A Call for Change

Because iCare Award winners’ enthusiasm for a better tomorrow brings about improved workflows

Issue: Jun 2012

Zhang Jun Ji’s keen observation and fearlessness in righting a wrong helped save the company RMB30,000 (S$6,000)
Zhang Jun Ji’s keen observation and fearlessness in righting a wrong helped save the company RMB30,000 (S$6,000)

The ability to spot an error or a redundant workflow requires astute observation. But the willingness to effect changes to address those errors or redundancies requires courage and firm conviction. These are precisely what some CapitaLand employees had when they went over and above the call of duty to right a wrong so that others in the future would not have to work with less-than-perfect systems.

The inaugural Because iCare Awards was presented to 33 employees last November (read Speak Up, Listen and Respond Because iCare) to acknowledge the good work they have done to engage co-workers in meaningful ways. Employees are encouraged to speak up constructively, listen actively and respond accordingly in an environment of acceptance.

Thinking Ahead to Right a Wrong

Zhang Jun Ji, Senior Executive of Finance Shared Services, CapitaMalls Asia (China), balances a sharp, analytical mind with a heart that cares. Thanks to her attention to details, she helped the company save RMB30,000 (S$6,000) and prevented errors that would result in further costs for the company. Due to changing tax regulations in China, a new tax levy was imposed on the company. Instead of co-sharing the levy with its service provider per stipulated in the service contract, the company had been paying the full levy.

Upon discovering the error, Zhang quickly informed the Singapore office which had signed the contract with the service provider to prevent further incorrect payments.

Those who know her would know Zhang also possesses excellent interpersonal skills. Colleagues praise her willingness to speak up to make things better at work and her ability to do so with tact and grace, even maintaining good relationships with those who disagree with her.

“Even though we constantly handle numbers, we still have to work at our people skills because we need to deal people with different departments. Knowing how to communicate effectively helps,” said Zhang.

Guo Yu Xin’s sharpness in spotting errors and patience to explain them to colleagues has won them over
Guo Yu Xin’s sharpness in spotting errors and patience to explain them to colleagues has won them over

Another employee with a keen eye is Guo Yu Xin. Part of his job requires him to check through payment documents and approve projects. It is a painstaking, meticulous process that this Executive of Finance Shared Services in CapitaMalls Asia (China), takes very seriously.

“Sometimes, the documents and the requisite information are incomplete, or they are filed not according to company’s regulations. So we cannot approve payment,” said Guo.

To prevent such incidences in the future, Guo takes the time to talk the people through the system. “We often deal with large amounts of money. So anything that can help reduce errors or risks in the future is worth looking into even if it may not be popular or may make others unhappy,” said Guo.

It is this philosophy that has also made Guo go beyond his work scope to help new colleagues get familiar with the various aspects of their job. As far as Guo is concerned, it is an investment for the future.

Zhen Man Cheng helped to standardise the principal and interest payments process, saving the company invaluable man-hours
Zhen Man Cheng helped to standardise the principal and interest payments process, saving the company invaluable man-hours

Thinking Ahead to Simplify a Process

Zhen Man Cheng, Treasury Manager in CapitaMalls Asia (China), believes in working hard, working smart and being unafraid to speak up to make things better. Because of that she was able to simplify her workflow and make it smoother for the future.

“In my meetings with other regional finance offices (in China), we realised that there was no standard workflow when it comes to bank loan principal and interest payments (P & I payments). This made it difficult for centralised monitoring of P & I payments,” said Zhen.

To strengthen the P & I payments and cash management of the company, Zhen suggested having the treasury team come up with a centralised monitoring system for all the bank loan P & I information through a worksheet and to check the amount with the bank before and after P & I settlements, after which the information would be shared across the finance departments in all the CMA regional finance teams in China. In the process of establishing the centralised monitoring system, Zhen also streamlined the workflow to eliminate redundant processes to increase efficiency. For example, the duplication of effort in examining the P & I payment amount and payment method at payout stage where such information had been submitted before bank loan agreements were approved and signed.

Xin Chun Lei (far right) is a man who believes in simplicity and has helped to streamline workflows in his office for greater efficiency
Xin Chun Lei (far right) is a man who believes in simplicity and has helped to streamline workflows in his office for greater efficiency

Senior Executive of Finance Shared Services at CapitaMalls Asia (China), Xin Chun Lei also believes in simplifying work flows. As a result, he made changes to several work systems to better facilitate workflow time and increase productivity for system users.

One of his changes included the optimisation of the Finance Shared Services Accounting Receivables (FSS-AR) structure where three work groups (billing, bill collection and refunds) were consolidated and handed over to the different regions to manage. He also changed the way water and electricity charges were accounted so that variances would be minimised. Although he admitted that convincing colleagues to work with the changes was a challenge, in the end, it worked out for everyone because the systems and processes became more efficient.

“I believe in being honest and zealous about my work,” said Xin, “I like to take the initiative and do my best in my job, using my knowledge and expertise to make things better for everyone else.”

Being able to see beyond the current flaws to improve workflows and anticipate future pitfalls, these young men and women have boldly introduced changes for the better. Such actions show that they are not only interested in the present of the company but are also concerned about the future of their organisation and fellow colleagues.

Read more about the efforts of other Because iCare Award winners here.


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