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Stepping up to the job

Four women who sit on the boards of multinational corporations give their take on what women executives from the region can do to raise their profile and get on the radar of corporate boards

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Euleen Goh, non-executive board member of Royal Dutch Shell

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Yasmin Aladad Khan, independent non-executive director, Digi

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Quek Bin Hwee, independent non-executive director, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation

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Jeanette Wong, independent director, Essilor International

"Women, in general, tend to be more self-effacing; we are not given to 'putting our hands up' for roles, preferring to be invited. We are also less plugged into networks to get ourselves known and our competencies appreciated. This is an essential requirement for a board role - to have perceptual acuity of market trends and possibilities; to be networked in order to engage and connect; to be able to represent and communicate effectively.
I obtained my first international board appointment because I stepped up, introduced myself and requested the CEO of an international search firm to help me find a suitable role. We can all be much more active and networked in our pursuit of roles in which we believe we can contribute and make a difference."
- Euleen Goh, non-executive board member of Royal Dutch Shell

"It is important for women to have the self-confidence to speak up or make known their strengths and capabilities.
Women generally are not very good at doing it. The Diversity Action Committee set up in Singapore is a great platform for women to have the opportunity to raise their profiles in corporate boards.
It would be good to see countries in the region set up the same."
- Yasmin Aladad Khan, independent non-executive director, Digi

"Firstly, women executives must be competent in what they do. Secondly, they must expand their horizon and be active in the community in which they work.
I truly believe that we are called to serve others rather than self-serving. By contributing to the wider community such as volunteering in not-for-profit organisations, women executives would get the opportunity to work with more people and acquire new skills. In that process, many people will know more about the women executives and what they stand for. This augurs well for opportunities to knock at their doors. It may be a corporate board opportunity.
It may be other opportunities."
- Quek Bin Hwee, independent non-executive director, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation

"Depending on the type of boards they would like to join, but I would encourage women to stay the course so that they move to senior management positions in their organisations, as that will give them more experience and perspective in managing organisations. For our women executives, I believe they should link up with the right executive search firms as many global companies are now relying on executive search firms to help them vet the right skill sets of potential members that they need to fill their board."
- Jeanette Wong, independent director, Essilor International

sentifi.com

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Growing ranks

Here are more examples of the growing number of Singapore and Asian women executives sitting on international boards.

  • Claire Chiang (co-founder of Banyan Tree) - ISS Facilities (Denmark) and Dufry AG (Switzerland)
  • Teo Swee Lian (former deputy managing director of Monetary Authority of Singapore) - AIA Group Ltd (HK) and Singtel (Singapore)
  • Yeo Mui Sung (former chief financial officer of Mediacorp) - Kulicke & Soffa (US)
  • Lien Siaou-Sze (former senior vice president of HP Asia-Pacific & Japan) - Luvata Holdings (Finland) and Japfa (Singapore)
  • Tan Yen Yen (regional director, Vodafone Global Enterprise Asia Pacific) - Gemalto (Netherlands) and Singapore Press Holdings (Singapore)
  • Lee Suet-Fern (director, Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC) - AXA (France) and Sanofi (France)
  • Low Sin Leng (former executive chairman of Semborp Development) - L'Air Liquide S.A.(b) (France)
  • Lim Hwee Hua (former Singapore Government Minister) - BW group (Hong Kong), UOB and Jardine Cycle & Carriage (Singapore).

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