Being in charge is second nature to Schrene Goh (pictured), EVP of marketing at Pos Malaysia, who has been in leadership roles for close to a decade. Despite having worked in male-dominated industries such as aviation, Goh remained undaunted, opinionated and brimming with passion.
She told A+M in a previous interview that the biggest challenge for her is juggling between family and a “demanding job” in the aviation industry, that sometimes required ad hoc duty travel. She also hopes that the marketing industry will be the lighthouse to show other industries that women are equally capable. A+M speaks to Goh a month into her new role at Pos Malaysia to find out how she deals with staff members who do not take kindly to opinionated female leaders and tips for ambitious women who wish to climb the ranks in the marketing and advertising industry.
A+M: What is the toughest thing about being a female boss?
Goh: In my past, it was a challenge trying to combat the prejudice of females being less capable of helming leadership roles, being too emotional or even getting things their way with the flash of their pretty smiles. As I progressed in my career, I realised that there will always be people who’ll try to put you down and make you doubt yourself. But what matters most is to stay true to your core values, lead with a clear vision, inspire people and bring out the best in others to achieve their goals.
A+M: Staff members aren’t always the kindest to opinionated female leaders. How do you deal with this?
Goh: This is inevitable because of society’s perception of how women should behave and speak.
However, being opinionated does not mean you need to be aggressive or behave in a masculine manner.
All you need to do is to ensure that you speak with confidence and that you support your statements with facts and figures. Prove your point by delivering consistent results and step up your game by being a better version of yourself every day! Bottom line is to prove yourself with your work merit, and over time, people will start to respect you as a female leader who’s equally capable as your male counterparts.
It might seem like an uphill battle trying to reach the top of your game and achieving your goals, but these are the exact challenges you’ll need to embrace in your journey towards career growth.
A+M: What are some of the biggest challenges women on top in the ad/marketing world face?
Goh: From my observations, there are a good number of female leaders in advertising and marketing, perhaps due to the nature of the job where attention to detail and the ability to provide both creative and analytic solutions are vital. That doesn’t mean we don’t need to constantly strive for equality. I hope that the marketing industry will continue to forge the path in inspiring other industry leaders and encouraging young females by providing them equal opportunities in their careers.
As a woman in leadership, I’m always looking out for raw female talents whom I can groom through mentorship and practical advice, so that they can go on and pursue their ambitions as well as reach their full potential.
A+M: A tip for ambitious women?
Goh: The best thing that women can do is to constantly challenge themselves in pursuit of being a better leader. They should focus on their abilities to deliver results, without expecting any preferential treatment, especially if they’re looking to be taken seriously or be given equal opportunities.
Being a mother of two, it’s definitely a challenge trying to juggle between a demanding job, quality time with loved ones, household errands and, not forgetting, finding some ‘me time’ for a pick-me-up or a boost in confidence.
The best advice I can give is to, firstly, spend time organising and building a good support system (even if you have other plans in place). This is especially important if you have kids, so that everything flows smoothly while you’re at work, allowing you to focus your energy. If you’re not married, find a supportive life partner that’ll stand alongside you and be truly happy for your achievements.
Secondly, find a job that you are really passionate about, so that working becomes a joy rather than just a means of paying your bills. If you are not passionate about what you do, no amount of skill or work will equal true success.
Third, find a good female mentor who shares a similar vision, believes in you, gives you genuine advice, and always keeps you in check.
A+M: Last year, the #MeToo movement took the world by storm. Do you think the #MeToo movement had an impact in the social adland?
Goh: The #MeToo movement has definitely raised awareness and empowered women to speak up against sexual violence and to be heard in the face of prejudice. I hope that this momentum continues so there’ll be a constant platform for all the silent victims with no one to turn to.
A+M: Is sexism and harassment in the ad/marketing industry an issue in Malaysia?
Goh: I believe sexism and harassment happens not only in the ad/marketing industry but also everywhere else in the world. Companies should take any form of complaints seriously and provide a safe environment for women to voice out or share their plight.
A+M: Do you see tides changing locally since the emergence of the #MeToo movement?
Goh: In this part of the world, women are generally more reserved and are embarrassed to speak up due to social stigma, but with some of the recent cases of employers taking stern action against sexual harassment, women will be encouraged to take the risk of voicing out.
This is part of an International Women’s Day series by A+M, featuring female leaders in the industry and their views on being a female boss.
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Facebook’s Nicole Tan on mentoring women and creating opportunities around it
Ex-AirAsia marketer Kathleen Tan shares her personal challenges as a female boss