YWLC Empowers: Stepping Up to Lead

Every leadership transition creates uncertainty. However, it also creates opportunities for both leaders and organisations to disrupt and grow. We speak with the Vice-Chairperson and Directors from the Member Recruitment, Member Journey, and Member Engagement subcommittees of the newly elected 7th Executive Committee (Exco) to find out their leadership styles and how they plan to steer the organisation into a new direction.

1. Why did you decide to run for the 7th Exco?

Colette: In the two years that I've been with YWLC, being able to participate in the capacity of a subcommer, mentor, and mentee and to see events come to fruition has kept me excited. It felt only right to continue building on the opportunities and offerings at YWLC as part of the next Exco. Ratna: Journeying with YWLC has been nothing but a fulfilling experience for me. I have been truly inspired by the amazing women leaders whom I have had the privilege of working with – members and mentors with a big heart to serve the community. Thus, I decided to step up to run for the Exco and play a part to build a strong community of young women leaders in Singapore. Eliza: I have been an active member for about four years across a few subcommittees. Not only have I picked up knowledge in personal development and transferable skills that can also be applied in professional settings, I also had the joy of making new friends, and being part of the organising teams for workshops and events that have inspired young women. Stepping up for a bigger role by taking on an exco portfolio is my way of giving back to YWLC while paying it forward to the wider society through our initiatives. Rachel: I’ve been inspired, motivated and comforted by the ladies I’ve come into contact with as part of the YWLC community, and I wish to continue building this community to greater heights. In fact, when I was most uncertain about my future, being surrounded by and working with driven and energetic fellow members to empower young women leaders in Singapore was refreshing and meaningful, so when there was an opportunity to add value as an Exco member, I raised my hand.

2. What animal do you relate to and how do you think it represents you?

Colette: A dog - I'm a people person and love food! Ratna: A bear - they are big, warm and nice to hug. The bear to me represents strength, courage and being able to provide that strong grounding force. I aspire to cultivate such qualities in my life, to have the courage to step out of my comfort zones, grounded with strong values and discover the inner strengths to overcome challenges that come along. Eliza: A monkey – they symbolise playfulness, intelligence, and are high-energy social creatures. Like monkeys, I’m good at forming communities but take time to figure people out before bringing them into my inner circle. Most of all, I relate to their monkeying around – I’m into aerial sports, so all the climbing, spinning, and flipping in the air is very much like monkeys. I also allude to the idea of reciprocal support - you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. Rachel: I think my spirit animal is the shark (which is a coincidence, since my favourite animal is the shark!). At the risk of projecting human traits onto animals, sharks see new opportunities and pursue these with efficiency and commitment if they want to, and I can relate to that.

3. What’s a leadership lesson that you’ve learnt that’s unique to being a female leader?

Colette: There's a saying that women are like water and are the source of life and adapt to the environment they are in. I see women leaders then as the source that nurtures life.

Ratna: I was truly inspired by Brene Brown, the author of Dare to Lead. She shared in her book ‘Daring Leader’ - They choose courage over comfort, are actively curious and embrace vulnerability to set an example and bring out the best in others. I aspire to cultivate and embody as I grow to be a better female leader and serve the community. Eliza: Embracing your flaws – nobody sees your flaws as clearly as yourself. As someone who has high expectations of herself, I am very quick in shooting myself down before bringing anything to the table. This puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself and at times keeps me from delegating tasks or reaching out to others for help. It can also be debilitating if you get hung up on things you did not do as a leader. Learning how to embrace my flaws, balancing self-expectations, and letting mistakes go after the lesson is learnt, is something that I have been consciously working on for years. Rachel: As cliche as it may seem, I’ve learnt the importance of communicating openly. This means being willing to share updates even if things are still work-in-progress, being upfront about pros and cons to build credibility, and building a welcoming atmosphere for psychological safety – all accomplished with observation, words and body language. Ultimately, open communication helps team members and peers manage ambiguity and uncertainty and that’s something I think we all need a bit more of, with the constant changes in life.

4. How do you think this role will help you in your career?

Colette: I believe the support network that I have developed through YWLC will continue to inspire and lend strength and encouragement throughout different phases of my life and career. Leveraging the strengths and stretching the capabilities of our exco as we shape the future direction of YWLC will also be invaluable experiences in unlocking people leadership and development skills.

Ratna: Being a Member Recruitment Director will help me to develop leadership, facilitation and influencing skills which are essential for my career as a well-being facilitator and coach. I look forward to build YWLC together and co-create a safe space for:

You to discover your purpose and realise your fullest potential

Warm Welcoming community of Changemakers

Learning & making a positive impact to the community we serve

Courageous & compassionate women leaders Eliza: Now that I’m seeing things from the perspective of an exco member, developing a strategy for members’ lifecycle requires taking into consideration what the organisation needs and the granular details that matter in operations and execution. It also requires exploring and uncovering members’ sentiments, which is important to us because we want to know where problems lie and how we might improve members’ experience. This parallels the user research work I do in my career, and the leadership skills are transferable and applicable in projects that I’m part of. It also complements change management tasks in my career, which involves building trust, influencing people to get involved, and managing people effectively for change to happen. Rachel: As someone relatively early in my career trajectory, I mostly play the part of an individual contributor in a team rather than formally leading others. Leading a subcommittee at YWLC accords a precious opportunity to practice and hone my leadership, people management and stakeholder engagement skills on a bigger scale. 5. What is your vision for YWLC?

Colette: As our work habits and social norms continue to evolve as Covid-19 unfolds, I hope that YWLC remains at the forefront of developing exceptional young female professionals who are willing and invested in contributing back to their communities, and in doing so, further grow and strengthen their leadership abilities and skills.

Ratna: For the Member Recruitment subcommittee to build close-knitted friendships where everyone is committed to each other's growth and transformation, which eventually attracts more new members to be inspired to journey with and grow our community. Eliza: I vision the Member Journey subcommittee to create a sense of belonging for members new to YWLC, and design experiences centered on their needs by ensuring that there is a personal touch to their YWLC journey. Rachel: I want to build strong relationships and delightful experiences for young women leaders by creating shared experiences and facilitating the expansion of networks through the Member Engagement subcommittee!

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. Interested to join a subcommittee in YWLC? Click to find out more about the 7th Exco, Member Recruitment, Member Journey, and Member Engagement subcommittees.

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Organising Committee: Marketing & Communications and Member Recruitment Organising Team: Joey Ong, Kristin Loo, Joaquim Tan, Ratna Juita

Interviewees: Colette Zheng, Ratna Juita, Eliza Ho, Rachel Kuo Interviewer: Joey Ong

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