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Meet Julie Yeo, YWLC mentor, Head of Corporate Communications for UBS South East Asia.

At a cosy lunch setting environment on a Friday afternoon, meeting Julie Yeo and her mentee Lou-Ann Seet, was a light-hearted and enjoyable session over great food. Having gone through the YWLC Mentorship Programme as a mentor and mentee respectively, we hear from Julie and Lou-Ann how their previous experience contributes to their mentor-mentee relationship.

Julie, what is a typical day like for you?

Julie: For work, I handle corporate communications for UBS Southeast Asia, covering Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia, across the businesses of the Investment Bank, Asset Management and also for Wealth Management Asia Pacific. I also lead Community Affairs for UBS Singapore, which is a role I took on about a year ago.

So a typical day for me would be lots of meetings and conference calls. Conference calls are good as it is multi-location so it saves a lot of time, given that we deal with a few countries. The team has about 5 of us, helping with different tasks, and I do get to work with young team members.

In fact over the years, I’ve realised one of my passion, is that I enjoy watching perhaps fresh graduate students that I have hired grown in their career. For example, someone that I hired in UBS previously is now the Head of Communications in another bank. Right now, with a young team, I get to journey with them in their career.

With the many discussions I have with my team during the meeting and brainstorming sessions, we then decide how we want to execute the tasks and move along from there.

In terms of my role, I feel that I’m more of a catalyst, facilitator to get things going and also a collaborator.

What keeps you busy outside of work? Is there a cause you are passionate about?

Julie: I do have a few ECAs or extra-curricular activities that I take on outside of work.

I am a board member of WINGS, Women’s Initiative for Ageing Successfully. It is to serve women above 40, to help them to live well and empower them to embrace ageing with confidence. It looks at helping women take responsibility for their happiness, health and security so they can make a difference for themselves and their communities. Women go through many transitions in their lives. When they are young, they start working, get married and then move on to become a mother for example. But at the older stage of transition, they may move from a busy career women to retirement, from a busy mother to experiencing an empty nest, or go through menopause or other changes in their lives. So how do we help them? We are looking at their holistic well-being. Women need to feel valued and stay connected. So many of the programmes we have at WINGS are aimed at that.

An example is a HappinessAct programme which helps women enhance relationships, build greater self-awareness, positive self-acceptance and other values for a meaningful life. What is also great is that from these programmes, they will get together after and form their own interest groups whether photography or calligraphy etc. About a year ago we also started a theatre workshop where they learnt how to act and some of them discovered that they had a hidden talent for acting. It resulted in a theatre performance called "Women of Wings: Their Stories, Our Inspiration" last year together with some guest performers like Rahimah Rahim, Robert Fernando, Francis Lee, Yeo Yann Yann and Nora Samosir.

My husband and I are also involved in the Singapore chapter of the Worldwide Marriage Encounter (ME) which is a marriage enrichment program that transforms the way spouses communicate to deepen their love and marriage. It involves a weekend getaway for you and your spouse where you come together to learn tools to help you communicate better together.

How has the YWLC mentorship experience been so far?

Julie: I’m personally very proud of YWLC as a whole, because I had the privilege of being involved as UBS was one of the pioneer partners of YWLC, together with the former cabinet minister, Ms Lim Hwee Hua, who mooted the idea of starting a special mentorship programme for young ladies. She was truly passionate about it. And I could see how it would benefit young ladies. I’ve also got a daughter, and I would love for her to have the opportunity to join YWLC and participate in the mentorship programme.

I’m truly impressed and also proud to see how YWLC has grown through the years from since it has started about 10 years ago. It's amazing to see many accomplished women have also stepped up to be the mentors of YWLC. I’ve seen the young ladies grown up with the programmes over the years and now YWLC is wholly run by these young ladies, and they’re doing an excellent job! So really I think it’s inspiring to see the transformation.

I also had the privilege to journey with about 5 mentees so far for the mentorship programme. Many of them are still good friends and we still keep in contact and connect through ‘makan’ sessions and YWLC events. I am proud to see how they have grown in their lives and careers.

How about for you Lou-Ann?

Lou-Ann: For me, the whole journey is like meeting a new friend whom you have so much to share and so much to learn from. I remember at the early stages when I first met Julie, in UBS, she was very busy. But she came in for like an hour and we had a very quick chat. And immediately she could sense how am I fitting in my company, how I am doing in my current role, whether I had any challenges etc. As we continued through the session, I felt that I learned a lot, in terms of difficulties and challenges that I faced in managing a team, cross-cultural etc.

I gathered great insights from Julie on how to be more cautious at work, postures, how to get people to buy-in and work together. There was so much to hear and learn ranging from the span of personal life and career; or learning how to be as grounded as her emotionally, her confidence etc. Every time I meet and interact with Julie, I also get inspired by her and she will always have something great and valuable to share with me. Definitely without over-thinking too much, I will follow her great advice. Not just in my career, but also in my personal life.

How would you all describe the mentorship style you both have built?

Julie: Well, we connect over food! That really helps! It is about getting to know a person better, being a friend and I suppose by the fact that maybe I’m a little older, I may have experienced a few more things. It’s more of me being there as a sounding board. The conversation can be anything under the sun. We don’t stick to any agenda or whatever. It’s really whatever that is bothering us at that time. Sometimes, the roles may be reversed. I could ask Lou-Ann something about her being at her age, how she feels about a certain topic and that helps me with my children, for example to understand them better. It is reversible, two-ways. And it can be anything, not just work.

Do you have a mentor in your life?

Julie: I actually have quite a few, through the years. My first boss, was certainly a mentor, when I first started work out of school. She was a tough boss, but fair and taught me a lot, where I learnt so much. I was very fortunate also to have both male and female mentors. My first male boss was a Caucasian, and I learnt that they deal with things a lot more differently.

Any words of advice for new mentees coming on into the programme?

Julie: Maybe not to make it too much like a meeting, with an agenda because sometimes that is difficult. I think sometimes the best I feel would be conversation, maybe over coffee, it should be in a relaxed environment to get to know each other better first at the start. It will usually naturally take off from there.

Lou-Ann: For me, it was more of the other side of the spectrum. For me, it was like no filter. After I met Julie on the first meeting, before she left, I just wanted to give her a hug and say “thank you Julie!”. It was very natural for me to be thankful for the help that I get and for a great mentor.

I had asked the mentorship director the 4th Exco, Mavis, to advise a mentor that could share with me how I could be good at public speaking, a better communicator and how I can get to places where I’ve been thinking of and Mavis recommended me Julie. It is the way we click, the chemistry, we both like to eat spicy food and we both like to eat a lot, talk a lot etc.

Julie: It's almost like unwrapping a present each time. It’s like I meet a new person and I never knew about the airline industry, where I met a lady pilot so the admiration is two-ways as well. It is a privilege too to meet up. And you don’t need to be in the same industry, the same field of study. There will always a be connection that you can find with each other. I believe that women are very food at connecting the dots, especially with their intuition.

Interested to join YWLC's exclusive Mentorship Programme? Want to hear from our YWLC mentors and mentees about their experiences? Find out more at our info session on 24 Apr 2018. Register here.

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