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Take a leaf out of these 10 women leaders’ career diary



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“Be proudly ambitious”, “be strategic, mindful and take control of what you desire to overcome barriers”, and “carve your own career path” – this is just some advice that women leaders would share with their younger selves if given the opportunity.

In this 10th part of our 16-part series, see what advice women leaders such as Felicia Li-Gaillard of Integral Ad Science, Annie Lim of Sanofi, Amy Foo of Zendesk, and many more would give to their younger selves.


Shanthi, Founder & Account Director, COCO PR & Communications

I will tell myself my favourite quote from How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith – “If you want to be successful, don’t let your desire to please others get in the way of your ability to be direct and decisive.”

Sonia Aplin, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility, South-East Asia, Oceania and India, Ericsson

Research and choose organisations that actively encourage women to take on senior roles and stretch assignments and have a framework to support you to be successful. You will achieve your career goals faster and work in a more fulfilling environment.

Felicia Li-Gaillard, Marketing Director, APAC, Integral Ad Science

Encourage younger me to be proudly ambitious. Too often we are taught to keep our heads down and work hard assuming our performances will be recognised. That’s not enough. We should advocate for ourselves and not shy away from speaking up. Seize the opportunity!

Celine Landie, Managing Director, Novartis Singapore and emerging Asian countries

I would tell myself to be more conscious about growing my network, in and outside of the company. Hard work and performance can only get you so far. Upward mobility in your career is largely dependent on building a successful personal brand and having influential sponsors.

Serene Sia, Vice President and Managing Director, Oracle Singapore

Take accountability – that would be the advice I’d give to any young woman as they navigate the world. You are accountable for your own self and if you don’t take charge of your own career, no one else will. Do your research, network, seek mentors and never stop learning.

Annie Lim, Global Lead, Diversity and Inclusion, Sanofi

Be strategic, mindful and take control of what you desire to overcome barriers. We are at our most powerful when we focus on our strengths and clarify of the outcomes. With courage comes confidence; with growth mindset over comfort, we build competencies that bring huge results.

Maureen Tseng, General Manager, The Hoffman Agency Singapore

It’s hard-wired in women to put their own needs last, to be self-critical of their capabilities and potential. Looking back, I would have pushed myself to realise my biggest potential. I would have told myself to believe that when I shoot for the stars, there is no limit to how far I can go.

Christine Sou, Product Manager,TransferWise, and Founder – Singapore chapter, Women in Product

Don’t run away from the hard things – channel your inner strength and tackle them head on. Let go of the need to be 100% sure of anything. Remind yourself that uncertainty and moments of conflict are gifts and opportunities for you to shine that you forgo when you avoid them.

Amy Foo, Vice President Finance and Shared Services, Zendesk

Carve your own career path. Ask for what you want. Also, stay curious. Learning is the key to progress and pushing yourself to improve. It also helps gain a deeper understanding of other people’s motivations, so you understand what it’s like to walk in their shoes.

Ankiti Bose, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Zilingo

Naysayers will be many, fuel that energy into ambition and push yourself harder. Forgive people because there is a story behind every negative conduct. Grow a thick skin, navigate with confidence and empathy, not fear or anger. Do something you love, be the best at what you do.

We still have six more parts to our series focusing on women leadership, and bridging the gap in gender diversity in organisations. Stay tuned for more!

Part 1: Pearls of wisdom: Career advice from women leaders to their younger selves

Part 2: IWD2019 special: How CDL, Mars Inc, Standard Chartered Bank, and more are building balanced workplaces

Part 3: How leaders across Asia are taking responsibility to advocate a gender-balanced society

Part 4: Advice from 12 women leaders on overcoming career challenges

Part 5: 10 D&I initiatives that some of Asia’s most successful employers do

Part 6: If you could meet your younger self, what career advice would you give?

Part 7: ‘Don’t be afraid to be different’: Career advice from leaders across Asia

Part 8: 13 ways leaders like yourself can make an impact on gender equality

Part 9: How-To: 10 ideas you can adopt to help #BalanceForBetter

Part 11: Action for change: How leaders from BASF, Emirates, Henkel, and more are taking responsibility for D&I

Part 12: Interviews with AXA Insurance, Cisco, HP, Roland Berger, and more on D&I issues

Part 13: #BalanceForBetter: Equal pay for equal work, meritocracy approach, and more

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