News | March 22, 2022
As part of Women’s History Month in March, Sands is highlighting female leaders who have contributed significantly to the company’s culture and success. Chan Yit Foon joined Marina Bay Sands in 2011 and serves as senior vice president of human resources. She provides thoughts about her career trajectory, Sands’ resources that helped her succeed and advice for other women in pursuing their professional goals.
What drew you to hospitality and human resources?
“I come from a background in finance, having spent 24 years with a multinational technology and consulting company, where I started as a financial analyst. In 1997, I felt a strong desire to take my short, accumulated experience as a first-line people manager to cross over to the human resources (HR) function, as I saw endless growth opportunities for a field of such a dynamic nature.
“HR is a profession in which one can truly make an impact on the organization. To me, it is not just about meeting business goals or analyzing market trends that impact manpower flow. It is about nurturing and empowering people to advance in tandem with the business. Nothing brings me more satisfaction than to make HR programs and policies relevant to the business and balance it with the ability to set people on a journey toward success, regardless of their hierarchy within the organization. Often, people who work closely with me will find me saying that “everyone is my favorite child.” By this, I am referring to all Team Members in the organization.
“My innate curiosity and desire to make a difference led me to venture into the exciting hospitality industry, especially at a time when Singapore introduced its first integrated resorts in 2010. It was a momentous breakthrough for the country, which was already known for its bourgeoning tourism appeal. I wanted to be part of history in shaping the future of hospitality. In my years as a HR professional since the 2000s, I have witnessed many milestones in the evolution of people management, and I have to say – there is never a boring day in the office. Decisions I make each day impact my fellow co-workers and, often, their careers and families, while balancing with the company’s overall strategies and needs. I have always guided myself with one way of thinking: make those decisions ones that I can go to sleep after each night.”
What advice can you give Team Members about professional development opportunities?
“At Marina Bay Sands, people are our greatest assets. This is why we take great priority in developing our Team Members to become leading professionals in their fields. Our integrated resort is no ordinary organization – its success is due to the Team Members who maximize the training opportunities we offer to reach their optimum potential.
“In addition to continuous training roadmaps and leadership programs to future-proof our workforce, especially in an industry as scalable as ours, I am an advocate of self-initiated lifelong learning. For instance, in Singapore, Marina Bay Sands is the first in the hospitality industry to introduce a two-day paid learning leave for our Team Members who wish to pursue courses relating to IT, language and service, at their own pace. This proactive approach and learning incentive have been very well received by our Team Members. At the end of the day, our goal is to align our Team Members’ professional endeavors with the organization’s success, and I have a dedicated team of seasoned talent management personnel who are consistently developing tools and resources for our Team Members’ self-directed learning.”
What advice do you have for mentorship opportunities?
“As a mentor, be genuine to guide. As a mentee, be trusting to your mentor/s and absorb as much advice as you can get. You will know that the mentorship works when both mentor and mentee learn as much from each other as they give into the relationship.”
What are your goals in your current position and what impact do you want to make?
“At this time, nothing is more exciting than to chart the human resources function to evolve and be part of the journey for Marina Bay Sands’ expansion and growth plans in the next three to five years – or even longer – for the next 10 years at Marina Bay Sands!
I can see so many opportunities to evolve as a progressive employer and make a difference to Marina Bay Sands’ growing workforce. Marina Bay Sands is a large employer, and we can steer ourselves well toward being an even more preferred and attractive employer in Singapore.”
What advice would you give to women starting their career?
“Women bring a vastly unique set of competencies and values into the workforce. I encourage all to embrace conversations, contribute and foster a culture of sharing, because only then can we continue to groom women leaders of the future.
“At Marina Bay Sands, we believe that empowering women in the workplace is an important step toward achieving gender equality. This is why women comprise nearly half of our close to 10,000-strong Team Member population, with more than a third helming senior management positions across diverse departments.”
Who are the female role models you have looked to in history or in your career?
“I can’t say I have a particular female role model that I have looked toward in history or over my career span in the last 30+ years. But I do pick up new things from many women – whether world renowned leaders such as Mother Teresa or female executive colleagues – when they exhibit behaviors that resonate with me. It needs to feel authentic.”