12 career success tips from REAL Asian female bosses

At the SCCCI-CWG International Women’s Day 2017 conference, several inspirational women who’ve reached dizzy career heights shared their secrets to success. Here’s what we can learn from them


The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Career Women's Group (SCCCI-CWG) held its first-ever fundraising concert and conference on March 4, 2017.

The SCCCI-CWG Her World International Women’s Day 2017, which celebrated the strength of women from diverse professions, provided much food for thought. Here are some precious pearls of wisdom to help us get ahead in life:

1. Partnership

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Ong Chih Ching, Executive Chairman and Executive Director of KOP Limited, emphasised the importance of rallying a group of partners for strength in numbers. “If you have one arrow, you’re just on your own. If you gather everyone, you won’t break.”  

2. It’s not about your gender, but what you can offer

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On succeeding in a male-dominated world of property development, Ong said what matters is your proposition – convince people and give them what they what. KOP Limited was offered the first Ritz-Carlton Residences contract outside of North America, a testament to overcoming the odds based on pure capability.

3. Stay relevant and understand trends

Ong also touched on staying ahead of the game by looking for a niche. For instance, KOP Limited positioned Montigo Resorts as an environment for a fun-filled family getaway. “This element of family is not that familiar to the westerners, but gives Asians an edge,” she said.  

4. Strive on being looked down upon

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Ong said her father always looked down on her, saying she couldn’t make it in a sector dominated by men. But not once did she rebut those negative comments. “Take it in your stride and just show them the product.”

5. Understand your weakness and make yourself a better person

Noni Purnomo, President-Director of Blue Bird Group Holding, shared that she was actually an introvert with no confidence when she was young. But she learned how to overcome her shyness by going for classes at a drama and musical club. “There’s nothing you cannot do if you put your mind to it.”

6. It’s not always one option or the other

“When faced with options, we think it’s A or B. But we forget there’s A and B,” said Purnomo, who runs Indonesia’s largest taxi operator. And that’s exactly what she did. In the morning, she would work in a marketing company, then at night, she would help out at Blue Bird, her family’s business.

7. Learn what your subordinates are doing

Because Blue Bird is a family business, the employees have known Purnomo since she was young, so gaining their respect was a challenge. “It’s not about being better than them, but learning what they’re doing.” So she started working in the maintenance department and learned mechanics. She also makes it a point to drive a taxi herself every year, to understand the challenges her staff face.

8. Decide how you want to present yourself

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Purnomo also talked about the importance of adapting. She said as women, we shouldn’t act like men, because every person has a male and female side, and it’s about bringing out each side at the right moment. In what she called a “game of psychology”, she added that women should harness their power of persuasion and play up their feminine rather than masculine side.

9. There’s no such thing as work-life balance

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Using the analogy of a juggler, Purnomo said even the perfect juggler can’t keep all balls (business, family and herself) in the air all the time. When she was busy building her career, she had her second daughter when she was 37 years old, and her third daughter when she was 38 years old, and fell into depression. It’s all about making the best possible choices at the particular time. “It’s our conscious decisions that drive us and make us survive.”

10. Process over result

“Our success is defined by how many times we fall and run again,” said Purnomo. We should focus on the process rather than the outcome, and not be afraid to fail.

11. Always look up and down

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Purnomo thinks we should always look up to the more successful people to strive to be better, and at the same time, not forget the people less fortunate than us.

12. Do the most difficult thing first

Siow Lee Chin, concert violinist and Professor of Violin at College of Charleston, stays on track by finishing the most difficult task of the day first. “This will give you momentum and help you gain confidence.”



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