Sashikala: Communicating HRDF’s Mission to the Malaysian Public

Sashikala Devi Gopallan is a Master Communicator. Bubbly, witty, and honest, her experience in Communications and Marketing has spanned over 19 years. It is not a wonder that last year, Sashikala was recognised as LinkedIn’s 3rd Most Engaged Marketer in Malaysia for 2016.

Currently, Sashi is the Director of Corporate Communications at Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Berhad (PSMB), the Agency under the Ministry of Human Resources Malaysia that administers the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF). She is responsible for strengthening the HRDF brand positioning in Malaysia and across South East Asia.

“HRDF plays an important role in the Malaysian economy – it spearheads the up-skilling and re-skilling of the Malaysian workforce by allowing its registered employers to receive financial assistance up to 100% to cover the training costs incurred,” said Sashi.

“My task,” she continued, “is to ensure that the HRDF brand remains relevant with the Malaysian workforce through visibility and transparency of all the great work that HRDF does with important national Human Resources mandates.”

Prior to HRDF, Sashi was the Marketing Head of Kelly Malaysia; a role she undertook after being in the property industry with Mah Sing Group Berhad as Deputy General Manager, Marketing Communications & Customer Relationship Management. In her position with Mah Sing, her team and her successfully drummed up donations totalling to MYR2.8 million for Mah Sing Foundation’s  inaugural  charity fund-raising.

Sashi brings this same magic and drive to everything else.

Sashikala and her team

On Helping Develop Malaysia’s Workforce

The HRDF was established in 1993 with the aim of developing quality human capital and world-class workforce in order for Malaysia to achieve a high income economy based on knowledge and innovation.

“The key stakeholders at HRDF and their respective team members are determined to address the current skill gaps of the nation’s talent, and encourage the right type of leadership training and development needed to mitigate that gap, so the nation can achieve the high income status by the Year 2020,” said Sashi.

The skilled Malaysian workforce is at 28% and the national target is 35% by 2020.

She is determined to play the role of a strategic partner to the internal stakeholders of HRDF by generating more impactful education and awareness campaigns on HRDF.

“My aim is for the every Malaysian to know HRDF; not merely by its abbreviation and the fact that it is an agency under the Ministry of Human Resources, Malaysia. But for HRDF to be known for its role and function; assisting the Malaysian workforce to advance itself on both micro and macro levels.  For this, we need to find our unique voice and to remain steadfast in our deliverables; and most importantly to speak of the outputs of these deliverables at every opportunity we get,” she said.

HRDF has a plethora of schemes to help the Malaysian workforce, including those specifically for Malaysia’s booming small, medium enterprises.

Equal Opportunity and Conscious Decisions

Juggling the demands of a busy job, and family life comes with its set of challenges. For Sashi, it’s about maintaining “work-life equilibrium”.

“Personally, I don’t think there is such a thing as work-life balance. It’s more about work-life equilibrium. Sometimes family takes precedence over work and there’ll be times when priority will be given to work. I strongly believe that every decision, no matter how small, is done consciously and whatever reason we can’t do something, it’s a choice too,” she said.

Want more time? Switch off the TV!

So how does Sashi keep it all together? To keep sane, she credits exercise, managing her time well, and most importantly, the secret of having a very supportive other half!

“I’ve not switched on the TV for myself for 6 years, and there’s so much time I have gained from that single act! And of course I choose NOT to aim be superwoman – if I need help with housecleaning, I get the cleaners in; we have a babysitter who helps manage our daughters while we are at work; and when I can’t cook for a party, I cater,” she said.

On days I make cakes and pancakes from scratch, I will shout about it on social media!

In her current role in HRDF, she shared this advice for young Malaysians entering the workforce:

“Stay true to your skill-set, and keep improving at it. You can choose to switch industries, try your best to stay true to what you’re good at. The cliché, “do what you love and you’ll never have to work a single day” is spot on!”

As for women with no defined set of skills, she recommends skills certifications and training to stay relevant.

“Women are lucky; we have numerous established support groups, associations and agencies that encourage us; and women are our strongest supporters. We must try, however, to stop being so hard on ourselves.”

“To me,” she said, “I know I can’t have everything, but I can have a little bit of everything and that’s pretty cool!”

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