Talent & Tech Asia Summit 2024
Power Profilers: Singapore’s established woman leaders share pearls of wisdom to their younger selves
  • sponsored

Power Profilers: Singapore’s established woman leaders share pearls of wisdom to their younger selves

In January this year, Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli announced that 2021 has been declared as the Year of Celebrating SG Women. 

According to a report by The Straits Times, he pointed out that women's contributions are integral to the Singapore story. Hence, the aim is to celebrate their progress and potential across society. 

Minister Masagos said: "We will celebrate our women's multi-faceted roles across society, and we will also celebrate the men who help to debunk stereotypes, change mindsets and play an active role in supporting and uplifting women."

Coincidentally, this year, Human Resources Online has partnered up with ManpowerGroup Singapore to launch a monthly social media thought leadership series, focused on being a spark of inspiration for local women who aspire to be in leadership roles in the future. 

We reached out to prominent women in leadership roles in Singapore and asked them one question: "If you could turn back time and meet your younger self, what would you say to her?"

Read what they have to say below.

This is an ongoing series and the article will continue to be updated as we feature more woman leaders. Bookmark this and check back every month!

Rhonda Wong, Co-Founder and CEO of OHMYHOME

Confidence, intelligence and the love for humanity is the most lasting form of beauty.

Surround yourself with a supportive ecosystem that encourages you to achieve your dreams. Never doubt yourself.

Believe in yourself and harness that energy of youth to work for the greater good. Dare to dream big even when others may not believe in it. You can do it, you just don’t know it yet.

hro x manpowergroup rhonda wong ohmyhome

Rosaline Chow Koo, Founder and CEO of CXA Group

I grew up poor and bullied during the Watts Riots in the US, was the first to go to university and have spent the last 35 years moving between building start-ups and leading corporate turnarounds in Asia and the US.

Now that I am approaching 60, I can see that everything that happened in my life has led me to become the person I am today. I would tell my younger self that true confidence comes from always choosing the harder path and stretching constantly to overcome the inevitable challenges.

hro x manpowergroup rosaline chow koo cxa group

Chong Ee Rong, Deputy Managing Director of Raffles Medical Group

The first thing I’d do is to give my ‘younger’ self a BIG hug and say…. “Everything will work out okay”. Then, I’d probably say “Slow down and savour the journey. The experience IS the experience."

I was always in such a hurry to keep things moving, get things done, to keep learning and growing. But sometimes when you rush through, you can lose the depth of the experience. So learning to calibrate and reflect is an important skill.

My advice would be - find a mentor or two or three... Someone who shares the same value system and will be a strong anchor for you as you keep pushing forward. Listen to your head, feel with your heart and make decisions based on your values.

hro x manpowergroup chong ee rong raffles medical group

Simone Heng, Human Connection Speaker

In a world of AI, bots and automation and the effects of disconnection from COVID-19, the one thing you can do to rise in this climate is to be uniquely human. Show your vulnerability, flaws and connect with people deeply.

People have never been thirstier for connection and if you can be the one to quench this thirst you can really define yourself. Human connection skills will be the defining skills of the future.

manpower simone

Tay Cheng Cheng, Director, Corporate and Marketing Communications, Changi Airport Group

Always be curious and open to learn. Do not be afraid to embrace change and never be content with being in your comfort zone. New experiences and uncertainties are what makes life interesting and stretches us to achieve more than we can imagine.

In the pursuit of your career, do not forget to make time for your loved ones. If the right partner comes your way, do not hesitate to build a family together. There is never a right time to have kids. It is hard work and comes with some sacrifices, but your children will be your source of joy and strength. You can achieve success both at work and at home.

manpower tay cheng cheng

Lavania Hajji, Founder and Director, Dance Embassy

I would tell my younger self a lot of things! One of which is to brave criticisms and never to doubt one's strength!

Growing up with Asian tiger parents has its pros and cons. I was primed to achieve excellence academically and told that only with excellent academics can one have a bright future. Should I not get home with expected results, I was told that as a girl I was doomed to stay home, cook and clean. I was even advised to marry a man who can support me.

If I had gotten the right advice and guidance, that as a girl, we need not be confined to be domestic beings nor do we need a man to thrive, I could have scaled my passion much earlier. Everything happens for a reason, they say, and indeed so. With such a story, I am even more driven to inspire girls and women around the world to pursue their passion.

lavania hajji founder and director of dance embassy

Susan Cheong, Managing Director and Talent Acquisition Group Head at DBS

I would tell my younger self to keep an open mind when new opportunities come my way.

I should not worry about whether I have the right experience for the role, but whether I possess the right skillsets to do the job well. Importantly, I must not discount myself, and there’s no need to take on a new role when I’m 100% ready – do it when I’m 60% ready and soar from there. Have the confidence to take on very different roles from what I’ve done well before, because that’s where I can learn the most.

When considering a new job, plan two or three roles ahead and make a considered decision if the new opportunity will get me to where I want to be. And if I feel that I’ve missed an opportunity, it’s OK. I just need to maintain a positive mindset, take things in my stride and recalibrate my route, just as I would with a GPS.

susan cheong dbs

Amarjit Kaur, Partner, Employment and Dispute Resolution at Withersworldwide

Set goals, by all means, but don't fixate on a path and timeline to achieve them. Life has a way of throwing curveballs that can push you off-course, but don't get deterred. Keep an open mind and remain flexible so that you're alive and receptive to new avenues and possibilities. You never know – you may discover new landmarks and destinations on your map to success that you hadn't anticipated.

manpower amarjit

Valerie Madon, Chief Creative Officer Asia, VMLY&R

To have more self-belief and not under-value my own contribution. When in doubt, ask my boss and peers how I’m performing. Don’t be shy to seek constant evaluation to improve faster.

Don’t be afraid to speak up or ask questions even if they may sound silly. Don’t be too concerned about how people judge you. Great teammates don’t judge and those who do are not the best people you want to work with so I should not be bothered by what they think of me.

manpower valerie madon jul

Lim Bee Kwan, Assistant Chief Executive, Government Technology Agency of Singapore

Be curious about who you are and define your values and principles.  Build up your self-confidence and empower yourself with knowledge.  Do your best until you can do better.

Life will bring joy, surprises, challenges, and disappointment. Don’t get caught up in difficulties of the moment.  Stay the course, and work hard and smart to overcome them. With every mistake you’ll make, learn from it, adapt and grow.

Be generous and kind to people around you.  Invest time to get to know people you work with and broaden your network, because having enduring relationships will matter in this lifetime.

lim bee kwan aug manpowergroup x hro

Wong Sze Keed, Chief Executive Officer of AIA Singapore

Take it one step at a time, one day at a time.

There will always be things to do, deadlines to meet and goals to accomplish. Work is important but pursuing your passion is even more important, always do what drives our purpose in our lives.

You can’t do everything, but you can always make time for what truly matters. Look after yourself; look after those around you; eat healthy; laugh heartily; exercise every day and be a friend. Always remember, you can get anywhere if you simply go one step at a time, one day at a time.

manpower sze keed

Su-Yen Wong, Board Director, Professional Speaker, Professor

Falling in love is an incredibly intense experience. You can't imagine life without the other person. Love conquers all, you tell yourself.

What I'd say to my younger self is that it's critical to be able to answer the question - and I mean REALLY answer the question - what's important to you? Your partner, too, should have some level of clarity on this.

Do you want to pursue a global career? Does your partner have similar ambitions? Do you have shared expectations around the division of domestic responsibilities? How do both of you feel about children? What are your attitudes towards money? How prepared are you to support each other's professional aspirations? And so on.

There are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions. What's important is alignment. Your partner - should you choose to have one - will have a significant impact on your professional path. Choose wisely!

manpower su yen wong

Tuminah Sapawi, Chief Executive Officer, PPIS (Persatuan Pemudi Islam Singapore)

My younger self at 30 would be someone at the stage of building both her career and family. 

I would tell her to pace herself better, go for more walks and enjoy nature. Continue her post-grad. Take a gap year from work to pursue her dreams. Travel. Pen an inspirational journal. Pursue her passion for helping the community. Have a cause and fight for the cause. It could be saving the environment or ensuring all children go to pre-school.

(I would tell her to) believe in herself and to not let others affect her. And always, always love herself - for only then she can love others abundantly.

mdm tuminah ppis manpower group

Jacqueline Alexis Thng, Partner, Prophet

Pursue your passion – even if it’s against the expected and ‘normal’ paths many would have taken. You must never stop learning. That’s how you will continue to make yourself relevant with the fast changing world. You may not know what the future holds for you, but perseverance, diligence, and a positive mindset will always win the day. When you achieve success one day, enjoy with family and friends, and don’t forget to give back to the community and help the lesser.

jacqueline alexis thng partner prophet

This is an ongoing series and the article will continue to be updated as we feature more woman leaders. Bookmark this and check back every month!

Photo / 123RF

Human Resources Online is on Telegram! Follow us @humanresourcesonline or click here for all the latest weekly HR and manpower news from around the region.

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