In celebration of International Women’s Day (and Women’s History month), Kerry Consulting is spending the month of March connecting with strong female leadership among our consultants’ networks.
In today’s feature interview, Cynthia Teo, Associate Director for our Legal & Compliance Practice, spoke at length with Janet Tang, who serves as General Counsel for ENGIE South East Asia.
Read the full interview below:
Janet Tang, General Counsel at ENGIE South East Asia
“Opportunity doesn’t knock twice, grab it where possible.”
Q: What does female leadership bring to an organisation’s culture?
A: I think female leaders bring a lot of empathy and compassion with them. These are qualities that I believe help create a happier culture within an organization and increase the employees’ sense of belongingness. In ENGIE’s Southeast Asia regional office, we have three female leaders on the executive committee. ENGIE emphasizes on diversity and inclusion and there are in fact many female leaders within the organization, including our Group CEO.
Q: Why is diversity in the workplace important?
A: I currently have a team of 6, consisting of 4 different nationalities and both genders. Diversity in the workplace brings about different views and strengths. These settings help team members be more conscientious and this is how we gradually build up the team morale as we are able to learn from one another, exchange ideas, and come up with innovative ideas. This is helpful as we can better understand the various stakeholder needs quicker given the diverse background within the team.
Q: What role can the Legal function play in challenging norms and creating change?
A: Lawyers tend to be more outspoken and vocal in expressing their views and opinions. So, the legal function can leverage our voice, legal experience, the network we have built up throughout our career, and the platform we have at our respective fields to challenge the norm and create change.
As an example, together with a few colleagues within ENGIE, I have initiated the Woman Empowerment Network, a network that lends the women in ENGIE South East Asia voice and support, to share and be empowered by each other’s stories. Our ultimate aim is to bring women together, to challenge the norm, and create change
“Always be confident about yourself.”
Q: What has been the most vulnerable moment of your life or in your career?
A: The most vulnerable moment in my career was when I moved to Singapore in 2017 alone to take up a new role in a new company and a new industry. In the second month of my stint in the company, I was entrusted with establishing the legal department on top of all the projects I needed to support the company with. As I was still relatively junior in my career then, I had no clue how I was going to do that! Thankfully, I had joined a company that embraces diversity and inclusion. My colleagues and bosses were very quick to include and accept me as part of the ENGIE family, and that had made my integration into the role a seamless one.
Q: Has Covid-19 had an impact on gender equality?
A: Yes, and I would say it’s a positive impact. With the mandated arrangement of working from home, husbands/fathers have taken a more active approach in helping out at home. Being a caregiver to the child or children is no longer viewed solely as a mum’s responsibility. I have seen many of my male colleagues stepping up in this aspect, indicating that they have to put a hard stop in some meetings because they have to help out when these used to be the norm for working mums. Even when we go into a hybrid working model, it was heartening to see that our male colleagues or friends continue playing a proactive role these days.
Q: If you could give a single piece of advice to young female lawyers, what would you tell them?
A: Opportunity doesn’t knock twice. I would advise young female lawyers to grab it where possible. Even if you do not perform well in a particular opportunity, there is nothing to lose. Instead, you will learn from the experience, eventually benefiting you. But, if you do well, this is the moment for you to shine! There is a saying that “the females always think that they are not ready when they are”. Don’t let this be you, always be confident, work hard, and work smart – the quality of your work will speak for itself!