60 Seconds with a Rising Star – Sarah Khan

Author Janard Liew
May 14, 2024

In our most recent edition of “60 seconds with a rising star” we interview Sarah Khan, HR Information Systems (HRIS) Specialist with Swire Shipping based in Singapore.

A graduate of Nanyang Technological University (majoring in Business Administration), Sarah is driven, personable, and very hands-on in her approach towards HR technology. Having accrued around 6 years of relevant experience, she started as an HRIS consultant before transitioning in-house as part of the HR and/or IT team.

In this article, Sarah shares with us her journey thus far and her thoughts on the role technology/system plays within the HR landscape.

What is your role in your current company and what does your typical working day look like?

My primary role as an HRIS Specialist is to oversee the main HR (SuccessFactors) and accompanying systems that the company operates on. In my day-to-day, I am responsible for troubleshooting technical system issues and working on people-related projects through an HRIS lens. There are also elements of HR Operations work in my day-to-day.

How and why have you chosen a career in HR? Particularly HR information systems (HRIS).

I secured my first role out of university with an HR transformation firm that provides consultancy services to companies that are looking to implement new HR systems. During my stint as an HRIS consultant, I had the opportunity to look closely at the HR processes adopted by different companies across various industries, particularly how HR systems are utilised for their HR processes. Being able to work with clients from all kinds of industries gave me a wider, holistic perspective and it felt really rewarding to see a system I had configured being used across the company.

You started as an HRIS consultant and made the transition to in-house more than a year ago. Why the change and how different has it been so far?  

I truly enjoyed my time as an HRIS consultant with all the ups and downs, including managing clients’ expectations and responding to their needs. However, I did start to feel that my role was getting a little too repetitive and thought the value-add to my knowledge and skills were less pronounced after close to five years. I then developed this thought that I would be able to contribute more and at a higher level in-house since I have already spent a good amount of time on the other side of the table (i.e. vendor perspective).

What are some myths about HRIS that you feel need to be debunked?

During my consultant days, one recurring observation during the implementation phase was how many clients expected every interaction to be done via the system, almost to the extent that interpersonal communications have been substituted. After the system has gone live, they then come to realise that this is not possible as HRIS is not meant to replace interpersonal communications. While it streamlines processes and comes with strong data management/processing prowess, it does not negate the need for employees and managers to engage in direct, productive conversations. Building relationships within the organization remains essential for effective collaboration and problem-solving.

Where does HRIS feature in the future of HR from your point of view?

As new trends emerge in the HR space (e.g. remote working), there will be greater reliance on HR systems to ensure that processes are consistent and aligned across borders. Furthermore, with the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies into HRIS to handle routine tasks, etc. HR professionals would likely see a shift in their day-to-day, away from menial operations and towards more strategic tasks.

What advice would you provide to young, aspiring HR professionals such as yourself?

I would advise them to keep themselves updated and abreast of new technologies that are being introduced to the market such as AI and consider how that may tie in with HR processes. This could range from the generation of job advertisement contents to the use of sophisticated chatbots to respond to queries etc.   

Tell us about yourself – what do you like to do in your free time? How would your friends and family describe you?

I enjoy spending quality time with my family whenever the opportunity arises. My friends and family would probably describe me as someone who loves to enjoy all that life has to offer.

Please note that all commentary and opinions provided are those of the individual, and not the organisation/company.

As part of our commitment to keeping our HR community up to date with the latest HR insights and trends, Frazer Jones publishes a quarterly newsletter purely for HR professionals. In each issue, we include an interview with a leading HR professional, a high potential “rising star” and/or a CHRO for our “view from the top” programme. If you would like to receive future newsletters, participate in our talent programmes, or nominate one of your network or team, please contact our Frazer Jones HR practice in Singapore.


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