Nurturing Young Women Leaders in YWLC
Twelve years since its inception, YWLC has grown by leaps and bounds. The organisation has brought together inspiring and like-minded women to motivate each other. It is also the platform for young women to hone their leadership skills and get a taste of people and project management through the respective subcommittees, led by the Executive Committee (Exco).
With our growing membership base, it is timely to create even more opportunities to enable more young ladies to rise to the occasion and take on leading roles. As such, we have piloted the Deputy Director scheme for subcommittees on a discretionary basis.
Curious to understand more about the Deputy Director roles and how it builds leadership? We chat with Deputy Directors from Marketing & Communications (Marcoms), Membership, Community Engagement (CE) and Leadership Development (LD) to find out what impact they hope to make in their roles, and their leadership journey:
(From left to right)
Chandini Manoharan, Deputy Director, Leadership Development
Halynne Shi, Deputy Director, Membership
Joey Ong, Deputy Director, Marketing & Communications
Joaquim Tan, Deputy Director, Marketing & Communications
Minerva Lim, Deputy Director, Community Engagement
Priscilla Pang, Deputy Director, Membership
What kind of impact do you hope to make in your role as a Deputy Director?
Chandini: To play a part in helping women identify their passion, break barriers and create a narrative for their future. Women are still severely underrepresented in business leadership positions due to the shortage of talent in the pipeline. By building leadership skills and competencies to stay in the game, women will be able to rise the ranks and achieve their professional goals.
Halynne: As our membership base expands, we see growing diversity in YWLC. On top of general events to engage members, I want to foster niche communities for women across different industries and life stages. An example is the Member Matchup in August, a pilot programme to match ladies with complementary backgrounds who have not had the chance to meet. Through such events, I hope to spark serendipitous connections and provide tailored opportunities for our ladies to forge life-long friendships.
Joey: To leave a successful legacy where YWLC is the first thing that comes to mind when one looks for a support group for young women. Second, I envision the Marcoms subcommittee to possess a strong sense of voice and identity, internally and externally.
Joaquim: To explore new ways to bring better content for our members and audience, and internally, to streamline and improve processes so that it is easy for new members to integrate into the committee and understand the Marcoms workflow.
Minerva: I create impact by ensuring that our CE programmes meet the diverse needs of our stakeholders. For our partners, we want to co-create programmes to equip their beneficiaries with new skills, better self-understanding, and the awareness of support systems they can lean on.
When I worked with charities in the UK, I witnessed first-hand the value of structured volunteer training. As such, I made this a priority for our volunteers to receive training across all programmes, covering topics like active listening, facilitating skills and effective communication.
Priscilla: To reduce our member attrition rates and increase the proportion of active members within YWLC. This can be done by utilising analytic tools to understand our members’ profiles better to create more customised events for members. Second, I hope to streamline Membership subcommittee processes by implementing efficient project management tools to disseminate information and track timelines.
What was your leadership journey like in YWLC, and what have you learnt from it?
Chandini: YWLC has been crucial in connecting me with women leaders who have been generous in sharing their knowledge. Their pearls of wisdom have propelled me to take bold decisions at the workplace and thrive in my role. I have learnt that it’s important to have a voice at the table with a valuable insight to share. It may not be easy to speak up in a room full of senior leaders, but leaving our comfort zone paves the way for us to take advantage of opportunities that never would have arisen otherwise.
Beyond corporate skills, I've found an open, inspiring and collaborative community in YWLC. The power of women supporting each other and working towards common goals is incredibly powerful. To find a community that gives you that feeling of trust and encouragement to share successes and failures is so important for someone early in their career like myself.
Halynne: I remember feeling nervous stepping into my first YWLC event but leaving blown away. Numerous fruitful events later, I volunteered to be in the Membership subcommittee, where I was inspired by the incredible women working behind-the-scenes for these events.
Together with Brenda, the amazing Membership Director, we spent many late nights and weekends brainstorming, planning and executing events for our members. As we filled our event calendar with exciting initiatives, it was a natural process for me to step up as Deputy Director to spearhead some events. Attending YWLC events only provided one side of the YWLC experience – being in the driver’s seat to curate events that I would like to attend was another. It was definitely more fulfilling to be the catalyst of initiatives that inspire and encourage.
Joey: I joined the Marcoms subcommittee in October 2019 with the intention to contribute my skills to an organisation that I believed in. I mostly participated in events to understand our subcommittee members’ working styles and to get to know them on a more personal level. Through doing so, I realised that we needed to improve on things internally first and proposed initiatives to make changes. I am delighted to see some of my ideas already making an impact!
Over this time, I learnt that true leadership develops from both the mind and the heart - it is an investment that is developed by doing and not just knowing. It may look easy from the outside but it is never a smooth journey, it is important to keep an open mind and embrace change. I found that communication within a team is of utmost priority. Be willing to listen to other opinions, and don’t be stingy with encouragement because motivation is what makes people want to do better. My journey is still a work in progress and I look forward to sharing it with you.
Joaquim: The YWLC community is unlike any other I have worked with before. It is brimming with amazing and capable women, all of whom use their spare pockets of time to put together the different moving pieces within YWLC. It is inspiring to work alongside these women and there is always something to learn from each other.
With all the different working schedules and availabilities, we need to find that sweet spot that balances members’ available commitment level, and YWLC internal deadlines. For that to happen, communication and rapport building is key. This is a learning journey for me as I continually try to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I have no doubt that this learning journey will bring me to greater heights in my own career as I grow together with the YWLC ladies that continue to inspire me every day.
Anyone can bring a project to fruition, but it takes a village of willing individuals to create excellence.
Minerva: I chose to join CE because of my prior experiences as a volunteer during my university days. Since then, there have been several milestones in my leadership journey from leading the100 Wishes initiative in 2019 to subsequently stepping up to be Deputy Director.
Wan Xin, Director of CE, and I oversee the day-to-day running of CE programmes as well as the ‘bigger picture’ strategic issues such as profiling CE initiatives to YWLC and the wider community and sourcing and scaling new opportunities for our volunteers. My key lesson has been to trust my team. Our project leads are empowered to manage the communications on the ground with our partners and volunteers. They continue to inspire and surprise us with their constant influx of new and creative ideas!
Priscilla: From my experience working with YWLC ladies across the different subcommittees, I have found everyone to be passionate and driven ladies. They are eager to serve and go the extra mile to make sure our events are highly successful in engaging more females, and help them in their career or leadership development journeys.
Through this, I learnt that leadership is about inspiring the heart and understanding what drives your team members. When we care about our team members and understand each of our core competencies, strengths and weaknesses, we can overcome challenges as a team and emerge with friendships that last a lifetime.
Are you interested in taking on lead roles in YWLC? Start by signing up for any of the subcommittees and voicing your interest to the respective directors!
This interview is part of the Leadership Development campaign, which aims to explore how young women develop leadership skills, within and beyond YWLC.
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Organising Subcommittee: Marketing & Communications
Organising Team: Kristin Loo
Artwork: Joaquim Tan
Author: Tay Mingfang
Editor: Joaquim Tan, Kristin Loo
Interviewees: Chandini Manoharan, Halynne Shi, Joaquim Tan, Joey Ong, Minerva Lim, Priscilla Pang