May 23, 2023
YWLC’s Leadership Roundtable session of 2023, themed ‘Be Bold, Be Brilliant’, featured a panel of accomplished women leaders and changemakers from diverse backgrounds, who spoke powerfully about the importance of recognizing our own value, leveraging our unique strengths, and fearlessly establishing our presence.
The panel consisted of Lai Han Sam, Founder and Women’s Life Coach of Lifework Global; Angel Kilian, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Include Consulting; Gloria Arlini, Programme Director of SG Her Empowerment; Feetri Rahim, Content Creator and Strategist at 15 Big Dreams; and Ruchi Parekh, Executive/Life Coach, NLP Practitioner, and Keynote Speaker. Each speaker offered candid and profound insights based on their career journeys and personal experiences, empowering participants to explore their own professional aspirations and define success on their own terms.
On introspection and reflection
First, the speakers stressed that engaging in continuous self-reflection is paramount to gaining a deeper understanding of our short-term objectives and long-term aspirations. Particularly in the early stages of our careers, we may be focused on discerning our strengths and weaknesses within the workplace. As we grow more self-assured and pursue fresh opportunities, attaining clarity regarding our desired areas of expertise or expanding our knowledge base enables us to be more discerning in selecting the right opportunities while disregarding those that aren't aligned with our goals.
During times of transition, whether in our professional or personal lives, introspection plays a vital role. Feetri and Ruchi shared compelling narratives that underscored the profound transformative effects of motherhood. Ruchi's experience involved relocating from Hong Kong to Singapore to support her husband's new career opportunity, coinciding with her transition to a coaching profession driven by her desire to spend more time with her daughter. Meanwhile, Feetri prioritised hands-on parenting and had to adapt her work style while improving communication within her support system.
The panellists stressed the importance of cultivating a mindset of gratitude, particularly during challenging times. Navigating highs and lows throughout our careers is inevitable, yet the panellists urged participants to embrace challenges and setbacks as opportunities for personal growth and to appreciate subsequent successes even more. Sharing personal anecdotes of their own professional and personal hurdles, the panellists highlighted how these difficult experiences often lay the foundation for future triumphs by instilling the motivation to seek out a better path. For instance, Gloria shared her disillusionment and dissatisfaction with her first job, which spurred her to find new career opportunities.
Above all, the panellists reassured participants that the answers to our individual journeys reside within ourselves, emphasising the need to remain unaffected by external influences when defining who we aspire to become. Reflecting on her own career journey, Sam acknowledged that it would be difficult to avoid taking in others’ feedback, especially important figures in our lives like our parents, as her own early career decisions had been affected by her parents. However, as we gain more confidence and understanding of our interests and goals, it will become easier to make such decisions independently.
Enhancing support structures
While maintaining independence in our thinking and decision-making is crucial, we mustn't underestimate the impact that others can have on our lives. As women with numerous responsibilities spanning work, family, and personal life, relying on the support of those around us becomes paramount in successfully managing it all. An inspiring example of this was demonstrated by Feetri, as she was accompanied by her husband and baby daughter during the event, showcasing the significance of a supportive network.
Beyond surrounding ourselves with understanding friends, family members, and partners, it is equally important to cultivate allies and mentors within the workplace. Angel reminded participants of our ability to assert ourselves and advocate not only for our own interests but also for others, fostering networks and communities of support within our professional environments. Alongside seeking friends and allies, the panellists encouraged participants to actively seek out mentors who can offer fresh perspectives and guidance. Instead of waiting for others to take an interest in us or relying solely on "traditional" mentors, we have the agency to approach anyone we wish to learn from and pose insightful questions.
Additionally, it is vital to prioritise self-care and support ourselves. Establishing boundaries and understanding our limitations can be challenging, especially when it involves projects we are passionate about. However, taking breaks is essential to ensure the sustainability of our pursuits in the long run.
Ultimately, the panellists emphasised the importance of building and nurturing support systems within ourselves and our communities. These structures serve as catalysts for our boldness and brilliance, empowering us to achieve our aspirations.
Embracing experimental action
Armed with a robust support network and a clear sense of direction, the next step is to actively pursue our goals. Although the prospect of making significant changes, such as a career transition or embarking on a new venture, can be overwhelming, it is crucial to progress at a pace that feels comfortable, ensuring continued advancement in the right direction. After all, expecting immediate mastery in any endeavour is unrealistic. Instead, taking imperfect action and embracing the learning process along the way will propel us forward.
In the pursuit of our objectives, effectively marketing ourselves and positioning for the right opportunities is essential. Crafting a compelling narrative that highlights our strengths, core values, and unique value proposition becomes paramount in steering us towards the desired path.
Above all, the panellists wholeheartedly encouraged participants to embrace boldness and fearlessness, dismissing the pursuit of perfection. Instead, they advocated for a focus on continuous learning and growth, urging us to fearlessly seek out and create new opportunities for ourselves.
YWLC would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all the speakers for sharing their personal stories and insights with the participants, as well as to our participants for their enthusiasm and participation - thus making this run of the Roundtable yet another resounding success!
Organising team: Nisha Rajoo
Author: Allison Lee
Editor: Rachel Tan