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Inspiring Business Women In APAC: Maggie Yung

Maggie Yung is the Head of Digital, Innovation & Payments, Managing Director at DBS. In this role, she will oversee the bank’s digital rollouts in Hong Kong and build on their agenda for innovative and customer-friendly solutions.

Can you tell us about your career progression into your current role?

I am someone who likes to explore new technology and ways of doing things. Therefore, when I was first exposed to the internet, I was fascinated, specifically by its power of connectivity and the borderless nature of the network. I was delighted when I was given the chance to explore a new frontier in developing the first generation of internet banking for an international leading bank, followed by my involvement in other projects like the launching of the first generation of mobile banking app, Apple Watch app, NFC mobile wallet, as well as AI enabled chatbot, among many others. Such experiences in leading innovative initiatives across regions have opened up many opportunities for me, one of which is the role of Head of Digital, Innovation and Payments at DBS HK.

As you moved from New York to China, did the cultural differences affect your management style?

I don’t think so. While there are differences between the two cultures, my management style hasn’t really been affected as I remain an open-minded and supportive leader.

In the US, I would spend more time explaining to the team about the strategic imperatives of the tasks assigned; in China, I would spend more time encouraging my team to express their thoughts and think critically about the tasks instead. The interaction models are definitely different, but the essence remains the same as I always expect my teams to thoroughly understand and be passionate about the work we do.

What one factor has helped you the most throughout your career?

That would be my desire to learn. I see myself as someone who cannot settle with comfort which is why I am always ready to learn new things and equip myself with new skills, something that has undoubtedly helped with my career progression.

How do you balance long hours with your personal life successfully?

I am very health conscious, so I always make sure to spare time for activities like hiking and yoga; sometimes in the morning or during lunch hour, I would try and do some exercise to refresh my body and mind.

I’ve always believed that we can make time for ourselves and our family as long as we try, and with the latest technology, it has been made much easier. With access to work email and messaging apps on our mobile, we can better utilise our downtime to take care of simple tasks, making work-life balance a lot easier to achieve.

Do you find yourself gravitating towards male or female leaders?

I naturally gravitate towards leaders who have great values and visions, regardless of their gender. I admire leaders who value individuals, who are willing to take that risk and invest in its people while also making the effort to respect differences by creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. 

Do you have a mentor/role model in your career?

I have had many role models throughout my career, some of which have been my superiors, others my peers and sometimes even my staff. I have the ability to discover the strengths of the people around, and like a sponge, I would absorb and learn, regardless of their ranks. I am very fortunate that most of my bosses have doubled up as mentors to help me grow and become who I am today.

As a working mom, do you think your gender has ever hindered you or blocked any personal progression?

No, I don’t see my gender ever hindering me or blocking my personal progression. Being a working mom helps me realise my full potential and enables me to get the most out of my life. I am proud to be a woman leader.

Have you ever participated in any women in leadership programs? If so, how did that experience impact you?

I once attended a Women Leadership Program in the US. Through the program and my interactions with other women leaders, I realised that we as women had to put in extra effort in order to reach the top management level because we had been giving our power away. That made me reflect on myself as I had simply taken what was given but never really questioned the gender disparity around opportunities. Since then, I have been more vocal about my career aspirations and have become more assertive when fighting for what I deserve. I am also more involved in diversity programs, not just in terms of gender, but also around aspects like culture as well.

Do you have any advice for working moms on how to progress and succeed?

Believe in yourself.

We naturally excel at multi-tasking and decision making, and are more than capable to handle both our professional and personal lives. I have seen a lot of very successful working moms, so don’t listen to people who say working moms are less efficient or productive, because we’re not. Instead, be fearless and don’t be afraid to go the extra mile.

In your experience, what are the benefits of having diverse teams and diverse organisations?

Having worked in diverse teams at various locations, I have come to appreciate the different perspectives that diversity brings. People’s backgrounds affect their thinking process and lead to a variety of views, which helps widen our horizons and expand our ways of thinking.

What’s your advice to leaders who want to create a more diverse and inclusive culture?

First of all, walk the talk and demonstrate your support through actions. When this effort comes from the top, it will be extremely helpful and would enable a more structured action plan to be executed. You can also promote success stories to further increase awareness and show the benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workplace.  

Posted over 4 years ago
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Wanny Soh

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