This month, we celebrate some of Singapore’s fearless female leaders who have taken strides to implement change in their respective fields. From sharing their greatest challenges to learning about their leadership style, we find out how they’re making waves and shaking things up in traditionally male-led industries.
My leadership style… consists of a very collaborative, participative, and hands-off method – where I value my team member's ideas and encourage views and ideas to be incorporated in how we work and make business decisions. This hands-off style is particularly helpful when my team members (no matter the gender) need to have flexibility in where and how they work, the end goal which matters is getting things done on time.
Our female members love this flexibility where they are able to work remotely without having to sacrifice valuable and precious time, or having to let go of work in the event they are needed for important events or family occasions anywhere in the world. That said, should the situation require it, I do get in the mix and exercise a bit of authority to ensure that work is completed.
My most memorable career challenges and triumphs include… working with various stakeholders in ranks in my previous positions. While it has been extremely challenging dealing with high targets and difficult personalities and situations, I have also learnt a lot from these engagements and today I am able to handle any business situations with any personalities, cultures, and situations.
In one of the companies I worked for, I was utilized as a trump card to save difficult projects. I was also given responsibility and authority to do what I needed to get the sales team back on track (profit level) for a biggest well known tech company outside Singapore where I got to meet and work alongside the Country VP, the country leads, their marketing, sales and operations to turnaround the business. This meant being away from home for months, shuttling between countries every week, even at a time when I was not ready for relocation.
I had to deal with various cultural nuances, local market dynamics, changing their internal work cultures, practices and processes, politics, and internal and external pressures. While it was challenging, I would say that seeing the results from the work has been highly satisfactory.
(Related: Leading Ladies - Tan May Lin)
The most fulfilling aspect of my role as a woman is… exercising the freedom to operate according to my ideas, value systems, with the freedom associated with doing what I love and what I am best at. Throughout my children’s childhood years until now, I wanted to make sure I was there for them, throughout important milestones, while also achieving my professional goals.
As a woman who has achieved all that she has today, and being the founder of her own business, I’ve learnt that there are times when women like myself have to step up and go against cultural and societal norms while also making sure to balance her personal life. Despite the challenges I have encountered, developing an education-based business and helping others through my consultancy work has been the most fulfilling goal that I have achieved.
For young women who are about to join the workforce, my advice is… to take charge of the role you want and the space you have been put in, and most importantly, to know that you have been hired for your capabilities. Anyone with the right skills, knowledge, competencies, mindset, and attitude can do any role as desired.
That said, here are some key pointers from one woman leader to the next:
1. Step into the workforce with an open mindset to learn, share and grow. To assume a future leadership role, you have to step up, take risks, and show your leadership potential. Leadership is showing the way for others and serving the greater community.
2. Don’t wait until your company sends you for training. Invest in and upgrade yourself. Having current relevant skills helps.
3. If you are an introvert, keeping quiet and expecting to be noticed won’t help. Actions speak louder than words – let your performance results shine. You have got to be a good example to others around you for people to not just respect and look up to, but also to entrust you with something.
4. Don’t just follow what everyone shares. Trust your voice that you have developed through your own experience. Sometimes, it is natural to have imposter syndrome, but when you really look into the environment and have dialogues, you will realize that no one is perfect in this world. With experience comes wisdom!