Making an impact with 'enriching' board roles

Ms Wong says she has "always derived immense satisfaction from mentoring others, and this continues to be the case with respect to women directors". She juggles several directorships while holding a full-time position.
Ms Wong says she has "always derived immense satisfaction from mentoring others, and this continues to be the case with respect to women directors". She juggles several directorships while holding a full-time position.ST FILE PHOTO

Ms Wong Su-Yen, chief executive of the Human Capital Leadership Institute, juggles several directorships while holding a full-time position.

She first took on executive roles at the boards of subsidiary firms in 2005, while at Mercer Human Resource Consulting as managing director for Asean.

Ms Wong, 45, who is married, joined SGX-listed Yoma Strategic Holdings last year, while holding a string of other directorships such as board chairman at SGX-listed Nera Telecommunications. She says many people hold multiple responsibilities, and hers is hardly a unique situation.

Before women think of taking the leap, she advises defining personal key areas of contribution, participating in professional networks, and seeking out professional development opportunities.

"Boards often seek directors who bring a combination of experiences, competencies and attributes. As an example, while gender has undeniably been a factor for me in some instances, the boards I serve on tend to draw on my expertise in human capital, remuneration and organisation transformation."

Ms Wong says it has been "immensely valuable" to be a member of organisations such as the Singapore Institute of Directors and Women Corporate Directors, which has helped in her journey as a director.

It also helps to have a strong support system, like one where "my husband and I have a relationship of equals that is premised on mutual partnership", and also being flexible on the job, and having the ability to switch gears rapidly.

Her biggest reward as a director is "the opportunity to have an impact", a sentiment echoed by many other women directors.

"I also learn so much from my fellow directors - it has been a humbling and enriching journey. Finally, I have always derived immense satisfaction from mentoring others, and this continues to be the case with respect to women directors."

Rachael Boon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2016, with the headline 'Making an impact with 'enriching' board roles'. Print Edition | Subscribe