19 Aug, 2022

It's the People Who Make the Sky the Limit

Charissa Chan, Head of People and Culture shares how she’s been inspired by remarkable people in her career who have shown that the sky’s the limit at Swire Hotels.  

By Charissa Chan, Head of People and Culture

I was recently asked what’s the purpose of the People and Culture team. A simple and clear answer might be  to enhance organisational effectiveness through a structured compliance framework and people processes, if you follow an HR textbook. While I agree this is a part of it at Swire, the first thing that comes to my mind, and what drives me at work, is to create a culture where people from all walks of life can make a contribution and add value to the organisation.

For me, diversity isn’t just a number. It’s more than simply hitting a KPI, but rather how we find, support and uplift those who are the right fit for the position regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. To champion those who might elsewhere be overlooked. Inclusion is an attitude too – there’s a saying in Chinese that everyone has something they were born to be good at, and at Swire Hotels, we find ways to include those special talents no matter who you are. 

If you aspire to shine, we provide you with a stage

I was caught by surprise one day when I walked by one of our restaurants and saw a group of female chefs prepping for the busy lunch period. It’s common knowledge that the culinary industry is dominated by men. Yet here, right in front of me, was a team of women all coming together in one of our own kitchens. Later, it came to my attention that one of them noticed our restaurant was looking for part-time help, and with plenty of time on her hands in between dropping off her child at school in the morning and pick-up in the afternoon, she decided to take the chance to dive into something new. After having a great time with us in the first few months, she got together a few of her mum friends to come work in our kitchen. What’s better than having a stage to showcase your culinary skills while having fun with your friends?

We see value in people with a different eye


I’m also passionate in supporting people after a career break. It can be disruptive for parents who have to hit the pause button on their professional life to raise children. One of our newest members on the People and Culture team has been a full-time parent for the past 10 years. When her child recently started studying abroad, she realised she was ready again to pursue her own career.







Returning to the workforce hasn’t been easy though. She was in middle management when she left her last job, and even though she sent out countless job applications looking for an entry-level position, companies turned her away, possibly due to the interruption in her work experience. I can assure those companies it’s their loss – she’s been a valuable asset to our team and a great brand fit at Swire. 

We believe everyone is born with something special to add 

At Swire Hotels, we trust that everyone is born useful and is capable to contribute to the fullest in their field of work  sometimes with a little help. We have one new Filipino team member who worked as a domestic helper for many years in Hong Kong. It was a long time until she finally was given a dependent visa  meaning an opportunity for a permanent local job. When I first received her CV, I passed it on to EAST Hong Kong without thinking much would come of it as she didn’t have related job experience nor had she received any of the formal training which a hotel would usually look for. Shortly after, her son sent me a photo of her in a meticulously kept Housekeeping uniform with a big smile on her face. I learned that she became a public area attendant, and she is so proud of what she can contribute to the hotel! Her cleaning expertise was seen and made present. We see it big, even when it is as small as a cleaning job. 


Bonus story: Having a permanent job also implies that now she is entitled to become a permanent resident in Hong Kong. A new job opportunity plus potentially, a new place to call home - double joy it is! 



Due to the COVID pandemic, our industry has been hugely impacted by a large number of resignations. And yet, I do believe there are still a lot of great people who have the passion for the wonderful world of hospitality. I’m grateful that our People and Culture team can help nurture these talents and play a part in the beautiful stories and journeys of the individuals who make Swire Hotels different from the rest.

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