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Leading, Her Way: Valerie Lim on Embracing New Experiences

Leading, Her Way is a Leadership Development interview series featuring a line-up of remarkable female leaders in Singapore as they share their thoughts on self-exploration, career development, overcoming failures and work-life alignment.

In this feature, we shine the spotlight on Valerie Lim's journey as the National Director of Miss Universe Singapore. She shares her thoughts on navigating unconventional professional and personal development opportunities, growing as a leader, managing one’s inner critic, and giving back to society.


How did your education in Psychology and early professional experiences prepare you for the career that you have today?

Studying Psychology taught me to think critically about things, situations and always do my research. Within a team, it has helped me to not only understand myself better, but to also appreciate how others might understand and process information differently and therefore need alternative learning methods. This has made me a better communicator.

By applying these skills when working with the Miss Universe Singapore contestants, it helps me dive deep into what motivates these young women, and therefore allows me to better structure processes that serve a desired outcome.

What were some of the challenges that you faced as a young, female entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?

I remember feeling like I was unsure of what I was doing, and if I was making the right decisions. I constantly second guessed myself, and I still do these days - less so, but it happens! Overcoming them meant seeking out, speaking to, and working with mentors who have walked this path before or are on a similar path. Having someone with experience on my side meant they could advise me on potential pitfalls, share best working practices, and be a sounding board.

"Opportunity is a keyword I live by, and it is by embracing the opportunities that come that one can change the course of one’s life."

What made you decide to take on the reins as the National Director of Miss Universe Singapore?

Joining Miss Universe Singapore as a contestant back in 2011 gave me the confidence to acknowledge my strengths and weaknesses, and showed the power of having a platform to speak up - this has made me the person I am today. It also opened up multiple doors, and led me to make connections from every part of the world that I would not have thought possible.

I am grateful for the people who have crossed paths with me, and decided to take up the reins as National Director as I wanted to do the same for a new generation of young women.

How has the experience been like for you in making the transition from representing Singapore in the pageant to now running it?

The experience has been nothing short of exciting, and it has been rewarding to see the women grow. There have been challenges and stumbling blocks, especially when setting a new course, but there is much satisfaction in solving them. These have certainly also pushed me to grow as a leader and discover different sides of myself.

You are actively involved in a number of volunteer initiatives and causes. What inspires you to give back to society and support these causes?

Opportunity is a keyword I live by, and it is by embracing the opportunities that come that one can change the course of one’s life. I give back to society because I want to create opportunities for whomever I cross paths with - to choose the life and outcome they desire. This way, they rightfully receive a chance to shine.

What practical tips would you give to young ladies looking to boost their confidence in both their personal and professional lives?

One, take stock of your strengths and weaknesses. They change from season to season so I find that continuously honing my strengths and working on my weaknesses helps me grow and learn new skills, keeping me relevant and up to date.

Two, be ok with asking for help. Acknowledging that one needs help is a sign of strength and resourcefulness.

Lastly, in one sentence, what does ‘Leading, Her Way’ mean to you?

Leading and serving the greater good with empathy, intuition, and foresight.

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