Interview with Women in Leadership within Technology
To celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th, we would like to share with you a guest blog, featuring three senior females in Leadership roles, within Technology.
They will be discussing their success, career defining moments and what advice they would give to another female looking to pursue a similar career. This is what Mayda Lim, Chetna Bastani, Yujin Lee Evered had to say:
Guest Speaker 1 - Mayda Lim, Head of Technology, China Campus at ANZ
Mayda Lim is the Head of Technology for ANZ Technology Development Campus, China. She is responsible for driving innovation and digital capabilities to create value, and for keeping the lights on - ensuring the effectiveness, reliability and resiliency of her organization's technology solutions for her business.
Guest Speaker 2 - Chetna Bastani, Head of Sales - SAP Practice at Dimension Data
Chetna works for Dimension Data. She leads the SAP Direct Sales and Channels business, across Asia Pacific. She has over 17 years of working experience, leading dynamic teams across multiple countries.
Guest Speaker 3 - Yujin Lee Evered, Regional President, Asia Pacific at UNIT4
Yujin Lee Evered, is a business leader with over twenty years of software industry experience, with particular focus on driving accelerated growth by building high performance teams. She has over fifteen years of management and leadership experience across Asia pacific and Japan.
1. What factors do you think have been critical to the success you have achieved in your career?
ML: My core values in pursuing my career - 3As:
- A positive Attitude - I believe that a positive attitude defines the altitude of my career. I started working in 2000 which was a financial challenging year. Looking for a job at that time was hard for a fresh graduate, so in order to overcome it, I embraced positivity and kept in mind that “anything is possible”. When one door closes, another one opens. So I kept knocking until I found the open door!
- Accountability - A career is like a train ride. It is the journey that matters instead of the destination. I took accountability and responsibility to build, nurture and stay curious about the unknown in my career building journey.
- Appreciation - I do appreciate all my mentors and sponsors who have believed in me and invested their time on me. They are my career lighthouse that continue to point me in the direction. They always gave me valuable advice and molded me to be the person I am today.
CB: Believing in yourself and breaking stereotypes is the most important. I started my career as a sales professional in a male dominated IT industry. I was the only woman salesperson in a team of 200 sales personnel in a leading IT firm in India. It was a great experience but sometimes it got tough, somehow I managed to find humour in those tough situations and it kept me going.
I believe having a strong mentor is one of the key factors. When I was fresh out of college I was coached by some of the key leaders within my organization. Even today I have a very strong mentor who is my coach and guide and has awesome leadership qualities, all of this inspires me. I have always found immense value in mentorship. Diligence and tenacity are some of the other factors. Nothing comes easy and nothing comes to you fast. You have to keep working at it to get there.
YLE: There are two major factors that I believe have contributed to my success:
I have not shied away from taking various roles and responsibilities throughout my career. I was lucky to have had a circumstance that allowed me to try different roles. I started in Marketing in Korea at Oracle but quickly moved to Asia-Pacific division and had the chance to do market segmentation across all of the major markets in the region. I believe this gave me a very good overall context to then take on other additional challenges. I had been part of the team that set up Oracle Direct, the inside sales centre. I had also done some HRMS/CRM presales, and Financing Sales, and Sales operations, before settling into series of Sales roles. From that I gained a very broad perspective of the business and how each line of business interacts with each other and depend on each other. This also helped me understand how to collaborate across different functions which became very handy as a sales representative. I worked through the ranks of sales into a sales leadership role to ultimately get to my current position. I find the broad approach and experience still serves me very well in quickly identifying issues and challenges that need to be addressed in the current General Management role.
The other part of the varied experiences is that I have been fortunate enough to work across Singapore, Korea, and Australia and have had an APAC regional exposure continuously throughout my career. Not just having a cross regional role, but actually being imbedded as part of the country roles in these locations have given me good mixture of breadth and depth that continue to serve me well today.
2. What initiative(s) have you experienced within an organisation that you believe have helped you?
ML: IT does matter to me. I’m passionate about technology and digital. This is a male dominated industry. However, I have met many great male mentors and sponsors throughout my career that have not only helped me navigate this maze but also elevated my career.
YLE: I have been involved in a number of transformative projects earlier in my career. When I was in Korea, I had the opportunity to work on completely realigning the sales model where we broke down direct sales into industries, realigned the mid-market business and built a separate go-to-model for SMB. Projects such as this have helped me to understand how to build organisations for cost-effective operations that optimize growth potential. I have been through multiple merger and acquisition scenarios, either having to integrate the new business into our existing business, or be in a position of the company having to integrate into a larger organisation. Both have given me the opportunity to learn how to get the best out of the teams that are in transition. I learned how important communication is during these times to keep people motivated, engaged and performing while all the changes are taking place around them. This has helped me a lot because we operate in an environment where change is constant and not just a one-off.
One other experience that has helped me in my career was running my own business. This taught me to look at business from an “owner’s” perspective rather than an employee’s. I know what I wanted as being the business’s owner, what type of people I wanted to partner with for my own business and what type of business I wanted to run.
3. Can you highlight any career defining moments?
ML: In 2017, I took up a job in China. Although I had heard through that overseas jobs were mostly suitable for families with young children, I still took up the challenge. I had children already going to primary school at this stage, so the transition process was harder. This is a defining moment in my career, because I challenged myself to do the impossible.
CB: One incident that I want to narrate is when I travelled for my first business trip after becoming a mother. I had just got back from my maternity leave. My daughter was 4 months old and I travelled from Australia to India for a client visit to our offshore delivery centers in India. I happened to meet a family member on the trip who was very quick to comment what kind of a mother I was to leave a 4-month-old behind! It made me realize the fabulous support system I had that allowed me to leave my baby behind. My husband, my family, the organization I worked at, my manager – everyone had enabled and supported me to be able to travel with great amount of flexibility. From there on, my family and friends and my support system always came to my rescue and have been my biggest strength that enables me to concentrate at my job, while being assured my child is well taken care of and I am so thankful to them.
YLE: I don’t think there was one major career defining moment, instead, there were series of small wins that made a big difference over a period of time. Sometimes, the small wins seem to happen slowly and I didn’t feel like I was making any headway at all. At times, I have felt like I was going backwards and sideways in my career. For example, when I left Australia after 7 years at Oracle, then moved back to Korea, I felt I was stagnating. I struggled at that time until I got a break to run Business Development and Operations for a major sales division. Similarly, I had worked very hard to build my credibility there and when I left to come to Singapore, I had to start from the bottom all over again. However, not being afraid to go back and fill the gaps in my career has helped me ultimately to have a more rounded and holistic view of various businesses, and for that, I am very grateful.
4. What advice would you share with females on how to progress their careers within Leadership?
ML: Believe in yourself and never give up. Career is a journey not a destination. No matter how much you have achieved, accomplished, or acquired in your career, there is always something more to get. You’ll never reach your final destination because career progression is an endless journey. It’s good to be ambitious, it’s great to want to accomplish enormous things in our career. The key is to find the right balance to enjoy the journey, taking time to build healthy relationships in the workplace, continuing to learn new things and cultivating an attitude that allows you to pursue career without sacrificing our sanity which makes life worth living.
YLE: Obviously there has to be equal part hard work, persistence, and seizing the right opportunities when they come. What is also really important is having the right support structure in place in the form of family, and friends, both in and outside of work. I think it is also important for women to cultivate mentors to learn from and get advice from during tough times. I have many industries leaders as mentors and this has helped me navigate my career better than I would have on my own. I still have mentors supporting me through challenges I face every day.