What does it say about an employer when an employee spends the bulk of her working years with the company? I’m sure you’d agree with me that it speaks volumes. Volumes of the people, culture and management of that company — The Hoffman Agency.
In this day and age of short attention spans and multiple green pastures, a humble, hardworking and down-to-earth group of people kept me going for nine solid years. Not an easy feat, some would say. But to me, it was quite a breeze, and oh, so fulfilling.
I recall first meeting Maureen Tseng (Mo) and Whitney Small (our then-APAC MD) for a lunch interview at the “Kopitiam” at the then Westin Stamford Hotel. Whitney drew me in with her feistiness and drive, Mo with her warmth and sincerity. There was nothing much more I could ask for in people who would journey with me as I embarked on my next career move.
So the journey began. At Ocean Building on Collyer Quay. Woohoo! My first job in the prestigious Raffles Place area. However, I soon realized being pushed and shoved around at the subway stations and its vicinity during peak hours didn’t feel quite “prestigious” after all. Still, I have many fond memories of Ocean Building — nearby “smelly alley” where we could get the best local food, or Market Street food centre to get the freshest and cheapest fish soup. Oh, and Microsoft’s Instant Messenger was the preferred mode of communications. Remember those days?
But alas, Ocean Building was to be torn down to make way for a taller, posher skyscraper. This is Singapore for you.
We moved to the outskirts of the Central Business District — United Square. I loved that space — we used to joke about being able to cartwheel across the office because it was so spacious. I am also grateful for this address because I got to make use of the family-friendly mall downstairs for its clean and bright nursing rooms so my son could still get his daily fix even with mummy back at work. A lifesaver indeed.
Next stop, Burlington Square — such a unique location to suit a unique bunch. We shared many trying and good moments (and late nights) there as we fought hard to grow the business. In an earlier blog post, Bhavna Khemany talked about her wonderful time at Hoffman, and all that magic happened right here at our Burlington Square office. I often likened this area (Bencoolen Street) to a melting pot; an eclectic mix of Singaporeans, young and old, foreigners and tourists from all walks of life. Shirley, Amrita, Bhavna, Lynn, Tannia, Kamesh, Stoofie — you taught me so much about injecting spunk into work, and oh, about social media too.
It must’ve been the air (and the team, of course) there that helped us grow and flourish, as soon, we were bursting at the seams. So my dear office manager and friend, Janice Wang, and I, hunted for our next address. We didn’t have to look far before we ended up in Odeon Towers, which is still where the Singapore office sits today.
I recall feeling proud that Janice and I had landed a good deal as the previous tenant was leaving its relatively new furniture behind for our use! We could finally seat at least 12 people comfortably, and the smart, fun-loving team did such a great job turning one of the small meeting rooms into a cozy, chill-out corner. Oh, and thank goodness the office was big enough to handle our Nerf gun war games.
I hear now that the office has been renovated, and I’m sure it’s another spunky and productive workplace. I am confident, though, that what has remained constant are the heart and soul of the team, the office culture and what The Hoffman Agency stands for.
Congratulations Lou and team on HA-AP’s 20th birthday. I am proud to have played a part in shaping the Agency’s legacy here. Wishing you 20 more successful years — YAM SENG!!