TBWA\ Malaysia's Yee Hui Tsin on owning decisions and throwing punches

Yee Hui Tsin (pictured) took on the role of TBWA\Malaysia's MD last October, stepping up from her position as COO, a role which she helmed since 2016. During her time as COO, the tenacious leader played an important role in driving new business, leading transformation programmes, boosting client relationships and building the agency's culture.

Yee, who joined the group in 2009, is passionate about the development of young talent and being a mentor to her employees. She shares with A+M about the challenges of being a female boss and the agency culture she tries to foster.

A+M: What has been the toughest thing about being a female boss?

Yee: There are layers I grapple with in terms of being a female boss, and probably the one I find the toughest is managing my own perception of being a female managing an agency in Malaysia. I’m proud of my achievements, I’ve worked hard for them. I have high standards of myself and my team. And I’m ambitious for the agency.

Yet driving change is tough and I’m conscious that being female, we can be more emotionally charged.
I think hard before speaking and certainly use more heart.

A+M: Staff members aren’t always the kindest to opinionated female leaders. How do you deal with this?

Yee: Women make up more than half of our team and fortunately I’ve never faced situations like the one you’ve described. I’ve built trust with everyone within the agency and created a workplace that is respectful, open and collaborative. I appreciate we have a very balanced working culture in Malaysia and also at a regional and global level.
Achieving a fair and balanced working culture is prioritised across our entire collective and driven from the very top of our organisation.

A+M: What are some of the biggest challenges women on top in the ad/marketing world face?

Yee: Not having enough women at the top, we need more women filling leadership roles, especially on the creative front. With more than half of TBWA\Malaysia being female, I’ve witnessed the benefits of achieving a balanced working culture.

A+M: A tip for ambitious women?

Yee: Trust your instincts.
Own your decisions, know when to throw punches and when to roll with them.

For young ones, read Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso. She gives really funny anecdotes and shares how every little life experience contributed to her building Nasty Gal, a US$ 100 million business.

A+M: Last year, the #MeToo movement took the world by storm. Do you think the #MeToo movement had an impact in the local adland?

Yee: The movement around gender equality has giving women a higher platform to stand on and a stronger voice in which to be heard. The movement has allowed us all, both men and women, to stand up and walk tall and strive for a more balanced industry.

For women, it has taught us to have deliberate negotiations about our careers; from the salary gap, to flexible work arrangements and equal access to leadership opportunities. In line with this year’s Women’s Day Balance for the Better theme.

A+M: Do you see tides changing locally since the emergence of the #MeToo movement?

Yee: Progress across our industry is being made in terms of a more balanced working environment, but they’re small steps and we’ll continue to strive for a more balanced representation across our industry in Malaysia.

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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