Tips for the Next Generation of Female Leaders

Preferred Hotels & Resorts Southeast Asia Managing Director Josephine Lim says her career journey has been fulfilling. But that doesn’t mean women are not still facing challenges. She shares suggestions and insights.

Josephine Lim Headshot

Josephine Lim

I’ve had the privilege of pursuing my passion in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years, serving in various leadership positions throughout my career with several hotel brands in the Singapore market. While it has been a fulfilling journey, women in general, including myself, still face challenges in our pursuit of career goals in this male-dominated industry. Some of these include:

Finding Work/Life Balance
Juggling the responsibilities and roles we have at work alongside the arcane societal expectation that women must still manage the household and be the main caregiver for our children and/or aged parents. While this hotly debated issue has seen some mitigation by forward-thinking companies and government initiatives, it is an area where continuous dialogue is still needed to bring about more balance to the current situation.

Gender Bias
In Asia, many women in the workplace often do not voice their opinion or put their hand up for leadership positions for fear of being challenged or branded as being overly “aggressive” or ambitious. While there is also progress made in correcting this misguided conception, we need to make more inroads as an industry to recognise and identify the right talent, aptitude, and attitude for each role in a company, regardless of gender. Male and female executives bring valuable perspective in the areas of collaboration, communication style, and change management. But women by nature prefer to work cross-functionally, which can help overcome barriers. By valuing and embracing diversity of thought, voice, opinions, and ideas, we can make better decisions that ultimately lead to better outcomes.

As Mahatma Gandhi once said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” We need to take that first step of leadership and affect change in our own mindset to empower ourselves. Here are some helpful tips:

Build Your Personal brand
Take a step back and think about what you want your personal brand to be. Once you have identified the DNA of your role, build that reputation within your company and with your business associates to keep your name top of mind for the people who matter. Showcase the quality of the work you do by exercising due diligence, adopting well thought-out strategies, and taking calculated risks that will benefit the company you represent and provide personal growth for yourself. And uphold the values you stand for while keeping an open mind to more effectively mitigate the inevitable elements of change.

Build Relationships
Being an expert in your field or even the best in class is no longer enough in today’s competitive business arena. To succeed in an industry that is very much people-centric, constantly evolving, and globally connected, it’s all about “who you know” and the depth of that business relationship. Understand the cultural nuances and business practices of your own geo-location [and] take advantage of the region’s growth potential and networking channels to build connections that will enhance your career in the long run.

Grow Your Knowledge and Experience
Embrace every opportunity to learn something new. Even if you feel a meeting may be irrelevant, go with an open mind — there is always something worth taking away with you. Never be afraid to ask questions, especially of your clients and members of your own team. Their feedback and insight will bring you a fresh perspective about your business, and may inspire the change that you need to make that much-needed leap forward. Collaboration is also a key element in your learning journey. Seek out colleagues and business associates from different demographics, professional backgrounds, and cultures, and learn from each other’s expertise and knowledge. Embrace every opportunity and never stop learning. The continuous pursuit of knowledge will inspire and motivate you, both professionally and personally.

Josephine Lim is the managing director for Southeast Asia at Preferred Hotels & Resorts. This article was compiled by staff at Untangled, a Singapore-based content, marketing, and business strategy consultancy.

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