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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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