This year’s turning out to be quite the year for me. I’ve been approached to do things outside of my business but they’re really close to my heart.
Besides being on the Lean In @ Penang Planning Committee, I’ve also facilitated the second Lean In workshop held at Hard Rock Hotel in early July this year. The workshop was organized by Penang Women’s Development Corporation and I was roped in to help as one of the facilitators since I was the pioneer batch of 30 women in the first Lean In workshop last October.
Overall, I must say the workshop (based on the book titled “Lean In: Women, Work & The Will To Lead” by Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg) did stir the pot when it comes to discussing women and leadership opportunities at the workplace.
During the sessions which I facilitated, many women agreed that it was about time everyone took note of gender-based opportunities. However some argued that having better policies in place would help retain women in the workforce instead of losing women when they decide to start a family or to opt out to care for their ailing parents.
And of course, I was also at the Women Leaders Mentoring Community workshop at B.Braun in August.
I believe these are exciting times, particularly for women in Penang. We’re opening up dialogues and discussions about retaining women in the workplace and giving women choices and options. I also believe advocacy and support (in the form of mentoring) would also go a long way to enable women to raise their game.
But does that also mean it’s all about career women?
Not at all. Besides a solid career, women should also explore entrepreneurship (ah, my favourite topic!).
Entrepreneurship is an area that women should seriously consider if the career track isn’t something they want. I can tell you that running a business (especially a small business) is tough but it also gives you control of your own time and brings its own set of rewards, financial and otherwise.
I can perfectly understand both sides of the fence – I have been someone’s employee and I am now someone’s employer. (Recently I spoke to someone who was downsized from a job she had held for 14 years. She approached me via a friend to ask about starting a business since it was the most feasible thing to do. More and more I see women taking charge of what they want, right now.)
Talking about gender isn’t something new to me. I used to help Dr Rohana Ariffin back in my USM undergraduate days (a long time ago). She was involved with women’s research and development.
Would I call myself a feminist? Without a doubt.
Some people may associate feminism with bra-burning and aggressiveness but that’s totally not the case. Men can be feminists too (hey, the label isn’t gender-specific right?) and I have met many forward-thinking men such as YB Steven Sim, the MP for Bukit Mertajam, who support the idea that women should have ample opportunities to lead and succeed.
Anyway, I have been approached this time to moderate a panellist session on 18 September featuring 5 women of substance:
- Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir (who really needs no introduction!)
- Low Ngai Yuen (director, producer and theatre activist)
- Boonsiri Somchit (Corporate VP of Finance, AMD Global Services)
- Datin Rohana Weiler (VP, Asia Pacific HR Agilent Technologies)
- Tengku Azian Shahriman (Director of Education & SRI Human Capital Development Performance Management & Delivery Unit or PEMANDU).
The panellist session* is part of the PSDC (Penang Skills Development Centre) organized one-day 2014 Women Development Forum titled “Championing Rising Talents”. You can check out the full programme here.
And if you’re attending, come on over to say hi. I’d love to meet you!
*I am truly looking forward to the session as I will be meeting and picking the brains of some of the most successful and dynamic women in Malaysia. Eager to learn from them so come back here and hear me talk all about it!