Finding fulfilment in HR: an interview with James Cook University graduate Jen Ling Chng

There’s an age-old question that never fails to surface in the minds of those deciding what—and where—to study for university: can I really apply what I’ll learn at work?

For Jen Ling, a graduate of James Cook University’s Bachelor of Business (Majoring in Management and Financial Management), the answer is a definite yes!  Curious about how and why, Digital Senior chatted to her about her studies, career, and future plans. Here’s what we’ve found!

A fulfilling career in Human Resource Management

Jen Ling currently works as a Human Resources advisor in the Singapore office of Dematic, a world-leading supplier of logistics systems and solutions. This is Jen Ling’s first role after graduation; in her capacity, she supports the Human Resources manager in Human Resources matters within Asia, working closely with managers from Korea, Malaysia and Singapore to bring talents into her organisation.

She also does payroll administration for Dematic’s Singapore and Korea offices, “a great opportunity for fresh graduates as payroll matters are usually handled by more senior Human Resources personnel”, and is part of a community with colleagues from Dematic’s offices worldwide. The community meets and collaborates on projects and discussion sessions, sharing local practices and working on improving Human Resources strategies.

While her days can get busy, Jen Ling enjoys the people-centric nature of Human Resources and feels a sense of satisfaction when employees are happy about being part of Dematic.

“I would describe [my role] as an exciting [one] because I encounter different situations involving people every day,” she says, “It challenges me to think out of the box and take in opinions to shape solutions.”

A slightly different route

Jen Ling explained that she joined the Human Resources industry out of interest, which bloomed after a temporary administrative role in the Human Resource department before her undergraduate studies. Therefore, we were surprised to learn that she chose to specialise in the areas of Management and Financial Management instead!

She did so with good reason, however, believing that the former would expose her to Human Resource skills and concepts. Finance knowledge, in turn, would always come in handy even if she never entered the finance sector.

James Cook University also did not have a Human Resources Management specialisation yet, at the time, but Jen Ling had her heart set on studying there. In fact, she decided on James Cook University even before locking down her choice of majors! She’d first gotten to know about James Cook University from her friend, and was impressed with the school’s facilities and hospitality during their open house.

Learning that James Cook University was the first organisation to secure the EduTrust Star was what sealed the deal. Jen Ling recalls discovering this fact through an article published in My Paper in 2016; assured that her tertiary education would be in good hands, she took the leap.

How she applies her knowledge in her career

Jen Ling enjoyed her time at James Cook University, crediting this to “passionate” lecturers and a well-equipped campus.

“James Cook University, to me,” Jen Ling elaborates, “is an institute that focuses on imparting knowledge beyond textbooks”.

“The school focused a lot on applying concepts to real life scenarios, such as developing job descriptions and selection criteria, understanding the implications of leadership styles on [an] organization and how organizational culture impacts employees’ behaviour. All of these are the fundamentals to Human Resources strategies in bringing in and retaining talents in the organization, and it definitely influenced my thought process when addressing employees’ concerns”.

Two modules Jen Ling particularly enjoyed were Business Modelling and Advanced Business Modelling, which helped her build a solid foundation in Microsoft Excel and aided her in her career.

“[The field of] Human Resources deals with a lot of data,” she explains, and ‘the Excel skills [I] acquired have helped me a lot in presenting data and keeping track of records”.

“Business Modelling taught me the basics in excel while Advanced Business Modelling allowed me to explore advanced Excel features such as macros and statistic tools. Although some of the advanced Excel tools may not be commonly used at work, it is good knowledge that could be handy in the future when it comes to [things such as] creating forms or simulations”.

Her knowledge has already paid off: while her current role does not require advanced Excel functions, she made use of what she knew when preparing reports involving data manipulation—impressing her supervisor in the process.

Jen Ling, in turn, met a lecturer that left an impression on her during the Advanced Business Modelling module: Dr Thanh Nguyen!

“[Dr Thanh Nguyen] took over our class for the Advanced Business Modelling module in the middle of the semester. It was a new module for herself and many of us had problems grasping the concepts. She went the extra mile to create a set of slides to recap the content from the first half of the semester and it was a job well done. Her passion to teach kept me motivated to attend her classes. Many of us struggled with the project before she took over the class.  She made the effort to set aside time after class to give pointers on the project for each group. My excellent grades are a testimony of her tireless effort in education.”

Future plans ahead

What lies in store for Jen Ling, now that she’s completed her undergraduate studies and has settled into in her current role? Seeing that James Cook University offers the Master of Business Administration (Majoring in Global Talent Management), we asked Jen Ling if she would consider postgraduate education to advance her Human Resource skillsets and future prospects.

She doesn’t rule it out.

“Yes, I definitely wish to pursue a postgraduate education in a Human Resources related field of study,” Jen Ling shares. “However, I hope to equip myself with 3-5 years of work experience before returning to school. I believe [that] through work experience, I can better take in new knowledge and exchange ideas [with fellow Human Resources professionals] on common issues faced at work.”

We wish Jen Ling all the best in her career and future endeavours, and will be cheering her on!

This article was written with the help of the Singapore campus of James Cook University.

Did you know that the Bachelor of Business, which Jen Ling studied, now offers sought-after majors such as Human Resource Management and Marketing in the Digital Age to equip students with current and high-demand skills across various industries? Do check the programme out if you’re interested in a Business education!



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