A Day in the Life of an HR Manager: Dawn Wong from Rakuten

February 9, 2015

dawn-wongMeet Dawn Wong – an HR Manager at Rakuten in Singapore.

Rakuten is the pioneer of the B2B2C marketplace, and one of the world’s leading internet service companies. They have a large human resources team in Tokyo with around100 team members. But, in Singapore they still have the atmosphere of a start-up. This means that Dawn is a one-woman army, handling the entire HR function - recruiting, employee relations, employer branding, learning & development and compensation & benefits.

Her role sounds so dynamic and versatile that we were keen to know what her day-to-day looks like. She agreed that we can shadow her for a day and we picked a Monday in January 2015-- a “talent priority day” for Rakuten. We call it Marathon Monday and you’ll find out why. Here is how it went:

5.30am to 8.30am: Reaching the office

Dawn wakes up early for a morning jog to refresh her mind and body and prepare for the action-packed day ahead. She then drops her son off at school and heads to the office.

While traveling in the train, she catches up on work and personal emails, daily news and also goes through the feeds of potential candidates using the LinkedIn Recruiter app on her smartphone. She also makes it a point to list down top priorities that she needs to accomplish in the day.

8.30am to 9.30am: Onboarding new employees

When she gets to work, Dawn welcomes the new joiners to the office, shows them around, and introduces them to their managers and colleagues. She then starts the onboarding orientation, giving them a sneak peek into the Rakuten culture and business.   

9:30am to 10.30am: The recruiting hour

Rakuten is scaling up its hiring efforts in Singapore, meaning that talent acquisition is a top priority for them. Dawn uses this hour to post jobs, evaluate the applicants, reply to new connections and reach out to candidates through personalized InMails.

She also uses this time to do some research on competitors and the industry trends, dedicating the last 5-10 mins to check updates on the Singapore job bank sites.

10.30am to 12pm: Campus recruiting – engaging with future talent

Connecting with potential graduates to get the pipeline going is an important part of Rakuten’s recruitment strategy. Dawn uses this time to connect with universities in Singapore and schedule talks or networking sessions to promote Rakuten’s employer brand.

Tapping into the networks of Rakuten’s current employees, she invites them to the recruiting events where they share their real life experience working at Rakuten. She’s found that students are positelty impacted by hearing from these anecdotes and getting  a better feel for the company culture. 

Noon to 1 pm: Interviewing candidates 

This is the hour of doing more with less. Dawn uses this time to interview candidates for open roles. She evaluates and qualifies candidates and then sets up interviews with the hiring managers. This involves sending emails and LinkedIn InMails, orspeaking with potential candidates to keep leads warm. The best part, according to her, is preparing the offer letters for the selected candidates who are a fit for the company.

1pm to 2pm: Lunch and Conversation

Dawn has a quick lunch meeting with a few colleagues to discuss how to collect periodic employee feedback to improve employee engagement. Lunch coupled with brainstorming is a great way to kill two birds with one stone during a busy day.

2pm to 3pm: Discussion on open positions with hiring managers

Dawn uses this time to sync up with hiring managers who are looking to fill new roles. She makes a point to get a deep understanding their requirements, receives feedback on candidates and uses these insights to improve the job descriptions.

Tip: Use data on the talent pool available out there to give informed recommendations to the hiring managers. 

3pm to 4pm: Social media strategy discussion

Next is a meeting with hiring managers and the marketing team to brainstorm which talent segments, channels and communication Rakuten can use to promote its employer brand. To make sure more and more people are aware of the presence of Rakuten and drive candidate preference for their brand, there is a significant focus on branding using channels like LinkedIn, Facebook and campuses.

4pm to 5.00pm: Conference call with the team in Tokyo on new training initiatives

Rakuten is growing and hiring people from diverse backgrounds and age groups. Because of this, improving training initiatives has become extremely important.


Dawn brainstorms with the HR team in Japan on what kind of training is suitable to meet the demand of this growing and diverse employee base. The Global Experience Programs and Global Manager Programs are designed to encourage cross-border training and knowledge sharing. Future leaders and high potential managers of all global entities come together to share their experiences and views of how to propel the business forward.

5.30pm - 7pm: Conversation time

Dawn uses this time to catch up with her boss or have a couple more chats with employees to round up the day in the office. Afterwards, She revisits the priority list she made at the beginning of the day.

A few emails, registrations of new employees’ data & payroll computation reviews later, the working day comes to an end. Her favorite part of the day? Any time she walks down the corridor of the Rakuten office in Singapore - this allows her to chat with different colleagues, feel the vibe of the culture and understand the employees better.

Of course, we had to also ask what the most challenging part of this action-packed work day was. She admitted that, “It is definitely doing many things with little time and also juggling between so many roles - consultant, marketer, business partner, talent scout, while being a mother and a wife at home, but this challenge keeps me fuelled with motivation.”

After a full day, we said our goodbyes and left Dawn all charged up for Turbo Tuesday, which will start at 7am the next day with a weekly morning international conference available to all Rakuten employees globally giving them an overview of the latest news and happenings within the company as well as outside in the industry.

*Image by Lauren Hammond

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