In the blink of an eye, YWLC’s 7th Executive Committee (Exco) has passed the 3-month mark since first being elected to serve in the Biennial General Meeting. It is, hence, timely to speak to some of our Exco members and revisit their motivations and leadership approach for YWLC.
In this edition of YWLC Empowers, we speak with the Directors from our Mentorship, Leadership Development, and Social Impact subcommittees to learn some of their inspirations behind their leadership styles and their hopes and aspirations for YWLC in their term.
1. How has YWLC helped in preparing you for your leadership journey?
Eileen: Being in YWLC has provided me opportunities to step up and lead in various initiatives, which has helped me hone my soft skills and understand areas that I need to work and improve on. A supportive and encouraging environment has also helped boost my confidence to undertake bigger roles and eventually being comfortable with who I am as a leader/team lead.
Nisha: I joined YWLC as a member in 2017 and incidentally, I started out in the Leadership Development subcommittee helping to organise events and coordinate logistics. Over the years, I went from being an individual contributor to eventually taking on more leadership-type roles, such as being Events Marketing Lead with the Marketing & Communications Subcommittee. These experiences have really helped me understand better all that goes on behind the scenes, and it also helps you realise that everyone in the team has a key role to play in ensuring a successful outcome - there is no one task or responsibility that is too small or seemingly insignificant.
Audrey: YWLC has connected me to many talented and driven people. Working and speaking to them have helped expand my worldview. Having the chance to co-lead projects and mentor others have also helped me learn about and refine my leadership skills. Additionally, I learned how to lead authentically by working closely with two former directors - Shi Yun, Director of Special Projects, and Wan Xin - Director of Community Engagement (before we changed the name to Social Impact).
2. What do you feel most excited about in your new role?
Eileen: Curating better content for the mentorship programme like fireside chats, as well as developing and maintaining relationships with our mentors! I am also excited to introduce events that allow mentees to get to know and understand our mentors better. Being in this role is interesting yet challenging as it can be quite administrative at times (in addition to my role as a treasurer), but I think it's a challenge that I look forward to overcoming.
Nisha: It’s a mix of nerves and excitement! I think my predecessors have done an incredible job of growing this subcommittee over the years and I’m really looking forward to building on that legacy and seeing how best the LD subcommittee can meet the needs and interests of our members as they face new challenges and demands in their personal and professional lives. Personally, the most exciting part is getting to engage with our members, meeting them (virtually or otherwise), and really getting to know them better as part of the wider YWLC community.
Audrey: I’m thankful and delighted for the opportunity to shape YWLC’s social impact strategy for the next two years! I’m most excited about the research project that the subcommittee has embarked on. It aims to answer these key questions - How does YWLC fit in the community giving landscape? What are YWLC’s unique characteristics and resources? Which area(s) should YWLC focus our efforts to achieve the best outcomes? It will help us shape our social impact strategy and empower women and children more effectively. We’ll also learn about the best practices of other VWOs/NGOs along the way.
3. What’s the best work-related advice you’ve ever received?
Eileen: For someone who has just started out in her career - one of my managers told me to be like a sponge and absorb as much experience and knowledge as I can, and to be 100% open-minded. This has helped shape my perspective at work when dealing with new work rotations and challenges. In addition, being open-minded has allowed me to view situations with a positive lens - which helps make difficult encounters much more bearable.
Nisha: ‘Know that there is only so much that you can control, and learn to let go when you need to’. This was something that my current boss shared and it has stayed with me as an advice that applies not only in my professional life, but my personal life too. I think a lot of times in our careers (and lives), we may feel pressured to achieve certain milestones or goals and this can thwart us from enjoying the process of learning and growing at different stages in our careers. Of course, this does not mean we shouldn’t have a plan for our careers but rather than being too fixated on goals or outcomes, we have to realise that there are many things that might not be in our control and sometimes, opportunities might present themselves when we least expect them to! So, we need to learn to ‘let go’ of this one vision or path that we had planned for ourselves and embrace the unexpected. This has certainly been true for my own career path to date and it has been quite the adventure, to say the least!
Audrey: “You can have all of the things, but you cannot have them all at the same time”. This was by Ambassador-At-Large Chan Heng Chee, but this piece of valuable advice (not in these exact words) was actually given to me by a fellow YWLC member. I tend to sign up for things I find interesting or if I’m passionate about the cause. There was a period where I was double-hatting at work, contributing to 3 YWLC projects, learning 2 languages, and exercising daily, all on top of familial responsibilities. I was running on adrenaline but was not getting enough rest. I ended up stretching myself and regrettably, was too tired to be fully present. That advice was direct, but very much needed. I felt so much lighter after decluttering my commitments and laid out my priorities. It was also comforting to know that I don’t have to give up pursuing other things I like, I’m only deferring them to a more suitable time period in the future.
4. In your experience, what is key to developing a good team?
Eileen: Building team synergy is extremely important, and to have empathy towards others. It is not easy to align everyone to achieve the same targets/goals, which is why we should listen and understand each team member's concerns and allow them to share their perspectives and suggestions in a safe space.
Nisha: Knowing how to amplify each individual team member’s strengths while helping them address any areas for improvement can really go a long way in building a strong team. That aside, it is also important to have team members that look out for one another and help each other out along the way - it is never about an individual team member’s success or glory.
Audrey: People and communication. Finding the right people for a project is vital, especially in a volunteer-run organisation. I’ve been lucky to have worked with many passionate and committed teammates to bring projects to fruition. Communication is important too. We’re pulling together a team of volunteers from various backgrounds, who are also getting to know one another in the process of bringing a project together. It is critical to lay a strong foundation at the first meeting. I do this exercise whenever I onboard a new team: 1) Understand each other’s communication style(s); 2) Talk about our preferred modes and frequency of communication, goals for the project, and personal development goals.
5. What plans do you have for YWLC in the next two years?
Eileen: To help YWLC to grow and stay connected - and bring in more learning content for the mentees as they embark on their mentorship journey with us!
Nisha: There are quite a number of exciting plans in store, one of which is looking to build our in-house capabilities for on-demand content that will complement our existing programming. This is also part of our efforts to develop our own thought leadership and tap into the wealth of knowledge of our own YWLC members, so we hope to feature these members to share their knowledge and skills through this platform. This is definitely a big endeavour with challenges along the way but the result will be immensely rewarding!
1. For YWLC to become an effective contributor and thought leader in Singapore’s community giving landscape; and
2. Nurture and empower community leaders via volunteering opportunities, training, and increasing awareness of social issues in Singapore.
This interview is part of the YWLC Empowers series by the Member Recruitment and Marketing & Communications subcommittees, to shine the spotlight on the 7th Executive Committee (Exco) and share how they aspire to nurture young women leaders within and beyond YWLC under a new leadership team.
We want to know how YWLC empowers you in your leadership journey! Share it with us on social media with the hashtag #YWLCEmpowers.
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Interviewer: Koh Wern Chieh