To celebrate International Women’s Day (and Women’s History month), Kerry Consulting is running question and answer sessions with strong female leadership among our consultants’ networks.
In this interview you will find Cynthia Teo, Associate Director for our Legal & Compliance Practice, in conversation with Cia Ai Eng, Chief Counsel, Business Development at Marubeni Asian Power Singapore.
Read the full interview below:
Cia Ai Eng, Chief Counsel, Business Development at Marubeni Asian Power Singapore
“Learn how to ‘play’ or create fun within your role. Playfulness and a dose of humour will go a long way in challenging moments.”
Q: What does female leadership bring to an organisation’s culture?
A: We often talk about how women bring empathy and the softer side of things to the table. But what impresses me the most is the sheer amount of grit and ambition that women carry with them. It is no small feat for a woman to get into a leadership position. Once she gets there she is especially mindful of how to maximise her strengths in the position and will put a lot of care and though into her decision-making.
Q: Why is diversity in the workplace important?
A: It makes good business sense to take diversity seriously. Be it gender or nationality, it just makes good business sense. As businesses grow a presence in different countries, their clients become increasingly diverse, be it gender, nationality or cultural background. Having a diverse team allows you to resonate with clients and be better serving their needs.
Q: What role can the Legal function play in challenging norms and creating change?
A: There is a common perception that law is a male-dominated industry. But I have noticed that many in-house legal teams are staffed with or even led by women lawyers. This is a good start. A diverse in-house legal team is not only more effective, but it also speaks well of the organisation. It is heartening to see a genuine interest in addressing gender and cultural gaps, rather than window-dressing hiring simply because “diversity” happens to be the latest buzzword.
“Having a diverse team allows you to resonate with clients and be better at serving their needs.”
Q: Has Covid-19 had an impact on gender equality
A: Working from home has given us a better understanding of the hard work it takes to raise children, which was previously “subcontracted” to foreign helpers and day care centres. However, I have observed that attending to and helping the child still generally falls on the mum even though both parents might be working from home. I hope that there will be more progression on this front.
Q: What has been the most vulnerable moment of your life or in your career?
A: This was a few years ago when I was based in Tokyo. On a Friday night after a long and tough week at work, I got a call from my dad. He told me that the construction company that he was running was having cash flow problems and asked if I was able to give him a loan to tide over the situation.
My dad has always been the rock of our family. For him to ask for help must have meant that he was at his wit’s end. In that moment, I instantly saw how precarious my previous sense of security had been. I needed to be an adult and start sharing responsibilities at home.
Thankfully, we managed to resolve the problem eventually, and there was a happy ending to the story. It meant a lot to me when my dad was willing to show signs of weakness by asking me for help. Our bond has become strong ever since. I am also very grateful that law has been a rewarding job and it allowed me to have the financial latitude to help my parents.
Q: If you could give some advice to young female lawyers, what would you tell them?
A: Women tend to work very hard and sometimes we can get taken for granted. We fight hard for our teams and clients; we should learn to fight hard for ourselves as well. It helps to remember that mistakes are inevitable. Things may seem like the end of the world whenever you make an error but trust me it is not!
Last but not least, learn how to “play” or create fun within your role. Playfulness and a dose of humour will go a long way in challenging moments.