Empowering women to thrive

Thirty female Monash alumni were given the coveted opportunity to be mentored by some of Malaysia’s most influential figures under the Women Who Thrive (WWT) workshop, a three-part program by Thrive.

Thrive is Monash Malaysia Business Alumni Chapter’s (MMBAC) development pillar.

The two-month program, spanning from July to September, aims to give these young professionals a chance to accelerate their career and personal growth under the mentorship of local industry leaders.

The first installment of the three-part workshop kicked off on 29 July 2017 at Monash University Malaysia with an enlightening sharing session by Fennie Chong, Managing Associate, Korn Ferry Executive Search.

Chong, who hails from a small town in Sandakan, Sabah, spoke about the trials and tribulations of her life, from coming to Kuala Lumpur and adapting to the competitiveness of the city in her early 20s, to the struggles she faced in completing her tertiary education while raising two daughters, and going through a divorce while branching into a career. The 43-year-old highlighted the importance of having values and managing one’s priorities.

Ooi Piek See, Executive Director, Centenary Million Singapore/Malaysia and Director, Epic DNA, delivered an inspiring talk that was peppered with her own hardships in life.

Ooi, whose story was one of resilience, had lost her husband 17 years ago, turning the former homemaker into the family’s sole breadwinner overnight. Despite that, the single mother had successfully raised her three sons who have carved out rewarding careers for themselves.

Ooi, who is one of the few Malaysians who holds a Million Leaders Mandate certification from the John Maxwell Organisation, reminded participants that “the process of growth is never automatic” and that when it comes to business, “hope is not a strategy”. She added that it is also important to reflect on the person one is becoming as they are busy trudging on with their work pursuits.

At the last session, participants had to dig deep and get uncomfortable as their speaker, Mohamed Mustak Aboo Bakar, Director, Coach 2 Success, walked them through some exercises, that required them to ask themselves some of life’s tough questions and to figure out what matters to them most.

He added that it is important for everyone to have a personal mission statement, which is a simple line or two that encapsulates what participants set out to create and build, in order to stay focused on their goals as they go through the vicissitudes of life.

The workshop ended with the unveiling of mentor-mentees pairings, with one mentor assigned to two mentees over the course of the workshop, and a brief mentoring session.

The 15 strong Thrive mentors include Azran Osman Rani, CEO, Iflix; Brian Tan, CEO, FutureLab; Shareen Shariza, CEO, TalentCorp; Ashley Suelyn Tan, Corporate Strategy, UEM Lean In Malaysia; Chen Chow Yeoh, Co-Founder and COO, Fave; Colin Choo, Consultant, Boston Consulting Group; Fennie Chong, Managing Associate, Korn Ferry Malaysia; Pun Tian Pouw, Principal, Korn Ferry Malaysia; Dr Jane Tong, Associate Professor, Monash University Malaysia; Joshua Liew, COO, expressolab; Leong Choong Wah, Executive Director, HCK Capital Berhad; Nur Afifah Mohammaddiah, Content Director, Lean In Malaysia; Ooi Piek See, Director, Epic DNA; Sonam Pelden, Regional Head of Marketing, ServisHero; and Stephanie Looi, Co-Founder and COO, PurelyB.

In speaking about the first workshop, participant Rinisha Devi Vijayen was pleasantly surprised to find the session to be highly interactive and engaging.

“The speakers were very good and passionate about what they’re doing,” said the 25-year-old, adding that she appreciated that the speakers were sharing frankly and openly about many things.

Another participant, Leong Pei Chyi, shared that Mohamed Mustak’s session was good as it encouraged her to think about what matters to her the most.

Among her takeaways from Ooi’s session was her message on how “hoping is not a strategy”.

“I think it’s not going to be good for my business if I keep hoping and do nothing about it,” said the 36-year-old party planner.

“That was a wake up call for me and to put things into gear, instead of just hoping that money would drop from the sky. So I have to demonstrate that I have the discipline to figure what I want to do and get to it.”

In speaking about what she hoped to gain from the mentor-mentee pairings, Leong hoped to be able to pick on their brain on some of their best business practices that she could also use to grow her own business.

The second and third WWT workshop will be held on 26 August and 30 September respectively.