In this fifth part of our International Women’s Day series, 15 women leaders share their words of wisdom for women aspiring to take up top positions in the futures.
The women in this part of the series come from multinationals of various industries including 3M, AIA, Eastspring Investments, FrieslandCampina, HP Asia Pacific and Japan, Keystone Cable, L'Oréal, Mars Wrigley Confectionery, Mondelēz International, Nikko Asset Management, Otis, Procter & Gamble, Watsons, and the U.S. White House.
See what they have to say here.
Yuko Nakahira, managing director, 3M SingaporeI actually have two sets of advice.
First, do not settle for generic skillsets – identify and develop your competitive advantages at different points of your career. Find ways to convince employers why it makes sense to hire or promote you, and not your male peers. Take charge and strategically map your career journey.
Second, work hard, but take care of yourself. Be realistic about the expectations you set for yourself - you need to set and review your work and life priorities at different stages of your career.
Peggy Quek, chief partnership distribution officer, AIA Singapore
Believe in yourself, never give up, and don't be afraid to lean on those around you, as this support will enrich your life in countless ways. It is crucial to define what success means to you and not be afraid to challenge social biases in achieving it.
Virginie Maisonneuve, CIO, Eastspring Investments
Follow your passion and your instincts. Work hard. Seize opportunities. Be confident and don’t be afraid to be different and challenge the status quo.
Kelly Galesloot, general manager for Singapore, FrieslandCampinaI am a big fan of the quote by Estee Lauder, "I never dreamed of success, I worked for it".
We need to be mindful that a career is a journey. By being genuine and authentic, willing to work hard and not 'rush through the levels', we set ourselves up for success.
Foo Siew Ting, head of marketing services and personal systems marketing, HP Asia Pacific and Japan
Have the courage to be fearless and overcome your own voice in your head - we are often our own enemies. Don’t be afraid to develop your own authentic voice.
Pearl Yu, director of human resources and marketing at Keystone Cable
Behave like the inequality gap has closed. When you focus instead on the objectives at hand and behave like an equal, you are more likely treated as such too.
Shawn Lim, director, Singapore advanced research, L'Oréal Singapore
Have the courage and confidence to put yourself out there as a leader.
Nicole McMillan, VP portfolio and marketing acceleration, Mars Wrigley Confectionery Asia-Australia, Middle East & Africa (AMEA)
Be proactive about your personal development - instead of trying to be perfect at everything, identify one or two areas to focus on.
Kris Giswold, director finance for biscuits category, AMEA, Mondelēz International
I think the best thing any woman can do is to create a network, seek out sponsors, and build a group of peers who genuinely support each other. We have to be our own advocate, and I hope my passion for this issue will inspire others to champion the cause too.
Stefanie Drews, global head of product and marketing, Nikko Asset Management (based in Tokyo)Focus on what you are ultimately trying to achieve. There will be many bumps on the road, and even some mountainous territory, but with a lot of discipline and focus on the final desired outcome, there is no reason women should not be able to progress.
I would also say to women: find companies that are supportive of women, and diversity and inclusion in general, and select those as your target employer.
As a HCPartner, Nikko Asset Management is part of the community of progressive employers under the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices’ (TAFEP) Human Capital Partnership (HCP) Programme.
Erika Goldstein, senior director, field operations at Otis EMEA
Be strong in your convictions and be decisive. Make informed decisions quickly, even if it may not be the 'perfect' answer. Use time wisely to reflect, and don’t dwell too long over mistakes - instead focus on learning and growing from every experience.
Sue Kyung Lee, vice president, global safeguard and Asia Pacific skin and personal cleansing - Procter & Gamble
Do not be afraid to ask for help, have the courage and conviction to make tough decisions, and proactively engage in regular discussions with your employer to identify gaps where better support can be provided.
Irene Lau, chief operating officer, Watsons SingaporeI love the saying 'Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results'.
Always try something new, don't be afraid to take risks and step out of your comfort zone. Along the way, learn as much as possible from all these different experiences.
Maura O’Neill, former President Obama’s first Chief Innovation Officer and Senior Counselor to the Administrator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), currently distinguished teaching fellow at University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of BusinessThere are two things.
One, never stop believing in yourself. I thought my mother’s generation were the trailblazers, I didn’t realise I was leaving so much work for my daughter’s generation. I think we have to keep believing in ourselves because there’s still so much work to do; it’s still harder to be a woman in the workplace, and at home, than it should be.
Two, dream big. I think as women, we sometimes edit ourselves. We sometimes don’t dream as big as men do, and that’s a tragedy.
Human Resources spoke to O'Neill on the sidelines of YPO EDGE. Read the full interview here.
Tina Tchen, former White House director for Women and Girls, former chief of staff for Michelle Obama, and currently legal counsel for Time’s Up Movement
My advice to women is two-fold - find your voice, then use it.
When you find it (your voice), you have to use it. I have seen women in very senior levels get into the meeting they have been trying to get into for a long time and then not speak up, it is the most frustrating thing to me. If you are there in the room and you fought to be there in the room, then use your voice when you are in the room.
Tchen spoke at P&G's inaugural #WeSeeEqual Symposium in Singapore, sharing some things organisations can do for sustainable change and progress in the future. See the advice she had for organisations here.
Bonus!P&G's inaugural #WeSeeEqual Symposium, Magesvaran Suranjan, president of P&G Asia Pacific and P&G India, Middle East and Africa, shares advice for business leaders to push for gender equality.
I think treating gender diversity as any other business issue challenge can work. It starts with an intentionality and a specific plan. Then track it, and be accountable to the result. It's what we call the PDCA loop - plan, do, check, act.
I believe that like any other business issue, we are going to crack it. And when we crack it, there is going to be great reward - for the company, for the society we work in and all enterprises that are part of a large entity.