Businesses find a great listener in sales superstar Brian ChengSeptember 29, 2022
FCB’s sister company, HR Assured, is a leading outsourced HR & WHS provider, delivering exceptional services plus software to ensure businesses of all sizes are managing their people compliantly.
A champion within HR Assured and the broader FCB group of businesses for solving companies’ stresses, Business Development Manager Brian Cheng is no ordinary salesperson.
Brian’s reputation is for combining soft-spoken, empathetic listening skills with making himself available to answer questions when it suits a business more than when it suits him – which has meant increasing numbers of people have chosen to trust in Brian and HR Assured to guide their workplace relations.
Brian has over 15 years’ experience working with small-to-medium sized enterprises and six years in the employment relations industry. Brian joined FCB’s sister company, HR Assured, early in the pandemic and immediately found himself working through an unprecedented challenge. COVID-19 was causing turbulence in recruitment and HR spending – though these turned out to be challenges Brian thrived on.
So, let’s meet the basketball-mad Melbourne dad and learn how he’s achieved a satisfying work-life balance at HR Assured.
Your title is Business Development Manager. What exactly do you do?
My role is to speak to businesses about their HR and Workplace Health & Safety (WHS) challenges, offering general advice and recommending our solutions to help them achieve fair and safe workplaces. I describe my approach as ‘consultative’. I listen to what my clients need to help them improve their compliance and develop positive and productive work cultures.
There are other outsourced HR providers who would have loved your talent. What made you choose to bring your skills to HR Assured?
HR Assured and the broader FCB group of companies has a fantastic culture not only for its staff, but also clients. By that I mean it has fewer people but more of a close connection between each staff member and each business we help. This means our lawyers, workplace relations advisors and salespeople share knowledge about the needs of every company we look after. We genuinely care about making their responsibilities easier, and we share the knowledge not just on a database, but in person.
There were other outsourced HR providers I could have worked for, but HR Assured’s values aligned with my personal values. When people ask how HR Assured is different, I tell them our approach is tailored based on the client’s needs rather than having a one-size-fits-all approach.
I have worked in many big and small corporations in my career. Honestly, the HR Assured and FCB team has been the most amazing workplace that I have worked in. The team is tightly connected, there is a One Team, One Dream culture here.
It’s demanding for businesses to comply with employment laws these days. What are businesses telling you they’ve been facing recently?
Australia has one of the most complicated employment and health and safety legal systems in the world. There is a lot of red tape for employers, from startups looking to set up their HR and WHS framework, established businesses looking for advice, to large businesses going through HR transformation and outsourcing their HR or Workplace Health & Safety. There is always something new for me to learn, and if I can master it, I will pass that knowledge onto the people who are trusting us to guide them.
You’re busy with significant sales meetings, travel, school runs and being a father and husband. How can you confine your work to 9-5?
The work can be quite demanding as client demands are always high. I try to prioritise tasks and confine my work to 9-5, though I still make myself available to help clients outside these hours. It is a very satisfying feeling knowing that you’ve helped someone to solve problems which have been keeping them up at night. Every time I feel tired, I think about the amount of people that I’ve helped and this keeps me going.
I also make myself available for clients who may need me after hours. For example, if a Chinese-speaking client wants to double-check some advice they’ve been given by the Telephone Advisory Service team and discuss it in Chinese – which I speak – I can help. Many Chinese companies opening subsidiaries in Australia are often not aware of the complexities of our employment legislation, so they need our advice. I was born in Hong Kong, my mother tongue is Cantonese, but I also understand Mandarin. I’ve even presented seminars in Chinese which were really well-received.
Did you have to learn sales or are you a natural?
My mum tells me all the time that she still doesn’t believe her son ended up in sales! I am definitely not a natural at sales, I am an introvert, I am not a smooth-talker but I believe if I treat my clients the way I want to be treated, then they will trust and do business with me.
Having a postgraduate Certificate in Employment Relations and Certificate in WHS helps me to understand the complexity of the legal framework in order to suggest the best solutions for my clients. Time management is a skill that’s important as work can get quite busy with back-to-back meetings. But having a genuine interest in helping clients is even more important than time management.
One of the largest clients who I recently helped connect with HR Assured was a global warehousing business with a large head office and big warehouse facilities in Melbourne. They came to us because they needed HR and WHS advice. They signed up for one year initially, then they were so satisfied within the first year they upgraded to a three-year contract. This business keeps referring its friends and connections to us, so we’ve become not only a sales-client relationship but also a referral relationship. I see my role as a trusted advisor to guide my clients to find the right solutions based on their circumstances.
Describe to me your hybrid style of working from home and out of the Melbourne office
I have two kids, Maddie and Sebastian, they’re 9 and 7. I live in Doncaster East, an eastern suburb of Melbourne. I have a family of four and my kids keep us very busy. In my spare time, I like to play basketball and I love fishing.
I’ve got a boat myself, a 4.4-metre Stacer Nomad. I love chasing snapper, kingfish, squid and whiting with my kids during my free time. I mostly fish in Port Philip Bay but I’ve taken it as far as Mallacoota chasing bream and dusky flathead.
I absolutely love working partly from home and partly at the office. The hybrid style allows me the flexibility and freedom to plan my day. This saves me time and money commuting to the office all the time. I can utilise this time to speak to more businesses, plus I still get to go into the office occasionally to catch up with my team and have a few beers after work.
Most importantly – what’s the most impressive fish you’ve ever caught?
Yellow-tailed kingfish is one of the best I’ve caught. In Melbourne, there’s just a few months’ window to catch them during summer. Some of the monsters can get to a metre long – though the best I’ve caught is 75cm. Not a monster, but I’ll take it.
And which basketball team do you support?
Miami Heat – I’ve been following them for a long time and have watched every single game in the past few years!
This article was prepared by Michal Botur. Michael is a copywriter and works for FCB and HR Assured. Based in sunny Northland, New Zealand, Michael’s passionate about shaping words to give audiences persuasive stories – sometimes for sales and marketing, other times for journalism, art or entertainment.