human resources online

Career advice for younger self and others

share on


What would you say if you had a chance to meet your younger self who might be struggling at work?

Similar to what Italian artist's Titan's painting An Allegory of Prudence hints at ? we should learn from the experience of?the past and try to live in the present acting prudently, so as not to spoil future actions. And that reflection and meticulous attention to previous and current actions is recommended for a better self.

Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist, has said that the story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.

Therefore, on the cusp of International Women's Day (8 March),?Human Resources asked female leaders in Hong Kong three questions to reflect their career journeys:

  • As a female leader, what can you do in helping to advance more women into leadership roles?
  • What have you learned about the workplace today that would you want to say to your younger self, 10 to 20 years ago, that can help you overcome the challenges in your career?
  • What is your advice for women aspiring to the top?

Cynthia Chung, Partner at Deacons

How to help advance more women into leadership roles

As the head of a busy corporate department in Hong Kong?s largest law firm, I lead by example. My management style is supportive and collaborative, and I encourage women under my leadership to speak up, contribute and take credit for their achievements. Gender diversity is embedded in our firm and we promote a corporate culture that is fair and inclusive.

I am proud to work at a firm where more than 40% of the partnership are women. It is critical that younger generations of women have lots of real-life role models they can look up to, and who can inspire them through coaching and mentoring. Everybody?s career is different and there isn?t only one path to success.

I also believe a flexible working environment can empower women to succeed. ?We all have responsibilities and commitments outside of work, and the ability to control when, where and how to work instils confidence that staff are rewarded on the quality of their work above all else.

Advice to younger self

Visualise what you want to achieve in your career and make a plan of how you?re going to get there. You will inevitably encounter challenges along the way so be prepared, but don?t let them demoralise you or stand in the way of achieving what you?ve set out to do. Every set back is a valuable learning experience.

Advice for women working their way to the top?

Never feel that what you are doing isn?t important. Do everything to the best of your ability at any point in time - it will set a solid foundation for what is to follow.

Strike the right work-life balance. It?s important to work hard but you also need to carve out time for yourself. Ensuring you are physically and mentally healthy is critical for personal wellbeing. You will minimise the risk of burnout and achieve more if you can get that balance right.

Finally, choose a career you?re passionate about! You?re much more likely to succeed when you enjoy what you do.

Liz Furniss, head of HR, Asia, St. James?s Place Wealth Management

How to help advance more women into leadership roles

It doesn?t matter if you?re male or female, it?s the responsibility of all leaders to create an environment where the opportunity to move into a leadership role is the same for all. Women don?t need to be helped ? they need to be empowered by being recognised and supported for their individual merits. Senior executives, whether male or female are crucial in shaping the culture of the business to enable this.

Advice to younger self

Don?t be modest about your achievements. If you don?t communicate your own value to a business, no one else is going to do it for you.

Advice for women working their way to the top?

Don?t hesitate in asking for that pay rise, promotion, or new job because you think you don?t deserve it or aren?t good enough ? you definitely won?t get to the top if you don?t try.

Karyn McLean, CFA, head of marketing and communications, APAC, CFA Institute

How to help advance more women into leadership roles

I have a motto I swear by: ?You have to send the lift back down?.

As a leader, it's my role to help those around me ? those on my team, in my office or in my network ? to achieve their potential.? You do this as a leader by opening doors, giving people opportunities to try new things or build a profile, and by sharing your experiences when and where you can.

And, just as important, I need to lead by example.? My success might help lead to the success of others, even if it just opens minds.

Advice to younger self

On my first day of work, my mom said to me, ?You are going to have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good?.? Wiser words have never been spoken.? What I wish I had known 20 years ago is that those words would still hold true today.? If I had, I think I would have paid more attention during the middle part of those years and prepared myself to be ready to face the same challenges at 45 that I faced at 25. I was prepared for a 10K, and now realise it is an ultra-marathon.

Advice for women working their way to the top?

Work hard ? very hard. Know your worth. Grow a thick skin. Own your own voice ? never let others speak on your behalf.? Be your authentic self. Be visible: Your accomplishments change minds. We have a saying that visibility is validity. ?If I can see it, I can imagine it.?

Send the lift back down.

Lucy Liu, managing director ? Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, The Executive Centre.

Advice to younger self

I actually often see my younger female team leaders as the younger version of myself. The advice I provide to them, is like saying it to myself 10-20 years ago;

  1. Always have a second thought, first reactions may not be the best option.
  2. Empathy ? learn to think from the other person?s point of view. Try to understand their position, why they talk, think and act the way they do.
  3. Always encourage team members, be generous by offering your appreciation and praise.
Advice for women working their way to the top?

For women who are aspiring to top positions, the most important characteristic is to focus on the bigger picture unconditionally. The team and the company?s goals are the main priority (even over personal goals), and once you have your priorities set in place, you will know what the bigger picture is. Last but not least, remember to share ? share the love, share the support, share your experiences and the help you received to the people who need them from you.

share on

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

Free newsletter

Get the daily lowdown on Asia's top Human Resources stories.

We break down the big and messy topics of the day so you're updated on the most important developments in Asia's Human Resources development – for free.

subscribe now open in new window