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Abbott Fireside Chat: Women Breaking Barriers in Healthcare and Science

COVID-19 turned our world on its head in 2020. However, one sector in particular - healthcare - has been in the spotlight in this time of crisis. For some, a greater awareness of the impact of healthcare has burgeoned thoughts on how to transition into or get into healthcare, or for those already in healthcare, on how to create greater impact or thrive as women in healthcare.

To get some insights, we spoke to three inspiring women leaders at Abbott, Dr Yen Ling Low, Divisional Vice President of Scientific & Medical Affairs in Abbott’s Nutrition Research & Development, Shamini Nair, Marketing Director of Abbott Diabetes Care Asia Pacific and Shakilla Shahjihan, Divisional Vice President of Government Affairs in Asia Pacific & Japan.

The discussion, moderated by YWLC member Tan Chun Yue, covered topics on their perspectives on career transitions, breaking leadership barriers as women in the industry, and managing sector-specific struggles to get to where they are today.

Here are some key takeaways:

#1 It’s about perspective

Just because you are a woman, does not always mean you will be treated differently. A lot of barriers are internal and may originate from within ourselves: we might tell ourselves that we can’t manage because of the multiple roles we hold both at work and at home. However, you can change that internal perspective by showing yourself that you are capable of holding multiple roles.

#2 Have an opinion and share it

Make sure that your voice is heard, don’t be afraid to share your perspectives. This will help you build relationships and allies within and outside the organization. Know that you are not in this on your own, and having a broad network of people also helps open up opportunities for you.

#3 Don’t narrow yourself down

Keep asking yourself what your interests are. If you are thinking of transitioning into a different function or role, ask: what is the knowledge and experience you have gained throughout your career? While the stakeholders may be different, your skill sets may be transferable. Never sell yourself short, it is important about articulating your skills.

#4 Acknowledge your achievements

Regardless of the scale of achievement, don’t diminish your efforts and successes. When you receive praise, acknowledge it, accept it and continue to grow.

#5 Lean into discomfort

Keep a lookout for areas you are most uncomfortable with and go for it. Test the waters. Putting yourself in such situations will enable you to be aware of your barriers and push you to overcome them.

2020 was nothing short of a topsy turvy ride. Whilst so much has changed as a result of the pandemic, we can be certain of one thing that’ll be a constant, and that is change - which must start from within ourselves.


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Organising Committee: Recruitment

Organising Team: Yvonne Mak, Tan Chun Yue

Artwork: Grace Chua

Author: Grace Chua

Editor: Sabeera Ali

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