Mandy Chooi

Mandy Chooi
Global Director of Strategy & Innovation for HR
My experience and deep interests:
I am based in: Amsterdam
THNK connection: THNKer , AMS Class 11

I grew up in Malaysia, Canada and Hong Kong. Up until the age of 19 I was certain I was destined for a career in visual and performing arts. All extra-curricular efforts went to studying, practicing and producing paintings, photography, plays and movies.


Then, in university I became fascinated with understanding human behavior as individuals and in groups. That led to a Masters in Measurement Psychology and Ph.D. (Abd.) in Organizational and Leadership Psychology. I have since spent many happy years in research and teaching.


I am grateful for a meaningful and global career spanning Fortune & FTSE 100 companies in the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific in technology, automation, aerospace, FMCG, management consulting, and financial services. I have been fortunate enough to have lived and worked in Chicago, Minneapolis, Toronto, Vancouver, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Phuket and now in Amsterdam. As a result, one of the hardest questions for me to answer is “Where are you from?”  I much prefer to have a conversation about “Where are you a local?” for that’s when you really connect with that part of a person that has changed as a result of living some place (check out Taiye Selasi’s TED talk).


I cannot leave out mentioning my wonderful husband who originates from Germany but is every bit the global citizen I am and we support each other through our adventures.


The red thread through my work has been creating the right performance culture via the right leadership and the right talent solutions. I believe the key to how quickly an organization achieves its strategic goals is the performance culture that’s created by leaders and reinforced by the experience of working there.


Despite being very focused on my career, change and variety of challenges have always been necessary to keep me interested and fresh. After 6 years at Motorola I went to Phuket, Thailand to start a Scuba Diving and Instructor Training business with my husband. At the same time, I founded a management consultant business that helped companies excel at strategy, leadership, culture and growth. It was the best work-life balance I ever had; teaching scuba and going on multi-day dive trips for a few weeks, and then getting seriously engaged on a challenging organizational project for a client; and then back to the ocean... I learned the biggest lessons in positivity and resilience when the 2004 tsunami hit Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Along with so many in the diving industry, we lost our business, but more importantly we lost friends, colleagues and loved ones. Yet somehow people overcame, by coming together and helping each other rebuild; by focusing on what they still had instead of what was lost.


As ING’s Global Head of Strategy and Innovation for HR, my aim is to help ING win by being an innovative, exciting and rewarding place to work. HR must lead the way in anticipating future needs, the solutions which may disrupt conventional HR models and practices. Previous roles include Global Head of Talent, Learning and Organization Development at ING, SC Johnson, Honeywell, and various leadership roles at Motorola.


Along the way, I’ve discovered that my purpose is to help change your lens so you see the world differently, and to be the lightning bolt that enables productive destruction…  to make room for creation and transformation. As a good friend once told me, “You should NEVER go where they don’t need a lightning bolt! You’ll just make a mess of everything."


Currently I am very passionate about two things; 1) awakening everyone's leadership purpose and helping them bring out the true purpose of their organization, then turning that into tangible practices that truly reflect what they stand for and will differentiate; and 2) a start-up that uses mobile technology and artificial intelligence to democratize and make accessible to everyone the power of coaching and mentoring.


I’ve come to realize that my strengths are what I rely on to get me places. I am humbled to know that my weaknesses will never become strengths. What I do care about is that they don’t get in the way of other people doing great work and that our collective strengths will make each other’s weaknesses irrelevant. After a recent major health challenge that took me out for over a year, I now know life is too short to work on being good at climbing trees… for I am a fish.