In this exclusive interview article, we'll delve deep into the insights and dreams of our 8th Exco Directors leading the community pillar. Join us as we discover the driving force behind their commitment to elevate and inspire.
What is your portfolio’s function, and what do you feel most excited about in your new role?
Felicia: My portfolio function is Member Recruitment which typically looks after our flagship events Future Women Leaders Forum (FWLF) and Milestones & Transitions, targeting fresh graduates and women in their mid-career respectively. Through these events, we hope to prepare women better for their first jobs and in their mid-career transitions or goals. These events are not exclusive to YWLC members and open to the public, and we hope that women get to know about YWLC through them. I feel the most excited about my role in terms of taking on the challenge to attract members across age, race and industries so as to make YWLC a more diverse and inclusive network over time. Yu Qian: As the Director of Member Journey & Data Innovation, my portfolio consists of creating curated touchpoints for new members to feel welcome into the community, leveraging technology and data assets to guide YWLC’s strategies for improving members’ experience, and spearheading a culture of innovation and continuous learning in the community. An example of flagship events under the subcommittee include TGIT (Thank-God-It’s-Thursday) Welcome Drinks which aims to bring new members who joined YWLC in the past year together to meet fellow new joiners and orientate them to YWLC over food and games. Other key initiatives include the Google Career Scholarship, which is YWLC’s partnership with Google to sponsor members for selected Cousera courses in up-and-coming industries as part of our efforts to nurture a spirit of continuous learning in our members.
Member Journey & Data Innovation is a newly merged subcommittee, and that in itself is very exciting as there are so many synergies to be harnessed. The subcommittees’ vision is to create a sense of belonging for YWLC members, and I believe that with this merger, we can now be better shapers of YWLC members’ experience with the perfect amalgamation of MJ’s traditional strength in being the human touchpoints of new members’ experience, and DI’s traditional strength in harnessing data insights to drive engagement efforts in most effective ways possible. I am particularly excited by the possibilities of how much we can improve our members’ experience through the use of data and building technology infrastructure to refine the ways that members receive information and interact with one another.
Urmila: As the Director of Member Engagement, my portfolio is about creating a safe and inclusive spaces for members to connect with fellow young women while advancing their professional and personal interests. There are three main objectives that will underpin any program driven by the Member Engagement sub-committee:
(1) Building a sense of belonging within our member community,
(2) Creative a diverse, equitable and inclusive community for women of all backgrounds, and
(3) Remaining relevant and journeying with our members through their different life stages.
I am excited about many things, but the part I am looking forward to most is devising a member lifecycle strategy. YWLC has been around for over 15 years and we have gathered a lot of data points and insights on our members’ needs and interests. In collaboration with the Member Journey & Data Innovation Director and Strategy Director, we will be looking at how to enhance and strengthen our programs while also remaining relevant to our members. I strongly believe this will lay a strong foundation that will inspire and drive the programs organised by the Member Engagement subcommittee in the years to come!
What Key Initiatives or plans do you have for your portfolio in the next two years?
Felicia: The key initiatives for my portfolio is to partner with member journey and make use of data analytics to dissect YWLC’s current demographic and beef up recruitment in areas which are currently under-represented. I have also taken up a D&I event with the vice-chair, focusing on diversity in womanhood. It will be the first time we are working with a new partner and we hope to create a pleasant experience for both the sponsor and our members to deepen our partnerships and outreach to corporations.
Yu Qian: There are many exciting initiatives aimed at improving members’ experience from the moment they are onboarded, and I hope to achieve them progressively over the next two years. There are 3 key initiatives that I am looking at for now. The first initiative is to build an internal one-stop, member-only portal where new members can access all necessary information to familiarise themselves with YWLC, and for all members to keep updated with YWLC happenings. The second initiative is to create more consistent touch points for new members by working closely with ME to create a buddy system to pair new members to current members, and having more frequent small-group interactions between the quarterly TGIT socials so as to foster better relationship building for new members. The third initiative is to further cultivate a spirit of continuous learning by working more closely with Google to increase the uptake and completion rates of the Google Career Certificates, such as holding internal study sessions for members.
Urmila: There are 3 main initiatives that Member Engagement are focussed on to drive these objectives.
First, the recently launched Peer Mentorship Program where members are assigned to learning pods for a 10-month group mentorship program to learn and discuss key topics. I am looking forward to concluding the current run in February, reflecting on our learnings and launching an improved second iteration of the program. I am very proud of what the organising team has achieved thus far, and we are starting to see the success of the program as participants have forged new friendships to share ideas with and to support one another!
Second, Members Circles, which are ground-up groups, for members, by members, to connect with like-minded individuals with shared interests on topics such as STEM, sustainability and fitness. We have grown immensely over the past term and we have 7 active circles today. We will be looking at how we can support the longevity of the circles while also empowering our Circle Leaders to run initiatives and gatherings that will serve their community best.
Lastly, we organise mixers and member match-ups which aim at bringing members together either for a social networking event or for fireside chats on inspiring career journeys of the alumni or of other inspiring women (or allies) in society. Member match-ups will be an interesting initiative to look out for as we will be evolving with the times to use technology to provide better matches between members while also enabling more members to take part in the initiative.
Underpinning these 3 initiatives will be the member lifecycle strategy, which I hope to conclude next year so we can use the findings to tweak some of our programs during my term.
All in all, an exciting two years ahead, one that is rooted in our objectives of belonging, inclusivity, and relevancy.
How has YWLC helped in preparing you for your leadership journey?
Felicia: Before I took on the role of the Director of Member Recruitment, I was involved in both the subcommittee for Member Journey and Strategy & Partnerships. Having worked with the respective directors then to plan out TGIT as well as partners night, I am able to have a good gauge of the leadership qualities required to lead a team, such as the skills to delegate and to oversee the overall execution of the event. On top of that, YWLC is not just a platform for event organisation. As a leader you also take on the crucial role to gel the members and form long lasting connections.
Yu Qian: YWLC was pivotal in preparing me for my leadership journey. Those who know me would know that I’ve had quite a few career transitions spanning various sectors and fields in the last 5 years, so I am mostly in individual contributor roles at work. Hence, I am really grateful for the faith that the previous director had in me when giving me the chance to step up and lead teams, and for YWLC members who placed their trust in me to be part of the 8th Exco.
Looking back, I’ve grown a lot since joining YWLC, and it is only possible due to the safe and supportive environment provided by a community of inspiring, high-achieving women. In my experience, YWLC has been a place where many of us are bonded by similar experiences and challenges in our lives despite coming from different backgrounds, and as such, we are able to understand one another’s struggles and are sincere in helping one another out. It is exactly this supportive and accepting environment that encouraged me to try new things without fear of judgement, and allowed me to grow from a shy individual to someone who is articulate and confident.
Throughout my past 3 years here, I’ve also learned about how to be a better leader in various ways, such as by hearing about how fellow members lead in their organisations, learning from mentors on how to handle tricky situations during fireside chats, and simply by observing the good practices of how my predecessors led their subcommittees.
I’ve met many wonderful women who inspired me to do better in YWLC, and now that I have been given the opportunity to lead YWLC as the 8th exco, I hope to do my best for the community so that more members can have the same wonderful experience that I had. In the process, there will be ups and downs, but I look forward to learning more about myself as I work and grow alongside the 8th exco and my subcommittee members.
Urmila: YWLC has been a safe space for me to try out new things. I joined YWLC at a phase of life where I was moving from managing myself to managing those around me. Since then, I have been involved in various programs and initiatives including IWD 2022, FWLF 2023 and the peer mentorship program.
Each one of these challenged me to embrace a new skill, be it in emceeing at the launch of our peer mentorship program, or facilitating a workshop on DEI, or organising a chemistry call to prepare for a fireside chat with many senior executives. The best thing about each challenge was the support I received from those around me which inspired me to give my best and build up my confidence to show up as a better bolder leader! I look forward to creating a similar safe space for my sub-committee and for our members to try out new things and discover their hidden talents.
Through the years, I have also gained an increased awareness on my preferred leadership style and the need to adapt my style based on what the team or situation requires of me. This is a skill that I hope to hone further during my term as I aspire to be a leader who inspires those around me to strive for their best.