In celebration of International Women’s Day (and Women’s History month), Kerry Consulting is interviewing excellent female leadership among our consultants’ networks.
In today’s interview, Axer Goh sat down to chat with Shui-Min Tan, Chief Information Technology Officer at National University of Singapore.
Read the full interview below:
Shui-Min Tan, Chief Information Technology Officer at National University of Singapore
“There is no need to prove yourself just because you are a woman. Focus on the task and let your efforts speak for themselves.”
Q: What does IWD mean to you?
A: International Women’s Day is about celebrating working females. In Singapore, I do think that overall, we are very progressive, tending to have equal representation at work. But I do believe that it is important to always champion strong female leadership to inspire younger women who are keen to enter the workforce.
Q: This year’s slogan for IWD is #BreaktheBias – how do you interpret that message?
A: I have not encountered gender bias working in Singapore, but in my previous work trips to some underdeveloped countries I have been in situations where women were not taken seriously. They were seen as unreliable, or their credibility was challenged. I saw this in countries where chauvinistic culture is more present.
Q: What progress have you seen on gender equality in your lifetime?
A: I think Singapore started on the right foot in encouraging women to join the workforce. We have scarce resources, and as such it is imperative that organisations attract talent from both genders.
I do recall that, in years past as a working mum, my mother faced inequality. For example, she was covered under a pension scheme that only covered herself, whereas my uncle had a scheme that covered both him and his spouse.
I don’t believe that much of the blatant type of inequality seen in that situation is present today in Singapore. But I do think that we need to remain scrutable and transparent, to make sure that we do not end up in those types of situations again.
Q: Why is diversity in the workplace important?
A: Different genders bring different perspectives. Men and women working together can create richer solutions to problems, coming up with more creative approaches. Of course, diversity is about more than gender; it’s about the melding of unique viewpoints and backgrounds within an organisation, striving for a culture that genuinely represents modern society.
Q: What does female leadership bring to an organisation’s culture?
A: I recently encountered a survey that said when a senior management team is comprised of men and women they perform better and get stronger results. I believe that this is because men and women working together provide richer solutions by accommodating different scenarios. Having a management team made up of one gender is not ideal.
“Different genders bring different perspectives. Men and women working together can create richer solutions to problems.”
Q: What is the most effective way to counteract negative stereotypes of feminism, especially in the workplace?
A: Women need to be assured that they can break through any perceived “glass ceiling” in the workplace.
By focusing on the task at hand and doing your job well you will prove your worth. Certain types of jobs are not pre-destined to be filled by a specific gender. Understand that if you put in the effort then you fully deserve the position.
Q: How can female leaders lift other women in the workplace?
A: Encourage female colleagues to focus less on being treated differently or expecting to be treated differently. Lift women by empowering them to achieve their goals and encouraging them to take on new challenges.
Q: Tell us about some of the struggles you have faced as a female Tech leader.
A: Juggling family and work is difficult. As a working mother, balancing your time between taking care of your family needs and building a career can be arduous. Oftentimes, women must sacrifice aspects of their career for caring for family. As for me, I sacrifice my sleep and “me” time to spend time with my son and build my career.
Q: Tell us about a valuable lesson you were taught by another woman.
A: All female leaders that I have encountered have been very different individuals, and I have learned a lot from each of them. They taught me to be more understanding and to have more empathy for my co-workers, subordinates, and partners.
Q: What advice would you give a young woman entering the modern business environment?
A: Focus on the Job, know what you like, go after what you are passionate about, and you will do well. There is no need to prove yourself just because you are a woman. Focus on the task and let your efforts speak for themselves.
Technology Leadership, Digital & Innovation
Technology Leadership, Digital & Innovation
Digital & Innovation, PMO and Project Management