empowered to implement your own initiatives at GSK?

Yes, I do and it’s especially empowering when you receive positive feedback. One example is our participation in the Best Employer Award as it has helped to raise our brand name in the market.

It’s important that any initiative is fully aligned to the business priorities. It is also crucial that it is focused on employee needs, is planned carefully and initially rolled out through pilot projects in a business unit or market. If you can prove its success then you could see your own initiative rolled out globally – which is very exciting! 

And you, where do you see your career heading at GSK?

Honestly, I’m not sure what my next career step at GSK will be as it depends on the availability and opportunity of the role. Obviously, I’m looking to step up the career ladder from my current role and also I’m open to moving laterally within the HR function or assume more responsibility.

In terms of my current role, I enjoy it as I’m able to see the direct correlation with the efforts I have put in and its impact on the business. For example, facilitating a talent review or the increase of an engagement score as a result of an intervention to create a more engaged team. It’s very fulfilling.

What are the kind of qualities you think people need to work at GSK?

First and foremost, passion. Someone with high energy, a lot of initiative and proactive problem-solving skills. Also, the ability to work in a collaborative team environment, because that’s very important to us. We’re always working to support and help each other. 

Secondly, to excel at your role in HR. We have three different businesses operating in a matrix environment. It can be a challenge but one that I thoroughly enjoy!

First and foremost, passion. Someone with high energy, a lot of initiative and proactive problem-solving skills. Also, the ability to work in a collaborative team environment, because that’s very important to us. We’re always working to support and help each other. 

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